Is Suzuki a cult?

Edited: December 21, 2018, 6:10 AM · I read a book on the psychology of religion a couple of years ago, but it was written by a consortium of lecturers from one of America's religious universities, and it was obvious how much effort they were putting into avoiding the elephant in the room.

So I decided, if a religion is "a cult with official status" (that is one of the official definitions of religion), then religions are a subset of cults, and I'd read a book on cult psychology instead. That worked very well (Marc Galanter).

It always amused me that Richard Dawkins was always very nearly a religious cult leader.

But it only occurred to me after reading some gush about Suzuki on a blog the other day that there's an element of cultism in the Suzuki community.

What do you think?

Replies (51)

December 14, 2018, 11:35 AM · Absolutely totally agree about Suzuki. Don't agree about Richard Dawkins. So many aspects of Suzuki don't appeal to me (which may tell you which side I come down on in discussions about religion).

I am always amazed that in Switzerland as one enters a town, a sign will alert one as to where the different "cultes" meet (i.e. the location of Protestant and Catholic churches).

Edited: December 14, 2018, 11:48 AM · To avoid a debate in which the issue actually boils down to the meaning of a word, maybe Andrew could define exactly what he means by "cult"? Maybe an organized belief system that attempts to bind its adherents by exerting emotional or financial pressure?
December 14, 2018, 11:48 AM · Nothing amazing going on here: "Culte" is the French word for the Sunday morning ritual--which is why the signs give you the times for them for both confessions (this being the correct word). Words do not always have the same meaning in different languages.

As to Dawkins: He sounds awfully missionary for an atheist. A true atheist would not be so keen on converting others. So, yes, cult leader.

December 14, 2018, 11:53 AM · No-though one can make it too much of a group-think issue to the point of near worship-which sometimes is done with the Suzuki approach-but it definitely isn't a "cult" when properly followed. And also, some other approaches also have near cult-level of fandom.

Humans are prone to making a virtual cult out of near anything, however, from the President's pseudo-"Messiah of the People", can-do-no-wrong, near-invulnerable image among a few, to blindly following "schools" of violin thought (inventing terms here-"Galamianism" vs Russian, Europe vs USA, gut vs synthetics, "true music" vs "all music can be good", s.r. vs no-s.r., etc.)

I believe one can strongly believe in an ideal or ideas without any need to belittle others, even when there are vehemently opposed schools of thought.

Finally, I rarely see a cult level of "Suzuki worship" in real life, even among people who either worked with or studied directly under him. It is mostly respect I see, and that I believe has been well-earned. I have even heard some polite dissent from said sorts of people in a very few areas. On the internet, because Suzuki online resources are expected to strongly advocate for the approach, some may go a bit too "fanboy" on the approach, which is a bit unbecoming even when well-intentioned. Definitely doubt Mr. Suzuki was intended his work to have a sort of hypnotic, cult-like effect on their followers.

(Also, many people just use the books randomly, not really getting too much into the Suzuki approach "as intended" anyway. And there's cult-like opposition to be sure!)

Edited: December 14, 2018, 12:06 PM · Yes, comparing English and French usage, the words "cult" and "sect" are inverted! In France, Baptists are a in a "culte" (denomination), while Scientology is a "secte" (where you pay to sell your soul). (Discuss!)

And yes, some (not all) Suzuki groups have a cult-like attitude, with a photo of the "sensei" in the studio, and a slavish attitudes towards the parents and trainees.
In my Suzuki teacher-training, they seemed to find I asked too many (pertinent) questions..

December 14, 2018, 12:13 PM · I was lucky I received a more "neutral" teacher-training many years ago, but can believe there are more zealous advocates than others. As long as we do not become "cultists" ourselves, all is good.
December 14, 2018, 12:50 PM · Certainly there are many revered teachers who do not lead cults although cults depend on "revered teachers" for their existence. Perhaps at times it can be hard to tell the difference.

I don't think Suzuki is a cult - people are able to leave it without the separation interference and shunning typical of "cults."

