Suzuki style

Edited: April 23, 2021, 3:05 AM · Hello,
When one learns the Suzuki method, does one learn the Russian or Franco-Belgian style of playing?

Replies (15)

Edited: April 23, 2021, 3:23 AM · The bow-hold is more akin to the Franco-Belgian one.

Suzuki experimented with the arm shape (with control groups) over many years, and opted for a very low elbow: not to immobilise the upper arm, but on the contrary to implicate it in all strokes, with a swinging motion. This has become a real doctrine in the ESA.

He also gave the right thumb a very active role instead of using it only as a fulcrum.

Edited: April 23, 2021, 4:31 AM · Franco-Belgian. Adrian, your comments are interesting because when I learned by this method in 1967 one was expected to learn to hold the right upper arm stationary by practicing with the upper arm against the wall. And it was stressed that the thumb was to be thought of as a fulcrum. So you're saying the very fundamentals have changed since then. My teacher was Marilyn Kesler, who was in the first group instructed in the method by John Kendall. We used the Listen and Play books.
Edited: April 25, 2021, 8:40 AM · Ann, I notice a big difference between American and European "Suzuki" bowing. My teacher trainers and examiners in France and from Britain in the 80s had all trained with Suzuki in Japan in the 70s, perhaps later than John Kendall.

Our beginners played the Twinkle variations near the heel with a V-shaped arm. The opening of the elbow comes just after. Even then, the elbow continues to swing, not back and forth but in and out from the body, even in long strokes. Thus we get a deeper tone without crunching the attacks.

For the active thumb we can learn the motion by rotating a soft ball back and forth in the hand using all fingers plus the thumb.

Our instructors were very, very strict about all this.
Since Suzuki's demise, I don't know how things are now.
I began to get annoyed by the cult-style atmosphere.

April 23, 2021, 4:47 AM · Adrian, Thank you, this is very interesting because "everybody" seems to think "Suzuki style" is uniform.
April 23, 2021, 5:26 PM · Well, there is some uniformity by design. Isn't there a picture of the bow hold in Book 1?
April 23, 2021, 8:21 PM · I never had the modern Suzuki books but the Listen and Play series had numerous photographs of everything from posture to instrument hold to bow hold to adjusting instrument tilt. The first lesson was on holding the instrument, using the 4 step process of holding the instrument vertically, rotating it 180 degrees, bringing it to the neck and then moving the head down. Everything was very structured in extreme detail. And it worked. No drop outs from our class that I remember.
April 23, 2021, 9:34 PM · I'm actually appalled by the situation that Adrian describes. Though the Suzuki method was never intended to send children to Juilliard, it was intended to teach music in such as way as it could help produce cooperative citizens.
April 24, 2021, 12:22 AM · What's this about a cult lol? Cooperative citizens? Someone please clue me in here. I found traces of the meaning behind this online, but I would rather hear it from the point of view of Ann and Adrian.
Edited: April 24, 2021, 7:14 AM · Mike, Snarkiness and rudeness will get you nowhere. Perhaps I could have said it better than to use a phrase that you find triggering but you have to do some thinking about how the method came out of the situation in post-war Japan. If you read his books you will realize his method is about child rearing and not about being a top musician. Until you read his books you will not understand.
Edited: April 24, 2021, 12:53 PM · I think you've interpreted my post incorrectly.

Edit: What did you think was the meaning of my post?

lemme deconstruct what you said

"Snarkiness and rudeness will get you nowhere"

Where am I trying to get with my original post? I simply asked for you to elaborate.

"Perhaps I could have said it better than to use a phrase that you find triggering"

What was the phrase that "triggered" me?

The rest of your post is very agreeable.

Edit: I'll concede by apologizing because this discussion will get nowhere.

Sorry for doing... I'm not sure exactly, but I am sorry for offending you anyways.

April 24, 2021, 1:48 PM · I thought the Suzuki Method was more of a philisophy combined with the books, and that technique (like the bow hold) could vary from teacher to teacher. But, I'm not a Suzuki teacher so I don't know. I was a Suzuki student and was taught the franco-belgian style along with my fellow students, but not not sure if that was what all Suzuki teachers at the time were doing.
April 24, 2021, 8:03 PM · When I was a kid, most (but not all) Suzuki teachers treated the bow arm quite prescriptively, with a low, German-style arm.

Today's Suzuki bow arm is much more variable, largely aligning to the personal approaches of individual teachers, with Galamian-style being the default, much as it is for students in general. This is true in the US, at least. In my son's Suzuki program, the kids mostly play Galamian-style, though my son has ended up with a more Russian-looking arm, probably as a result of watching me, but his teacher doesn't really care as long as overall technical execution works.

Edited: May 4, 2021, 5:22 AM · I see are two complementary aspects of the Suzuki method:
- the ingenious sequence of pieces, supported by brief, pertinent exercises, obviating the need for many studies which he found "boring and unmusical", and allowing young children to play beautifully from the start (!);
- his deep love of music and of children, and his strong personality, which has lead to a cult-like cloning of his mannerisms amongst the less intelligent followers.

My own experience of European training and accreditation was both enriching and enjoyable, technically more than musically.

I was struck by the way the children synchronized perfectly in groups, but retained their individuality in solos; what more can one ask of musicians!!

Our training sessions included guest speakers on psychomotor therapy, mental management, the nature of sound (full of half-truths, exasperating to my science-educated mind..) and child developement and education.

In our accreditation examinations, we had to know the entire repertoire (up to our level) from memory; play selected pieces with a quality beyond that level, and give an unprepared lesson. We had to choose one or two of the child's shortcomings (hopefully the same choice as that of the examiners!), demonstrate and obtain immediate improvements, and suggest patterns for the week's practice.
The examiners varied between the encouraging and the hostile. They were all wonderful with children, and some with adults too...

April 25, 2021, 8:28 AM · For me the 'Suzuki method' is a nice set of progressive repertoire. It just needs a teacher who understand their student.... ;)
Edited: April 28, 2021, 1:46 PM · Sharing our understanding is great too..

Edit . May I just add the very positive sides to my training experience.

I am an (even) better teacher! Instead of succeeding best with students who resembled me most (and why not!) I now find I can be useful to anybody: more tricks & tips, and a slightly better understanding of folks' strengths and weaknesses, physical and mental.

Also, I play (even) better: greater facility in tricky bowings, and a greater palette of tone-colours.

(Having said that, I shall have to increase my practice before putting anything on U-Toob..)

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