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Mark O'Connor Harms the Violin Community

Laurie Niles

Written by
Published: November 3, 2014 at 11:02 PM [UTC]

For a long time, the Suzuki community has tried to ignore Mark O'Connor's efforts to discredit it, but his recent attempts to carry a blatant misinformation campaign about Shinichi Suzuki into mainstream media cross the line.

At this point, and very unfortunately, it's impossible to separate Mark O'Connor's efforts to create American music books for children, and the inspiring music camps that he ran in the past, from his mean-spirited misinformation campaign against Shinichi Suzuki and his personal bullying of music teachers and anyone who wishes to defend Suzuki (who is not alive to defend himself).

The broader violin community has recognized a problem evolving with Mark over the past few years, during which time Mark has been kicked off almost every violin-related website there is, including Violinist.com, Facebook Violinists and other fiddle, viola and mandolin sites, due to excessive self-promotion and bullying. His claims about Suzuki (which have been refuted many places, and are nevertheless tangential to Suzuki's accomplishments) have appeared in a one-source story in the rather unreliable British tabloid broadsheet, The Telegraph. They also appear on his blog, which many people simply have stopped reading because of the anger and inaccuracy. Unfortunately, this all serves to turn people off, to Mark's work, to Suzuki, and to the violin overall. Recklessly tearing down one way of doing something doesn't mean that people will embrace another. It just tears us all down.

The vitriol is so toxic, distracting and inaccurate, I have simply turned off the channel on Mark O'Connor: unliked the Facebook page, turned off the Twitter, and completely quit going to his website, even if it's just to see what degree of unbelievable inanity he's come up with now. I've enjoyed his music in the past -- embraced it, performed it, written about it, taught it to my students. But it is not compelling enough to outweigh his personal offensiveness and blindness to the destruction he is causing not only to those he criticizes so mercilessly, but to himself.

Given my past experience, I fully anticipate that, in response to this blog, Mark will attack the level of my violin playing, the veracity of my resume, my ability to write, everything about my website, my abilities as a teacher, maybe even the color of my hair, the quirkiness of my personality, my status as a woman and more, as he has done to so many other people who have dared to say anything critical about him. I don't intend to read it. I believe his response will reveal more about him than it does about me.

2008
Mark and I at UCLA in 2008


From Scott Slapin
Posted on November 3, 2014 at 11:13 PM
Brava! Totally agree.
From Claire Allen
Posted on November 3, 2014 at 11:23 PM
Bravo, Laurie!
From 73.170.29.160
Posted on November 3, 2014 at 11:32 PM
Spot on!
From 24.108.70.109
Posted on November 3, 2014 at 11:39 PM
Well said - we do not need vitriol - your comments hit it right on the mark ;-)
From 68.35.178.66
Posted on November 3, 2014 at 11:40 PM
Totally agree!
From 68.5.245.127
Posted on November 3, 2014 at 11:59 PM
Laurie,
Well said, as is everything I have ever read that you have written!
From 66.25.132.68
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 12:06 AM
I'm not a violinist, just an interested professional musician... but it occurs to me... perhaps Mr. O'Connor has some kind of psychiatric condition? It's painful to watch.

Julie, San Antonio Symphony

From 70.208.0.73
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 12:11 AM
Well said! I'm with you 100%!
From 24.218.250.100
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 12:18 AM
So well written! I agree with everything you wrote and couldn't have said it better. I am sure the entire community will enjoy reading your post. I especially enjoyed the part where you predict Mark's response! Kudos!
From 82.28.106.92
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 12:39 AM
The Telegraph is not a tabloid newspaper in any way.
It is quite right-wing, and may have incorrect stories in the past, but it is most definitely a broadsheet.
From 198.84.220.92
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 1:00 AM
Agreed! Thanks for this!
From marjory lange
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 1:17 AM
When politicians make ad hominem attacks, I know whom I won't vote for.

Same thing applies here; I never experienced Suzuki method or O'Connor method, but if I were to recommend one, based on the way O'Connor has behaved, it wouldn't be his. It's too bad he's so insecure.