December 14, 2018, 1:10 PM · Quite so Andrew. It's an unnecessarily emotive word
Edited: December 14, 2018, 1:14 PM · I think Adalberto has it right. I've encountered fanatics, but I don't think the Suzuki Association of America actually tries to promote any kind of cult-like following. The fanatics may be more visible simply because it's the most commonly used method in the US. But as far as I can tell, most Suzuki teachers supplement the books with additional materials and aren't slavish adherents.

There's only one thing I might criticize: I wonder if Suzuki fanaticism has created the impression that one has to start early or never. When I was in my early teens, I had several teachers tell me that it was too late to even make the violin a worthwhile hobby because I'd be forever stuck at beginner level. I understand that the Suzuki method was designed to enable children to start earlier; perhaps its prevalence in the US has led people to believe that starting before kindergarten is absolutely necessary in order to learn the violin at all? (This would be rather ironic, considering that Shinichi Suzuki was an adult beginner himself.)

December 14, 2018, 1:36 PM · I didn't want to get technical, as then the hair-splitters could simply end the discussion on grounds of semantics and specifics, and I wanted to see how it went with people being subjective. Andrew and Steve are wrong to assert that cults don't allow leavers. Alcoholics Anonymous, for example, is deliberately structured as a Christian cult, because cults do work in changing people's behaviour. I don't want to name any more contentious cults. A few don't allow leavers. Others do.
December 14, 2018, 1:48 PM · An interesting aspect of Suzuki violin, at least, outside of Japan, is that kids are increasingly getting later starts -- closer to the age of conventional training. At least where I live, a lot of Suzuki-trained teachers won't take kids until at least four-and-a-half, which is practically ancient compared to the 2.5 that kids started at when I was a child.
December 14, 2018, 2:27 PM · Starting at 2.5 years seems too cruel for me, which could be why they pushed to later. Lydia, I wonder if a child was forced to practice at 2.5-3.5 years old, how many hours / intensity of practice for the child is imposed?

Our educational standards state again and again that up to the age of 6, children should primarily engage in entertaining things that develop their mental and physical wellness. Playing the violin, IMHO, does not seem to fall into this.

Sorry for the rant :)

Edited: December 14, 2018, 3:17 PM · I don't know about Suzuki as a cult. It seems like the draw is that parents who don't know how to distinguish good from bad teachers have a credential to latch onto, added to the sort of magical thinking that there is some silver bullet to learning violin best, and that the secret knowledge of starting your children earlier gives them some sort of immense advantage, when in reality there are a lot of factors that go into how a child will do in music lessons, and I'd reckon that starting a child too early can often backfire.

The problem with looking at Suzuki as a true system or monolith is the problem with credentialism in America in general - It's the idea that someone having a certificate in something means they are actually better at someone that doesn't have a certificate. Since there are multiple ways to become a good teacher (and Suzuki is among them), it's hard to parse out whether someone without Suzuki training is any worse, when they might have an alternate training that is just as good, or maybe they have been teaching informally from a younger age, and have been able to work on their teaching skills over a long period in a less formal setting.

It's similar to problems in many industries, where resumes are padded with all kinds of box-checking trainings and certificates. A person's resume can only get you so far. For example, I just passed my Professional Engineering Licensure Exam, and I'd wager that there are a very large amount of engineers that surpass my skill that may not be as good at taking tests, or may just not see the point of taking the exam at all for very good reasons.

Maybe people take it really seriously in certain young-parenting type-A sets, but I didn't realize that it had a cult-like following.

Another example (that is maybe a little different) is look at all the people in this country with yoga teacher training under their belts - Now you have a saturated market and I'm not sure that the yoga classes I've been taking for the last ten years have gotten noticeably better, but people certainly market themselves more, while yoga studios make a lot of money selling expensive teacher-training programs as a large percentage of how they make their money, thereby driving down the economic power of all yoga teachers, who now have to compete and market themselves against more and more people that may not have a ton of training, but DO have certificates.

