“Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.” – Shinichi Suzuki

In Ecuador, the Talent Education Method developed by Dr. Suzuki invites us to create spaces where art and music are present in order to shape good, sensitive human beings, who contribute to build a better society. Given the degradation of values ​​and social and ecological problems we face as humanity, it is urgent to incorporate and deepen art in education in order to train children as loving people. We use this method, where we all learn in community where children, youth, and adults learn to enjoy music and develop confidence, self-esteem, self-discipline, and concentration, as well as the need to try to do difficult things. These are qualities that are needed in a society.

The Institute for Research, Education and Promotion of Ecuador (Instituto de Investigación, Educación y Promoción Popular del Ecuador or INEPE) is a community-based, non-profit organization that works with the primary aim of contributing to improving the quality of education and the integral and harmonious development of children, youth, and adults for the pursuit of happiness and the improvement of their living conditions. Art and music have always been mainstays of our educational approach, and that is why since 2008, INEPE has developed music workshops in the Talent Education Program, where children, young adults, and community members live the teaching and learning process of piano, violin, viola, guitar, flute, recorder, and ensembles using the Suzuki Method of Talent Education.

The results from these years of work have been the engine driving INEPE efforts to spread this method and its benefits; therefore, in 2012, the First and Second Suzuki Festivals were organized in the city of Quito, with the presence internationally-recognized teachers who are experts in the method. In these festivals, the Every Child Can! course was the main event, and was directed by Caroline Fraser as a representative of the Suzuki Association of the Americas. The vital precepts of Talent Education were learned and internalized by about 190 musicians, teachers, parents, and other audiences interested in the subject of how to develop the full potential every child is born with by creating an affectionate environment.

Motivated to continue teaching and spreading the benefits of the Suzuki philosophy and method, in 2013 we organized the Third International Suzuki Festival, from the November 6–11, 2013. The teacher trainers who coordinated the courses in this festival were Caroline Fraser (Piano Unit One), Nancy Lokken (Violin Unit One), Roxana del Barco, and Maria Luisa Labarthe (Early Childhood Music One). For the first time in our country, we had a group of 15 Suzuki Violin teachers and three Suzuki Piano teachers.

We were happy to have participants from various parts of our country: Esmeraldas, Guayas, Tungurahua, Chimborazo, Loja, and Pichincha. We had the opportunity of sharing one day of the festival in the facilities of INEPE, in the southwest of Quito, 3100 meters above sea level.

These festivals have had the support and have been certified by the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador. The authorities of this university have organized our use of the facilities. We want to express our public gratitude to the authorities of the Catholic University for this important support.

Thanks to these first three festivals, several teachers from important points of our country have begun their Suzuki classes. Teachers of Guayaquil, Loja, Ambato, and Ibarra already have their studios and Suzuki academies, after their training in our festivals. Therefore, we as INEPE Suzuki teachers decided to establish the International Suzuki Festival as an annual effort of self-management that benefits more and more teachers and students in Ecuador. This is why during the Fourth International Suzuki Festival in November 2014 we had the presence of a delegation of teachers from the American School of Guayaquil and the Symphonic Orchestra of that city. Their experience attending the courses of Kodály One with Lydia Mill and the Filosofía course with Caroline Fraser was a source of inspiration to take the first step towards the co-organization of the next festival in the city of Guayaquil and to the formation of the Ecuador Suzuki Network.

The Fifth International Suzuki Festival Ecuador in 2016 was an important event in our country, as the city of Guayaquil hosted this event for the first time. It was also an opportunity for committed teamwork and networking with colleagues from this city, which is the main port of Ecuador. The organization of this Festival was held in cooperation and collaboration, and the event lasted two weeks (March 14–24, 2016). In addition, the Suzuki Association of the Americas provided an economic contribution for the teacher trainers’ travel to our country.

The Suzuki philosophy was shared and taught to musicians of the Symphony Orchestra of Guayaquil, teachers of conservatories and music schools, school directors, and parents, not only from this important city, but from other parts of the country. For the first time we had the attendance of teachers from the Galapagos Islands, Manabí,[1] and Ibarra. The teacher trainers that coordinated the courses of this festival were Caroline Fraser (Filosofía, Piano Unit One), Nancy Lokken (Violin Units One and Two) and Kathleen Schoen (Introduction to Recorder).

Unlike previous festivals, which had been characterized by the participation of Suzuki students from INEPE only, Suzuki students from Guayaquil participated in the master classes for piano, violin and recorder, as well as in the recitals. There were graduations of Piano One, and for the first time in Ecuador we had a graduate of Guitar One and Piano Two.

The teachers that attended the festival gathered for a concert dedicated to the teacher trainers, playing pieces of the Latin American and Ecuadorian repertoire.

