Tuesday Tome Week 31 – Nurtured By Love

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Nurtured by Love was written by Shinichi Suzuki when he was in his 80s. His wife, Waltraud, translated it into English. The subtitle is “The Classic Approach to Talent Education.” If your child is taking music lessons from a Suzuki-certified teacher, you will probably be required to read this book as a Suzuki parent.

Nurtured by Love Review

Suzuki’s idea about learning an instrument has to do with fluency in one’s native language. Just as Japanese children become fluent in Japanese and master complicated dialects by the age of four or five, American children become fluent in English, their native language, and master the accent of the area in which they were raised. It works the same way for an instrument. Continue reading »

Before they speak, babies listen to the language spoken to them for about a year before they start making intelligible sounds. In the same way, Suzuki students listen to a lot of music many times over. That is why Suzuki method books come with CDs.

I know my children have to listen to their songs every night. Their teacher ascribes certain songs to be listened to five or six times every night. Which brings me to the next core value in Talent Education: repetition. Suzuki is known to have said that every piece should be repeated as many times as your age. So a six-year-old should go through their music six times, a 42-year-old should repeat a song 42 times. It’s cruel, I know, but that’s what he said.

He should know. He picked up a violin at the age of 17 and experienced a lot of discouragement because by then his fingers were not accustomed to moving up and down the strings like those of children who had been playing for a few years.

The core value of Talent Education is that we create talent through hard work and exposure to noble people. People are not born with talent. Talent is developed. It takes dedication from the parents and a wonderful teacher to awaken a child to the beauty of music and the desire to produce ever more beautiful sounds.

Suzuki writes: “Parents who understand children make fine teachers.” What a great thought for homeschooling parents! And on page 86 of the second edition, he writes a scathing rebuke to schools who instruct instead of educating. He explains the difference between instruction and education. Schools take children in, inform them of certain facts, and then test them. If the test results are low, they declare that child to be “deficient.” Next!

Education has nothing to do with that process of informing and testing to death to see if the child has retained the information. Education means to bring out, to develop from latent or potential existence. True education develops the human potential.

The book is actually a series of stories from his life about his students and teachers, friends and inspirational acquaintances (like Einstein and Enesco). At first you scratch your head and don’t get what Suzuki is saying, but as you close the book and live your life as a Suzuki parent, you finally see it. There are many lessons to be drawn from this small book (109 pages in my edition) which can definitely be tackled in one week.


Tuesday Tome Week 12 – Ability Development

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Ability Development from Age Zero by Shinichi Suzuki is required reading for Suzuki parents, those of us who put our children through music lessons with a Suzuki-certified teacher. My children take violin lessons from a Suzuki teacher and so I read this book as part of my preparation to support the teacher in her goals and methods.

Suzuki Method principles for parents

The Bible of Suzuki parents, this book should be read once a year.

First off, this is a short book – only 96 pages. Even if you read only 14 pages per day (that’s turning the page only seven times, friends!) you should be able to cover it in one week. By the way, when a book gets boring, I tell myself I have to turn the page only five more times and then I will put it down. Or something similar. Because motivation to finish something does not come easy, but if I can focus on a short-term goal, that does not seem daunting, I feel better about the task at hand.

Ability Development From Age Zero

This book does not get boring very often though. There are stories and anecdotes about different parents and children who are using the Suzuki method. There is some repetition in it, but I suppose it is a good thing. I know I need some concepts drilled into me and it only happens by hearing them over and over again.

Here are some powerful concepts from this book:  Continue reading »

  • Children can learn ability, they can develop talent.
  • They are a product of their environment.
  • After a child practices a piece, tell her “That was good! Can you do it better?” By the way, I tried it with my children and it works! They love to try again, to strive to do it better.
  • Anger is not necessary. When dealing with children, some parents behave like half-wolves (a reference to stories about wolves raising human babies). We must put away anger as we parent our children and become civilized, as Mr. Suzuki puts it.
  • Start an Anger Chart. Daily, record who loses their temper and how many times. We did, in our household, and the result surprised all of us. I surely did not want to get on the Anger Chart, so I have kept my temper in check so far. We will see how long it lasts. One of my children complains about the chart and I think you can guess why. It’s because they have an anger problem. It holds them accountable.
  • Parents are haughty. We really need to humble ourselves as we deal with our children and realize they are who they are because of what we have done to them. Do you have an obstinate child? It’s because you have given in to that child consistently. Now the child thinks she can get away with their own will. Do you have an angry child? Maybe he is simply mirroring your behavior. Is your child lazy? Look at your own lifestyle and schedule.
  • Let your prayer be a “thank you.” My husband has told me this many times and, apparently, Mr. Suzuki agrees. (My husband is 99% right and I love it! It’s why I married him.) If our hearts are truly thankful for everything in our lives, we do not need to ask for things in our prayers. I know Mr. Suzuki comes from a Buddhist perspective. On the other hand, Jesus has encouraged us to ask, Paul exhorts us to come boldly to the throne of grace etc. However, gratefulness in the heart lies at the foundation of a harmonious person, one who can turn around and produce beautiful music to enrich the lives of others.

These are just highlights of the wonderful concepts which make up the Suzuki method or the Talent Education Movement started by Shinichi Suzuki. I count myself blessed for having read this book and look forward to reading the other two titles on my “Suzuki Parent Required Reading List.”


Violin Recital

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Last Sunday, my children had their violin recital. It was my daughter’s first. She started taking violin lessons in August and she has already learned the first five pieces in the Suzuki violin book number 1. By that I mean that she can play them by heart, but you understand she does not sound like a virtuoso yet, right? She sounds like a five-year-old who has been practicing five times a week for the past five months.

My son has taken violin lessons for two years now. He is working on the last piece in the second Suzuki violin book and then he will have graduated to book number three. He does well for his age but violin is a tough instrument. Just when you think you have fixed your fingering, the bow starts flying in all directions and you need to give it some attention.  Continue reading »

I have uploaded their Twinkle, Twinkle duet from the violin recital. They did solos as well, but they will have to remain family videos. They also played in group songs. My son played four group songs and my daughter two. Here are We Wish You A Merry Christmas and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. My son is second from the right. Here’s Jolly Old Saint Nicholas. My daughter is wearing a red dress.

It was fun to see them out there and a good experience for all of us. Daddy felt proud, I know that. It was a relief to finally have the recitals behind us and take a much-needed break.

I will be honest, I have a hard time being positive about these small beginnings. I expect to hear an adult sound out of them. So this is my growth area, to be positive and encouraging despite the dissonant notes. I have to tell myself, “Despise not the day of small beginnings.” If you also have a hard time with this, take heart, for you are not alone, my friend. I feel your pain.

FYI, I enforce practice five days a week. They don’t practice on the day we go to church or on the day they have a lesson with their teacher. It is hard to get them to practice cheerfully, but I believe strongly in discipline. Children must be taught that work has to be done even when we do not feel like it. Good work ethics is what they call it, right?