mark o’connor on Suzuki

Marco Lucchi said: Mar 5, 2013
Marco Lucchi
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Cherry Hill, NJ
4 posts

I found this article written that I strongly disagree with. I find it extremely offensive.

http://markoconnorblog.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-fallen-classical-violinist.html#comment-form

Paula Bird said: Mar 5, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

Well that was something I wish I hadn’t read today. There are a few errors in his logic and thinking for sure. If this was his argument for why I should buy more of his music, he lost me. Somehow I’m not as interested in his opinion now like I might have once been.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Wendy Caron Zohar said: Mar 5, 2013
Wendy Caron Zohar
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Ann Arbor, MI
94 posts

I think Mark O. is wishing that contemporary violinists were also creative musicians who can improvise and play like the great jazz violinists and old time fiddlers, and like the great baroque and early classical players who could improvise, create, compose their cadenzas at concerts, on the spot. I happen to agree. This is a lost art, and it is one we should be fearless to embrace. How to find our way to being masters on our instruments, so that we are excellent technicians with big hearts and souls, who can also speak through our instruments in our OWN voice occasionally when the music warrants and the occasion calls for it?

It is something that is learned, also from a very early age. Mozart was trained to improvise on a theme by his father, and it was a delightful game for him. With this remarkable skill he in turn delighted the musical and social aristocracy of Europe on the performance tours he made with his father and sister. It led to his ease in composition and mastery of the form of theme and variation. Just think of his violin sonatas with such movements, and the fun they are to play. It requires great musicianship and musical intelligence to compose this way, on the spot. is like the work of a skillful stand up comic who is given a theme, and on the spot can extemporize with lightness, humor, verve and elan, and which draws the audience to his heart.

What if we could teach our young students to include this kind of mastery of the instrument, and in-touchness with their heart and soul? I think it is worthy of attention.

I do not agree with Mark that the problem with music making in America is the Suzuki Method; far from it!! This pedagogy that developed in Japan so long ago, appeals to people all over the world. It has opened up music for hundreds of thousands of children on every continent who otherwise would not have been open to it, and it has enriched and brightened the lives of all who were fortunate to be deepened by it. These children have grown up with confidence and happiness in their starting years, even if they did not learn to improvise. However, that being said, regarding improvisation, I do believe that Mark O. is still getting it wrong.

There are countless examples of improvisation, starting in book 1; using themes to play with different rhythms and strokes, playing a song starting on a new string… later, children are changing keys, using tonalizations to learn shifting, always trying different notes and learning to hear and play in tune in new positions etc.

We should not be disheartened by Mark’s criticism, but try to see and appreciate what he is getting at. It is true that many of today’s best violinists cannot compose or extemporize. The comment on Joshua Bell was telling. These are skills that are most easily gained early in life, but they can also be learned later. They are invaluable and lots of fun, once they are learned. Ever go to a baroque or period performance workshop, and be invited to play the La Folia theme and then make up variations of your own on the harmonies, as the bass line is played? Baroque players do this all the time, dishing up colorful ornamentation on repeats in sonatas, doing an inventive whirl of notes on a fermata, etc. Bluegrass string bands do it all the time! Jazz players can’t live without these skills. Now please know from me, that it’s a gas and a half!

Another art is that of writing one’s own cadenzas for concertos one is playing. Of course we should learn the Joachim and Kreisler cadenzas etc to the great concertos. But try to encourage your students to write their own, based on the themes they most love from the concerto, say, the Hoffmeister Viola concerto or Viotti violin concerti, and come up with new material that “plays” around with these themes harmonically, rhythmically, melodically, and weave a new little tune that’s fun and challenging to play, starting on the 6/4 chord of the orchestra and ending on the resolution note. When the student has had a chance to write his/her own, and perform it, now that’s mastery and excitement. Any child can do it!!

Think in terms of poetry: not only can a child read Haikus and appreciate them, she could also learn to compose her own, memorize and recite them, and eventually gain the skills to make them up on the spot! Now that’s a great gift. Nothing to sneeze at !! Mark is making a valid point, and personally I would like to see our teachers learn to encourage these skills in individual lessons, and at group workshops and classes to incorporate these kinds of listening and response skills. It’s worth talking through together, sharing ideas.

