John Kendall and the dangers of “cultism” in the S

Connie Sunday said: Mar 12, 2006
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

I collect the little booklets put out by the Summy-Birchard on the Suzuki movement. I’m not sure how many of them there are altogether, but I suspect they’re going to be collectors’ items, since Summy-Birchard has been sold recently.

The one that arrived recently from Amazon is “The Suzuki Violin Method in American Music Education” by John Kendall, who of course is one of the founders in this movement (he does call it a “movement,” by the way, for those who want to lecture me on how it’s “not a Method but a philosophy” or how it’s “interesting” that I don’t know that…sorry, but someone attacked me verbally on a list in this fashion).

Interesting reading, third paragraph of the Preface:

The dangers of “cultism” and narrow dogmatic interpretations of the pedagogical approach have not disappeared, but the major thrust of the movement, and the constant efforts to improve teaching skills and parent understanding, must inevitably raise the standards and produce positive results.(p. 7)

and

[the Talent Education movement in America ] ..is as such an influence, not as a cult or a fad, that any great set of ideas can fucntion best in the American music education scene. (p. 32)

and

if..these pedagogical ideas..can maintain ..a healthy freedom from pedantic strictures, it will undoubtedly make a tremendous contribution to musical and humantistic education in American life. (last paragraph)

Interesting that this essay, published in 1966, reveals John Kendall’s concerns over cultism and “pedantic strictures.”

Connie

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

Corinne said: Mar 13, 2006
 Violin, Piano
44 posts

I’ve been concerned about this issue. I’ve attended an institute where a teacher treated the Suzuki method as something like a religion.

I don’t think that music alone can change the world.

**This post has been edited by Rynna.

Connie Sunday said: Mar 13, 2006
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

I respect your opinion (i.e., that “We need Christ.” ) I don’t, however, agree with it. Please don’t include me in the “we.”

This reminds me of the gig I did in west New Mexico; the quartet members spontaneously started praying before the gig. I was too well bred to say anything, but I was not very happy that they assumed I was a Christian. It’s fine for anyone to believe anything they wish, but please, don’t assume everyone agrees with you. They don’t. That’s my own reservation.

Rynna

We need Christ.

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

Corinne said: Mar 13, 2006
 Violin, Piano
44 posts

Of course I don’t think everyone agrees with me! I’m so sorry if I offended you. I really don’t wish to force my religion on anyone here.

**This post has been edited by Rynna.

Melissa said: Mar 13, 2006
 Piano, Flute
151 posts

Yes, there have been instances and me being in situations (workshops) where the Suzuki Method came across as “cultish.” But I did not take it as such, and would not go there. Teachers that are that “hyped” with the method and are so zealous, just as with any belief/religion to me are somewhat “nuts.” I like the Suzuki Method, it works for me. I take what I can from these worshops and put them to good use. But I am open to other forms of education, although I have to admit, the technical approach and philosophy that I learned from the piano workshops I attended are the best, for me, and do work. But that is not to say I am going to go around and tout my/their way as the only way.
I had one family, that I think were zealot christians, who left my studio, because the mom thought there were inner meanings in the CDs.
She felt it strange that I was requiring her to play the recordings everyday for her children. Of course, this same woman also thought contrails from jets were a way for the government to control our way of thinking.
Crazy, paranoid fanatic I’d say.
So, don’t make too much of it. Bottom line. if you like the Suzuki method and you get good results, then great, that is all there is to it. There are no other motives involved. Children are listening instead of reading the music they are learning. In order for this to happen the recordings need to be played everyday.

Connie Sunday said: Mar 13, 2006
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

That’s a sensible way of approaching it, and I could not agree more.

My one and only complaint now and always in the past has been, that if one questions—even so slightly—some tenant of the Suzuki method, there is a defensive response (in some cases, granted) of resentment and anger. This is what troubles me.

What I would like—and granted, “what I would like” is not important to anyone buy me, surely—is a free expression of ideas, a dispassionate search for the truth, wherever it may lead—even if, and perhaps especially if—the outcomes contradict our most cherished beliefs.

But that is a great deal to ask, I realize.

honeybee

Bottom line. if you like the Suzuki method and you get good results, then great, that is all there is to it. There are no other motives involved. Children are listening instead of reading the music they are learning. In order for this to happen the recordings need to be played everyday.

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

Corinne said: Mar 13, 2006
 Violin, Piano
44 posts

honeybee

Yes, there have been instances and me being in situations (workshops) where the Suzuki Method came across as “cultish.” But I did not take it as such, and would not go there. Teachers that are that “hyped” with the method and are so zealous, just as with any belief/religion to me are somewhat “nuts.” I like the Suzuki Method, it works for me. I take what I can from these worshops and put them to good use. But I am open to other forms of education, although I have to admit, the technical approach and philosophy that I learned from the piano workshops I attended are the best, for me, and do work. But that is not to say I am going to go around and tout my/their way as the only way.