December 14, 2018, 3:30 PM · I believe asserting that Suzuki is some kind of a cult is a wrong label to apply, and the debate that is sure to follow will thereby be flawed from its inception.

I think what is often seen is that many adherents and teachers of Suzuki get to be too dogmatic about it. I suppose that is where it may seem like some sort of secret society, and what not.

December 14, 2018, 3:49 PM · I'm not sure that The Suzuki Method qualifies as a belief system. I also understand the skepticism of the method in response to it's iconic status and that it has all but eclipsed all other methods of teaching.

As I volunteer with a Youth Orchestra program that offers entry level Suzuki based instruction, I have noted that the method has a very high entrance rate but also a fairly high dropout rate.

I've also noticed that my students who get the Doflein Method often do better in the orchestral setting than those coming out of Suzuki largely because there are sections and not everyone is playing the same notes at the same time. There is a but, in that I only teach a very few highly motivated students (with financial difficulties) who really, really want to play the violin. I interview the young musician, not the parents. I don't give lessons where the parent wants their child to learn but the young person doesn't show any real interest other than doing what they are told by the parents.

Final Note: While Suzuki is not a cult, I do believe that playing an instrument is a calling - something that you just have to do because your life would be incomplete without it. While not everyone is called to be a professional there is a calling to play and without that calling it is an uphill struggle.

December 14, 2018, 3:52 PM · One could redirect this discussion a little and avoid the loaded word "cult" by asking this: What makes the Suzuki approach so very successful compared to other approaches out there, many of which are perfectly valid? As far as I heard Suzuki is specifically designed for young children, yet it seems to be used on students of all ages. Why? And "Suzuki book X" seems to be in use as a way of describing someone's technicall competence, not e.g. "Doflein book X".
December 14, 2018, 5:21 PM · George, what you're talking about doesn't seem like it's Suzuki. It might use the Suzuki books, or possibly it might use a recent adaptation of the Method for public school programs, but it's not the Suzuki Method in the classic sense.

Little kids are fairly enthusiastic participants in whatever it is that interests them. My sister started playing Suzuki piano at 2.5 and violin at 3. If a kid is cooperative it's not that hard to get them to put in the 15 minutes of practice requested at that age.

I think the first four Suzuki books represent a pretty well-curated set of pieces, and nothing seems to have come along that people like as much. And importantly, there are recordings. Even adults benefit from listening to how the piece should be played.

December 14, 2018, 8:11 PM · About 20% of the Suzuki Method is using Suzuki Books. The rest is a very well-developed philosophical movement organized around the tenets of "Nutured by Love" and Suzuki's other books, and the underpinning theory that young people can learn music the same way they learn to speak their native language(s) -- primarily by repetitive listening.

The term "cult" is needlessly pejorative because it carries too many harsh connotations. Shinichi Suzuki is not Jim Jones or David Koresh.

Someone wrote, "A true atheist would not be so keen on converting others." I don't know why "believers" should have a lock on evangelism. We're all conditioned to the expectation that people will knock on our door and ask if we'd like to read some religious tract, and that these people should be treated with kindness and accommodation. Why should it be different if the tracts said things like "There's no god" or "religion is the opiate of the masses" or "faith and superstition are indistinguishable." I think that should be just as legitimate.

December 14, 2018, 8:54 PM · It's not just the books per se. There are a set of teaching points for each piece (and I believe that those teaching points have evolved through the years, and may be semi-unique to a teacher-trainer). I suspect that many teachers who just use the repertoire are not necessarily aware of what teaching points are supposed to be conveyed in each piece.

Note that Suzuki always expected and intended that teachers would supplement, often substantially. The notion that supplementation is somehow unusual and/or heretical seems to have come from those outside Suzuki.

December 15, 2018, 10:28 AM · I think Suzuki is less a cult than a marketing tool.

When consumers (in this case, parents) are unsure of what to buy, they rely on some kind of branding. We all do. If you saw two athletic shoes for sale that looked alike, and one was unbranded and one said "Nike," you'd probably buy the Nike as a proxy for a certain level of quality. Just like people would rather buy a watch that said "Swiss Made" or a beer endorsed by a baseball star.

