Better People Through Music:
Dr. Suzuki was adamant that he was not trying to create an army of super children with freakish musical abilities. He was not even trying to create professional musicians. Rather, he felt that the study of music helped to create beautiful people. Surely continued study of beautiful music must penetrate deep into children’s beings and create warmer, fuller, more beautiful people. We hope to create a lifelong love of music and beauty, but the end goal is that this beauty manifests itself in the children. As simplistic and perhaps idealistic as it sounds, we hope to create a better world through the study of music.
The Suzuki Approach (from the Colorado Suzuki Association’s page):
Dr. Shinichi Suzuki lived from Oct. 1898 to Jan. 1998. His father was a manufacturer of violins, so he was around violins from a young age. He became interested in learning to play the violin as a young man, and eventually went to Germany to further his study of violin playing. After he went back to Japan he performed and taught. One day, he was struck by the profound yet simple truth that all children learn their native language. This happens no matter how difficult an adult coming to that language may find it. He started to analyze what takes place in this process. The main points he established are:
Hearing: the child hears the language around him from the time he is born.
Praise: the child’s first attempts to say any word are met with delight and encouragement from the adults around him.
Repetition: the child is happy to repeat this word many times and then try another and the whole process is repeated.
Review: there is by natural usage much review of words learned.
And so the “Suzuki Method” was developed.
Hearing: the children have a recording they listen to every day.
Praise: the parents and teachers are very encouraging and offer praise for the child’s efforts.
Repetition: the child is encouraged to do many repetitions of whatever he or she is mastering.
Review: the child is also encouraged to review melodies and techniques already learned so as to be able to build on what has already been mastered.
Dr Suzuki worked on these principles and his students performed in many countries to audience delight. Some students went on to become professional musicians.
But for Dr. Suzuki, how well a student played the violin was secondary to the “good heart” he or she was developing. He wanted his students to study music because he thought that their good hearts would lead to pacifism. He wanted that no child or adult would ever again experience war. This sentiment was echoed by Pablo Casals when he first saw Suzuki students performing: “…perhaps it is music that will save the world.”