Wendy Caron Zohar

Sarah Bylander Montzka said: Mar 5, 2013
Sarah Bylander MontzkaSAA Board
Teacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
163 posts

Wendy,

Very thoughtful post! I only wish that Mr. O’Connor could find a way to express himself in such a gracious, diplomatic and elegant way.

Wendy Caron Zohar said: Mar 5, 2013
Wendy Caron Zohar
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Ann Arbor, MI
94 posts

Thank you, Sarah.

Wendy Caron Zohar

Linda Louise Ford said: Mar 6, 2013
Linda Louise Ford
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Rochester, NY
16 posts

I agree with all of you. Its going to be. interesting in years to come to see him … develop his thoughts .

Linda

Merietta Oviatt said: Mar 6, 2013
Merietta OviattViolin, Suzuki in the Schools, Cello, Viola
Stevens Point, WI
104 posts

I completely agree with Wendy. I believe we need to wake-up…we are losing our audiences. I do not feel it is fair to blame Suzuki, however. I believe we need to look at our educational institutions and the archaic way in which we still teach/learn music at the higher levels. Being able to parrot back dates and opus numbers is no longer necessary as it can be found on a phone in 3 seconds. We need to find ways to incorporate technology into our learning process, and what Mark is saying about improvisation techniques (or lack there of) is a real concern. I believe there is room, and need, for both Suzuki and all of these things. I know that as a teacher I am sure to include all kinds of listening, various genres of music, and I present theory in a way that will actually help when approaching improvisation. Trust me, I don’t have it figured out and I am not doing enough. I find it is easy for us to fall into a weekly routine that kind of becomes a rut. Music is a living, breathing, and changing entity—and I need to do better to keep up with that. I honestly don’t know what the answer is. Good technique is essential, ear training is essential—Suzuki is essential. However, there is so much more. Symphonies are folding, jobs are becoming more and more scarce, kids don’t want to learn to play violin like they used to—yet higher education continues to do things the way they always have for the past hundred years. We need to change our entire outlook so that we can save our profession.

Dr. Merietta Oviatt
Suzuki Specialist
Viola/Violin Instructor
Aber Suzuki Center, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
www.uwsp.edu/suzuki
www.merietta.com
[javascript protected email address]

Caitlin said: Mar 6, 2013
Caitlin HunsuckViolin
Merced, CA
41 posts

Well after reading many of the comments after the article, all I have to say is Mr. O’Connor has that fiddler ego that drives me batty! No, not all fiddlers have it, just the ones that perform all the time and achieve fame and “greatness.”

It’s just amazing to me the difference between his attitude in writing compared to Dr. Suzuki. When I read anything written by Dr. Suzuki I feel so humbled by his respect for children, mankind… and everyone. Dr. Suzuki came from a war stricken world that was ugly and he choose to see beauty… create beauty!

Mr. O’Connor seems to lacks a philosophy, and that turns me off to what he is trying to do. I don’t care if violin is becoming obsolete (which I don’t think it is, but that is for another day) in the main market, if the children who learn to play it become better people for it. I learned long ago that performing is two fold: you should play give to the audience, but the person who gains the most is yourself and those you are playing with. Violin is a beautiful activity that only violinists can experience from learning to play at a high level. The Suzuki method gave that to me… long with a bunch of dead people from 200 years ago. If they were alive I would thank all of them personally.

As a Suzuki teacher I hope to pass that along to the next generation.

Paula Bird said: Mar 6, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

Bravo, Caitlyn! Well said!

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Celia Jones said: Mar 12, 2013
 Violin
72 posts

When I first encountered Mark O’Connor’s comments on Suzuki method, I didn’t know who he was. I looked him up and listened to some of his music. And I figured that he spends so much time working up sublime improvisations that there’s no time left for him to check his facts or to consider how to make his points with subtlety. However, anyone who knows him only as one of the best bluegrass fiddlers ever might think his views on violin teaching are authoritative.

I feel it’s important for the Suzuki community to be ready with a thoughtful response that takes into account the extraordinary quality of O’Connor’s music.

I would point to Paul Rolland’s work “The Teaching of Action in String Playing”, continued in the “Young Strings in Action” books by Sheila Nelson, as the most quintessentially American string method. And I’d love to hear Mark O’Connor’s views on that, but as he’s never mentioned it I’m not sure he’s aware of it. I sometimes wonder if he reacts to Suzuki method because it’s the only method he does know about. His own method seems very closely based on Suzuki method, he doesn’t appear to have other teaching influences in there, just different tunes.