From Linda Louise Ford
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 1:31 AM
Hello.

I believe that Mr. O Connor's presentation could be a Fixed Delusional Disorder or Narcissistic Personality Disorder OR both OR a medical condition that manifests with delusions and paranoia. I have felt the gamut of negative feelings towards his behavior over these several years and have been puzzled why he does not respond to reason. Well, this is the point.... He is not responding to reason. There must be more to this. People with such conditions can also function at a high level. In spite of the obvious motive to sell music books, a person with a quarter of his smarts would recoil at the thought of making such insults and hurting others. It would be a wise idea if he saw a doctor o medicine or neurology so to rule out medical and neurological conditions that would explain his severe personality changes just in case he may have a frontal lobe tumor or another medical condition ... I am serious. Before one can attribute behavior to a psychological condition, personality disorder or just personal poor judgment and rudeness, medical conditions that can cause such symptoms are ruled out. I hope there is someone close to Mr. O Connor who will read this and pass it on to the family so they can give him the chance to get medical care. I am a Suzuki method trained/SAA registered part time violin teacher with 15 years experience. I am a full time ANA board certified psychiatric nurse practitioner with 17 years. experience. Sincerely, Linda Louise Ford

From Linda Louise Ford
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 1:34 AM
I have read the rules explicitly. If you find what I have to say outside the scope of this blog, feel free to delete but no where have a seen anyone saying this before and it may be of lifesaving value to Mr. OConnor if this could be addressed.
Linda Louse Ford
From 75.177.132.116
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 1:49 AM
I have enjoyed Mr. O'Conner's playing through the years, and was extremely disappointed to read his comments. I am afraid Ms' Niles had it right, all the vitriol he has been slinging has said much more about him than about the object of his ire of the moment. Truly sad to see a talented man destroy himself.
From 70.194.69.159
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 2:28 AM
Your blog is spot-on, Laurie! Back when Mark was just getting the ball rolling on his anti-Suzuki campaign, I posted a comment to him on Facebook, expressing disapproval of his character assassination of Shinichi Suzuki. I'd been getting more and more turned off by his boastful posts about how great be was -- the attacks on the Suzuki Method (which has been very successful over the years) was pretty much the final straw. I received a rather rude comment back from him. As of then, I totally wrote him off. I hope he and his ego will be very happy together -- I won't be around to witness his inevitable "crash and burn"!
From Kevin Keating
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 2:40 AM
I agree with you Laurie. But I also think Linda Ford brings up some very good points that may not have been considered. He may very well have a mental illness or condition that makes him act the way he does. However, if Mark does have a problem and chooses not to get help (as many with mental illness fail to admit they have a problem and do nothing about fixing it) then he deserves the hard line he's gonna get.

I've had to deal with someone with mental illness (manic bipolar) for years who has always refused treatment unless it was forced. Since he won't admit his problem and get help, then I'm done letting my life get turned upside down for him. I have as little to do with him as possible now and that's what will happen with Mark if he does indeed have a problem he refuses to fix.

Then again, he may just be an arrogant, egotistical, narcissistic a######. And some shrink will say (and I've heard this before myself) that "the illness makes him that way" or "it's part of the illness."

Whatever. I've never been a Mark fan. I think it's great to broaden the repertoire for students to learn from, but that's where it ends for me with him. I also know very little about Suzuki since I'm pretty much self-taught, meaning I learn as I go at my own pace with help, influence and inspiration from wherever it comes from.