This festival hatched networks with the authorities of the American Ecuadorian Center of Guayaquil, and the American School of Guayaquil, which were the headquarters for the courses. We also believe that this event marked a milestone in the history of Suzuki in Ecuador, because we could establish and settle the Ecuador Suzuki Network, composed of the coordinators of the Talent Education Program of INEPE, the Suzuki teachers of the American School of Guayaquil, and the Suzuki teachers of the Cindy Camchong Music Studio.

Both cities (Quito and Guayaquil) joined forces, initiatives, and common goals to make the experiences meaningful a worthwhile project for all children and communities in Ecuador, with committed and responsible teamwork.

We are currently in the process of making the Ecuador Suzuki Network an official legal entity which can be established as the representative and voice of the Suzuki work in our country. When this process is completed, we will designate the board of directors, which will be comprised of coordinators from the places in our country where the method is already being implemented.

Sixth International Suzuki Festival Ecuador

The vibration of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki’s words and legacy inspired all of us who belong to INEPE and to the Ecuador Suzuki Network, to work together in order to organize the VI International Suzuki Festival Ecuador, which took place from February 20 to March 8, 2017, with the endorsement and support of the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador and the Suzuki Association of the Americas.

This event was very important in our country because every year, more teachers, directors from educational institutions, parents, and the general public are getting to know the Suzuki approach to education and understanding the urgency we have as a society and planet to deepen this philosophy of life. It is especially important in this new era; when getting together as human beings in community, shaping ourselves together through art to take care of our common home, the Earth, is so necessary. This is why today, more than ever, we see Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy not only as something applicable to musical training, but as a philosophy to continue generating more life.

What made this festival a different event? First, we created opportunities before the festival to interact personally, through free talks with leaders of institutions and other people, in order to dialogue and answer questions and concerns about the festival. We were able to get across Dr. Suzuki’s message in more depth, as well as to talk about the importance of having the Suzuki Association of the Americas Teacher Trainers in our country. In this way, we made it possible for participants from various parts of the country to attend and participate in the courses. Today, attendees have received training in the Suzuki philosophy, music reading, Kodaly, early childhood music, piano, violin and recorder.

The fifth and sixth festivals have become milestones in the development of the Suzuki philosophy and methodology in our country. They have created a network of people and institutions who have worked together to produce these events which have attracted participants from various corners of the country: from Quito, Guayaquil, Loja, Ambato, Riobamba, Esmeraldas, Quevedo, Cayambe, Ibarra, Galápagos, and Santa Elena. With joy we have seen that, thanks to the courses offered in our festival, there are now several institutions and professionals putting the methodology into practice, benefiting more children and families as we become better human beings, individuals of peace who work together to build a better world through music.

The Sixth International Suzuki Festival in Ecuador had a very interesting group of participants: music professionals from prestigious schools in the capital, educators of pre-school children, instrumentalists, teachers of music education, and parents. It was a great joy to know that our festival is also being recognized internationally. We had the presence of two participants from Venezuela and two participants from Argentina, who learned about the Suzuki method and the courses in Ecuador by various means and who made an effort to travel to Quito in order to get the training in the four courses offered: Suzuki Philosophy, Music Reading, Introduction to Recorder, and Recorder Unit One. It is important to mention that we have been pioneers in working with the Introduction to Recorder course, with the participation of teachers who today can implement the method with large groups of students in primary schools and high schools. This course has been very important in our country, and this time, we experienced the tremendous value of continuing the training in Book One in order to work with this instrument that is accessible to many students. The magic of the tools of the method, both at a human and pedagogical level, was sown inside each one of the participants, who in their testimonies indicate that after their training there was a change—sometimes radical—in their way of seeing education and life.

At the Sixth International Suzuki Ecuador Festival we also had the opportunity, as teachers of the Talent Education Program of INEPE, to present some of the fruits of our work with the students and families who participate in the program. With happiness we were able to celebrate music with performances in piano, violin, guitar, flute, and recorder. In addition, we presented in concert, the Suzuki Choir of INEPE, which is an innovative space of vocal and choral work where children, adolescents, and their parents, grandparents, and teachers sing and share music together every week. All this in synchrony with dance and above all, in a common vibration, communicating the joy we have despite the adversities we might face; the joy in knowing with conviction that we continue walking along this beautiful path where we see that the construction of a new humanity is possible.

Thank you Dr. Shinichi Suzuki for your legacy! Thank you Teacher Trainers for sharing your knowledge and your life with us! We will continue weaving more networks of love and art so that Suzuki continues to flourish and beat in more and more hearts in our small and multicolored country. Our dream and vision is to expand and continue spreading the legacy of Dr. Suzuki in our country, in order to shape citizens of peace, whose art and nobility of feelings are the builders of a better humanity.

[1] This is the province that was most affected by the earthquake that took place on April 16, 2016.