Dr. Shinichi Suzuki was born in 1898 in Nagoya, Japan, as the son of a violin manufacturer. As a young man he traveled to Germany, where he studied with Karl Klinger and met his wife, Waltraud. After eight years, he returned to Japan to teach and to perform. There he developed the "mother tongue" approach to teaching music to young children and founded the Talent Education Research Institute. Dr. Suzuki was one of the foremost music educators and philosophers of our time. The Suzuki method for talent education, inspired by Suzuki's work, has blossomed in every corner of the world, and has produced many of the great musicians of our generation.
"Talent Education has realized that all children of the world show their splendid capacities by speaking and understanding their mother tongue, thus displaying the original power of the human mind. Is it not possible that this mother tongue method holds the key to human development? Talent Education has applied this method to the teaching of music, and has shown that children taken without previous aptitude or intelligence tests of any kind have almost without exception made great progress. I urge you to explore this new path for the education of youngsters so that all children will enjoy the happiness they deserve.
Receptive Years: From the ages of three to six, children are at their most receptive stage of intellectual development. They are busy exploring the world around them and are quite open to all sorts of influences from the environment. Their minds are free of ingrained habits and preconceived notions, and they soak up new experiences like a sponge.
Starting Music: This is the best time cultivate an appreciation of the beauty of music and the joys of self expression in young children. While the home is still the child's primary source of musical experience, they can benefit from early exposure to music. Later on, children will be exposed to all kinds of additional activities that require time and dedication: sports, clubs, arts, schoolwork, and other activities. Now, while their attentions are still undivided, is the very best time for them to begin their musical education.
Lasting Value: Learning music helps children to develop into complete individuals, and it gives them the ability to enjoy their lives more deeply. Musical training is one of the best ways to instill the productive work habits and self-discipline that will be immensely beneficial in school and throughout life. Music training requires consistent individual effort on a daily basis, in contrast to the team or occasional efforts associated with other youth activities. Because of its demanding and rewarding focus on the individual, music provides a unique educational foundation with lasting lifetime benefits.
THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY MUSIC EDUCATION
The Suzuki Method, based on the "mother tongue approach," differs from traditional methods of teaching instrumental music as it involves the student at a very early age as requires participation from the parent as the teacher at home. Some of the basic principles of the Suzuki method include beginning education as early as possible, moving at the child's own pace, practicing over and over, parental involvement in all lessons, daily listenings to Suzuki recordings, and a focus on musicality from the very start. Reading skills will be introduced at a time dependent upon the child's readiness. For more information about the Suzuki Method, please see here.
Parents have the maturity of judgment to see the value of music appreciation and the value of a musical education for their child. How can they best assist the child in this education?
The Role of the Parent
Setting An Example: Parents should give their children a strong impetus by clearly showing their interest and willingness to participate in the child's study. Parents can also help by showing their own love for music and providing a rich and stimulating music environment in the home.
Daily Cooperation: Parents and children will benefit by working together every day in a close relationship as children master the various stages of music training. Here too the parent can help by developing children's good learning habits, ensuring that they practice every day, and stimulating creativity and imagination through music.
Nurturing: Like all worthwhile things, learning music is not always easy. Parents can help by supporting children over the rough spots and giving plenty of praise to their accomplishments.
In 1964, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki made his first visit to North America to participate in the National Music Teachers’ Conference in New York, New York. He brought a group of very young Japanese Suzuki students with him to perform. Dr. Suzuki used this opportunity to demonstrate the high level of achievement attainable through his method, and in doing so, planted the seed that grew into the Suzuki movement as it exists today in the United States.
At the urgent request of the American Suzuki teachers and parents, Dr. Suzuki sent the first Suzuki music ambassador, Mihoko Hirata, to the United States in 1967. Mrs. Hirata came to Holy Names Academy on Capitol Hill in Seattle to help two Catholic nuns develop music eduction using the Suzuki method. Through her timeless devotion, she has trained endless Suzuki teachers (including the principal of our school herself, Hsin-Chi Liu), parents, and students. Three years after her arrival, she started the first Suzuki school in the Pacific Northwest; this school evolved into the Pacific Northwest School of Music.
Dr. Suzuki sent two more of his students, Katsutoshi and Mari Nakamurato, to join forces with Mrs. Hirata at the new school in 1974. Despite its frequent moves, the school that they began was flourishing. In 2001, after 30 years of nomadic wandering, the school found a long-term home. Our current location is a fantastic place, and we appreciate it every day.
In the American movie Field of Dreams, a farmer who loved baseball heard a voice in his corn field say, “if you build it, he will come.” He built a baseball field in the middle of his farm in hopes of attracting the ghost of his baseball hero, but the field yielded much more fruitful results; all kinds of baseball lovers and young would-be players flocked to his farm.
Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy and method inspired so many “musical farmers” to build a “dream field” of their own that attracted generations upon generations of musicians, teachers, parents, and students to learn, play, and appreciate music.