In music, if given a choice between an Italian violin and any other nationality, people will chose and pay more for the Italian. I'm not sure that's a cult. If asked, most people in the US will say a Steinway is the "best" piano. But they probably don't realize that Steinway has done a great job of marketing and has a stranglehold on the US market and that there are many fine competing brands.
In music pedagogy, Suzuki is the ONLY brand. "Traditional classical training" is not a brand. And it's a self-perpetuating cycle: parents flock to Suzuki because other parents do. It's the same kind of inertia that Apple has gained with iPhones and the apps written for it. People get iPhones because other people have iPhones and thus developers write apps for them, etc.

I can't speak for every violin teacher, but I do know people that have gotten Suzuki certification only because they know that parents are more likely to hire them to teach their kids, and not for some substantive pedagogical reason.

So as to whether it's a "cult," one could make the analogy that many people attend church so they can make social and business connections in their community, but not for the actual belief system.

As for Dawkins: I've read many of his works. While he's been outspoken about his views on religion, I've never had the impression that he's tried to "recruit" anyone to atheism. It's interesting: religions and church personalities trying to recruit people and that's accepted as "normal." Yet when one scientist expresses his views on atheism, it's a huge deal, as if he/she is breaking some kind of taboo.

December 15, 2018, 11:45 AM · Dr. Suzuki could have been quoted as saying something like "you don't teach Suzuki method, you teach (insert your last name) method." He himself would not think of the method as a cult. Careful study of the method will make most teachers realize that they don't have to bend to the "Suzuki" method but realize that a lot of what they teach and think already lines up with what the Suzuki method entails. The reason I teach Suzuki is that it lines up with my teaching philosophies and with that added benefit of a larger community aspect as well as ideas are succinctly and clearly shared even if I hadn't had a clear way of organizing it myself at first.
December 15, 2018, 12:04 PM · BTW: as far as I can tell, Suzuki did not earn a doctorate, but instead received honorary doctorates (like Bill Cosby...). So speaking as someone who actually went to the trouble to get one, I'd say he should not have used that in his title, and nor should he be referred to using that title.
December 15, 2018, 4:09 PM · Lydia, et al.,

No argument from me and I did say that the Youth Orchestra's program is "Suzuki based" - no it is not strict/classic Suzuki.

The larger issues we run into are:

Parents expect some kind of magical transformation of their children into consummate musicians after a few years of large group lessons. There are also quite a few who drop out after the first months of lessons, never to return.

The rest of the program is orchestral while the basic training is all about learning to play the same songs in unison. While we know that ensemble playing is the goal, it isn't addressed in the first two years of training and when the young musicians come to orchestra they get thrown by not everyone playing in unison.

I admit that I'm a Doflein trained violinist and I like the fact that there are always duets on the turn of every page in the book and students learn early to hold their own part while the teacher plays harmony to their melody and gradually student and teacher play both parts.

The final comment is that whatever works for the student and teacher is the best "system." Add in a bunch of material that is fun playing and brings out the young musicians interest and desire to play and we have a winner!

December 15, 2018, 4:42 PM · It doesn't sound like that program is even vaguely "Suzuki based". It sounds like it might be some kind of unique program that may use some Suzuki repertoire.

That gets again to the heart of people having vast misconceptions of what Suzuki is, based on something that might have, at some point in time, used some Suzuki repertoire without the slightest other reference to what Suzuki is about.

Edited: December 15, 2018, 6:00 PM · To be fair, Suzuki didn't call himself "Dr. Suzuki", German and English translators of his materials did (and continue to do so). No Japanese-speaker referred to him by anything else besides "Suzuki-Sensei." On the flip side, my relatives who earned their Ph.D. and M.D. degrees essentially feel that only scientific or medical professionals should use the "Dr." honorific. Having seen the kind of work one of my former students put into his DMA program, I would disagree. It's certainly a contentious topic depending on the social circle!

