Category Archives: Teaching

In my experience….

When I listen to classical music, even for just 3 to 5 minutes a day, then violin practice becomes more fun and exciting!  It even gets easier to practice and it becomes something that I look forward to doing every day!  When I stop listening to classical music, even for a day or two, I just don’t want to practice.  I do it anyway, but it becomes dull and boring.  Then, if I hear even a minute or two for even one day, suddenly I have that spark again.  The desire to practice grows!  And then I WANT to hear better recordings!  And I want to study them! And so it goes.  It’s the strangest thing.  Ebb and Flow.  And let me hear it LIVE and I’m good to go for weeks!  Anyone?



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Filed under for parents, for students, ideas, students, Suzuki Method, Talent Education Research Institute, Teaching, violin

Saino-Kyoiku Tone

This morning I was searching on line to find an article about “Saino-Kyoiku Tone” by Clifford Cook.

Instead, I  stumbled upon my friend Eric Madsen’s Thesis! Eric attended Dr. Suzuki’s school during my years there and he was an excellent student!

This reading is very spiritual and VERY enlightening for all who seek a spiritual path.

Especially starting on page 112, parents, students and teachers will find some very clear explanations for the ways of Suzuki method!!  However, if you have time, the entire thesis is absolutely priceless!
Well done Eric! ありがとう ね ^-^ ! Here is the link!  Enjoy!

The genesis of Suzuki an investigation of the roots of talent education

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Filed under Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, Family, for parents, for students, Friends, how to use the bow, Listening, music, students, Suzuki Method, Suzuki Sensei, Talent Education Research Institute, Teacher Trainer, Teaching, Tonalization, violin

Hito wa Kankyou no ko Nari…. People are the Children of their environments…


People become the child of their environments

People become the child of their environments

This Painting from Suzuki Sensei means (in my translation) “People become the child of their environments” or as it is more often translated, “Man is the son of his environment”

This has been my shikishi forever. Every time I received a painting from Dr. Suzuki, it said that phrase out of the hundreds of quotes that he made, this was always mine.

“Repetition is important!” as we all know from working with these amazing, loving children.

A few days ago, while at my parent’s beautiful home, I asked my Mother (who is a Suzuki Teacher Trainer of Great Note, hee hee) whether or not she had any spare shikishis (or paintings) from Dr. Suzuki. You know, greedy child that I am, I wanted more and … particularly, I wanted a NEW one…
with a NEW saying. Only at this very moment is the full import of this hitting me as I am in tears.

You see, she found one in her stack, all signed and dated the the very year of my Graduation. It is protected beautifully in a lovely silver and gold holder. And, you guessed it. It has painted so nicely and beautifully
Hito wa
Kankyou no ko

With mountains in the background and a lovely tree… the tree of life.

And so this morning as I pondered… (as I am wont to do in the early morning time) I remembered… I remembered my first concerts in the huge auditoriums wearing my scratchy petticoats and stiff satin dress, patent black leather shoes and dangling my feet on the nice cushy chair while watching and listening to beautiful music.  We listened.  We watched beautiful ballets, orchestral performances – almost any cultural event meant that we would be in attendance. I remember my very first Nutcracker performance. I remember hearing and watching Issac Stern perform at the Capitol Theatre as I sat in the mezzanine and studied him closely. I remember making the audio tape of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to send to my Grandmother and Grandfather so far away, and later, i remember playing Bach Adagio for him in the Jackson Lake Lodge …. at his request, his only request as an exchange for the beautiful Vaillaut Violin that I now own.   I remember. I remember.

I know for a fact that we only listened to classical music and musicals at home. A bit of Disney.  My mother taught piano all day long because she loved to do it and also, in order to help pay for my violin lessons which I began at age 5. I distinctly remember her asking me as we were driving along, “Would like like to learn how to play the violin?” Of COURSE I would. I remember thinking for only split second and saying,

From my first violin lessons

From my first violin lessons


When I was 5, my Mother was getting her Master’s degree in Piano. I used to color quietly (I hope) in a corner and listen to even more beautiful music. (Hito ha kankyou  no ko nari)  I thought all Mommy’s in the world when to school and sang in the Hallelujah Chorus.  When I was 17 and Graduated from Realms High School, there was never any question about what I would do upon Graduation. It was fervent desire to continue to study the violin at Graduate levels.

I remember the very day that my Mother got out her scatchy old violin in the basement (by the piano).  She showed me the Green Zen-On bookand we found the old fashioned RED plastic record of Suzuki Sensei playing Twinkles, Lightly Row etc. in the back of the book. How excited we were because then we knew, I could learn it too! (If I could hear it/listen to it, i could play it)  Incidentally, she was dreadful at the violin and we are all very blessed that she sticks to the piano. 🙂

And on through the years…. To my first Institute at age 10, then all around the country to see Dr. Suzuki in San Francisco and to have thousands of lessons… Ms. Dorothy Delay, Aspen Music Festival,  Isaac Ostrow, Miss Yuko Mori,  Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, Andrés Cárdenes, Won-bin Yim, Kurt Sassmannshaus, Dr. William Starr,  and Dr. John Kendall, Nick’s Grandpa. …

and it has just never stopped. My Mom ran the Institute here for 15 years where I began to not only teach, but to study HOW to teach. And later I had so many opportunities to rehearse and perform with amazing symphonies.

Of course.

Of course.