From 108.1.197.98
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 3:00 AM
I cringe when I see internet diagnoses of any kind of illness, whether physical or mental. It's demeaning and to my mind wholly inappropriate. Could we judge O'Connor by his statements and behavior, and not indulge in this kind of speculation? Maybe his father was mean to him, maybe he is ill, or a dozen other scenarios that I could make up, but that is his business and his problem.
From 69.35.200.252
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 3:05 AM
It's so sad that someone with Mark's fiddle talent acts in such a way. This is the first I've heard of his behavior but I love your articles, Laurie, and trust that everything you said is true and credible. It just makes me sad to hear of his behavior...he is truly a remarkable fiddler and his talent has always been admired by myself and my friends. :( Very sad.
From 107.15.168.234
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 4:17 AM
Laurie, I'm 52 and I've followed him throughout his career. Two years ago I started lessons with an awesome PHD Suzuki Music Teacher Courtney Combs Baker and I've played music on the guitar since I was 4 so I know how to read. I wanted the best teacher I could find to help me with the violin. We talked about Mark O'Connor and could see for him, it's been about the sale and adoption of his method. We used the Suzuki books for me to focus on primarily Bach. I was Courtney's oldest recital student. I had to stop lessons because of money but I had a blast. Who cares if Suzuki told a few stories. Look at the International track record and output of fine students. I could have found fiddle lessons in Virginia where I grew up but the level of Suzuki instruction available now was not available to me when I was a kid. I wish it had been. Bah humbug on Mark O'Connor. I was taught to praise people for what they do. If you didn't have anything good to say, keep it to yourself. I totally agree with your post. He's harming my love of the violin and classical music that I found as an adult. My wife told me she didn't want to hear about Mark O'Connor again, LOL.

From 47.18.165.164
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 4:21 AM
Well said, Laurie! O'Connor's attacks are pointless, groundless and unwarranted.
From 98.169.175.67
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 4:28 AM
Thank you for a beautifully written piece, as always.
From 24.41.10.109
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 4:49 AM
The comments of those who suggest that O'Connor may suffer from mental illness, I believe, are evidence of desires to preserve the dignity of each in the community. Nobody is trying to "diagnose" him online but these comments offer possibilities beyond the simple explanation that this man is a boar, and bad vibes incarnate (except when he is making his wonderful sound on the fiddle).

I think this speaks well of the community! Nobody is trying to be a know-it-all or to sugar-coat bad behavior, but simply offer up the possibility that the man is acting irrationally for physiological reasons. It's no secret that O'Connor suffers from debilitating migraines. I'm not defending him so much as I'm saying "Right on" to a community that seeks the best in all and extends dignity and the benefit of doubts, even to someone who seems incapable of the same.

From Paul Deck
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 5:20 AM
Midlife crisis?
From 184.3.40.190
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 5:34 AM
I agree spot on.
From 86.71.247.58
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 8:28 AM
It isn't a midlife crisis since it's been going on for a number of years now.

I will now refer to "him" as "they" since "they" consider themselves as "we". This may make no sense to some of you but perfect sense to those of us who personally know "them".

I vote for NPD. They has a driving need to trash anyone that shows up on their radar as competition. They are persuaded that they make perfect sense and are impressing people with their logic. They actually thinks they are smarter than everyone.

Individuals like this guess at what the right thing to do is. Sometimes the world they have created for themselves is so out of kilter (compared to the reality the rest of us know), that they react violently to any questioning of it. That is how they squash the competition. The ends justify the means. They resort to subterfuge and confusion to "win" the arguement. For example, their insistance for years now that the reason they are superior to Suzuki is because they have a great amount of performance experience and Suzuki didn't. This may convince the uninitiated but not us. They knows this. But, since nobody will ever hear from us then it's ok to create this untruth. We only talk amongst ourselves. If anyone dares speak out publicaly they will plow them under with their indignation and anger, or they act sweet and calm and as professional as possible (whatever the scene calls for). They will attack your ability to play the violin and challenge you to a competition. The problem here is you never claimed to be a star or a fabuloius violinist. Apples and Oranges...That's what they specialize in. Divide and conquer.

"They" talks about themselves as "we", like would a king. Haven't you ever found that odd? And as usual, they blame others for the errors they commit. It's their assistants that are saying these things incorrectly. You just can't get good assitants today! It was the UK interviewer who wrote the article and pieced together quotes. They insinuate that "we" told the truth and the reporter reported it in the way he chose so take it up with him. Yet "they" have been saying the same thing for years. Everyone misunderstands them?

