Dear Parents,
The children are all learning. Of course, that said some children showed their progress more than others. This is not really important. Dr. Kataoka’s book Sensibility and Education adds depth to the concept of “Every child can learn” as set out by Dr. Suzuki by adding to it: “Every human being is created differently“. As educators we must understand how to teach the basic concepts and abilities to individual children that have their own unique sensibility, their own way of understanding.

Some children will observe for a long time and it seems that no learning is going on. One of my former students is an interesting case. She began coming to lessons at age 4. After several weeks observing, she refused to take a bow. Her mother was unbelievably patient and brought her a long distance for a lesson week after week. She ended up observing for one whole year without even a bow! The mother continued to play the disc for many hours every day. After a while the mother decided to learn piano while her daughter was observing. She learned all the way through book 2 while her daughter was still on the couch! One day the mother came to me and said “My daughter is playing the Twinkles at home. I made a video. Will you watch it and tell me how to help her.” Of course I really wanted to see the video as I could not imagine this at all. However, I said “She will bow and have a lesson next week.” I really didn’t know if she would or not, but I just said it. When the next week came, she bowed, went to the piano, and played all of the Twinkles quite well!
So, all that time she was only observing. Her mother hardly helped her at all.
Then when she was ready, she learned Book 1 very fast. She played a concerto with orchestra her senior year of high school.

There are endless variations and stories of how children learn. But the important point is that the children are learning all the time. We actually can’t stop that even if we want to sometimes! So, please play the disc as much as possible. Your children will continue to absorb more and more from hearing the same music. This is the same way that children absorb the accent that their parents have, the expressions, etc. Please also play the Mozart Concerto recording* we discussed in Twinkle Lessons Post #4.
When my children were young I worried about every milestone they were supposed to accomplish according to the timetable in the baby books. Now, isn’t it really unimportant how many months old your child was when they crawled, or when they said their first word? Because some children listen for a long time before they speak, or are content to watch and not crawl as early as other babies.
In the same way, it is really not important if your child progresses slowly or quickly through the books. It is not the level of advancement, but the depth of their playing that is important. It is that they can play with a beautiful tone and a happy heart:
Dr. Kataoka says:

“Being able to play the piano using a heartfelt, true, natural and musical tone becomes a great joy throughout your entire life.”

It is all part of providing the optimum environment and allowing the child the space to progress in the way that they naturally do without force or delay. As Dr. Suzuki says:

“Never hurry, don’t be lazy.”

We make sure the baby hears people speaking in calm loving voices, we encourage them with smiles, and we keep faith.
What is being taught in the lessons is awareness. Awareness in the present moment of the life force. Everything is absorbed by the child, even our own attention and feelings. That is why teaching tone is so important. Because when we listen and play with a heart tone, the child absorbs that sound and that feeling without other thought. Dr. Suzuki says:

“Tone has living soul. Without form it breathes.”

I enjoyed playing “The Wild Rider” for the students this week. Here is a 10 Piano recording of The Wild Rider performed in Matsumoto Japan in 1994 with my daughter Bria playing. The 10 Piano Concerts are a very special part of studying Suzuki Piano. This is a wonderful opportunity for the children together to “play with one heart”

On the Lessons:
Please make sure the children are hearing the disc many hours a day. Sing with the disc. Make copies of the disc so that you have it in the car, the bedroom, the main living area, the computer, etc. This is the most important thing you can do.
Continue to work on ready position. Listen for short and long sounds. Make physical adjustments without too many words. Review finger numbers each day. Appreciate that repetition adds depth to the experience of learning.

Thank-you for your continued time, attention, and flexibility.
Leah Brammer

*Mozart Concerto recording