Music schools didn't even award doctoral level degrees until the 1950's, yet Suzuki was a student in the 1930's. And Suzuki's honorary doctorates aren't from random no-name schools...they come from places like New England Conservatory, Eastman, Oberlin, and Cleveland Institute of Music. Regardless of what bones anyone might have to pick with the motivations behind granting those honorary degrees, the effect that Suzuki's "mother tongue" approach has had on music education over a half century is many people graduate with DMA's today whose dissertations have this much of an impact?

December 15, 2018, 10:54 PM · I was just going to say the same thing Gene did. In Japanese, Suzuki was addressed as "Suzuki-Sensei," which is how all teachers, professors, orchestra conductors, etc., are addressed in Japan. "Dr." as a title, I think, is the translators' attempt to convey the respect connoted in the Japanese title.

Incidentally, my grandfather was a college president who was always addressed as "Dr." Spencer although his doctorate was honorary. He did have an earned master's degree and spent a year studying at the Sorbonne--he would have stayed longer and perhaps completed a degree there but his studies were interrupted by a little thing called World War I. I do think that previous generations were a little bit more generous with the academic title "Dr." than we are and that may also be reflected in Suzuki's translators' choice of honorific.

Edited: December 16, 2018, 1:33 PM · I agree with Scott about Suzuki using "Dr." in his title. I've got a PhD (a real one) and I don't go around calling myself "Dr. Deck" when making restaurant reservations and such. When my kids' elementary school teachers call me that, I find it grating, but I tolerate it because they're only trying to be respectful. The only people who I actually prefer use that title are my undergraduate students.

I know American violin teachers who refer to Suzuki as "Dr. Suzuki" and I don't think they were befuddled by translation from Japanese. I think they're just indoctrinated. But for them it's also just a term of respect and I would not ever dream of trying to "correct" them on this point, partly because I kind of agree that Suzuki deserves respect. He accomplished more with his "fake" doctorate than I have with my "real" one.

Edited: December 16, 2018, 6:16 PM · Suzuki had only one violin teacher, Karl Klingler, a pupil of Joachim. Klingler had only one private pupil, and that was Suzuki, whom he taught for eight years. As the Wikipedia article on Karl Klingler points out, Klingler had a direct and positive influence on the Suzuki method of violin teaching. There would presumably have also been a secondary influence from Klingler's teacher Joachim - but that's just my take.

My violin teacher was taught at the Suzuki School in Japan, and that included six months personal tuition by Shinichi Suzuki himself. I think I could fairly say that I can trace my technique in some respects back through the teacher line to Joachim.

Joachim's ghostly influence is still around - in Bristol Music Club's concert room where I have a weekly chamber ensemble session there is hanging on the wall looking directly down on me a picture of him playing his violin. He was the first President of Bristol Music Club.

Getting back to the doctorate issue, there can be an unintended consequence. When I was a patent attorney in a large aero engineering corporation a colleague and I were collaborating with a German firm of associates on an important patent case. Our German colleagues for several months persisted in addressing their letters to us with "Dr" before our respective names. This was embarrassing since neither of us had a doctorate, and Human Resources even asked me if I should amend my CV. Eventually we persuaded the Germans to cease. I believe that what was behind it was that in Germany most patent professionals have doctorates (D.Eng a common one) and they assumed, wrongly, that this was also the case in the UK.

December 16, 2018, 7:11 PM · American lawyers have doctorates too: Juris Doctor (JD) degrees. But they don't call themselves "Doctor." They sometimes call themselves Esquire, for example, "Michael D. Cohen, Esq." Abuses of the latter term have led some states to prohibit its use by those not licensed to practice.
December 16, 2018, 7:32 PM · Is that similar to when surgeons call themselves “Mister”? (Any female surgeons here? - what do you call yourselves?)
I’ve been caught badly with that one twice , explaining a medical issue to someone I thought was a layman. I wonder how many I didn’t find out about. Now if I’m suspicious about their level of knowledge, I ask.
December 16, 2018, 9:41 PM · Having dropped out of medical school to become a lawyer, I sometimes like to say I became a doctor after all -- and I like to point out that lawyers were referred to as "doctors" in the English language a century before physicians were.