They are convinced that they are a fabulous "violinist". They aren't. They are a mediocre one at best. What they are good at is marketing themselves. I would say they are another André Rieu, but that wouldn't be fair to André Rieu, who actually is a classically trained violinist...AND knows how to market himself. If they had stuck to fiddling, what they do best, I would have maybe even still have been a fan today (ok I'm exaggerating). The problem is they think for some odd reason that they have crossed over with success into the violin world and is now a star amongst The Greats. That is delusioinal.

Pointing a finger at Suzuki's training is hypocritical since they have never studied violin technique at all. They have no violin training, but took a few years of fiddling lessons from fiddlers growing up. This in itself wouldn't have been a problem, and good for them. They went far on the little training they had. The problem is they are pointing a finger at someone else and accusing the victim of doing the same thing they did, and hoping we are all too stupid to see it. all of this is done in order to gain market share. And it's working. Look how much we are all talking about them!

From 86.71.247.58
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 8:40 AM
By the way, for those of you who have no personal experience with being around someone who has NPD...some of us have been around it our whole lives. We have become "experts" because one automatically becomes an expert when one is around it for 56 years (so far). Nobody is "diagnosing" anything. We are speaking from experience. And, unfortunately, there is no "cure" for this. You have to either learn how to live with the person on their terms and play the game, or walk away from them.
From Rebecca OGrady
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 12:23 PM
This was a very insightful article. As a parent (or “cultist” in Mark O’Connor’s mind) of two Suzuki children, I have been following this debate almost from the beginning. Most parents and teachers have experienced the joy of encouraging children to practice, especially when the kids are young. Many of us would accept or even embrace any methodology that would persuade our offspring to put the instrument on the shoulder or between the legs. While O’Connor doesn’t have the success rate of Suzuki, I believed his method had legitimacy. If a parent had come to me a few years ago and said their child preferred fiddle music, I would have had no problem mentioning the O’Connor method.

However, I was personally insulted and banned by O’Connor on Facebook after revealing his familial relationship to Pam Wiley while discussing her article on Violinist.com. Several friends have also experienced the personal attacks. I know musicians in Charleston who no longer use O’Connor and do not encourage their students to attend the camps. Mr. O’Connor fails to realize his vitriol is making enemies out of people who were once willing to be friends, and there are likely students who totally quit music because people eschew using alternate methods. The vast majority of us now refrain from any discourse with O’Connor or his supporters because of the outlandish attacks. Like Ms. Niles, we figure it says more about him/them than it does us.

From Anne Horvath
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 1:09 PM
Personal attacks are a shame.
From 73.191.86.70
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 1:35 PM
I just read a Mark O'Connor blog in defense of his point of view. I don't think Laurie has anything to worry about concerning her writing or her ability to communicate. She is a much better writer than O'Connor. I think great violin pedagogues draw from all points of view and develop their own style which is refined and enhanced through their ability to communicate and listen. I don't know if Suzuki was fraudulent in his self promotion but without a doubt he greatly influenced music education and made violin accessible and approachable to children. Some of Mark's criticism may be valid and like I mentioned the best outcomes are due to the inspiration of teachers who understand how to integrate all the educational resources available and individualize them to fit the needs of their students. I don't understand the need for all the vitriol and hostility. After all the argument is about music education, not religion or politics.
From 24.90.51.60
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 1:38 PM
What MOC has said in the interest of selling is own product is appalling.
From Polly Butler
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 2:57 PM
"Given my past experience, I fully anticipate that, in response to this blog, Mark will attack the level of my violin playing, the veracity of my resume, my ability to write, everything about my website, my abilities as a teacher, maybe even the color of my hair, the quirkiness of my personality, my status as a woman and more, as he has done to so many other people who have dared to say anything critical about him. I don't intend to read it. I believe his response will reveal more about him than it does about me."

Really? Laurie, I respect your work here, and was flabbergasted to see this kind of response. I agree that the way Mark O'Connor presents himself is one that is somewhat arrogant and rubs a lot of people the wrong way. I personally find his arguments convincing, but that's besides the point.

