Dr. Suzuki wanted to raise the next generation of children to be fine, noble human beings. He lived through World War II in Japan, and he saw up close the devastating effects his country's aggression initiated. The problems were not limited to Japan though. Dr. Suzuki also witnessed the savage tendencies of the world in general, and it was his life's passion to raise children who would become fine citizens and make the world a better place.
With the events of last Friday -- the shooting of innocent children and teachers at a Connecticut elementary school -- there is a need for all of us to pull together and bring Dr. Suzuki's vision to its fruition. Now more than ever, we can see how much the world needs to raise fine, noble human beings.
Dr. Suzuki's work was primarily aimed at teaching children, but his work also focused on teaching parents how to be more effective as parents and teachers. Dr. Suzuki's books showed parents how to be better parents, thereby helping parents to raise up their children to be better parents, and in turn these new parents would then raise up their own children to be better parents, and so forth.
In May 1999, one of my studio parents called me to talk about the parent’s struggles with her child during home practices. I wrote a brief newsletter article at the time for my studio on the topic of the important reason that I thought the studio parents and I should work through these issues to teach the children how to play violin. Looking back more closely at the date that I wrote this short article, I discovered that I had written it one month after the Columbine High School shooting of April 1999. Since I found myself thinking along the same lines this past weekend as I had over a decade ago, I thought I would reprint my article from that previous sad time, because my answer to the question of why we do this remains the same now as it was in 1999.
Why Am I Doing This?
(Printed in the May 1999 issue of the Bird Suzuki Studio Newsletter)
A parent called me recently to ask, “why am I doing this?” Now is a good time to remind ourselves what our goals were when we began the Suzuki program of music education.
In one of Jeanne Luedke’s newsletters, she stated that the Suzuki experience is not just about learning to play an instrument, but about developing the whole child. The whole child is the goal, and the study of the musical instrument is the means we use to work toward that goal. Along the way the child develops several abilities through music lessons:
(1) the ability to listen
(2) the ability to observe and imitate
(3) the ability to memorize
(4) the ability to concentrate
(5) the ability to perform
(6) the ability to be disciplined
(7) the ability to persevere, and
(8) the abilities of the heart
At this time of our society’s history, it may be the abilities of the heart that are the most crucial reason that parents should persevere in music instruction for their child. Dr. Suzuki said that “a child raised on Bach from a young age will develop the noble soul, powerful personality and the religious sensitivity of Bach. The force that makes a child want to live and survive will absorb the traits of Bach’s music to a high degree.” (Ability Development From Age Zero, by Dr. Suzuki, Ability Development Associates, Inc., Athens, OH, p. 40).
We are working with our children and exposing them to the best and most noble music and art that our culture has produced in the hopes that we will guide their young hearts into developing into the best and most noble person that they can become, and we hope that by doing so our children will not grow up to build bombs and take guns to school to destroy other human beings.
That is why we are doing this.
Go and give your children a hug.