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About Dr. Shin'ichi Suzuki

     Dr. Suzuki was born in 1898 in Nagoya, Japan. His father was a violinmaker who was very successful and subsequently grew to become very wealthy. In order to prepare him to eventually assume control of the family business, in 1913, Suzuki was sent to business school. The following summer, he worked in the family factory so that he could better familiarize himself about all aspects of the violin. It was at business school that Suzuki learned his motto in life: "Character first, ability second.1" This motto became the basis of his personal philosophy and influenced all of his decisions including the foundation of his teaching principles.

     At the age of 21, Suzuki moved to Tokyo and began his study of the violin with Ko Ando2. After only a year of studying in Tokyo, Suzuki went on a trip to Europe. Suzuki landed in Berlin, where he spent three months attending concerts and seeking an inspiring teacher. Suzuki heard violinist Karl Klingler play as a member of the Klingler Quartet and requested to study with him. Suzuki studied with Klingler for the 8 years he spent in Germany, and became an accomplished concert violinist. It was during this period that he met his wife, Waltraud Prange. After their wedding in Berlin, Suzuki and his wife returned to Japan. The Suzuki Quartet was formed with his three younger brothers and he began teaching his own violin students.

     One of Suzuki's young students, Koji Toyoda, became a symbol of his great teaching ability as well as his philosophy towards teaching young children. He acquired a deep appreciation for children and their learning abilities. This provided the foundation for the concept of Ability Development.

     Suzuki's success in teaching Koji Toyoda lead him to be appointed to two teaching positions in Tokyo: at the Imperial Music school and the Kunitachi Music School. Following the Second World War, Dr. Suzuki began Talent Education. Talent Education is based on the belief that children should begin their musical education from birth. Suzuki put "ability development" into practise at the Matsumoto Music School. In July 1963 the International Society for Music Education (ISME) conference was held in Tokyo. This was an excellent opportunity for Suzuki to present a group of about 500 children to perform for the attendees. The presentation was so impressive that once the conference was completed, Suzuki was invited to travel to the United States with some of his students and colleagues.

     In 1964 Suzuki and his colleagues traveled to the United States and the concept of Talent Education was introduced for the first time to an American audience.3 Since this time it has continued to grow and develop into an internationally renowned teaching method. Hundreds of thousands of children learn music through the Suzuki method around the globe.

     The Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) was created to establish a common ground for all Suzuki trained teachers. To be a certified Suzuki teacher you must register with the SAA and have taken Suzuki training courses. All Suzuki courses are administered by the SAA to ensure that the continuity, quality and applicability of training that Suzuki teachers receive is maintained. Throughout the world events occur for Suzuki children, parents and teachers to gather and learn from each other. Summer Institutes allow students to learn from other Suzuki teachers and for teachers to participate in training sessions from well-respected experts in the field. Currently there are over 50 summer institutes in North America every summer.


1 Evelyn Herman, Shinichi Suzuki: The Man and His Philosophy. (Athens: Ability Development Associates, 1981), 12.
2 Ibid 18
3 Suzuki Association of the Americas. “Shinichi Suzuki.” Suzuki Association of the Americas. http://suzukiassociation.org/about/suzuki/ (accessed December 7, 2008).