Thanks Honeybee, that’s the kind of experience I was trying to describe.

said: Mar 13, 2006
 89 posts

I had one family…who left my studio, because the mom thought there were inner meanings in the CDs.

You mean if I play the CDs backwards they won’t say “Practice only on the days you eat”??? :shock:

Mariam said: Mar 13, 2006
Mariam GregorianViolin
Ashburn, VA
34 posts

Honeybee, I also once taught a family that thought there were “inner meanings” in the songs! Weird…

Melissa said: Mar 13, 2006
 Piano, Flute
151 posts

Mshikibu: I really think you need to shrug it off. Who cares if someone is being defensive or acting like their way is best. Think of it as their problem, not yours, and get on with your life. Don’t let it get to you. You are not alone. But to keep dwelling on the people that bother you will not change them, nor will it help you. It is negative. Think positive, do what you think is best, and drop it. You will be a much happier person.

Connie Sunday said: Mar 13, 2006
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

You’re absolutely right, of course. And not the first person to tell me this. Also, I’m not the first person to make this observation, either (i.e., that some Suzuki teachers are defensive about it.)

I’ve been online with violin pedagogy stuff for 15 years now; I’ve taken a real beating for my webpage, my views, and everything else you could think of. Though most people are nice, I maintain that the internet is a zoo, with too many people saying things which they would not ordinarily say if you were face to face with them. This also is not an observation original with me.

Time to “retire” from the fray and get back to my own private interests, I think. Thanks for listening. —

honeybee

Mshikibu: I really think you need to shrug it off. Who cares if someone is being defensive or acting like their way is best. Think of it as their problem, not yours, and get on with your life. Don’t let it get to you. You are not alone. But to keep dwelling on the people that bother you will not change them, nor will it help you. It is negative. Think positive, do what you think is best, and drop it. You will be a much happier person.

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

Mariam said: Mar 14, 2006
Mariam GregorianViolin
Ashburn, VA
34 posts

You are absolutly right- the internet is a zoo. I’m not always convinced that it has made the world a better place. :roll:

Connie Sunday said: Mar 14, 2006
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

Well, there are a lot of good people, too, and a lot of opportunities to learn, but with that, a lot of very negative behaviors, misinformation, and cruelty. Any unmoderated forum, where people can gang up on some innocent person, is better avoided, IMHO. Sometimes—just sometimes—calling it a zoo is an insult to animals. :evil:

twinkletoes

You are absolutly right- the internet is a zoo. I’m not always convinced that it has made the world a better place. :roll:

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

said: Mar 14, 2006
 Violin, Guitar, Flute, Cello, Viola
120 posts

Can you tell me about those little booklets you were talking about that Summy Birchard puts out?

Thanks!

Connie Sunday said: Mar 15, 2006
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

Certainly; there’ s a whole bunch of them. Often, on Amazon, when I ordered a Suzuki book (I’m collecting these at http://beststudentviolins.com/PedagogyBookstore.html#suzuki )

Okay, of the four that I have (and I suspect there are dozens..?), all four have the same design but with four different color paper covers; the first three are published by Summy-Birchard and distributed by Warner Brothers. The last one has the same design but was published by Zen-On Music Company, Ltd., Tokyo, Japan.

The Suzuki Violin Method in American Music Education, John Kendall. A Suzuki Method Symposium. [Suzuki Method International, Summy-Birchard, 1966, 1973, 1978]

Thoughts on the Suzuki Piano School, Haruko Kataoka (Trans. Kyoko Selden) [Suzuki Method International, Summy-Birchard, 1985]

How to Teach Suzuki Piano, Shinichi Suzuki [Summy-Birchard, Warner Bros. 1993]

Shinichi Suzuki: Man of Love, Masaaki Honda, M.D. (Trans. Kyoko Selden) [Zen-On, 1978]

..If anyone knows of how to obtain a complete list of these publications, I’d love to know about that.

Connie

traim

Can you tell me about those little booklets you were talking about that Summy Birchard puts out?

Thanks!

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

Meg said: Mar 16, 2006
Meg Lanfear
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
36 posts

mshikibu wrote: “My one and only complaint now and always in the past has been, that if one questions—even so slightly—some tenant of the Suzuki method, there is a defensive response (in some cases, granted) of resentment and anger. This is what troubles me. “

I can relate to this as not being particularly easy to shrug off. We, as teachers, musicians, passionate individuals, etc. tend to really dedicate ourselves to our work. When it is brought to our attention that there are some who may be sticking to an idea or philosophy that may be incorrect, not working anymore, etc. it is frustrating to hear that it is due to the mere idea that it is the supposed “Suzuki way/tradition”—whether it is or not. Whether it is or is not Suzuki is not really the issue.

Although mshikibu and I may be feeling similar things for different reasons, I am very glad that there are improving standards required of potential teachers of the Suzuki method (although not stringent enough, in my opinion). I think that it is frustrating to find teachers who are involved with the Suzuki method because of the misconception that it is a religious method. (This misconception is perpetuated by people such as Rynna who find any moment to include their <personal> beliefs about God into a discussion). Others may get involved with the method because children mean a lot to them, etc. This bothers me as there are many other less specialized ways to be involved with children. The Suzuki method has a great philosophy, but we are talking about training an individual to play an instrument. Not just anyone who likes kids can do this or should do this.

