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What is Talent Education

“For the sake of our children let us educate them from the cradle to have a noble mind, a high sense of values, and splendid qualities.  At our Institute, we use violin playing to develop these qualities in children.”  Shinichi Suzuki

Thus, in his book, Nurtured by Love, Dr. Suzuki states that talent is a product of environment.  He believes that children are not born with talent, but that it is developed.  Environment is the key word of his book and of his ability, and the “only superior quality a child can have at birth is the ability to adapt itself with more speed and sensitivity to its environment.”

The amazing results produced at Dr. Suzuki’s Talent Education Program in Matsumoto, Japan, have been praised by educators and musicians the world over, including Pablo Casals.  Dr. Suzuki says that he evolved his teaching philosophy over a long period of time, after his own violin study and after observing children and how they learn.  This book is an outgrowth of his program, and in the book he discusses “how to grow up and how to bring up.”

He speaks of the enormous importance of the total environment of the child at a very early age—not at five or six years, but at one month.  He shows how the young child, the infant, absorbs everything he hears, good or bad, including words and music and attitudes around him.  He relates the story of a babe in arms who hears the Vivaldi A minor Concerto played by his sister and on records daily, and how the baby early recognizes “her” piece.  Then, at an early age, four or five, with training the child easily learns the piece on her own violin.

The book could well serve as a handbook for all parents with small children.  Dr. Suzuki’s emphasis is on environment from birth.  The goal is not that each child become a virtuoso, although some have, but that through Talent Education he will become a finer, more “noble” human being—one with self-discipline, love of beauty, and a noble and generous heart.

In organizing his program at Matsumoto, Dr. Suzuki says he had in mind the motto of his own alma mater, which was: “Character first, ability second.”

Through persistent effort and daily practice, children regarded as lacking in ability or slow, and children with actual physical handicaps can with patience be taught.  His subject is music and his instrument is the violin, but his overall philosophy is broader, since he is concerned with the child’s ultimate direction in life and the development of confidence in his own ability.  He speaks of the happiness which the child has as a result of doing something well.

But Dr. Suzuki stresses the fact that the correct methods be used in training.  This is where the mother as teacher at home is important.  This is also where the ”mother tongue”  idea which first inspired him into beginning his program is brought into use: he realized that children, both the bright and dull, could easily learn their own intricate language or dialect at an early age.  From this, he deduced that by hearing daily the music to be played and by constant repetition in actual playing (practice), the same “mother tongue” method could be carried over into violin playing.  As he says, in Nurtured By Love, “There is no telling to what heights children can attain if we educate them properly right after birth.”

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