I am not a professional musician. It was never my goal to become one. I am an amateur violinist in the truest and proudest sense of the word: I do it only because I love it. To be crystal clear, I have nothing but profound respect and deep admiration (and admittedly, oftentimes more than a little jealousy) for those who do make music their life’s work. It just wasn’t the life for me, or at least I thought it wasn’t when I had to figure out what to do with myself. So what did I get from twelve years of Suzuki education? I only had two private teachers, Marty Steiger and John Kendall. What did I get from twelve years of their best efforts? In a word, everything. The Suzuki method isn’t about turning out prodigies or professionals (although it does plenty of both). It’s about becoming a whole person. Learning the value of persistence and hard work. Learning how to analyze a problem and break it down into manageable bits. Learning how to build on previous knowledge and skills. Learning how to use all of your senses, and learning the value of group experience. Learning how to learn. I was shown how to see beauty amid structure, and structure amid beauty. Music education, particularly the Suzuki way, trains the mind for everything from recognizing patterns to developing empathy. At least it did for me. I use it every day, even the days I don’t pick up my violin.
Siroth Charnond, M.D.