John Kendall brought the Suzuki Method to the U.S.
Happy Birthday to John Kendall!
Born on August 30, 1917, he helped revitalize string playing in the United States in the early 1960’s when he embraced Suzuki’s revolutionary belief that Every Child Can! And because Kendall recognized that Suzuki had created a method to make this possible.
The New York Times reported that although Kendall was not the only early convert to the Method, he was “its most tireless evangelist…He was the first, starting in the early 1960s, to adapt Mr. Suzuki’s instructional books for American students; he helped found the Suzuki Association in 1972, and later served as its president.”
How did John Kendall discover Shinichi Suzuki?
It happened that in 1958, while attending a music conference in Ohio, Kendall saw a film with about 750 Japanese children playing the Bach Double Violin Concerto with surprising skill. A man who didn’t seem to waste any time, the next year Kendall went to Japan to see Suzuki students firsthand. I wish I were a fly on the wall then because when Kendall entered the room, Suzuki’s younger students were masterfully playing the Vivaldi G Minor Concerto. As the story goes, tears came to Kendall’s eyes at the performance of so many young children playing the violin at such an advanced level.
A brief interview with John Kendall about his first experiences with the Suzuki Method.
Why would Kendall become so infatuated with Suzuki’s method?
Why not continue with string teaching as it was in the U.S.? “In the ’60s, string education wasn’t doing too well in the United States,” said Tanya L. Carey, a cellist and longtime Suzuki educator. “Orchestras were hiring foreign musicians, because we weren’t producing enough American-trained musicians.” The NY Times went on to explain that “the problem was rooted in the nature of American string pedagogy. Children typically began instruction fairly late, at about 10. The [typical string] curriculum stressed endless scales, arpeggios and other soul-numbing exercises, for most children a deep disincentive to practice.”
In contrast to the typical string curriculum, the Suzuki Method
Teaches children as young as 2 or 3.
Is complete immersion in musical life including playing Suzuki recordings in the child’s home.
Uses instruments made to fit the young child.
Teaches students to learn real pieces by ear through imitation.
Teaches music-reading later
Has intensive involvement of one parent, trained along with the child who oversees practice at home.
Holds Group class in addition to individual lessons. No more isolation!
What makes this program so special is the opportunity to enjoy your child!
“You don’t just drop your kids off and then pick them up,” says Carey. So many activities in the U.S. now are drop off and pick up. It takes a special parent to realize that this age of their children ends far too quickly. What parent would not want to spend productive, beautiful time with them when they realize the benefits of pursuing this endeavor?
Thank you, John Kendall. Thank you to all the pioneers who started Suzuki education in the 1960’s.
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“I was greeted at the door by about 275 Japanese children playing Vivaldi’s G Minor Concerto.” John Kendall