Dr. Shinichi Suzuki of Japan is famous for developing a unique method of teaching music to children. Suzuki’s method immerses children in music from a very young age and teaches them to listen for the phrasing, expression, notes and beauty. Suzuki children also learn music in partnership with their parent.
This week we are attending the Chicago Suzuki Institute—our daughter plays cello and our son, piano. Suzuki teachers are known for their patience and kindness. With all the ugliness in the world today, being around all this compassion and kindness has been a wonderful respite. I’ve also been amazed that the instruction my children are receiving this week teaches life philosophies that are good for us all.
Dr. Suzuki’s goal was not just to teach children music, but to build a better human being. Suzuki himself said, “If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline and endurance. He gets a beautiful heart.” Dr. Suzuki spent a lot of time setting up a student before they play, making sure they have the proper posture, that the foundation of their feet and back are ready to support them. Every child deserves such patient, foundation-building.
My daughter attends Mr. Krigger’s “Music & Movement” class. I adore Mr. Krigger. He may be my most favorite human being. He can control a room full of dancing, jiggling toddlers with the sound of his cello, his balloon animals and Mr. Krigger’s rules, a few of which are:
- If someone is not sharing the sound say, “Excuse me, but would you please share the sound?”
- Respect each other’s bubble of space.
- If you step on your neighbor, stop and say, “I’m sorry.”
“Why do you come to class?” Mr. Krigger asks. All his children know to respond, “To help each other and make a beautiful sound.”
Ms. Tio, my son’s piano teacher advises him to make his presence felt, to express himself through the piano. “Do you know there is power in your sound?” she asks. “If you express yourself in a beautiful way your audience will be spellbound.”
Learning along with my children this week has reminded me that, in spite of horrific headlines, expressions of beauty are still evident in our world. Yes, we need more kindness, patience, and compassionate foundation-building, but witnessing these children at work gives me hope that we can help each other and make a beautiful, powerful sound.