But in actual practice, it's considered acceptable but unusual to address an American lawyer as "Doctor." Nine out of ten lawyers, including me, will give you a funny look.

December 17, 2018, 12:06 AM · Sorry, I seem to have led the discussion down a different path. Dr, no Dr, whatever.
My point was that no, it's not a cult. It's a marketing success.
December 17, 2018, 2:32 AM · In Germany a qualified physician who also possesses a research degree is entitled to be called "Dr Dr...". When he or she also gets to become head of their department they become "Prof Dr Dr...". The guy who became head of my department shortly before I left would no doubt have preferred "His Holiness"
Edited: December 17, 2018, 5:53 AM ·

When a religious ideology includes fascism's ideologies(propaganda, intolerance, conspiracy theories, chronic lying, world domination, separatism, ghettos) it becomes a cult, IMO. Fascism + religion = cult.

I don't think Suzuki was any of those things, so NO is my answer.
Suzuki teachers can come across as dogmatic and think their great Genesis ideology should apply in modern times, but I disagree. Today's science is changing how we should learn, and we need to listen to scientist and neurologist and not go back in history, but go forward.
Suzuki had one thing right, he alone, who owns the youth, gains the future, just don't drink the Kool-aid kids.

Edited: December 17, 2018, 10:14 AM · "Cult" doesn't have to imply Fascism, which was a particular political phenomena. Spain's Franco regime was fascist, but I don't think he was bent on world domination. And religions don't necessarily need to part of a cult--socialism had a cult following, but it declared itself atheistic. In fact, we often play fast and loose with the term "Fascism," which technically really only describes the regime of Mussolini, who called themselves Fascisti.

The Rajneeshis of Oregon (watch "Wild, Wild Country on Netflix") were a cult, but they weren't Fascistic, and weren't exactly religious. A corrupt leadership, yes.

The word "cult" is pretty malleable (as is "religion), and can describe many aspects of how people organize or think. Yoga has cult-like aspects. But so does fly-fishing, marathon running, period instrument performance.

Suzuki to me is more like the marketing phrase "all natural" or "now! Non-GMO!": you know that it will attract a certain market so you stick it on the label.

December 17, 2018, 11:47 AM · To. be a cult, I think we need to see pressure to join and huge penalties for leaving or thinking in an impure way. Given the flexibility with which many teachers float in and out of the Suzuki books, I think of it as more like the Anglican Church than any serious cult.
Edited: December 18, 2018, 3:44 AM · A cult has a leader that is worshipped and it is very difficult to get out of, it consumes the wealth and psychological wellbeing of a person.

So how can Suzuki be a cult?

On the other hand some Suzuki teachers are very rigid in their methods of teaching, you can tell this by reading the discussion pages of suzukiassociations. So rigid, that they really dont listen the question but offer standard solutions like ”just listen more” or ”play the old pieces more” even though their advice is not correct in some cases. But wouldnt that be the case in every method? Many people are very rigid and come more so when they age, no matter what they do as it is hard the re-evaluate ones learning.

And some teachers are more open and supplement and even allow changes in the Suzukimethod. Its not the method its the personality of the teacher.

The idea of starting very young and listening to the recordings are very good, but not everyone can start young even though Suzuki himself thought that. And I know very well from my daughters violinplaying that not everyone can master all the old pieces by heart. And now that my girl has started in an orchestra (others are mostly taught in conventional methods) she enjoys it far more than the Suzuki group classes and I must say that the orchestra is so much better than the group classes. In fact the group classes are crap in comparison to the orchestra in terms of skills learned (not because of the teacher, an orchestra just is so much better) and Im sorry that not many Suzuki students can start in a real orchestra at an young age (my daughter is 5).