But criticism is good, it is good to reflect on some of the points O’Connor makes, so that the Suzuki method can develop and grow.

Danielle said: Mar 12, 2013
Danielle Turano
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
Wallingford, CT
4 posts

After reading Mark O’Connor’s post last night I woke up this morning to one of my mentor’s own posting about his experience with the Suzuki Method and as a world-renowned Jazz Violinist Christian Howes; respects, loves, and is thankful for the Suzuki method and for what it did for him, for the students he teaches everyday, and for his own family now as a Suzuki parent!

Enjoy!
http://christianhowes.com/2013/03/11/why-the-suzuki-method-is-important-and-irreplaceable/

Sara Piazza said: Mar 12, 2013
 3 posts

I loved Mark O’Connor as a musician, but after I subscribed to his Facebook page I was inundated with over-the-top self-adulating posts, at least on a daily basis, if not more often, which made me begin to wonder about him. Then I somehow got involved with one of his Suzuki-bashing posts, gently suggesting that his negativity was beneath him and hurt him in the end. I was appalled at the way the thread unfolded, and by his arrogance, as were other posters. Ultimately, in a following thread, I watched as he systematically deleted any post that did not support his views, with claims that the Suzuki people were misbehaving and rude and that he was forced to delete their comments when it was Mr. O’Connor who was the rude one. I’ve not witnessed this kind of arrogance—publicly, anyway—in a very long time, if ever. If I ever considered looking into his method, I have now abandoned the idea.

Marco Lucchi said: Mar 12, 2013
Marco Lucchi
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Cherry Hill, NJ
4 posts

Sarah, you are right “….his negativity will hurt him in the end”.
Thank you, Danielle, I loved what Gabriel Bolkosky said in the interview: “…It’s how we make music, that will change the world”
Also loved what Christian Howes wrote: “….teaching music is not about the way you hold the bow, shape the hand frame, choose repertoire, improvise, phrase, compose, produce sound, groove, order your pedagogical sequences, or any of that geeky stuff. It’s about teaching people, through music, “to be good human beings.”
Let’s turn toward inspirational people, who are always positive.
“By their fruit you will recognize them.”

Sara Piazza said: Mar 13, 2013
 3 posts

Marco said, Quote: […Let’s turn toward inspirational people, who are always positive.
“By their fruit you will recognize them.”]

Amen.

MaryLou Roberts said: Mar 13, 2013
MaryLou RobertsTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Guitar
Ann Arbor, MI
245 posts

I try to remember that ranting in public via the web is now a part of our “online” society. Kind of like the “Onion”……..

Alexandra said: Mar 13, 2013
Alexandra Jacques
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Mesa, AZ
35 posts

I’ve tried staying indifferent to this whole situation because I’ve looked up to Mark O’Connor since I was a 9-year-old beginner, but eventually couldn’t help my blood pressure rising with each Facebook post about Suzuki, which I think go beyond simply critiquing its downfalls (which every educational method has, by the way, none of them are perfect), and are actually disrespectful. In one comment, he points out that the Suzuki method has become a “monopoly.” In that case, would it not be more effective to find a respectful way of reaching out to Suzuki teachers so that we can learn more about his methods and how it could benefit our students? He keeps mentioning Suzuki teachers that turn away students that are interested in his method, but I’m sure he knows that we are not all like that. And even if we were, trashing the method we use is going to make us less inclined to hear his ideas. I don’t get offended too easily, but he is being disrespectful, portraying Suzuki teachers in a negative way, and I am a little disillusioned by his comments.

Kiyoko said: Mar 15, 2013
 84 posts

This reminds me of a recent thread about a parent who unsure of how to respond to their child playing pieces in the Suzuki repertoire with their own variations. Taking a look at the wide range of responses will give you an idea of how much variation there is in approach even within the Suzuki Method.

Having grown up learning by the Suzuki method, I can see how certain aspects like the repetitive listening might stifle the development of creativity and improvisational skills, but only if listening is limited strictly to Suzuki recordings. At least in my Suzuki arena, we were encouraged to listen to recordings by other artists. In addition, there was also an alternate set of Suzuki recordings available at the time for the early books.

I also recall with great fondness of time spent at the Guelph Suzuki String Institute’s summer workshop, as many of the teachers were obviously exposing their students to repertoire outside of the Suzuki Method and encouraging students to explore different styles of playing, fiddling included. Other influences can co-exist within Suzuki training, but it is influenced by the different preferences, attitudes, and approaches of individual teachers and isn’t institutionalized within the method.