He's never said that you should never ever use Suzuki Material. He's never said that all it's ever done is harm the American violinist, just that it has harmed the many he's personally interacted with, making it very clear that there are exceptions. His point is merely that American violin education has been given over, body and soul, to the Suzuki method on false pretenses. Whether that means you buy his method or not. I personally won't, I find the methods too similar to exchange them.

If you can't swallow what he's saying, don't. You don't have to buy his method. But really, by reacting like this, you're only proving his point, and shooting yourself in the foot. I suppose by now you've read his response, and I can tell you it's far more level-headed and gracious than what you suggested he'd say.

From 98.77.140.123
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 3:26 PM
Excessive self-promotion in the music industry? The Deuce you say!!!
From Peter Lynch
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 3:29 PM
Laurie, You are a breath of fresh air....
From 67.61.114.150
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 3:34 PM
Mark has never been a people person.He comes from the fiddle community.Violinists have always turned their noses up to fiddlers no matter how good they are.This separation has always caused bad feelings.Genius musicians are often poor teachers as they live too much in their musical minds.Bruce Alkire-Horseshoe Bend ID


From 150.169.128.100
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 4:02 PM
What is somewhat infuriating, is that he slings some mud about Suzuki, nothing concrete, but circumstantial at best, and then defends his "findings" by saying that nobody can prove that his allegations aren't true.

Suzuki lived in the age before the internet. Not all information was able to be Googled. Not all friendships were documented via Facebook, emails, etc, etc. Not all correspondence was necessarily kept or passed on for posterity.

MOC's witchhunt doesn't pass the "sniff test" for me. Especially with his own financial interest via his method books.

If MOC had chosen to point out and publicize his opinions of the Suzuki method teaching flaws, that would be totally valid.

A smear campaign against a dead man's legacy is in poor taste at the very least.


A common complaint about Suzuki is that there is no emphasis on reading musical notation.

It seems to me that MOC takes that a step further into error by not only doing away with reading music, but doing away with having a score to follow at all. "just improving the entire concerto"


And as much as he claims this to be a violin concerto, it sure sounds like fiddle music with an orchestral accompaniment to me...

From Shawn Boucke
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 4:17 PM
It seems people are mistaking MOC exposing the falsehoods in many of Suzuki's stories to bashing all Suzuki teachers. If you read what he has written they are sound arguments on how the stories are more fiction than fact. Of course one can still use the music and basic principles to still be a wonderful teacher.
From 216.130.93.137
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 4:55 PM
Polly Butler: "His point is merely that American violin education has been given over, body and soul, to the Suzuki method on false pretenses."

I'd like to see figures that support your first assertion, Polly. As per the latter, Mr. O'Connor's unsubstantiated claims in this regard have been addressed by two international Suzuki associations - I encourage you to read of them:

http://internationalsuzuki.org/docs/OConnor-ISA-Website-Revised-10-31-14.pdf

https://suzukiassociation.org/discuss/19995/

Shawn Boucke: "If you read what he has written they are sound arguments on how the stories are more fiction than fact."

No, I don't think they're sound arguments at all - see above. I think Mr. O'Connor's statements are ad hominum attacks on the deceased founder of a method that he perceives as being in direct competition with his own.

Paul Madryga
Brandon, MB

From 71.218.204.97
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 5:05 PM
I went on Mark's blog and it became clear that he really does not like Suzuki, or his methods. But, far from being hysterical and mean, his arguments seemed to be reasonable, and even had photographic evidence to back it up. I also didn't find the bashing of the Japanese culture that has been claimed. As far as his attacking me because I may not agree with everything he has to say, I haven't conversed with him, or even met him, so I just don't know.

I would suggest that a real journalist investigate these claims, and take a hard look at all of the arguments to come up with the real story. I would definitely read that!

In closing, someone's opinion, or personal war with someone else or their method is never going to stop my love for music, and the violin.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 5:10 PM
I mentioned that I won't be reading his response, and that is true.
From 86.71.247.58
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 5:16 PM
Thanks Laurie and I agree...you are a breath of fresh air!
From 98.118.42.5
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 6:53 PM
Laurie, I'm sorry you are going through this stress. It can be really stressful running a website, especially when other people don't agree with you. It is especially stressful when other people post provocative ideas on their own blogs. This is infuriating. Mark O'Connor has clearly worked tirelessly to critique the Suzuki method and by natural extension, you. Bully on you for standing up to the mad fiddler and refusing to read a word he says in response to your criticism of his own self-published opinions. It is very important for website owners to be on top of the opinions of major players in your website topic and to take corrective action where necessary.