But a cult, definately not, at least not in my country, here all the teachers in respectable studios have conventional degrees from university, Suzuki is only an extra method. So it depends on the personality of the teacher, how flexible she or he is. I really cannot imagine how anyone would have been able to teach violin to my 2-3 year old child without Suzuki method even though my girl wanted to start playing the violin herself.

December 20, 2018, 1:32 AM · By definition this website is a cult.
Cult-a system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object.
a relatively small group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister.
a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing.
Religion-a pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance.
Venerate derives from the Latin verb, venerare, meaning to regard with reverence and respect.
Zealot-a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.
synonyms: fanatic, enthusiast, extremist, radical,
You are all members of a weird violin cult.
A common mistake people make is cherry picking the information they choose to put forth. Interpretation is dangerous and creates a false truth for others to believe.
"If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.
Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.
He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.
The victor will never be asked if he told the truth.
The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one.
Demoralize the enemy from within by surprise, terror, sabotage, assassination. This is the war of the future.
Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live.
It is not truth that matters, but victory.
Strength lies not in defence but in attack.
Words build bridges into unexplored regions."
All quotes of Adolph Hitler. One you would call a mad man and yet, a master manipulator, explaining how to assassinate a person, an organization, an enemy, even a system of learning on how to play the violin.
Edited: December 20, 2018, 12:20 PM · Now wait a second here, as the editor of I must say I'm not running a cult! But I'm happy to host all of you and your conversations! ;)

I'd say that it's true that a teacher who has done some training in pedagogy, whether it is "Suzuki" or another pedagogy course, is going to have more tools to deal with your child than a teacher who has not.

I viewed Suzuki as something of a "cult" for a while, but then my teacher (who did not teach me the Suzuki way) was offering Suzuki pedagogy training, and I decided to do it. I felt I already was a pretty natural teacher before, but then I learned so very much, having someone to mentor me in teaching. I took quite a lot of Suzuki pedagogy training over a period of years, from about five different teachers. None of them were "cultish," all were really creative and generous in sharing everything they could about what works well in teaching violin.

So I would say Suzuki is not a cult, but a really supportive community.

December 20, 2018, 5:25 PM · My remarks were from France. Laurie, you restore my faith in humanity!
December 20, 2018, 9:24 PM · If Suzuki is a cult, what are the vegans, the paleodiet preachers, the gym fanatics, the fashion victims, the foodie wannabes, etc, etc?
And that, without touching any kind of political belief.

December 20, 2018, 10:32 PM · I've changed my mind. Suzuki is definitely a cult.
December 21, 2018, 1:00 AM · ...that was interesting...
Edited: December 21, 2018, 6:29 AM · It's confirmed, no-fly list for you...

Mark Cobb, you are correct to a certain degree, but this is not CNN or Fox News, this is a combination of both. When one only listens to or is forced to listen to one bias source of information that is chronically sensationalized 24/7, they then can be brainwashed. Obviously, allows two or more opposing views, so therefore it's not propaganda like some of today's news sources. Also, Suzuki didn't have summer reconfirmation camps either or do they now???? Hmmm...

Our Times

Anyway, we all have inner struggles that we summit too. Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of Suzuki. But when the day comes when the walls have ears and to even play a single note out of pitch would be my doom. I would then keep the case locked at all times for fear that even the birds and mice will hear me and give me away. Would I know in the times of freedom to play openly with zest and fearlessness or would I be deaf to the crescendoing pitch, but only learn to hear its frequency when it reaches Fortissimo. Sadly, in those times having the ability to move my own finger ever so slightly to correct it, would be an impossible, irreversible feat.