I have found a lot of relief/support in pedagogy/training programs other than Suzuki in part because I do not find that fanaticism about the method/philosophy/man in these environments. Ultimately we all want to help others grow into wonderful people—Suzuki happened to get his message across more effectively than others. Suzuki has done a lot of good things, but it is certainly not a complete method. We would like Suzuki to be a great way of teaching AND a successful way of becoming a skilled musician. I would hope that the Suzuki method does not suffer because a few dogmatic teachers believe it is and do not look elsewhere for additional method/philosophy, training, etc.

Suzuki/teaching/music is something I am dedicating (and have dedicated) my life to and this is why it might be difficult to shrug off dogmatism particularly when it regards something that may be changing the standard of something I am involved in. I just hope to see the Suzuki method continue to be a highly respected method rather than a stale one that fails to attract highly skilled teachers and produce highly skilled musicians.

Connie Sunday said: Mar 21, 2006
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

Zoki, I cried when I read your thoughtful note. I have suffered so much from people just literally ripping me apart in public for even marginally questioning anything about Suzuki. And I was deeply moved when I first encountered Dr. Suzuki’s writings, so it’s not that I’m anti-Suzuki. Not at all. Anti-dogmatism.

Zoki

I can relate to this as not being particularly easy to shrug off…Suzuki/teaching/music is something I am dedicating (and have dedicated) my life to and this is why it might be difficult to shrug off dogmatism ..

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

Cynthia Faisst said: Apr 28, 2006
Cynthia Faisst
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
126 posts

I think Sensei would laugh and then maybe even get a little angry if we talked about his teaching methods as a tradition. THis sounds really odd. :O

He might even make fun of him self and shake his head. “Those crazy adoring fans of mine. What will they say next about me?” :D Genius is so easily missunderstood.

What I really got from this man, watching him everyday for 3 years is that the Suzuki Method is a process. In fact he refered to it everyday as research.

“Did you catch anything new today?” It wasn’t patientence that drove him. It was persistant and focused curiousity. :?:

Discovery and revelation is a spiritual experience and I think that is confusing for some people. The process of teaching is a great deal about self knowing. There are many instances when I get these “Aha” :idea: experiences, when I perceive something I hadn’t realized before. It sends a sensation to the brain that gives you a feeling of ecstasy. That’s your brain’s way of giving you an award for being a good learner while it transforms some of your brian cells.

Being frozen in mindless tradition or robotic ritual does not generate that same mental sensation or experience of discovery.

On the other hand, before you change something that this man did, make sure you understand the process he worked through to arrive at the methods that he used. NO effort was wasted on his part for something frivalous. Find out what the context of the lesson or the technic was. What was its purpose and for which level of development in the process of learning and acquisition was it intended? What was he observing at the time?

Regard his ideas with your curiousity. That would be the greatest compliment that you could pay to him.

IF you didn’t know he was a musician you might accuse him of being a thorough scientist. Not something religious by any means. :roll: Ask anyone who sat in on his group lessons day in and day out. To the untrained eye we might have been suspected of carrying out repetavive rituals. But to an alert researcher, we were carrying out carefully observed experimental controles. I think you usually refer to it as productive practicing in the best sense of the word. We were enthusiastic lab rats. :D

He left a legacy of research and discoveries about music and human developement that can be built upon further if we take the time to understand his intentions. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel and we can gather from those who have the same curiousity about music and how it enhances our development. There is no reason why this body of work can not be elaborated on.

And no doubt it will be.

Pablo Casals was a very spiritually oriented musician. And he is the one who said to Sensei and everyone else that day, “Maybe, Music will save the world.”

I can’t help but be as curious as Suzuki Sensie was.

What would happen if we put music to work for that purpose?

;-)

Ms. Cynthia
Studio:
Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin
Director of Santa Ana Suzuki Strings located at the
Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center
Volunteer, bring music to under-served communities around the world. Create Sound Investments and Futures.

Connie Sunday said: Nov 14, 2008
Connie SundayViolin, Piano, Viola
667 posts

This is an old thread, but not a forgotten topic, at least to me. I can share that after being on this board for two years, not one single person has attacked me personally or caused me any pain, or made me feel that my questions or comments were unwanted. I cannot say the same for other Suzuki forums.

I am still learning—growing as a teacher and as a human being. I would hope that never changes. I can understand how the methods and philosophy of Suzuki are so important that one wishes to preserve them intact, but the one thing which still bothers me in some of the literature is the feeling that the teachers have to be controlled, somehow.

As a student of Aikido and Zen and the philosopher Suzuki (not the violin teacher), I wonder if this is not an element attributable to Japanese culture? The desire to dedicate oneself to a higher good, and to allow someone else’s ideas to lead, is very strong in some people, in all cultures.

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