Dr. Shinichi Suzuki was born on October 17, 1898, in Nagoya, Japan, to Mr. and Mrs. Masakichi Suzuki. As a boy, Shinichi Suzuki and his brothers would play in their father's violin factory using the wooden violin parts as toys. One day Masakichi Suzuki brought home a record player, or gramophone, for his family to enjoy. One of the first recordings played was Ave Maria composed by Franz Schubert and performed by world famous violinist, Mischa Elman. The beautiful tone coming from the recording so inspired Shinichi that he asked his father to bring a violin home from the factory. With much practice and dedication, Shinichi taught himself how to play Ave Maria.
When Shinichi Suzuki was 21 years old he went to live with the Marquis Tokugawa in Tokyo where he studied violin. A year and one half later with the permission of his father, Shinichi left to study music in Berlin, Germany. When he arrived in Berlin, Suzuki went to many performances looking for a teacher who could speak to his heart. He found that teacher in Professor Karl Klingler while hearing the Klingler Quartet at a home concert. At another of the many home concerts Suzuki attended, he met his wife, Waltraud and his mentor and friend, Albert Einstein.
After their marriage, Shinichi and Waltraud moved back to Tokyo and Shinichi took a job as a teacher at the Imperial Conservatory. While teaching at the conservatory and playing in a quartet with his brothers, Shinichi's philosophy of how to teach children the violin began to take form. Suzuki observed that Japanese children learn to speak their native tongue by listening to their parents speak, receiving encouragement from their parents and possessing a natural desire to learn to communicate. He wondered why a child could not learn to play the violin the same way. If children had the proper environment, a willingness to participate, and patient encouragement from parents and teachers learning to play the violin would be possible at a very young age.
With his philosophy in place, Suzuki started the Talent Education movement in Japan. When his young students performed publicly people were stunned to see young children playing the violin so beautifully. In the beginning people assumed that the students were musical prodigies. They did not understand Dr. Suzuki's view that all children can learn if they are surrounded by the proper environment and teaching.
Once word of Dr. Suzuki and his students started to spread, teachers from all over the world went to Japan to study his philosophy and methodology. These teachers then brought the Suzuki philosophy back to their country and today thousands of teachers, parents and children learn to play instruments using the Suzuki Method. Dr. Suzuki believed that through the listening and learning of music all children could have a noble mind and spirit. He demonstrated to teachers and parents everywhere the greatness children possess.
Dr. Shinichi Suzuki passed away on January 26, 1998, in Matsomoto, Japan. Left to carry on his mission are thousands of teachers, families and students indebted to his vision.
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God Bless America by Berlin used with permission Fleckstein Videography
"Knowledge is not skill. Knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill."