New Suzuki recordings by Hahn and Natalie Zhu

Edited: February 8, 2020, 8:39 PM · Here's the release from the publisher: https://www.alfred.com/press-room/hilary-hahn-suzuki/

The editor of Slipped Disc has a different take (but I'd thank him anyways for publishing the news): https://slippedisc.com/2020/02/the-new-face-of-suzuki-is-open-to-question/

Edit: I'd missed this site's mention, but found it after thinking about it: https://www.violinist.com/blog/laurie/20202/28087/

Hahn herself said "I was delighted to be asked to record Suzuki violin Books, 1–3 ... These pieces were played with love and care..."

I'm personally delighted that Hahn and Zhu have been affordable enough for the new Suzuki recordings, simply because they're directly contributing to music education for kids and others, and thereby affirming its value.

Replies (23)

February 7, 2020, 10:50 PM · Excited to hear these recordings: Hahn has a such wonderful, clear and centered tone.
Edited: February 8, 2020, 4:16 AM · Messrs Slipped Disc, may I point out that the Suzuki method is not a "mass-teaching" method: the teaching is highly individualised, with full parental involvement, and with group work as a vital supplement. And Ms Hahn began violin with this method..
Edited: February 8, 2020, 12:00 PM · It's unlikely that Ms. Hahn will be discovered, many years in the future, to have exhibited "problematic behavior" of the sort that was ascribed to William Preucil. On that account alone it's good that we have these new "reference" recordings.

https://www.violinist.com/blog/laurie/201810/27518/

February 8, 2020, 3:31 PM · Adrian, thank you for reminding us that the Suzuki method is just as individualized as any other method. The only people who keep muttering that it's a mass teaching method are those people who have never actually watched it in action at the private lesson level.

Yes, there is a predetermined sequence of music to be learned on the violin, but even that is altered or added to by each individual teacher. And most definitely the specific instruction and the rate of progress is very individualized.

February 8, 2020, 8:27 PM · I wonder if Hahn and Zhu are also slated to record the later books (and if not, why not, and who are, etc.), and if there are any potential issues with Hahn not playing them as printed in the books. I wouldn't expect Hahn to become a HIP'ster and say articulate the Handel sonatas accordingly (although I'd like that), but I also wouldn't expect her to take the markings as written previously. Then I wouldn't know how the ISA would deal with that - a potential conflict with the books and reference recordings. I guess we'll have to see. Maybe some changes are already in the works.

http://internationalsuzuki.org/docs/ISA-Violin-Committee-Report-11-19.pdf

"New International Edition of the Suzuki Violin School
A comprehensive proofing of the current Volumes 1 - 8 has been completed by the Committee and Alfred Publishing. There have been several corrections and additions to the Volumes. All Volumes will now be published as the International Edition and no longer the Revised Edition. Instructors should reference the AMPV # on the title page for the most current printing.

As the newest International Editions appear on the market, the Committee will make a list from those printings noting the corrections/additions. Please watch for that announcement on the ISA and Regional Association websites."

February 9, 2020, 2:27 AM · There was a time that you could get David Nadien’s playing of some books. I don’t know what happened to those recordings.
Edited: February 9, 2020, 7:04 AM · And David Cerone's, which I think I prefer.
But I love Hilary Hahn's playing, of course!
Edited: February 9, 2020, 7:44 AM · Eventually we'll be arguing about whether David Cerone or Hilary Hahn "May Song" is better the same way we argue whether Szeryng's Bach is better than Milstein's. But the real take-home here is: Hang on to your old Suzuki CDs. They'll be collectors items in 50 years. By then, of course, some new technology will have superseded CDs, with the counterintuitive result that your existing CD collection is now much more valuable than you ever imagined, and the equipment to play it back has become murderously expensive. But you will acquiesce to all those vicissitudes because the "experts" on the blogosphere will insist that the older technology has imbued the music with qualities like "warmth" that are just beyond the reach of objective evaluation.
February 9, 2020, 8:25 AM · "I wouldn't expect Hahn to become a HIP'ster and say articulate the Handel sonatas accordingly (although I'd like that), but I also wouldn't expect her to take the markings as written previously."

The SAA is actually apparently very strict about that when the books are being recorded - they want to hear the print, the whole print, and nothing but the print.

February 9, 2020, 10:20 AM · You can still get the Nadien and Cerone recordings. In fact, the digital ones that I purchased are Cerone, which I prefer to the Preucil (which I got when I purchased the book).
February 9, 2020, 11:17 AM · See? It has begun. LOL
February 9, 2020, 8:32 PM · Laurie asked in a blog:

"But the question is, in what medium would the current student and parent wish to listen to such a recording? Alfred said it would be available as CDs and on SmartMusic. Is that set-up going to reach its intended audience of mostly-millennial parents and their post-millennial children?"

https://www.violinist.com/blog/laurie/20202/28091/

I don't see why SmartMusic wouldn't or shouldn't be the dominant medium in such cases, or how it'd be a problem for a millennial or anyone with an Internet connection, as it's web-based. Regarding the annual subscription cost, it's on the order of a single lesson cost.

