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Monday, May 6, 2013

Monday Morning Check In: Always Have an Answer

Written by Paula E. Bird ©2013

I find it important as a teacher to do more than educate my students about how to play a musical instrument. I also want to educate my students' parents about how to be better parents and home teachers to my students. My students and their parents will then become ambassadors of my teaching philosophy to the community. As we are all role models, we will hopefully influence others to espouse the same philosophy about the importance of music and music lessons on the road to growing a fine heart and developing talent and ability, which is the embodiment of Dr Suzuki's vision.

This scenario needs more time and attention. We should carefully consider our beliefs and attitudes in order to develop a system of statements and explanations about what we do and why. We want to spread the word about the importance of what we do and encourage others to join in our adventure.

Dr. Suzuki has written several statements that embody his philosophy about Talent Education. These statements include:

  • Talent is not inborn.
  • All children have talent.
  • Man is the son of his environment.
  • The environment determines the person.
  • The fate of a child is in the hands of his parents.
What statements would you make to reflect your philosophy and beliefs? You may adapt or borrow someone else's statements, philosophy, and beliefs as your own, as I did with those statements that Dr. Suzuki made. You may also have other beliefs that reflect who you are and what you stand for. Perhaps you have not systematically thought through this subject area. I recall one terrific visiting university professor -- an excellent teacher -- and his encouragement that we students spend the time to develop our own "Bill of Rights." This teacher's name was Dean J. Spader (University of South Dakota), and he encouraged us to consider the principles and beliefs that we stood for and to write out statements that reflected the importance of our beliefs. In this way we would have statements of principle that would shape and guide our life's direction and would provide a framework to influence others in a positive way.

Here are a few questions to get you started as you think about what you stand for:

What is your purpose in life? What do you want to accomplish? If you have trouble with this one, think about what people might say about you in a eulogy. What do you want people to remember about you and your life?

What attitudes are important to you? Make a list and reflect on why these attitudes are an important part of your makeup.

What beliefs do you stand for? Write out some statements that reflect your beliefs so that you can readily share your philosophy with anyone who asks.

I regularly write and think about my beliefs and philosophy about teaching and life in general. I am always ready to explain the Suzuki philosophy of Talent Education to anyone who asks or whenever an opportunity arises to talk about it. That is because a long time ago, I wrote out an essay for myself about the Suzuki Method. Teachers who regularly attend Suzuki Teacher Training will have probably gone through a similar exercise. Over the years I have also written many letters, emails, and articles about the Suzuki philosophy. These tasks exercised my thinking about what I do and why. Because I spent time thinking and writing about my personal philosophy, I now have a series of philosophical statements that I can share with others at a moment's notice or whenever asked by someone about what I do. I have even written a lengthy letter to potential new parents. This letter shares my philosophy about teaching and music education and is part of my initial contact with a parent of a potential new student.

Take some time this week to consider your beliefs, attitudes, and purpose. How would you explain these things to others? Be prepared to tell others why it is that you do what you do.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV).


  1. Your blog is informative and I have really enjoyed reading through and learning from your posts. My 6 year old daughter, Madison, is about to perform in her first recital this week. She is playing Boil 'Em Cabbage and Twinkle Variation C. I just happened to stumble upon your site today(through a google search for twinkle variation names--we are practicing variation D) and wished I had found it sooner! Looking forward to reading and learning more!

  2. Thank you, Kimberly. I hope the recital goes well. Let me know of any topics you want to consider.