March 28, 2013 at 10:49 PMThe World Will Be One, Joined Together By Children's Music
Today was the official start of the Suzuki Method World Convention, with the opening ceremonies at the Matsumoto City Gym. As we walked in, we could see the floor FILLED with children, arranged by instrument, in rows via the aid of tape on the floor.
There are over 5,000 participants from 34 countries, and around 1,300 of them are children. Instruments represented are violin, viola, cello, bass, guitar, flute and piano. Our seats overlooked the gym from the second floor. At the head of the gym, sat the international faculty orchestra, the conference dignitaries, including her royal highness, the Imperial Princess, and a group of koto (Japanese zither) players in full kimono.
The event began with a video of Dr. Suzuki playing one of his original compositions, the Berceuse. Following that, the faculty orchestra, conducted by Dr. Toyoda, played another composition by Suzuki entitled "Wishing Prayer for Happiness of All Children." Then came greetings from the conference dignitaries, the Mayor of Matsumoto, the Governor of Nagano Prefecture, Dr. Toyoda and even an address by Her Royal Highness. Princess Takamado's late husband and three children were all Suzuki students, so the method has a special place in her heart and she was pleased to be the honorary conference president.
As the various participating countries were introduced, the participants from each area stood and waved proudly. The koto group then performed two pieces, and were joined for a third by a select group of violin students playing a piece originally for koto and shakuhachi (Japanese flute).
The grand finale was the student performance. All the students, all instruments together, performed Paganini's "Witches Dance", "Song of the Wind", "Lightly Row" and "Twinkle." The sound resonated throughout the hall and touched every person there.
After lunch, short (1 hour) group lessons were held. I went to the viola class, which was taught by two Japanese and two Australians.
There were about 8 students in the class from various countries. The class focused mostly on getting a big, but relaxed tone, even on the C string and centered around Twinkle A, Theme and Bohemian Folk Song. It was fascinating to watch Dr. Suzuki's vision come to life in front of your eyes. Some spoke English, some Japanese, but everyone understood what to do via the language of music.
Then we went to the first Symposium, the keynote speech by Ryugo Hayano, a Japanese professor of Physics and CERN scientist who had been a student of Dr. Suzuki's in the 50s and 60s. His topic was on the main principles if Dr. Suzuki's method, and even though he was "preaching to the choir" so to speak, it was interesting to hear and see pictures from someone who lived the method and was part of the Tour Group.
We didn't have tickets to the second Symposium, so instead we decided to walk over to Dr. Suzuki's house, which is now a museum.
As we arrived, we were honored to see Princess Takamado who had been making a ceremonial visit.
In the house are displayed various pictures and memorabilia, many honorary degrees and awards and even letters of commendation from Presidents Carter and Reagan. Some of his manuscripts, including the original "Nurtured By Love" are also there, as well as his piano and violin.
His study looks as if he would come waking in anytime, sit down, and ask you to play for him and his spirit can be felt in every room!