One of the reasons for the Suzuki Method’s success is the precept that any student can learn to play. Being taught music historically was reserved for those who had family or a cultural group who could teach them, the wealthy, and those that were deemed to be talented and lucky enough to be noticed. Even in the past 50 years, many traditional teachers were selective about hich students they would take on, and refused children they felt were too young. If anything, Suzuki has made music more accessible in the past 50 years, especially to young children. Of course Suzuki Method has influenced music and the development of musicians in the past 50 years!

I can see where because students of all abilities are all being taught to be proficient to play instruments and overcoming many of the natural barriers that cause attrition, that it might be seen as displacing other students that might have otherwise grasped opportunities in their stead, however there is an overall decline in the interest in classical string education which can’t be blamed on something as simple as rote learning.

Given this, I think it’s odd that mention of classically trained artists such as Bond, Vanessa Mae, Barrage, and others are overlooked. It is also contadictory that noted that his example of rote playing, Joshua Bell, he even admits does compose and didn’t learn through Suzuki.

If anything, I hope all teachers AND students are encouraged to reflect on their approaches to learning and music.

MaryLou Roberts said: Mar 15, 2013
MaryLou RobertsTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Guitar
Ann Arbor, MI
245 posts

Just to give another perspective….For my undergraduate degree, I went to a Conservatory with about half Jazz, half Classical students. Being a guitarist, many of my peers came from an improvisational background, rock, fingerstyle, jazz, folk….. I practiced next to the Jazz students, some were really good, then there were the ones that weren’t: 5 notes up, 5 notes down, scale in thirds, hit the high note, play something fast…..it can be pretty cut and dried, too. Every form of music can come to life or not, depending on the player, the night, or the other musicians. Many guitarists can improvise, but when they learn some Bach, or other wonderful music, all they can think of is to groove, so it falls flat. In and of itself, improvisation is only another form of music; it could be creative or not.

I have met many improvisers in my travels, training Suzuki teachers in Ireland, Argentina, Peru, and Colombia and they all improvise. Folk music is still very strong in their culture. They do not in the least see their Suzuki training as anything other than ear training, building a fine person with beautiful tone and hearts and music, and they are growing by leaps and bounds. Some are working on teaching improvising to their students, beginning with the Twinkle variations. It will be interesting to see what develops. Great improvisers like Celso Machado also compose, and work with Suzuki students because they have good listening and playing skills.

One of my colleagues in Europe tells his trainees in teacher training courses that for each book, they should have 5 regional melodies to teach the students. I have tried this with my students, and they really enjoy it. So, for example, they end up playing all of Book 1 and 3-5 other melodies. I have also tried giving the more advanced students one choice piece, and it has been interesting to see what they choose. It energizes everything. This choice is important, though, and I would never want to prescribe it.

I will not let anyone pigeonhole the Suzuki Method, and recent attempts seem highly unethical. We have an amazing capacity to develop and create our approach, many wonderful students, and a world of growth ahead of us.

Wendy Caron Zohar said: Mar 22, 2013
Wendy Caron Zohar
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Ann Arbor, MI
94 posts

Thank you, MaryLou! Everything you wrote is illuminating and refreshing. As to the pedagogy of your European colleague, are the ‘regional melodies’ local folk songs that everyone knows, with the idea that they could be played by ear with artistic or personal freedom; expressive playing from the heart? is the music also presented in written out form?
In any event, giving students their choice of regional pieces, in addition to the repertoire, is a gorgeous idea and makes playing one’s instrument a truly personal expression, right from the start!

Wendy Caron Zohar

Fabio Dos Santos said: Mar 22, 2013
Fabio Dos Santos
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Campinas, SP, Brazil
11 posts

I have read Mr. O’Connors article. It seems to me that, in his view, the reason why “violin” and the “violin culture” is a “dying” one is because the Suzuki Method does not prepare students ao what he calls and “authentic”, “american”, and “21st Century” “tradition”.

I find the use of those words very interesting: Can one really say that a continent size nation has only 1 “culture”? Can a nation’s cultures – and certainly a pertinent question to ask this of a nation formed initially by immigrants – really be called “authentic”? And can one really say that one can be “old fashioned” because he plays 17th century music when afterword he would “tweet” about it ?