Edited: December 21, 2018, 6:26 AM · I have made a small edit to the OP to make an implication explicit.
December 22, 2018, 4:15 PM · I find it extremely interesting that the bandwagon was carrying Suzuki to the cult graveyard until I pointed out that merely by definition and one's interpretation of definition, seasoned with the quotes of a lunatic in comparing said bandwagon to a cult in itself the mode changed from accusatory to defense.
Seems no matter how a person tries to get ahead in life, in his goals, in his hobbies, someone will try to drag him back down, maybe to keep themselves in their elevated state of mind, I don't know because I don't understand that. Shouldn't matter what someone else does or how they're doing it. If it isn't detrimental to the path you have chosen follow, why is it of concern? Why is it so difficult to give praise as well as condemnation?
I have never studied Suzuki. I know the history and the overview, other than that, I care less. As long as those that are learning in that manner are finding it fruitful, I wish them best and hope they are finding happiness.
Not sure how Quoting Adolf Hitler made someone have a leap in thought to CNN and Fox news, or why the idea is that musical instruction can be in opposition of itself. Different methods can be taught and must be, because people are different, that is not opposition. It is the opinions of people thinking one method is better than another that conflict and create opposition. People must believe that what works for them is always better, instead of just being different.
The journey is to be enjoyed. Your path will differ to mine, as it must, because you are a different person. You will learn in a different way, have different results, a different style, different tastes. Not better, different.
Students of Suzuki that may or may not stay with their chosen mode of learning will also develop differently, as they should. As they make their journey on their own paths, they should be encouraged, not insulted, or denigrated with talk of cultism.
You should all be ashamed.

December 22, 2018, 6:22 PM · Wait, whaaaaaat?

The overwhelming majority opinion in this thread is that Suzuki is not a cult, a handful of fanatical devotees notwithstanding, because almost everything has a small cult-like following.

Edited: December 23, 2018, 7:49 AM · Interesting. People are pulling in many directions, so that if I attempt one of my own, it won't pull against half the people here.
The biggest problem, it seems to me, is that most people have only the media to teach them what a cult is, and the media teach "all cults are bad", even though I have mentioned AA. The media earn money from sensationalism. Bad cults are sensational.
And some of you are simply arguing "some cults are bad therefore all cults are bad". That is as sensible as arguing "some people are bad, therefore all people are bad". Sure, you could suggest humans have a design flaw that makes them corruptible, but that would be pretty idealistic.

The psychiatrist's definiton is simply a neutralish one of social structures (although the neutrality is fragile, as any kind of social structure allows mass hysteria). The family unit is the most basic cultic social structure, but the media are never going to let you know that! Most families are good. Some are bad.
I could justify this by defining "cult", but the longer I make this post, the bigger the waste of effort, as it will always be deemed contentious by some.

So, to summarise, I wanted a subjective discussion, but I underestimated the extent to which media miseducation would make it so fraught. Or perhaps I have even committed the sin of appearing to doubt contributors' personal cults by seeming to doubt all cults? Note that I didn't criticise cults. People assumed it was pejorative from their education. I didnt say it was pejorative.

P.S. When I realise how big a blunder this post is, I will delete it, lol!

P.P.S. In for a penny, in for a pound. Jesus understood the cultic nature of families, and that's why he wanted his prospective followers to abandon their families!

P.P.P.S. I haven't caught up on the Dr business in the thread - fwiw, the history of it is, originally only people with scholarship, i.e. a PhD, had the title Doctor (literally "teacher"). Medical practitioners were initially only awarded the title honorarily, then it became the norm for them to possess it.

Edited: December 23, 2018, 7:44 AM · The title “Doctor” seems to have different meanings in some cultures. My grandfather had an Italian gardener who called him “Doctor X”, even though he didn’t even have a PhD. In fact, he called all of his clients Doctor. It was a mark of respect. And he was a recent immigrant. He pronounced “patio” to rhyme with “ratio.”

His son, growing up Italian-American, figured that his dad just worked for a bunch of doctors. When the son worked for my parents, he called them “Doctor” as well, but that was an inside joke— because, in fact, they both had MDs.

Edited: December 28, 2018, 6:42 AM · And Montalbano is usually addressed as "Dottore". I was only observing the origins, not the post hoc usages, although in fact they are all intelligible if they originally meant "teacher", aren't they?

docere = Latin transitive verb "to teach"
doctus = (passive) past participle of docere = "taught/learnèd"
doctor = "teacher"
doctrine = that which is taught

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