Have you also erased all of your Mark O'Connor interviews? I would do that if you haven't. It may lead to some confusion for your readers.

From 199.165.4.4
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 11:15 PM
Laurie, thank you for articulating your concerns and position on MOC's toxic negativity toward Suzuki. Ironically, I must point out that the editor/collaborator of his Method books is an experienced Suzuki method teacher.

Laurie

From 107.4.243.242
Posted on November 4, 2014 at 11:42 PM
This whole affair makes me feel very sad because MOC had a lot to contribute. Sometimes really amazing people can lose their way. Bobby Fischer comes to mind.
From 66.37.92.252
Posted on November 5, 2014 at 12:27 AM
Weighing in on the M.O issue is difficult for all of us violinists/fiddlers. I applaud this writer and her article. Knowing it is hard to finally admit that a leader in the community has a problem. I know from my own personal experience in my own community that he will be the last to admit there is a problem. I hope, as do we all, that he will see this outpouring of concern, take personal stock, and begin the necessary journey back to humbly and thankfully doing his best for himself, our community, and the craft. Friends and colleagues, we are hurt, we feel abandoned and are generally let down, but let us be reasonable, check our own egos and not resort to diagnosing his psyche or mental health. I have experienced this, and it is beyond hurtful. Know that his callous and sometimes cruel statements and responses are symptoms, not the problem.

From Don Sullivan
Posted on November 5, 2014 at 12:38 AM
Thanks, Laurie. I have been a Mark O'Connor fan for some time. I was really happy to find a teacher in my area who taught his method. She is a great teacher. When these blogs first started coming out about Suzuki from Mr. O'Connor, I tried to keep up just to find out what he was talking about. After a couple of them I just couldn't read them anymore. I asked my teacher why he was so belligerent about Suzuki. She couldn't understand either. I started out in Suzuki method for the violin and studied up to book four. I also wanted to have a fiddle background too so I began O'Connor method. But having studied it for over a year, it seems like the same system with American tunes. I will continue my studies in both methods but am truly saddened by Mr. O'Connor's behavior. It's as if he had us at hello with a viable teaching series and then shut us out with his attack at Suzuki. Both methods are honorable, it's too bad Mr. O'Connor could not continue to be so. Everyone has lost I am afraid.
From 203.206.229.220
Posted on November 5, 2014 at 4:18 AM
Thank you Laurie.
From 109.129.146.161
Posted on November 5, 2014 at 1:34 PM
Dr. Suzuki, personally.

As the husband of a former Suzuki pupil (one of his last, he was quite old already) i was as appalled as her by the lengths Mr. MOC goes to try and descend Dr. Suzuki (and i do call him Dr. because, even if he didn't really earn that title during his lifetime, he has fully earned it in retrospect).

Actually we know many more stories about dr. Suzuki than MOC lists, stories he would probably gladly turn into more proof for his theories. We joke about it: imagine we told MOC all the juicy stories my wife knows...

No, Dr. Suzuki was no god, he didn't pretend to be, and his students didn't see him as one. He was a normal human being, and he did his best, in his own way, to make the world a better place. That's more than can be said of a lot of people. Was he perfect? Of course not.

We find it hard, even impossible, to see the rationale behind the seemingly blind attacks on Dr. Suzuki as a person. What's the point exactly? Where does this very personal dislike for a dead man come from? What is the value of the "revelations" and "discoveries", done with the tenacity of a bloodhound? Frankly, we don't get it.

