Suzuki Voice Teachers tell how Suzuki Philosophy has affected their lives
Dr. Päivi Kukkamäki (Finland), ESA Suzuki Voice Teacher since 1986 and Trainer since 1991
Mette Heikkinen (Finland), ESA Suzuki Voice Teacher since 1988 and Trainer since 1993
Jaume Fargas i Fernàndez (Spain), ESA Suzuki Voice Teacher since 1992
Analia Capponi-Savolainen (Finland), ESA Suzuki Voice Teacher since 2000 and Trainer since 2012
Amelia Seyssel (USA), ESA Suzuki Voice Teacher since 2008
HOW SUZUKI PHILOSOPHY HAS AFFECTED MY LIFE by Dr Päivi Kukkamäki
Suzuki Philosophy totally changed my life in 1986 in Japan. I changed my other future plans.
The first time I heard about Suzuki Philosophy was in 1976 when I listened to my cousins playing Suzuki piano. I wanted to know more about the Method, so I took courses of Suzuki pedagogy at Sibelius University in 1984 and I participated in the Finnish Suzuki Associations courses.
I met Dr Shinichi Suzuki and Mrs Waltraud Suzuki for the first time in Finland during Easter in 1986 and I received an invitation to come to study in the Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto. During that same autumn I travelled to Matsumoto and the decision to start Suzuki Voice Program (early called “Suzuki Singing” –“Singing in the Suzuki Style”) was made in November 1986. I had the honour to know Dr. Suzuki for 12 years and Mrs Suzuki for 14 years in person. Mrs Suzuki became the “Godmother” to Suzuki Voice Program.
I use Suzuki Philosophy in my everyday life. Using music and songs I can create nice, loving atmosphere and positive environment that makes the days smooth at home and at work. Encouragement helps everybody! Step by step approach works everywhere, not only during Suzuki lessons. It is nice to notice that when concentrating to 1-3 things at the same time - Not in a hurry but without rest - more things will get actually done. In Suzuki Philosophy everything develops in its own tempo: students, teachers, program... It has been a life-long journey to create an International Suzuki Voice Community.
Every child can! It has been exciting to figure out ways to teach voice for different age groups and to see how the ability of singing is constantly increasing. In the Suzuki Voice Program a child will grow through singing from childhood to adulthood. It has been a pleasure to create an instrument – voice - step by step and to see how success breeds by success in reality. Mother tongue method: Listening – imitating – repeating is the most natural way for small children to learn. This basic way of learning is also the way for singers to learn for example new languages, as it is required in our profession.
What a power Suzuki Triangle is between Teacher-child-parents! During these 30 years I have used triangles between many things and in many levels: Suzuki Voice Teacher Trainers - Suzuki Voice Teachers-in-training - Suzuki Voice Teachers; Suzuki Philosophy - Suzuki Voice Program - Suzuki Voice Teacher Training. The Triangle works in family-life as well. We develop step by step to a unique human being. Life is in itself a long learning process. As Dr Suzuki said: Wish for Beautiful Tone beautiful Heart!
Last but not least; Suzuki Philosophy has given me enormous amount of joy and happiness! I am grateful to all Suzuki Voice Families, Suzuki Voice Teachers and Suzuki Voice-Teachers-in-Training. It has been wonderful to see such a dedication during all these years! As Mrs. Suzuki wrote: 'Singing together is stimulating and joyful while planting the seed of ability!' I will always remember her words from the letter after Dr Suzuki passed away 1998. 'Keep on teaching singing Happy Suzuki Way!'
HOW SUZUKI PHILOSOPHY HAS AFFECTED MY LIFE by Mette Heikkinen
When still being a student in Sibelius-Academy in 1982, I heard about a new way of thinking and a fresh attitude in piano music pedagogy and it had a name: Suzuki-method. The marvellous idea of music being the most natural language and learning step by step and the growing understanding of what is needed for a skill to be. I got new tools to teach piano.
The Song and singing is my true love and I have worked with “mother language” thoughts in Suzukivoice since 1988 when Päivi Kukkamäki asked me to join to work with her. I think that Suzuki Philosophy led me to search for the instruments and courage how to get to the depths needed to solve problems. Patience, intellectual curiosity, empathy and not to speak about humility!
My task is the vocal pedagogy when training new Suzukivoice teachers. I am most grateful that during these years I have had the privilege to work together with so many wonderful singing teachers and learn a lot. The paths in learning are different and if the puzzle needs 1000 pieces for the skill to be so what –it was 1000 new things to explore and experience.
We are here to learn and grow -what could be more rewarding! With best regards, Mette Heikkinen
HOW SUZUKI PHILOSOPHY HAS AFFECTED MY LIFE by Jaume Fargas i Fernàndez
My first contact with the ideas of Dr. Suzuki was in 1961 when my violin teacher Antoni Guinjoan i Simeón in order to induce practice and repetition skills to his students told us about the existence of Dr. Suzuki and the basic ideas “Every child can be educated” and “Practice build ability”. I had not any other contact with it until 1984 when I had the idea to start teaching violin to my son Pau (born in 1981). Then, Dr. Suzuki’s ideas were useful for me to explain to my surroundings that the early childhood education had been something normal and historically employed all around the world. And also I noticed and used for first time the “Parents involvement” idea.
Then my situation changed a lot when I started to be Trained as Suzuki Teacher (1992). I had already been working with "Graded Repertoire", as it existed from many sources, but my involvement with Official Teacher Training forced me to accept "Non copyrighted pieces" in order to share it with all Teachers around the world, and make the Project bigger.
