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Suzuki Journalism

Dan McReavy - 07/11/2012 11:52 CST

Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan

With a legacy like his, the genius Japanese violinist Shin'ichi Suzuki wasn't a childhood musical prodigy as one might assume.  While Suzuki grew up working in his father's violin factory it wouldn't be until he was 18 years old that he would first pick up the violin to begin playing.

Suzuki's story is like so many famous stories and he never received any formal education beyond the secondary level.  At age 26, with the blessing of his father, Suzuki left his family and friends in Japan to study the violin in Germany.  However, it was no tragedy that Suzuki was able to study under the likes of concertmaster Karl Klinger and was under the guardianship of Albert Einstein.

Despite no formal post-secondary education, not picking up the violin until adult-age and his family losing their violin factory to American bombers during World War II, the Suzuki name lives on in the worlds of music and pedagogy.  Suzuki mastered the violin as an adult-beginner and while doing so, created the philosophy of education we know as the Suzuki method.

At its core, the Suzuki method is based upon the belief that everyone has the innate ability to learn and develop complex mental tasks to a high level of competency, regardless of age.  We observe this phenomenon as children acquire language skills in their early years through their environment, not a classroom.  Having a two year-old nephew and a six month-old niece has given me the opportunity to experience these skills develop in a child first-hand.

Fundamental to the Suzuki method is creating a learning environment that is optimized for acquiring the desired skill.  In the case of Suzuki, he discovered the method through learning the violin at an adult age.  He successfully developed and applied the Suzuki method towards teaching students how to play musical instruments with no prior experience.  But Suzuki wasn't motivated to create musical prodigies.  Suzuki wanted to establish generations of children with "noble hearts" and "make good citizens."  These good citizens would be cultivated by nurturing sensitivity, discipline and endurance in the character of people through the development of musical talent.

To develop a person's musical talent the student must immerse himself in a musical environment.  That means, listening to music, practicing music and surrounding oneself with other passionate musicians to fellowship and learn from.  To be clear, learning is NOT an individual activity.  Learning is a group activity that requires enormous individual effort and investment of time that is complimented with community support and influence.

Almost a century later and people, still, like to debate the Suzuki method, but no one can argue that is hasn't endured, produced fantastic musicians and educated many people around the world.

While nwzPaper is a global news platform, it is really about supporting Suzuki's goal of "making good citizens," but that requires the individual effort and participation of people in every community around the world to achieve.

While money is an important factor in life, it shouldn't be your primary motivation to inform your peers.  Having well-educated peers and an informed community should be your paramount motivation for informing your community about important events and developments in the community.

Do your part to make a well-informed community of "good citizens" and start writing today!