what Suzuki is

erika blanco, violin

First and most importantly, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki was a man with larger-than-life compassion, vision, and generosity. When we talk about "Suzuki," oftentimes we're referring to his ideals, his goals, his philosophy, but it's paramount to remember that it first started with a man who believed in humanity and the potential and hope of future generations.

And now what Suzuki is...

My commitment to sound violin pedagogy stems from my own positive experiences when I was a young student.  As a teacher who is also a product of the Suzuki philosophy, I value and believe in the principles Dr. Suzuki purported in his ideology, especially in the Mother Tongue approach ("Every Japanese child speaks Japanese!"). He likened learning to play a musical instrument to learning to speak one's native tongue. Parents and caregivers typically have no formal educational or linguistic training, yet each new generation learns fluency in reading and speaking, in addition to the nuances of idioms and humor. Repertoire listening, repetition, step-by-step accumulation and buiding are some of the primary tools Dr. Suzuki depended on for his Talent Education program in Matsumoto, Japan.

 

Fundamentally, I believe that every child can achieve a high level of playing ability given the right environment and stimuli.  I intend with every student to formulate a rudimentary and ever-growing appreciation of music; to progress thoroughly through graded repertoire and exercises; to develop the musical ear through listening, repetition, experimenting, and reviewing; to encourage and praise each achievement; to nurture and instill leadership and musicianship qualities; and ultimately, to cultivate appreciation for collaboration, beauty, and conscientiousness toward others as well as toward their own work. Focus is never on "getting to the next piece" but on building, establishing, and crafting technical skills that will enable ease of playing as well as the ability to progress systematically through repertoire.

 

We live in a challenging, fast-paced culture in which parents are constantly striving to find what is best for their children.  Many times their choices are tempered by what their children seemingly can or cannot do.  I firmly believe in the term “talent education,” that the ability to do any task, like play the violin, can be learned and honed under the proper care and circumstances.  I require parental (or guardian) involvement and support, which not only makes learning the violin possible for a young child but also enriches and strengthens the parent-child relationship and family unit.  Prior knowledge of music isn’t necessary for the parents: they will go through a course of Parent Education designed to introduce them to the violin, to the basic philosophical tenets of what I do and believe and prepares them to learn and grow music along with their children.


One facet of my teaching to which I am staunchly attentive is injury prevention.  For the student, this involves having good posture, efficient practicing techniques, and the appropriate instrument size.  Having experienced bouts of tendinitis myself, I do not, through lack of my own attention as a teacher, want any student to require physical therapy.  People don’t realize how physically demanding and athletic playing an instrument is, nor how many thousands of times over our careers we have drilled any one passage, shift, or bow articulation.

 

While Suzuki isn’t the only pedagogue to institute many of these pedagogical ideas, I appreciate his uniformity in repertoire and his practice of group classes for the sake of collaboration, both for the students and for the teachers, as well as his unending quest for community, collaboration, and peace in the world through music. As a professional group, Suzuki teachers highly value nurture and encouragement as pedagogical tools for music and aspire to shape young lives ultimately to be "citizens of the world" (Suzuki).

First character, then ability.

Art is not some far-off place. A work of art is the expression of a man's whole personality, sensibility, and ability.

beautiful tone, beautiful heart

every child can!

Knowledge is not skill

Knowledge plus 10,000 times is skill.

Everything depends

on how we raise them.

without hurry, 

without rest

Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens.

Perhaps it is music which will save the world.

Dr. Suzuki quotes