The people who have really known dr. Suzuki know all about his all too human traits, and they don't think of him as a god but as the man who inspired them, who got up at 4 in the morning to listen to the thousands of lesson tapes and to send the commented tapes back. My wife has several, in which she is called by her first name and in which dr. Suzuki gives advice and comments, not only on music but also on life. He would say things like "have you been nice to your parents?" Undoubtedly, one could misconstrue such comments in any way, fifty years later, if one had a mind set on finding the proverbial stick to beat the dog... But this was a man who, to students of a tender age, was an important and very "normal" human influence.

Yes, during Sumo season he wanted to watch the wrestlers. That was no problem for his pupils, but it seems to be a problem, decades later, for MOC. When he got up at 4 in the morning to listen to the tapes, his wife had to get up as well. Maybe this counts as inhumane behavior. At a later age, the time when my wife was his student, he became forgetful and confused at times. Now we'd be quick to think "Alzheimer" when a person asks where the orange juice is, every single morning. Back then, nobody knew about that disease.

The thing is, does it matter to anybody, except to MOC?? 

What is so sorely missing in this sad story, is a sense of proportion and a modicum of modesty. Let's not forget we're talking about a very different world in a very different era, a very different culture and a very different language. There is no way you can compare this to present-day America. A child can see that. Instead of this "know-all" attitude, a little bit of humbleness could be more helpful. If helping is what we're talking about...

It strikes us as utterly childish to try and prove points that are of no importance whatsoever, mere details that aren't even worth refuting. The Suzuki method has proven to be effective and efficient in teaching young children to the point where they can enjoy and appreciate music, where they can have the feeling they are accomplishing something worthwhile. Whether they will ever continue and become real musicians is beside the point. Whether Dr. Suzuki was a real doctor or not, who cares? It is a fact, however, that the Suzuki method DOES allow children to grow and to become highly succesful professionals if they have the talent and the perseverence.

My wife is a professional violinist in one of the world's great orchestras. As a child she toured with the Suzuki Ten Children all over the world, playing both the violin and the piano. I think i'd rather believe her personal stories than those of people who seem to be infected with severe "jalousie de métier". And no, she doesn't play like a machine. But she does have a very strong discipline and work ethic, which enables her to play at a level where she's free to express herself. Must be Suzuki's fault.

Korneel Le Compte
Principal Bass
National Opera La Monnaie
Brussels

From Polly Butler
Posted on November 5, 2014 at 3:08 PM
Paul,

Figures at this point do not seem to be necessary. The voices in agreement with Mark O'Connor are the minority, and the responses, the harsh and angry responses, of sooo many violinists and teachers and students. Suzuki is so recognizable that violin instructors everywhere utilize at least the song progression if not the entire method. I really don't think figures are necessary, just looking at the reality seems adequate enough. And, I should add that I do use aspects of the Suzuki books in my teaching, though I am moving away from them as I gain experience, and don't foresee my ever using O'Connor's method. It's not like I'm saying these things out of bitterness, it's just an observable reality.

To the second, I have been following this story for a year or so, and have read many, many responses, including the one by the Suzuki Association. I found their response highly unsatisfactory, as it contained no photographic proof, but restated everything that is in Suzuki's biographies, things {everybody already has heard}. I am fully aware of SA's reaction, and as they are trying to stay in business, so find it equally dubious as O'Connor's statements, except he has photographic proof.

From 68.118.64.32
Posted on November 5, 2014 at 4:24 PM
I met Mr. Susukisan in the 1990's at a National Flute Convention where he talked about the Suzuki Flute Method. I remember he was adamant that this was one technique, his technique "borrowed" from himself and his experiences with the violin. The controversy was huge then especially due to the curved headjoint necessary for children to begin learning at such an early age. Many people both large and small bashed both the techniques and the new flute design and the sale of books and the training methods, and on and on. So, To make my point. Going up against Suzuki and THE SUZUKI MACHINE has its merits and its down side? I haven't followed ANY of this since I am mostly a flutist, who plays the violin. But My hope is that teaching an instrument to children does NOT suffer from any arguments over how the teaching is accomplished.

