Dorothy Jones, CLC Award recipient, at the 2010 Conference

Claire Jones-Fright, Sharon Jones, and Dorothy Jones

Dorothy’s introduction to the Suzuki Method was in the winter of 1968/69 when daughters Beth and Sharon began Suzuki violin study. Dorothy soon learned about the developments in Suzuki Piano and embarked on her career as an instructor and trainer in that area.

When Dorothy first met Dr. Suzuki in 1972, she heard him say the words that would forever change the direction of her life: “Music education of a child should not start at birth but should start nine months before birth.” Two years later when she returned to Hawaii for the 2nd International Conference, he said, “I was wrong. The education of a child should not start nine months before birth, but nine months before the birth of the mother.”

In 1985 Dorothy traveled to Japan with her son David and had the opportunity to observe and study with Dr. Suzuki, Dr. Kataoka, and Miss Mori. Dr. Suzuki encouraged her to observe the preschool classes at Talent Education Institute and to start a school when she got back home. He always added, “…. And don’t forget the babies.”

In 1986, Dorothy began work on her school, Children’s Talent Education Centre. Over the next few years Dorothy and her daughter Sharon, developed a curriculum that has become the Suzuki Early Childhood Education program throughout the world. Through correspondence with Dr. Suzuki, Dorothy established a number of programs at her school including a prenatal program for expectant parents, a weekly baby and parent class, a weekly preschool and parent class, a five-day Suzuki preschool and a five-day Suzuki elementary school.

Dr. and Mrs. Suzuki were tremendous supporters of her school. Teachers from around the world came to Children’s Talent Education Centre for training in Suzuki Early Childhood Education. At the 1989 Suzuki International Conference in Japan, Mrs. Suzuki herself introduced the Suzuki Early Childhood Program to the teachers in attendance.

Since retiring from the school she founded and directed for 12 years Dorothy has travelled the world extensively, focusing on Early Childhood Education Teacher Training. She has dedicated her life’s work to promoting what Dr. Suzuki believed was the most important job for all teachers: preparing parents and children for lifelong learning by creating an environment in which success is possible and happiness can prevail.

Alice Joy Lewis:

In her tribute to Dorothy, Lynn McCall, Suzuki ECE teacher from New Haven, CT, stated: “Because of her enduring efforts and unique contribution, there are now Suzuki ECE programs in Canada, the U.S., Latin America, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Australia, Europe, Hong Kong and even Iceland. She is a most gracious, caring and humble human being and a pioneer in the truest sense. It is my great honor to call her teacher and mentor and friend.

Suzuki Pioneer Bill Starr sent his congratulations, recalling a conversation with Dr. Suzuki late in his life when he expressed his regret for not having done more in the area of general education rather than just music. Bill feels that Dr. Suzuki would be very happy to see Dorothy receive recognition in an area that he was so very passionate about.

Message from David Gerry:
I first met Dorothy when I returned from a sabbatical year in Matsumoto and my graduation from TERI. For a few years, I travelled weekly to Dorothy’s school and started a flute class there. I like to think the children learned a lot from me, but during my time there I learned much from Dorothy. When I was having a challenging moment with a student, down we would trot to play for Dorothy. I was a regular visitor in her office to talk teaching, and I was able to play on many occasions for the baby class, where my reputation as the Pied Piper of Children’s Talent Education Centre was cemented.

Fast forward to 2006, when at another crossroad in my life, I was offered the amazing opportunity to do a Ph.D. in Psychology and Neuroscience, under the supervision of one of the world’s most famous scientists in the field, Dr. Laurel Trainor. My research has focused on the cognitive and social benefits of participation in Suzuki baby classes, I am delighted that preliminary results are sure to bring world-wide interest in Dorothy’s life work. Every step of my journey towards this new milestone in my life, I have felt Dorothy alongside me. I am pleased that I will be receiving my Ph.D. this fall in the field of Psychology, Neuroscience and Dorothy Jones. Thank-you, Dorothy, for your help and inspiration.

From Sharon Jones:
I have had the very unique and wonderful opportunity to have Dorothy Jones play a number of roles throughout my life; that of a loving parent, a Suzuki parent, a mentor, a colleague, and a partner in this journey we’ve shared through Suzuki Early Childhood Education. Over the years I have witnessed the way my mother has impacted communities of parents and teachers around the world with her ability to ignite her listener’s imagination and to inspire. Her own belief in the potential for all children and her enthusiasm can be mesmerizing—the impetus for so many who have caught the excitement of Suzuki Early Childhood Education.

A final tribute was paid to Dorothy in the form of a reading from a beloved children’s book often read in Suzuki ECE classes. It was dedicated to Dorothy’s unwavering and patient nurturing of so many people in the global Suzuki community and read by Dorothy’s granddaughter, Claire:

The Carrot Seed:
A little boy planted a carrot seed.
His mother said, “I’m afraid it won’t come up.”
His father said, “I’m afraid it won’t come up.”
And his big brother said, “It won’t come up.”
Every day the little boy pulled up the weeds
around the seed and sprinkled the ground with water.
But nothing came up. And nothing came up.
Everyone kept saying it wouldn’t come up.
But he still pulled up the weeds around it every day
and sprinkled the ground with water.
And then, one day, a carrot came up,
just as the little boy had known it would.