About Siniti Suzuki

Dr Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998)


picture 2Having approached a high mountain, you cannot climb its top in one stroke. Coming close to goal should be gradual, step by step. You might face difficulties and obstacles on your way, but there will be neither disappointment, nor despair, if you move forward steadily. Just don’t be in a hurry. This is a key rule. Having hastened, you might fall down without any achievements. And never stop on your way. This is the second main rule. Move forward steadily, step by step, without any haste and stops. Patience, high endurance and so-called “kan” – intuition or sixth sense, is absolutely needed for talent education.
Shinichi Suzuki

 

Shinichi Suzuki was born in Nagoya, Japan on the 17th of October in 1898. His father, Masakichi, was a violin maker, who founded a violin factory in Nagoya in 1888. By the early 1900s, Masakichi owned the first violin factory in Japan, which was also the largest in the world.


During childhood, Shinichi worked at his father’s factory. But violin for him was just a toy. At his 17, inspired by a recording of Mischa Elman, he started to teach himself to play the violin. He tried to imitate what he heard in the recording.


In 1916, at the age of 18, Suzuki graduated from the Commercial High School in Nagoya. In 1920, at the age of 22, Shinichi came to Tokyo. He stayed at the Tokugawa’s and took lessons in playing the violin with Ko Ando. After a year, Shinichi left Japan for travelling around the world. He stayed in Germany to be a student of Karl Klingler for the next 8 years.


While in Berlin, Suzuki was befriended by Albert Einstein (who was, by the way, a recognized violin virtuoso). That meeting inspired young Suzuki to create a base for Talent Education Method. On one of many musical evenings he met his future wife, Waltraud Prange. In 1928, at the age of 30, he married her and then returned to Japan.


He formed a string quartet with three of his brothers and toured the country to give concerts. Since that time he worked as a trainer in a music school. In 1930, he became president of the Teikoku Music School.
In 1931, along with the famous Russian violinist Alexander Mogilevsky, Suzuki was acclaimed as a leading professor at the Imperial Conservatory in Tokyo. In the same year, he started for the first time in his life to teach a four-year-old child, a son of his friend.
At a quartet rehearsal one day in 1933, he surprised his brothers by suddenly stating what they considered obvious – that ALL Japanese children speak Japanese. With this simple observation, Shinichi Suzuki had discovered a way to develop a musical ability in young children. Children can learn to play a musical instrument (or anything else) in the same way that they first learn language.


He had discovered an absolutely obvious fact that nobody had noticed before. He found out that a child born in a particular country learns to speak the language of this country within one to two years after birth. This means that any child’s brain is capable of acquiring millions of feasible languages. And what is more, not just a language of a certain country, but also a special dialect of a precise area where a child is born.


According to Suzuki, a system that includes voice, ear and brain is like an utter copying machine that gives almost unlimited possibility to acquire a melody of any language. And it doesn’t matter which language is implied: Chinese, Portuguese, musical, artistic or Japanese. The right educational environment and appropriate motivation is enough for a child to learn anything at all!


At the age of 39, he gave violin lessons at home.


In World War II, the violin factory of Suzuki’s father was ruined during the attack of U.S. Air Force. One of his brothers died. The Suzuki family were down on their uppers. To get money for food, Suzuki gave lessons to orphaned children in the cities where he lived.


In 1946, Suzuki went to Matsumoto where he opened The Doshikai Association. He continued to develop his method in this remote city in the center of Japan.


In 1948, the Doshikai was renamed into the Talent Education Research Institute. In 1950, the Institute became an organizational structure authorized by the Ministry of Education.


In 1949, there were 35 departments and 1,500 students in the Institute.


In 1951, the first summer school of the Institute was held in Nagano, where 109 students and 11 trainers from all over Japan took part.


The Catholic priest Kando was so much touched by the mass concert played by thousands of children in one of Tokyo sport halls, that he exclaimed: “We have just witnessed a miracle!”


In 1953, the master of literature, poet, playwright, reviewer of France, having listened to the play of the children, had published an article named “Ideal Childhood” where he wrote: “As soon as I saw that boys and girls aged from 6 to 10 with their tiny violins, I assumed that it might be a trick. But they made the Vivaldi Concert, and their performance was overwhelming. I was not just touched, I was amazed. Telling the truth, never in my life had I seen children having such an impeccable musical technique. That kids were playing Bach with an innocent expression on their faces, and their polyphony was delicate and precise. The piece was very difficult, but children played it brilliantly. And then, a girl played Mozart with high degree of artistry and in a perfect style. The piece is difficult even for skilled players, but she made it easily and freely….”