My main personal change was in mobility, because similarly to what my parents and grandparents had done before their sons grew up, me and my family we were used to change regularly jobs and residence (including Country of residence) every few years. The building of a Suzuki Voice project needed a regularity which overcome my traditional practices. The compromise to help my students in their growing forced me to stay quieter. (When he reached adulthood, my son returned to our family habits living in different places and countries).
Another big affectation to my personal habits was the acceptance and regular long term contact with people with different cultures, situations and habits. In order to build every personal and social project, I’ve been happily working for years with Trainers, students and their families, and also other Suzuki Teachers. Thus has not changed much my feelings and personal points of view, but I’ve learned much to share and improve our work even in long term projects.
I wish you to be as happy as I have been when affected by the Suzuki Philosophy.
HOW SUZUKI PHILOSOPHY HAS AFFECTED MY LIFE by Analía Capponi-Savolainen
I have always been interested in singing and vocal pedagogy. My main concern has always been how could we teach singing to all children and how to help them to develop their ability, in a way that they feel empowered and can express their feelings through singing? In my experiences as a teacher of classical singing and music education at the conservatory in Argentina and in all levels of general music education I was confronted with simple but unresponded questions: Is it possible to teach children to sing well and to enjoy it? Is it possible to support their vocal development going beyond the mere repetition of music and text? Is it possible to assist young children in discovering their healthy individual voices and expressions yet experiencing the power of belonging to a musical community? How can we, as educators address their needs, during their different developmental stages and accompanied them in their journey?
In the year 2000, when I learned about Suzuki Voice and met Dr. Kukkamäki I found the answer to most of these questions. I discovered a world of possibilities that combine singing and teaching in the most beautiful manner. Suzuki Voice training was an inspiration, a motivation for creativity and imagination, a way to combine experiences and knowledge on the fields of singing and vocal pedagogy, but having always a child-centered view. Importantly, I discovered a space where I can be who I am as a singer and as educator, a space open for individual and professional development. The Suzuki Voice international community has been a great support in my early development as a Suzuki Voice teacher and it is still today. When I started working as a pioneer Suzuki Voice teacher in Latin America in the year 2000, I would have never imagined the impact that that work and experience would have in my entire life not only professionally but also personally and in my family life.
Working with Suzuki Voice students of different nationalities and ages, with students who have diverse cultural background along these years, learning in the interaction with them and with their families, has been revealing. Working as a teacher trainer in the Suzuki voice teacher education programs has been an invaluable experience for me. In this context, my experiences as a practitioner have opened new perspectives about the meanings of singing in childhood that I currently address in my research carried out at the Sibelius Academy. I believe that singing can be a profound way of expression for people, a way of communication and a shared space of interaction and dialog between-us. Singing can create community and unite people in a very particular way and this can be crucial in childhood.
In our nowadays societies, more and more children need to be listened and their feelings and thoughts respected. Singing experiences of childhood are important and deep-rooted in us, they are part of our individual and collective identity. Dr. Suzuki said, “I respect children as my teachers” and I like this quotation, as it seems much necessary to remember these words today.
I cannot more than deeply thank Dr. Päivi Kukkamäki and her family for her support and teachings along the years, and teacher trainer Mette Heikkinen for her valuable teachings. You have been and still are an inspiration for me. Thank you to the Suzuki Voice community and particularly to my current students, former students and teachers-in-training. I can only wish I have contributed in your education in the best possible way; may your experiences, stories and memories with singing be colored by traces of happiness and joy when you sing and make music alone or with others, today and in your future life.
HOW SUZUKI PHILOSOPHY HAS AFFECTED MY LIFE by Amelia Seyssel
At the turn of the millennium, in the year 2000, I was asked quite unexpectedly if I would consider creating a ‘Suzuki Piano’ component for a local Suzuki Music School. As I knew nothing about the Suzuki Method at the time, I said that I would first need to research the method and decide if it met my own personal standards of teaching excellence. After a couple weeks of investigation I became convinced that it both met and exceeded those standards.
Those explorations culminated in my initial Suzuki Piano teacher training program, which did even more to convince me of both the underlying philosophy and the teaching methods derived
from that philosophy. However it wasn’t until I actually began to teach the Suzuki Method that I began to discover how deeply transformational that Philosophy is. Certain elements of the Suzuki Philosophy have been especially transforming for me, especially: the idea of the ‘Suzuki Triangle’; the emphasis on teaching the ‘whole child’; and the Philosophy’s primary concern with the ‘process’ of learning rather than focusing on the long-term result. Incorporating the parents into the teaching process and putting the well-being of the ‘whole child’ first and foremost is truly transformational for all parties: teacher, student, parents. So much stress is replaced with joy as all parties in the teaching process are able to openly share their learning adventure together.
Focusing on the ‘here and now’ allows for the blossoming of the very best that can happen in each precious moment – that special “now” moment that has never happened before and will never happen again. Regularly experiencing such moments of joyful discovery uplifts my whole being. One of my most challenging yet most enjoyable jobs as a Suzuki Teacher has been the continual process of discovering new ways of creating the Suzuki optimal ‘ environment’ for learning. That process constantly changes, grows and blossoms, having as many guises and faces as there are students and parents. Being in any way ‘successful’ at achieving that particular task is an everlastingly daunting project, keeping my life joyful, busy and profoundly interesting all at once. Constantly thinking of ‘ environment’ in my teaching has also had the wonderful effect of also transforming the way I relate to my own family, friends and associates.
Finally, a most truly transforming element of the Suzuki Philosophy is its attitude towards excellence. I look at my own life and my own tasks and find myself reaching for excellence in all that I do. The Philosophy’s focus on the ‘process of becoming’ excellent gives me permission to come short of perfection. So I find myself able to simply enjoy reaching for excellence on a daily basis rather than judging myself by impossibly difficult standards. By this measure, I grow daily as a teacher and a human being.