Dr Shinichi Suzuki 1898 – 1998
Dr Shinichi Suzuki, born in Nagoya, Japan, was recognised around the world as a music educator whose philosophy stretched far beyond simply teaching children to play violin. His is a philosophy for life-long learning in a nurturing and holistic fashion that fosters a beautiful soul and strong character first and foremost. Born the sone of a violin maker, it wasn’t until he had graduated from commercial college, that he began to play the violin. His soul was so moved upon hearing a recording of Mischa Elman playing ‘Ave Maria’, he took it upon himself to learn a Minuet by Hayden. He did this without written music, simply by attempting to mimic the recording. Suzuki was also strongly influenced by the works of Tolstoy, and strove to live by his ideals.
His travels to Europe, and in particular Germany, led to important relationships with artists and scholars, such as Albert Einstein. It was through exposure to “fine men such as these” that Suzuki’s philosophy about life and education began to take shape. He was also influenced through his experiences of both playing and teaching in Japan, and through his experiences of the suffering of Japanese people, especially children, during WW2. The Suzuki Philosophy gradually took shape over the span of many years, and through many experiences.
The Suzuki Philosophy focuses on holistic education for all children. Talent education and character development form the basis of his philosophy, along with the observation that all children can learn. The “Mother Tongue” method of education is one of the main tools of talent education and can be extended to almost any skill that a child might learn. Parental involvement is therefore as essential to a child learning a musical instrument, or about music in general, as it is when a child is learning to speak.
Suzuki also adopted the motto of the Nagoya Commercial School that he attended in his youth – “Character first, ability second”. The ultimate aim of Suzuki’s philosophy is to develop the life force, or soul, into something beautiful, kind and loving. Strength of character is a trait that Dr Suzuki respected in those that he met throughout his life. Respect, kindness to others, friendship, a noble mind, and a loving heart are characteristics of a student of Suzuki’s talent education. “I just want to make good citizens. If a child hears good music from the day of his birth, and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline and endurance. He gets a beautiful heart.” – Shinichi Suzuki.
Dr Suzuki’s Life Creed:‘In order to create a beautiful world, or at least to make our living
environment a beautiful paradise of the heart, we need to shake off
When I use my heart with the utmost sincerity and only for the joy and
happiness of others, a beautiful tone, a beautiful heart, and a world of
sincerity will surely be created as by the violin bow and I believe others
and I will all be able to live pleasantly.’
Nurtured By Love – Shinichi Suzuki (This is essential reading for all parents of Suzuki students)
Ability Development from Age Zero – Shinichi Suzuki
With Love in My Heart and a Twinkle in My Ear – Sheila Warby
To Learn With Love – A Companion For Suzuki Parents – Professor William Starr
These books are available from Talent Sound at the Suzuki Institute
Ph: 02 9484 9611
Suzuki Talent Education Association of Australia (NSW)