Thursday, September 17, 2015

Shinichi Suzuki, Meet Charlotte Mason

I read Shinichi Suzuki's Nurtured by Love last year and enjoyed seeing how this 20th-Century Japanese music teacher's philosophy dovetails so beautifully with the educational methods of 19th-Century British educator Charlotte Mason.  Both Mason and Suzuki believed in the inherent dignity of the child, in the pursuit of beauty and truth, and in habit formation!

Here are a few tidbits from Suzuki that I copied in my notebook because they rang true, inspired me and also 'clicked' with the educational philosophy that makes so much sense to me.

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"Every single human being's personality--his ability, his way of thinking and feeling--is carved and chiseled by training and environment. It shows in each person's face and eyes.  His whole character becomes visible."

"We don't have to look for specific innate abilities or talents.  It is a superior environment that has the greatest effect in creating superior abilities."  (This reminds me of Charlotte Mason's maxim that "education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life".)

"With the emphasis only put on informing and instructing, the actual growing life of the child is ignored." 

"The habit of action...this, I think, is the most important thing we must is an indispensable skill."

Suzuki's response to a parent who asked if his violin-playing child would ever amount to anything: "The only concern for parents should be to bring up their children as noble human beings.  That is sufficient.  If this is not their greatest hope, in the end the child may take a road contrary to their expectations. Your son plays the violin very well.  We must try to make him splendid in mind and heart also."

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Refreshing, visionary words to read.  How many people these days talk of raising a child to be noble? 

Thank you, Shinichi Suzuki, for inspiring me as a teacher and parent--and also a pianist.  Since reading this book I have memorized one brief piece of music from start to finish, and now I'm working on playing it beautifully. (Suzuki believed that the ability to play one piece of music beautifully was far more valuable than playing many pieces with mediocrity! Mine is merely an extremely simplistic, shortened version of Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring but it makes me happy-and maybe a little more noble.)

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