Edited: February 9, 2020, 8:39 PM · We haven't done it in ages but we used to play Suzuki CDs in our old car. I remember when she was a toddler, it was either the Frozen soundtrack CD or one of the Suzuki CDs. Don't most cars still come with a CD player? Our EV doesn't but I think that's because they are trying too hard to be different.
February 9, 2020, 9:22 PM · No, I don't think most cars come with CD players these days, although it should typically be possible to have one added if you really want. Transfer to a card or USB drive or phone connected via Bluetooth... There are numerous solutions.

But it's not just about listening to the music (however useful that might be in some cases), it's also useful to play with the accompaniment, which a service like SmartMusic does reasonably well (and better than a CD).

Edited: February 10, 2020, 1:55 AM · " William Preucil, who has been erased from the record by #Metoo allegations?"

Preucil: "I was sleeping with students during lessons".

Slipped Disc: "They are #MeToo allegations."

Never change, internet.

By the way, if anyone is curious for a preview, I dug up this old video on Youtube from a Danish tv show. I have no idea what she was doing there but, here you are (can't figure out how to embed the video):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdVWTfzjDCE&t=5m33s

February 13, 2020, 4:47 AM · "But it's not just about listening to the music (however useful that might be in some cases)"
Students at all levels don't listen enough!

Suzuki once suggested dividing practice time in three parts:
1/3 listening, 1/3 review, and 1/3 progress.
This way, 2/3 of the works is of good quality, and the last 1/3 will be much more effective.

February 13, 2020, 7:52 AM · "Suzuki once suggested dividing practice time in three parts:
1/3 listening, 1/3 review, and 1/3 progress."

Listening is a critical substitute for reading in the early days, but one can only get so much out of repeatedly listening to the same recording of "Mississippi hot dog", and the need for a reading substitute lessens over time for most players.

This is not to say that listening isn't a critically important skill down the road - to the contrary. However, repeatedly listening to a particular set of Suzuki recordings will only take as far as you're currently able to absorb, and you still have to progress by other means.

Practicing with accompaniment and listening to recordings of yourself are quite beneficial, and can be done with services such as SmartMusic. Practicing with accompaniment is equivalent to practicing with a metronome, which is often suggested or mandated by teachers, and adds harmonic checks for intonation, and further develops listening skills for ensemble playing.

It's not the same as a real player of course, but, well, at least it doesn't drink your booze.

Edited: February 13, 2020, 8:52 AM · J-Ray, I was referring to listening to playing which surpasses our own, be it in old or new music.
Our inner ear should be continually nourished with something other than our own efforts.

And reading should only be an efficient way of evoking our internal "sound samples", so we can try to match them.

In one exchange, Suzuki considered himself as "assistant" to Oistrakh, whose recording was the inspiration to a student learning the Tchaikovsky concerto.

February 13, 2020, 9:31 AM · There's a very old saying relating primarily to the training of craft apprentices: "look, listen, learn, do". The non-PC army version I heard in my youth had the word "monkey" precede each of those four stages in the list - those were the days!
February 15, 2020, 12:09 PM · For the early Suzuki kids, listening is as much for the language of music as for the notes of specific pieces. Ideally, they would listen to a lot of other classical music too. A very basic example: in the first piece that has a "bow circle" (or lift or retake) and the first piece that starts up bow, almost no one "just hears it" and does it - normal at that stage. However, I want them to gradually improve in aurally and visually recognizing those patterns and be able to do it without direct instruction, so they need to hear enough music and notice/follow enough patterns to absorb that kind of musical sense.
February 15, 2020, 1:25 PM · In this day and age they should really have recorded video performances so kids could also see how it's done. My son is a keen visual imitator.
February 15, 2020, 1:33 PM · Good news! It will be the most in tune and well played rendition of the Suzuki pieces for sure.
February 15, 2020, 6:44 PM · "In this day and age they should really have recorded video performances so kids could also see how it's done."

I was just thinking the same thing, while practicing. It'd be a natural extention and modernization of the black & white photos that appear in the books showing some aspects of positioning.

I'd think that that idea would also have occurred to the Suzuki and other publishers; maybe they'll take it up someday.

(Assuming nobody's already working on a hybrid VR solution which might superimpose a performer's hands and arms virtually onto your violin and bow, adjusting for anatomy, instrument, and geometry, of course.)


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