From 99.113.36.57
Posted on November 5, 2014 at 5:35 PM
Mark O Connor plays BACH,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NdZTNk2MMw

From 74.95.110.89
Posted on November 5, 2014 at 7:28 PM
Laurie; I will no longer read your website due to your harassment, bullying and myopic disregard for facts as related to your Violin God, S.Suzuki. He is was and continues to be a fraud a Liar and a hoax. You as a player, dear Editor; are not worthy to even lick the soles of Mr. O'Connor's shoes. Mr. O'Connor to put it more simply is the Mozart of our time and you are too obtuse to acknowledge it.
From 69.193.195.10
Posted on November 5, 2014 at 7:30 PM
Thank you for this brave and truthful article, I stand with you 100%.
From 71.241.220.148
Posted on November 5, 2014 at 7:31 PM
M.O. never got the hang of writing a score or cello part that was easy to read and tons of mistakes took a lot of rehearsal time to figure out and correct.
From Paul Deck
Posted on November 5, 2014 at 8:24 PM
I'm still waiting for the Suzuki Oboe Method to come out. The non-child-friendly double reed will be replaced by a kazoo.

The first piece in the book will be called "Tune the Orchestra."

And it will go like this: A (whole note, fermata)

And of course it will have been written by Shinichi Suzuki himself.

From 97.123.174.240
Posted on November 6, 2014 at 4:12 AM
I heard Mr. O'Connor speak about his method this summer.

What I find the strangest about all this anti-Suzuki fuss is that Mr. O'Connor's method bears a strong resemblance to Suzuki's. Rather than make heavy use of etudes and exercises, especially those as dry as Sevcik's, both employ tunes in an idiom the child would find familiar. He uses a folk tune, Boil 'em Cabbages Down, very much as Twinkle is used- same basic finger pattern, same tune to teach different bowing & rhythmic patterns. Both methods stress playing with others early on. Both encourage learning to play by ear. Both encourage listening to a recording (provided) to aid in learning the music.

I don't understand the hostility. I know Suzuki teachers who were interested in adding some of Mr. O'Connor's music to their teaching routines. If he had presented his work as the next step along the same path- which, from what I can see, it is- it would have been a great addition to existing pedagogy, used by many teachers instead of just the pure O'Connor method devotees.

In any field people stand on the shoulders of their predecessors and try to reach higher yet. Why Mr. O'Connor cannot be grateful for Suzuki's innovations and acknowledge that this influenced his work, I do not understand. He harms only himself.

From 147.222.28.142
Posted on November 7, 2014 at 12:12 AM
It looks like MOC is straining the patience of SHAR:

http://blog.sharmusic.com/room-for-all-shar-ceo-charles-avsharian-weighs-in-on-mark-o%E2%80%99connor%E2%80%99s-anti-suzuki-statements

From Margaret Mehl
Posted on November 7, 2014 at 12:08 PM
Once, when I was looking for recent discussions of Suzuki, I happened onto Mark O’Connor’s website some time ago and found that he’d quoted my article “Cultural Translation in Two Directions.” Although it’s gratifying to find myself quoted in other people’s writings, I wasn’t too pleased to see that he cited me as evidence for Suzuki being a fraud, just because I suggested that Suzuki can’t have been as intimate with Einstein as he implies in “Nurtured by Love.” There’s a long way from a bit of name-dropping to outright deception!

At the same time, I have to say that when I did my research on Suzuki and his method I found that most of what has been written was by enthusiasts for the method and often downright hagiographic, which can get a irritating for an outsider attempting a dispassionate evaluation. But that is hardly Suzuki’s fault.

Anyway, I am hoping that my new book Not by Love Alone will contribute to people’s understanding of the Suzuki Method by placing it into a broader historical context of the violin's history in Japan.

From 104.145.199.29
Posted on November 7, 2014 at 5:02 PM
Laurie, I support your stance on your website. The bottom line here is that the Suzuki method and books are and have been used by thousands of music teachers worldwide. That is testament enough.

As adults, we have the option to use what works and leave the rest. This whole MOC situation is sad. Here we have a very talented musician who is publicly falling apart at the seams and doesn't seem to have any personal support system to rein him in.

At the very least, it's never good business to berate your competition publicly and as a human being its petty. Let's hope he gets help.

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