It seems to me that his article neglects a very important fact about culture: it changes, much like people, and their practices, and the places where they choose to “practice” culture! Music, as other aspects of cultures, are mediated by many aspects of social structure, social values, economy, migrations, and so many other things! This is a well known and well studied fact in all social sciences! Culture changes!

Not only that, people participate in many cultures: be it their band rehearsal, or their church choir, or their night out to the rock band concert! One can, without any contradiction, participate in all of those, carrying over values and expectations from one to the next. (We do this so often, we forget trivial things that come from different places: I bet most of you are familiar with lot of “foreign” words such as “bonjour”, “sushi”, “paella”.)

The internet, and our ability to access information from around the world is certainly changing the way people relate to music. Less than 100 years ago, people would have to have big radios at home to listen to music. And the only way to listen to music live was to go to a concert. Less than 20 years ago, if you wanted a rare CD, you’d have to look up a specialized store. And now a days all one must do to listen to music from all over the world is to open the “ITunes Store”.

How do these changes affect our teaching? How does this new relationship affect the music industry and the aspiring “professional musicians” in the United States? Why – when taking into account how fast and how much the whole globalization process affects us all, all over the world – would the Suzuki Method be the sole reason that the violin is a “dying instrument”? To me, his is a flawed argument in its main tenets!

I see it otherwise: like many of my coleagues I see how much the Suzuki approach has broadened the horizon of so many families, students, professionals and amateurs, introducing them, not only the possibility of enjoying music regularly and live, but also to what it means to have a beautiful heart! Is this not the core of the Suzuki Method?

It is not to say that we should not reflect about what it means to make music for our time! If it means introducing improvisation, and “fiddle”, and “jazz” (as a few examples of “north-american” music), we should do it! It would not be the first time that we, suzuki teachers made changes to our teaching practices!

But I simply cannot agree with the idea of abandoning the old for the sake of any “tradition”. If there is any word that stands out it me, it is the word “choice”. Our students should have choices! If there is any indication of what that means in a real world setting it definately does not mean “ignore the old”, but rather, just “lets add the new!”

My two cents!

Christiane said: Mar 23, 2013
Christiane Pors-Sadoff
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
New York, NY
47 posts

Bravo, I agree with Fabio. I revere the Suzuki method for what it has accomplished for violin training and bringing music involvement into families’ lives, and creating a responsible and humane teaching and learning environment. Too often, when I was studying in the 60s and 70s, I would hear about horror stories about more old fashioned violin teaching methods which were cruel and pointless. I even had some of my own stories! I was thrilled to learn about Suzuki from a colleague, and never had so much fun teaching before. I saw the children reviewing and memorizing all their repertoire instead of jumping ahead to harder pieces and concepts they weren’t ready for thus creating great ability to perform. It helped me to be more in touch with my own playing as I was trained mostly by reading music.

After initiating some Suzuki programs and developing others in the 80s in NYC, I came to the realization that there was an “opposite side of the coin” to Suzuki which would enhance and develop the method itself, and that was improvisation. I was fortunate to be able to watch Alice Kanack’s Creative Ability Development program (Suzuki recognized her in a public ceremony in Matsumoto as “Mozart’s mother!). It developedh for about 10 years in the string program I organized. The Suzuki kids were able to understand excellent violin technique and performance, and at the same time they were encouraged to become improvisers. They even improvised string quartets on the spot in concerts!

I have been teaching Suzuki with improvisation for many years, always keeping an open mind for other ideas as they come along, and that includes Mark O’Connor’s method as I also took his teacher training. Ultimately it’s up to me and how I can impact the students I teach with “new” ideas. For a 6 year old, a minuet by Bach is just as new as a piece they just composed themselves.

Christiane Pors
Violinist
Mikomi Violin Studio
Kaufman Music Center
NYU Steinhardt

Matthew Weiss said: Apr 5, 2013
Matthew WeissLynnwood, WA
7 posts

Hi Everyone,

Though Mark O’Connor really has a good point that improvisation should be included in music lessons for everyone, I find his marketing strategy to be quite offensive and actually detrimental to students who wish to become well-rounded musicians.

