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Laurie Niles

2011 Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies at Juilliard: Brian Lewis's 'Suzuki Rap'

June 6, 2011 at 3:55 AM

So here it is, the Suzuki Rap:

 "It is a good method -- in the hands of a good teacher."

That is what the late Dorothy DeLay said about the Suzuki method, and she said it at a time when traditional violin teachers looked upon the ideas of Shinichi Suzuki with a high level of skepticism, some even completely dismissing it.

Starling-DeLay Symposium Artistic Director Brian Lewis, whose mother is Suzuki teacher Alice Joy Lewis, was among the first crop of American Suzuki students to make it to high-level music schools such as The Juilliard School in the 1980s.

"We had a little secret Suzuki society here at Juilliard," he said. While waiting for a lesson with Ms. DeLay -- a wait that could last half a day and stretch far into the night -- Brian and his friend from back home in Kansas, Adrienne Sengpiehl, would roam the halls and elevators of the closed-for-the-night Juilliard building, playing every Suzuki song they knew.

Brian and Adrienne went back a long way, having both studied with Suzuki pioneer Eleanor Allen as children. They also drove a car together from Topeka to Stephen's Point, Wisconsin, one summer, as teenagers. On that long drive, they composed this rap, which Brian now uses to make pinkie warm-up exercises interesting for Suzuki students. He also used it last Thursday on our large group of violin teachers from across the globe, at the Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies at Juilliard.

A lot of people wanted to know the words, so Brian was kind enough to perform for the camera. If you'd like the words, I've made a printable PDF, just click here and print!

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