Who was John Kendall?

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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(BTW, Nick Kendall of Time for Three is the grandson of John Kendall.)

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“I was greeted at the door by about 275 Japanese children playing Vivaldi’s G Minor Concerto.” John Kendall

Suzuki violinist

Suzuki Violin: The Dog Days of Summer~

Suzuki quartet

Might be steamy weather, but Suzuki Violin enthusiasts prevail!

 

Students in our Suzuki studio have been busy this summer. Leo went to a Suzuki Institute in Michigan. Some students surprised me with learning new songs. Karla even practiced for 1 1/2 hours each day for over 21 days.  Everyone worked to keep up their daily practice so as not to lose those hard-earned skills.

Speaking of hard-earned skills, my niece’s parents brought her violin on the plane when they took their 2 week vacation and practiced daily in all kinds of places for grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. One day she played outside on a makeshift stage!

Suzuki violinists

Suzuki violinists gather under the shade.

Last Sunday, some of our students met at the Herndon Depot and we played under the big tree, followed by a bike ride.  The sweltering heat is not for the faint of heart!

 

 

 

 

 

2girlsHD

Serious business either way you look at it.

This video is priceless!

This next Sunday, we find ourselves at a cooler spot.  We will share our violin skills inside for the residents at Tall Oaks Assisted Living in Reston, followed by an ice cream social.  Suzuki says, “Those who, for the sake of others’ happiness, serve all who surround them today with love and respect, walk along the path which leads to happiness.”  Tall Oaks should be a little cooler experience than the bike ride!

It’s almost back to school time!  But our violin students haven’t skipped a beat all summer.

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”Talent is not something given naturally. It is something you foster. Every child can foster his talent.” Shinichi Suzuki

Suzuki kids

Why I do professional development –

Teaching Is Not Once & Done

Suzuki Professional Development

Professional Development is part of the Suzuki philosophy–life long learning.  The Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) website states that selecting a Suzuki teacher involves looking at several factors.  One is that “teachers who are members of the Suzuki Association are dedicated to the principles of the Suzuki Method and to their own continued professional development through SAA training.”

I choose to use my time and resources to engage in professional development. I think it is really important to my students that I continue to study and challenge myself in much the same way that they do.  Professional development workshops and classes put the teacher in the shoes of a student.  It is an important part of not getting stale.  I also believe that associating with other like-minded Suzuki teachers is encouraging and intellectually stimulating.  Teaching in one’s studio can be an isolating experience unless you purposely choose to reach out to other Suzuki teachers.

Three Summer Challenges

  1. Music Mind Games Teacher Training, Unit 2.
  2. SAA Violin Practicum
  3. Suzuki Early Childhood Education

Music Mind Games is an ingenious method for teaching music literacy through games.  There are close to 100 games, suitable for all ages. Until I took the Music Mind Games, training, I never would have thought about teaching theory through such creativity resulting in astounding effectiveness. Michiko Yurko, the creator of this program is a genius.

The Violin Practicum emphasis was on honing the art of teaching. Topics explored included communication skills, teaching strategies, diagnostics and observation. We used video footage from our home studio and on-site teaching to practice self-assessment skills to identify strengths in teaching and those areas in need of improvement. I loved Practicum because it was an opportunity to tie together all the technique found in the Book classes I have taken.

Suzuki Early Childhood Education (SECE) is a special program of activities for ages 0-3.  Although some activities are appropriate for older students, the focus is on creating a highly effective music program for children under age 3.  The SAA website describes Suzuki ECE as one that “seeks to build on the child’s natural delight in learning and lays the foundation for life-long learning that meets Dr. Suzuki’s goals for all children—to create an environment for children, free from pressure, in which they can gain skills, a sense of purpose in life, an understanding of discipline, and an appreciation of beauty.”

A Summer of Professional Development!

ECE Professional Development

I hope that each of my students and parents enjoyed their vacations and continued learning together.


“The advice I am giving always to all my students is above all to study the music profoundly… music is like the ocean, and the instruments are little or bigger islands, very beautiful for the flowers and trees.” Andres Segovia