You may be interested in my new blog that addresses this topic:

http://matthewcweiss.wordpress.com/

I’m also on Facebook here and love to accept new friends :)

http://www.facebook.com/MatthewCharlesWeiss

—Matt

Matthew C. Weiss
The Octava Chamber Orchestra
President/Concertmaster
21st Century Composer

Heather Reichgott said: Apr 6, 2013
Heather ReichgottPiano
South Hadley, MA
96 posts

There will always be random people who are wrong on the internet. So what?

The issue with Suzuki repertoire being a bit out-of-date is a real issue, but as far as I know, every good teacher supplements the Suzuki rep with more contemporary rep. Is it related to public domain/copyright issues? I noticed that when Bartok became public domain, a new edition of Book 2 promptly appeared with two pieces from Bartok’s “For Children,” which are now the most recently composed pieces in book 2.

Matthew Weiss said: Apr 13, 2013
Matthew WeissLynnwood, WA
7 posts

Hi Everyone,

Mark O’Connor keeps giving us baskets full of lemons, so let’s all make lemonade :)

http://matthewcweiss.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/the-love-story/

Hope you like it!

—Matt

Kiyoko said: Apr 13, 2013
 84 posts

Hi Folks!

While looking for more Japanese children’s songs for my son the other day with my mother who was visiting from Japan, we realized that most all of the melodies in Book 1 are doyo (or doyou)—Japanese children’s songs. (Oddly, she didn’t make this connection or forgot when she was taking me through the Suzuki Violin program.) “Doyo” are popular Japanese children’s songs originating back to the opening of Japan’s doors to the west. For example, Lightly Row is a song called “Chou Chou” or “Butterfly, Butterfly” in Japanese.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doyo

It would appear Dr. Suzuki’s selection of repertoire for Book 1 is based on music that is familiar to japanese children, in support of learning music that they are exposed to culturally from birth. It would follow to regionally supplement repertoire with local children’s melodies to promote “mother tongue” learning.

Even though m knowledge of Japanese children’s songs is limited, I am hoping to figure out with my mother’s help, which Book 1 songs correlate to which Japanese children’s songs. I especially found japanese vocal recordings and YouTube videos help my toddler son relate to both the Suzuki repertoire and Japanese children’s culture. If you are interested or have knowledge of these children’s songs and good recordings, please let me know!

Connie Sunday said: Apr 14, 2013
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

I always thought that it was odd no one mentions that Suzuki’s family owned a violin making factory, which must have some significance. At the same time, this essay is extremely uncomfortable to read; writing poorly indicates poor thinking; awkward and poorly written prose with numerous editorial omissions and errors does not speak well for the writer’s cognitive abilities:

“Suzuki’s biography and life story was”—plural subjects require a plural verb, were

“story are problematic”—comma before story
would be helpful disentangling this odd sentence

It “can” refer to doctor—this phrase is within an already quoted bit, so I think it should be ‘can’

Putting , however, in the middle of a sentence is just awful

“The Vehicle of Music: Reflections on a life with Shinichi Suzuki and the talent education movement”. —books should be italicized, not in quotes

that wasn’t even built yet.” —there should not be a closed quote at the end of this paragraph, as there is no proceeding open quote

someone would have wrote —oh, goodness: will have written, not would have wrote (ouch!!)

propaganda. for years == and== personal. so suzuki—Just typos, but don’t forget to capitalize the first word of a sentence

teachers posts—teachers’

doesnt—should obviously be doesn’t (even if you’re quoting someone else, I think you ought to correct what we might indulgently consider to be typos)

The rest of that paragraph (ending in “He is doing Gods work.”) is so awful I can barely stand to read it. At least write God’s…


Sorry: this sort of thing bothers me, especially from teachers.



Free Handouts for Music Teachers & Students:
http://beststudentviolins.com/library.html#handouts

Heather Reichgott said: Apr 14, 2013
Heather ReichgottPiano
South Hadley, MA
96 posts

Hi Kiyoko,
A Korean student of mine recognized “Lightly Row” as a Korean song about a butterfly. She and her parents don’t remember the words though.
Heather

Melanie Drake said: Apr 14, 2013
Melanie Drake25 posts

Kevin Hart of a Suzuki guitar group recently posted these links to the Japanese basis for Go Tell Aunt Rhody:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5spKX7hjv4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGA84ockV8M

…along with this info: “The song is in Japanese, but if you know these 4 keywords, you will be fine!

