International Research Symposium on Talent Education

A record number of Suzuki teachers, researchers and graduate students gathered on May 27 and 28, 2010, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the International Research Symposium on Talent Education. Dr. Robert Duke, Professor of Music and Human Learning from the University of Texas at Austin, was the graduate student seminar facilitator and keynote speaker. The symposium included discussions of research in progress, presentations of current research, and time to socialize and discuss research and statistical methods.

In an effort to develop more involvement of graduate students in Talent Education research, a graduate student research seminar was added to the schedule. A record number of submissions to participate in the seminar were submitted from all over the US and Canada. Three graduate students with research projects participated in the graduate student seminar:

  • Elizabeth Guerriero, a doctoral student from Pennsylvania State University, “Getting Fit: Criteria String Teachers Use for Choosing Shoulder and Chin Rests”

  • Abigail McHugh, a doctoral student from Eastman School of Music, “A Comparative Investigation of Mental Practice Strategies Used by Collegiate-Level Cello Students”

  • Karen Spencer, a graduate student of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, “Homework Partnerships: Exploring the impact of student, parent and teacher partnerships within a grounded theory design.”

In a master class style, Dr. Duke reviewed each project with the student, discussed their research and its implications, and made suggestions for focusing their research questions and developing the research design. The registrants of the symposium observed the interaction and then participated in a group discussion after the seminar was completed. Of the research seminar, Abigail McHugh described the interaction with Dr. Duke as “interesting and helpful” for her. Another graduate student, Elizabeth Guerriero, said, “The discussion was incredibly stimulating and will help direct and focus my research for the doctoral dissertation.” Guerriero added, “My advisor at Penn State was so impressed by this seminar format that she plans to suggest a similar format for the research symposium at the Music Educator’s National Conference next year.”

The current research presentations at the IRSTE are the centerpiece of each research symposium. Dr. Paul Boyd, Dr. Karin Hendricks and David Gerry, the three presenters, highly regarded researchers in their respective fields, shared with everyone the results of their research.

Dr. Paul Boyd, a piano professor at the University of the Mainland in Houston, Texas, presented the results of a combination of two historical research papers, “A Review of Essential Pedagogical and Research Literature on Suzuki Piano,” and “Suzuki Piano Insights: Results from a Survey of Piano Teacher Trainers.” He found several letters in the Suzuki archives at Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville which were written by Dr. and Mrs. Suzuki regarding the piano method. His research included a historical overview of the development of the Suzuki Piano Method both in Japan and in the U.S.

Dr. Karin Hendricks from the University of Illinois presents at the 10th International Research Symposium on Talent Education

Dr. Karin Hendricks from the University of Illinois

Dr. Karin Hendricks, a visiting professor of music education at the University of Illinois, presented results of a research project called “Self-Efficacy in Early Childhood String Education: Integrating Pedagogical Approaches to Promote Positive Self-Belief.” She offered insights from her current qualitative study of how children’s beliefs in their ability to accomplish specific tasks impacts behaviors, attitudes, and achievements. Since she is continuing this line of research, Dr. Hendricks also gathered further insights regarding self-efficacy from the symposium participants.

David Gerry at the 10th International Research Symposium on Talent Education

David Gerry presenting his study on “Active Music Classes for Infants Promote Acquisition of Musical Structure”

David Gerry, a Suzuki Flute Teacher Trainer and doctoral student in music cognition at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, presented his newly completed study on “Active Music Classes for Infants Promote Acquisition of Musical Structure.” The study of baby music classes, co-authored by Andrea Unrau and Dr. Laurel Trainor, was based on the principles of Suzuki Early Childhood Education method, which was begun in Japan by Dr. Suzuki and was further developed by Dorothy Jones in London, Ontario. David Gerry described his research endeavors as “getting my doctorate in psychology, neuroscience and Dorothy Jones.” The results indicate that active musical participation accelerates musical acquisition as compared to passive listening. Babies can and do engage in meaningful musical training when appropriate pedagogical methods are used. The results also suggest possible social and cognitive benefits using the Suzuki Early Childhood Education method. David Gerry’s research findings are an important breakthrough, especially since very little experimental research has been conducted with 10- to 13-month-old babies. This study could affect educational policies on an international level.

The 10th International Research Symposium on Talent Education ended with a keynote address by Dr. Bob Duke titled “How Children Learn…and How They Don’t.” Held in a large room in the Minneapolis Hilton with several hundred people in attendance, the session was standing room only. In his usual engaging, thought-provoking style, Bob Duke challenged educators to set out with a vision of a student as an accomplished learner, and to have as a goal changing the student’s perceptions of their own behavior. He exhorted teachers not to be “show and tell” teachers but instead to be “ask, listen, watch” teachers who are themselves learners in the educational environment. Dr. Duke described how meaningful it is for students to listen to multiple performances, recordings or live performances, of their pieces. He also urged that performing repetitions of music needs to include awareness of the perceived differences with each repetition. He explained that error is the discrepancy between what you did from what you intended to do which can lead to more meaningful practice.

The International Research Symposium on Talent Education was initiated by Margery Aber at the American Suzuki Institute 20 years ago based on Dr. Suzuki’s concept, “everyday a new idea!” We celebrated the 10th symposium with graduate students, professional researchers, and many Suzuki educators by continuing the mission of IRSTE of promoting research in Talent Education through education and by providing a forum for the sharing of research of the Suzuki Method and related fields.

Thank you, Dr. Suzuki and Marge Aber!