Saturday, October 25, 2014

Revelations about Suzuki

Violinist and teacher Mark O'Connor reports on research showing that Shinichi Suzuki, creator of the Suzuki (violin) method, fabricated his musical resume. He has more a few critical things to say about the method itself, too.

Update: I should have waited to post on this subject or not posted at all. See my follow-up posting.


kalimac said...

That is disturbing, but here are some other things which are also disturbing:

1) The weird ranting and repetitive tone of O'Connor's post made me uneasy, so I looked more closely at its claims.

2) The Suzuki bio quoted from at the end, the one which O'Connor's post says is exposed as a lie, says that Suzuki was Klinger's private pupil. Nothing about the Berlin Hochschule. So a failed audition at the Hochschule, even in Klinger's presence, though suggestive, proves nothing one way or the other.

3) O'Connor says this was Suzuki's one and only audition, but he doesn't say how far in the archives the researchers looked, or about relevant auditions outside of the Hochscule.

4) O'Connor provides no links to his other posts on Suzuki that he mentions, and from the length of his posts, it'll be difficult to find them.

5) In outlining those other posts, O'Connor seems to be saying that Suzuki barely met Einstein. There are links on Suzuki's Wikipedia page to their correspondence. Unfortunately those links are broken, so someone with more time will have to find a) the correspondence, b) O'Connor's post on Suzuki and Einstein, and see how they fit together.

Daniel Wolf said...

Sure, there is plenty to criticize with the Suzuki method, and like many methods packaged too slickly and followed too slavishly, it can have a tendency towards both institutional decrepitude and a cultish character. But this critique coming from the owner/operator of his own method of violin playing — and one which requires its young students to recite a daily pledge of allegiance to the method and its creator — should be discounted to exactly what it is: PR for a competing method with its own cultish aspects. Both Suzuki and O'Connor methods include some repertoire that many teachers and students will enjoy using, but both are, in large part, snake oil. In the end, if you want to learn an instrument, any method is tactical, no single one will fit all, and the bulk of those who take up instruments should be encouraged simply because playing music is a wonderful thing to be able to do, at any level, for an entire life, not just something reserved for the very best virtuosi, not one of whom is the product of any single widely-practice method.