Keywords:
Musunde = close your hands
Hiraite = open your hands
Utte (pronounce like “Ootte”) = clap
Ue (pronounce like “Oo-A”) = up”

Wendy Caron Zohar said: Apr 14, 2013
Wendy Caron Zohar
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Ann Arbor, MI
94 posts

Chiming in one more time, with thoughts on whether the Suzuki repertoire is “old fashioned” and needs an “updating”, I’d like to share a memory of a conversation I had with a great teacher, not my own:

In my days playing with the Jerusalem Symphony, we had a young violin soloist, Gil Shacham (age 10), perform Vivaldi’s Primavera with us. I was struck by his richness of tone, his musical maturity, gorgeous phrasing, beautiful set-up and form, and deep understanding of Vivaldi’s work. He was already clearly a well-trained nascent soloist heading for the world’s big stages. (He had not yet reached the Juilliard pre-School where he would work several more years with Dorothy Delay.) When presented with the chance to speak to his teacher, an elderly and wise Samuel Bernstein at the Academy of Music and Dance in Jerusalem, I asked him what pieces Shacham had grown up with, what studies etc. Bernstein had taught him, how he’d helped him get to this level at such a tender age. He answered that in addition to the progression of classic etudes, he started the boy on the works of the Old Masters, progressing in difficulty. In that way, the boy’s ear and skills grew and developed, and his playing and musical sophistication matured and deepened as the musical demands and tonalities became more complex. What a wise yet obviously natural approach! When I became acquainted with the Suzuki materials I was delighted to discover that they follow the same time line for the most part. Starting out with pieces drawn from early literature is pedagogically sound from many perspectives, and it is wrong to consider them “old fashioned” and therefore to think of replacing them. They are (mostly) timeless pieces and will never grow old! There are fresh ways to teach them so that we, the teachers do not regard them as stale or old fashioned.

Moreoever, Suzuki thought it through carefully, what to present and in what order. The more I’ve learned and observed from teacher training, the more dedicated I become to attention to this pedagogic order. These early pieces, taught well, provide a path to a sound violin technique and are the foundations of not only the basic violin technique, but our Western musical tradition. Other “local”, ethnic, folk or romantic pieces can be added to these of course, for variety and enrichment, for adding the element of improvisation and ear training, for composing “themes and variations” of our own just as Suzuki did, but mastering the pieces in Books 1-3 provides essential foundational training for every string player.

Wendy Caron Zohar

Gloria said: Apr 14, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
72 posts

I am not sure if the way this thread is going reflects its original name, so I will go along with the topic as it evolves

I always thought that the reason Dr Suzuki used so many popular children´s tunes from the German language was because his wife was German and hew was exposed t o the European culture for a few years. I am sure had he been in some other part of the world and he would have found comparable children´s melodies for the purpose of the Talent Education repertoire. At least in the piano repertoire there are a good number of them.

And about the origins of some of those well traveled melodies, I would like to share my theory that the melody known in the English speaking world as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star comes originally from the South West corner of France and North of Spain, that is, the Basque Country. I am from the Spanish side of the Basque Country and that is one of the many songs I know it from my childhood (Uso Zuria) .
Mozart picked it up in France and wrote his Variations, and launched it in the musical world.

In the video below you can hear it, sung in Basque. Very beautiful, indeed.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjmNlmDmYLE

Of course this is my theory,. Unfortunately, I do not know any Basques who lived in Germany ( Heute Kommt der Weihnachtsmann) and now in an English speaking world, AND teach Suzuki! If there is any out there, let me know what you think.

Paula Bird said: Apr 14, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

Heather and Kyoto, i have two young students who learned lightly row as a Korean language song. Here are the words that they sang. I will get you a translation as soon as my student’s parent finds it.

나비야 나비야
Na bi ya na bi ya
이리날아 오너라
E ri nal ah oh nuh rah
노랑나비 흰나비
No rahng na bi heen na bi
춤을 추며 오너라
Choom euk choo myuh oh nuh rah
봄바람이 꽃잎도
Bom ba rah mi ggot neep do
방긋방긋 웃으며
Bahng geut bahng geut oo seu myuh
참새도 짹짹짹
Cham sae do jjek jjek jjek
노래하며 춤춘다
No rae ha myuh choom choon da

The syllables they sang corresponded to the notes Dr. Suzuki included in his version.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Kiyoko said: Apr 15, 2013
 84 posts

Oh, wow! It looks like this is going to turn into a fun project! Thanks for posting the tidbits… I hope we see more. I didn’t know about the Korean language Lightly Row and the kareoke Japanese version of Go Tell Aunt Rhody is delightful! It’s a great rhythm and motion song about opening and closing your hands, clapping, and raising your hands. For our son, we hope sharing these various versions will help broaden his musical perspective culturally and help him connect to part of his ethnic heritage.

