9/13/09

Who is Dr. Suzuki?



“Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart.”
     ~ Shinichi Suzuki 

My family and I met Lynn Walker quite a few years ago, where there was an instant connection between us. I believe it was because both of our families had a mutual love for music. 

My daughter, Abby, was learning violin at the time, using the Suzuki Method. It's a method created by Dr. Suzuki, being taught by thousands of teachers world-wide, where you learn to play an instrument by ear (instead of notes - those come later). I'll never forget one of Abby's first songs, where she'd play it over and over, using these words to help get the song just right:

Dr. Suzuki says never be lazy, but practice and practice, until you go crazy!

At the time we met Lynn, there were no words to express our gratitude when she presented to us this heartfelt gift. 

Now you can read the rest of the story ... Thank you, Lynn, for sharing with us!



My dream job finally manifested in 1986 when I became the Director of the Plantation Spa in Hawaii.  It was a fabulous health retreat for body, mind & spirit. The most magnificent piece of property on the windward side of Oahu. Bodil Anderson, a healthy, vibrant and charming woman from Sweden and her husband David owned and operated the spa.  They were way ahead of the health curve. We were delighted to receive guests from all over America and from other parts of the world.  One unforgettable week a woman came from California bringing along her aunt. The Aunt’s name was Waltraud Suzuki and at that time was in her 80’s.  It was my privilege to escort her on excursions as I did with all of our guests.  She was not up to the seven mile hike to Sacred Falls or the canoe trip up river. So she and I walked on the beach and I found out much about this delightful soul, who was the wife of Shinichi Suzuki, (the man who created the world famous Suzuki violin method).  As I came to know her, I came to know him better through the loving stories about her famous husband and their lives together.



She was suffering from emphysema, not because she smoked, but because he did.  I knew of a great Doctor in Honolulu who dealt with this problem holistically and we went to see him. I believe he helped her enormously. By the time she departed we were more like very old friends.  She and I corresponded for a few years and I truly felt close to her. One day I received a package from Japan, one of the most treasured gifts in my life.  Shinichi Suzuki had painted a Shikishi for me. It was of Mt Fuji and the quote he painted below warmed my heart. 

“Man is a son of his environment” 
by Shinichi Suzuki. 

His note simply said, “Thank you for taking extra care of  my ‘beloved wife’.” SS



Waltraud was a talented and beautiful blond from Germany and she met Shinichi in 1920 at a house concert. They had many wonderful friends, including Einstein. Waltraud sang and loved music as much as Suzuki.  She married Suzuki in 1928 and moved to Japan, becoming his lifelong partner in all his endeavors worldwide.  I believe their love opened up the hearts of a generation of young people (parents & teachers too) and continues to do so. If only everyone could teach children with love as he did. His work will live on because it is based on the essence of life.  Teaching through love - how simple and yet, how powerful. I know that my amazing time spent with Waltraud showed me that she was a great inspiration to him and their love for each other inspired beautiful music in the hearts of little ones worldwide. Some of those little ones have now become world famous violinists.



It was my pleasure to pass on my precious painting Mr. Suzuki gave to me, to a 9 year old Suzuki student I had just met. 



Sandy’s beautiful and talented daughter, Abby.



I guess the most important thing I learned  from the Suzukis, was that giving your most prized possessions, to those who love them brings about the deepest and most invisible rewards. 



I know both Waltraud and Shinichi Suzuki would have approved. 



Where love is deep, much can be accomplished.
   ~Shinichi Suzuki



Teaching music is not my main purpose. 
I want to make good citizens. 
If children hear fine music from the 
day of their birth and learn to play it, 
they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. 
They get a beautiful heart.”
                                                                     ~ Shinichi Suzuki



Recommended books to discover more about the Suzuki’s and their work!

My Life with Suzuki
by Waltraud Suzuki

Nurtured by Love
The Classic Approach to Talent Education
by Shinichi Suzuki

Shinichi Suzuki
The man and his Philosophy
by Evelyn Hermann



I'd love to hear if you are familiar with the Suzuki Method, and if so, how it's impacted your family? Or how music in general has made a difference in your life?

Music is very big in our home, especially when we entertain. It just livens up the mood!


(Violin Photos: Abby throughout the years, up until her last recital June 2009 - bottom picture. She takes lessons from her beloved teacher, Fiana.)

9 comments:

A said...

What a lovely story. Thank you for sharing it.

My 7 yo dd has just begun year 2 of Suzuki violin. She started piano at 5 and decided after a year that she wanted to learn violin. My 12 yo ds takes Suzuki piano. He had traditional lessons for 6 years and when my daughter moved to violin, it was a good time to make a change for him also. We have been extremely pleased with the Suzuki method.

My husband plays electric & acoustic bass. He has had amazing opportunities with his music. He plays for fun now and does sound reinforcement on the side. I can read music, which allows me to play the piano for my enjoyment.

Music is always playing in our home. It does a heart good!

Hopefull said...

Loved, loved this! So good to know some background to someone who impacts our home everyday. Suzuki method trains musicians!! We LOVE our teachers too - so loving and disciplined. It has added so much richness to our lives.

I have three teenage boys in my house right now - all have long hair, "skinny jeans", beanie hats....but all Suzuki trained musicians. I have been blessed with a housefull of music all day. They are playing for fun. They are playing right. They are playing for God's glory. Now they are watching Lord of the Rings ;) again.

Anonymous said...

i was trained with the suzuki method on the piano at age 2. i stuck with it til i graduated high school. i think his teaching philosophy should be adopted into all education practices.

Mimi said...

My daughter Hannah has been taking violin for 3 years and is in her last song of book 2. She loves to play not only classical but fiddle and Irish music as well.

I had piano lessons for 8 years and don't believe I was instilled with the love that she has for her violin. When I took lessons it was all about the notes and not the heart of the song.

Last Christmas I bought a violin and now I learn right next to her and even took lessons over the summer. Suzuki method of course:)

My son plays guitar so we love to play together in our home. The kids have rounded up some of their friends and play in nursing homes in our community.

La Tea Dah said...

Our family = huge fans! Suzuki method was an integral part of the growing up years for our sons. They studied "Suzuki Method -Piano Basics" (the Japanese method as compared to the Suzuki Piano USA method). Their teacher studied in Japan every summer. It was a great a great experience!

Pinky said...

Oh how I wish I had stuck with the piano as a child! I would dearly love to be able to play! Music is universal and one way we can ALL come together!!! This was a wondeful post, thanks so much! And, what a wonderful gift your daughter got!!!! Pinky

Gina said...

That is a beautiful story! I've never heard of the Suzuki method-but then, I'm not a musician! Hopefully it will be different for my kids.

Candice and Jeff said...

Oh! I am just so happy for you and your daughter! What an incredible gift. And beautiful, too. I began piano lessons on the Suzuki method when I was 5 years old, but switched methods as I grew older, so I am not as familiar with it now. But I believe it is a great way to start young children. Hopefully my boys will begin soon - I have a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. I studied piano into my early twenties, including a year at BYU as a piano performance major. So I definitely have a great love for music, and just the VALUE of music - learning, as well as listening. What great quotes from Suzuki, too! I need to read more from him and about him. Thanks for this post!

Miriam said...

I took Suzuki flute lessons from age 7-18, and am a huge fan of the method!