In 1955, there was a huge concert in Tokyo participated by 1,200 little violinists played a due.


In 1961 at the concert in Tokyo where 400 children from 5 to 12 years old took part, one of the most famous cellist of the 20th century, Pablo Casals was there watching a beautiful and straightforward exertion of children’s life force. The 75-year-old Casals could not hold back his tears. After the concert, he delivered a speech: “I have witnessed the most thrilling event in my life. In Japan the endeavor to achieve absolute heights in life is in adults’ care of noble feelings and golden deeds, as well as such music, to go with young children in the very beginning of their life… You have taught them to play and to understand music that will save the world.”


In the 1960s, western teachers stared to come to Shinichi Suzuki to see his students and to take lessons with him.


In 1964, Suzuki made a business trip to the USA. From that time the distribution of the Suzuki Method began all around the world. Later on the Suzuki movement got such a sensational extension in America that distributed even greater than in Japan.


Suzuki marked himself: “There used to exist an opinion in America that children couldn’t and wouldn’t want to learn to play the violin before they were eight to nine years old. Can you imagine how people were surprised when they saw for themselves eight hundred Japanese children (among them there were also those of the age of three to five only) who played the complicated Bach concert for two violins? In 1965 our performance was shown on European TV.”


In the USA, the Suzuki Method made such an impression on the professor Clifford Cook that he started to apply it at the Oberlin Conservatory.


In 1973, Shinichi Suzuki was travelling around Europe.


In 1991, a special edition of the Sunday Times was devoted to 10 Japanese out of 1,000 people who used every effort to enrich the 20th century. Shinichi Suzuki was one of them.


In 1997, the International Academy of the Suzuki Method opened.


In 1998, the violinist and the ingenious teacher passed away at the age of 99.


At present there is a chain of the Suzuki Schools all around the world. The Suzuki Method is distributed in 46 countries and regions.


First students of Suzuki became world famous. Many of today’s solo performers and members of the best orchestras have started their musical education as Suzuki students. Nowadays, there are more than 8,000 qualified Suzuki teachers all over the world and more than 250,000 children are being taught by the Suzuki Method.


During his life, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki received a lot of honorary degrees. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.


Shinichi Suzuki was a man of high spirit and moral. In spite of the fact that many of Suzuki students have built a successful career in music and have become famous musicians, the professor has never gone in for fostering geniuses. He marked: “My goal is not to make a child a musician, but a good, noble man.” The disabled children are also taught at the Suzuki schools. Music becomes a reason of their lives for them. Music cures them both physically by means of musical instrument exercises, and spiritually, inspiring them with a ray of light.


Once, answering the question of one child’s mother: “Can my boy become anybody at all?”, he answered that the boy would never become anybody. “Learning to play the violin, he will become an honorable man. There is no need to demand from a child to become a professional and earn big money by music. A man with a good and pure heart can always find his happiness. The only concern of parents is to foster an honest man with heavenly thoughts and a noble heart.”


Among other students in the Suzuki school, there was a girl suffered from ICP. She was almost unable to control the right side of her body and was squint. Playing the song “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, she came to the last two notes of the first phrase, and at the same time her right hand twigged spontaneously, and the bow fell out from her hands. Her mother had to gather up the bow multiple times daily. That was an uneasy torture. For a comparatively short time – six months – the girl had learned to play that piece from the beginning to the end. Thanks to daily exercises her right hand had started to become strong and efficient. Further on, she had got rid of squint and started to move normal.


And when a blind child was brought to the professor, the last said: “He won’t need physical eyes, if to teach him how to use inward sight.”


To sum it up, Suzuki cured children with music – cured both physically, by means of musical instrument exercises, and spiritually, inspiring them with a ray of light.

 

For more information about Shinichi Suzuki, please refer to the following sources (used in the present article):

1. Nurtured by love: The classic approach to talent education /Sh. Suzuki/ Translated from English by S. E. Borich. – Minsk. ООО «Popurri». 2005. – 192 pp.

2. http://suzukimethod.or.jp/indexE.html - Japan: Talent Education Research Institute (TERI).

3. http://www.internationalsuzuki.org - International Suzuki Association.

4. http://suzukiassociation.org - Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA).

5. http://www.europeansuzuki.org - European Suzuki Association (ESA).

 

 

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