Should we start a new thread? Originally. I thought it was relevant because Mark O’Connor’s is so vocal about what he calls “German” Suzuki repertoire and what he calls “American” music. Ironically, a version of Lightly Row has been popularized by the show, The Big Bang Theory, as the Sweet Kitty song, not to mention first song in the Suzuki repertoire introduces musical variations.

MaryLou Roberts said: Apr 15, 2013
MaryLou RobertsTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Guitar
Ann Arbor, MI
245 posts

Thanks Wendy for passing on your conversation. And thanks everyone for the folksong history/around the world-ness. We should start a thread with the folk song history and travels so others can use them. I too had a student from Japan who talked about Lightly Row as a song about the butterfly.

Paula Bird said: Apr 15, 2013
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

Here is the translation of the Koean for Lightly Row:

Butterfly, butterfly
Come fly over here
Yellow butterfly, white butterfly
Dance while you come here
Wind of spring and flowers
Smile happily
Even the sparrows chirp “jjek jjek jjek”
They dance while they sing

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Sara Piazza said: Apr 15, 2013
 3 posts

I say, leave this thread as is, a testament to the way the initial reaction to MOC’s vindictiveness and ego-run-amok has quickly morphed into positivity.

I’ll throw in a little history, here, as well. What about Alegretto’s being an obvious tie-in to Muss i Denn, a little German song my mother used to sing to me at bedtime?

(I don’t speak German so I cannot verify the translation)

Muss i’ denn, muss i’ denn
zum Staedtele hinaus,
Staedtele hinaus
Und du mein Schatz, bleibst hier?

Must I then, must I then
leave the village,
leave the village
and you, my dear, remain here?

Sei mir gut
Sei mir gut
Sei mir wie du wirklich sollst
wie du wirklich sollst

Be good to me
Be good to me
Treat me as you really should
as you really should.

Matthew Weiss said: Apr 15, 2013
Matthew WeissLynnwood, WA
7 posts

Paula’s Korean translation for Lightly Row is wonderful!

Oh wow! I didn’t realize until just now that “Soft Kitty” is really “Lightly Row” :)

—Matt

Carole said: Apr 15, 2013
Carole Kane
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Atlanta, GA
6 posts

Yes, Matt! Soft Kitty is the new Lightly Row! (Please forgive me, Sensei Suzuki!)

Emily said: Nov 27, 2013
 59 posts

I have to assume that O’Connor knows a lot about the Suzuki Method, being that he mentioned his wife teaches it, but it makes me wonder that if he can roll out that much verbal abuse towards Suzuki, its teachers and anyone who agrees with it , then how much verbal abuse does his wife take from him at home on a daily basis?

Emily Christensen
Music Teacher & Writer
www.musiceducationmadness.org

Lois Shepheard said: Sep 29, 2015
 Teacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
13 posts

Have you seen this book?

Book Review ‘Not by Love Alone’ by Margaret Mehl.

Margaret Mehl is Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen.

‘Not by Love Alone’, published by The Sound Book Press Copenhagen in 2014, is a scholarly and important work written after Mehl’s many years’ research into the history of the violin in Japan. Her study was sustained by Danish Universities, the Japan society for the Promotion of Science, the Cross-Cultural Society and Regional Studies at the University of Copenhagen, the University of Princeton in the US and the Waseda University in Japan.   

Mehl names the numerous violinists who studied with German teachers in Japan and who travelled to study in Germany from the late 1800s. She documents how Japanese violinists revolutionised violin teaching, won international competitions, studied at world-famous conservatories and took up leading orchestral positions—and all within a few decades of Japan’s introduction to western music. If we have ever thought it remarkable that Shinichi Suzuki went to study in Germany, this book will clarify this event. For the first time too, I read that Shinichi’s brother, the cellist Fumio, studied in Leipzig.

Mehl explains the cultural affinity between Japan and Germany as early as the 1880s and how in 1890 the German-Japanese Society was founded in Berlin. In 1938 the two countries concluded a cultural treaty, intending to create a framework for cultural exchange.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Here is the answer to many of our questions. 

Lois Shepheard.

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