Even a few days ago, there was my Father with his camera and my Mother my video camera, videoing not only my Students, but my Grandstudents (students of my older students) during their recital as I held my precious violin (A gift from Grandparents, my Mother and my Father, please bless his heart 100,000 times for kindly listening to my early squeaks and squawks). She needed to video them because I needed to hold the violin “just in case” any one student needed a note prompt. Just in case – to pave the way for their success as Beth Titterington taught me so long,long ago 😉 Or sometimes I simply walked to the very back of the auditorium as Suzuki Sensei often did, and I “Air Bowed” with them for spiritual support.

And so, back to the fact that we are ALL children of our environments. Suzuki Sensei has given us a gift. You see, my Parents and Grandparents love me SO MUCH. They gave me the gift of music! My Mother paved the way for my success. For life. For the Present. And then, they let me go to Japan at a very young age for a very long time. They let me grow. And grow. And we all continue to study.

And now, at more than twice the age that I was when I first went to Japan, I am only just now beginning to understand the importance of the prophetic words of Suzuki Sensei…”Hito wa Kankyou no ko nari” …. Thank Goodness that he kept handing those beautiful paintings to me to me! This is because people DO become the children of their environments. We become tone. In Suzuki Sensei’s words- “You Become tone.” (one of his highest praises). What kind of tone will we become? What kind of tone are we offering our student and children and the people who surround us?  The start determines the destiny.

I nod and smile. Sensei, Arigatou Gozaimashita. ありがとう ございました

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Filed under Concerts for Children, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, for parents, for students, Friends, ideas, Listening, music, Stories about Dr. Suzuki, Suzuki Method, Suzuki Sensei, Talent Education Research Institute, Teaching, violin

New Idea~!

Sit calmly in a comfortable chair….

Along with your students and parents ….

Be very still and quiet  and together gently listen to the wonderful tone of Fritz Kreisler on a DVD.   VERY good speakers are preferable (although whatever kinds of speakers are available will work- iPods won’t work for this unless they have speakers or a docking bay).

I would call this Group Training for Listening…

Suzuki Sensei taught this to me one evening when I kept practicing certain spots of my Graduation piecin his studio.  I played his albums carefully, certain spots over and over, in HIS STUDIO after hours, thinking that I was sneaking around behind his back (lol- well it wasn’t locked) I thought I needed to practice with the record…

He knew I needed something else.

He shuffled into the studio quietly and said calmly, “That isn’t the proper way.  Here, let me show you how this is done.”

He started the record player, very slowly at the beginning and indicated that I should sit down somewhere ….. he sat down in his extremely comfy, plush chair and we…..  listened together.  It seemed like a very long time, but it probably was less that 5 to 10 minutes.

I remember that it was dark, warm, relaxed and comfortable.  We did not talk.

I suggest starting with Liebesleid or Liebesfreud. Always Fritz Kreisler (famous for the “Kreisler Highway”?) Despite Fritz Kreisler’s slight intonation weirdness due to the oldness of the recordings, he has the best Tone and the best Heart.  Besides yours.) Write to me or comment below for the names of his other favorite artists…

There is also a book about his life that you could read…

Thank you.  🙂

PS  I’m toying with the idea of doing my Teacher Trainer application entirely online.  It’s less daunting…. for me 🙂  What do you think?

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Filed under Listening, Stories about Dr. Suzuki, Suzuki Method, Suzuki Sensei, Talent Education Research Institute, Teaching

Ideas from Cleo Brimhall – tension is the enemy of tone.

“Tension is the enemy of tone” ~ Cleo

In Three Areas –

These areas are :

1) Tension in the world – World Association of Suzuki Method (ISA and affiliates on down)  Tension between governments…

2) Tension in the Family Units (Grandparents, Parents, Children – teacher,  student, in the Educational Unit the teaching…  classroom or family whichever – tension between people in that original triangle Student, Teacher, Parent.)

3)  Tension in the body is the enemy of music-  Legs, torso, shoulders, little toe, tongue, arms, fingers, heart, spirit, mind etc.

From a conversation whit Cleo while on vacation.

P.S. Pablo Casals~ “Monotony is the enemy of music”

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Filed under Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, students, Suzuki Method, Teaching

Book 1 Practice Video Suzuki with CD (Matsumoto Tempo)

I am so amazed and honored!  SAA Published my article “Panda” in the Suzuki Journal!  Quite exciting!!!  Also a bit embarrassing as they published the old unedited version which is much longer that the one that appears here… (see Spring 2008 ASJ)  If anyone out there has corrections for my section involving anatomy and physiology of hands and arms, please enlighten me!!!  I was studying and learning about “why” Dr. Suzuki’s idea’s about tone production work so well and trying to explain it in the best way possible at the time…

On another side note, I have managed to reconnect with some of my MOST FAVORITE people from Japan (fellow classmates from the 1980’s) on facebook!  It is also a wonderful way to see what former students are doing at university etc.  and keep in touch with them. Also other symphony members just goofing off online and having fun!   I don’t mean to endorse a specific social networking program, however… so far this one has been great.

Practice Video with Japanese CD for Book 1 and a Bit of Book 2:

Thank so much!!

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Practice and study

I have been practicing everyday very hard towards the dvd I must make for Candidacy for SAA Teacher Trainer Status. I know that there are many teacher trainers who have something against me for some reason, (Japanese training?) but I must try despite the odds. It is supposed to be a fair process – the judges supposedly will not know who I am. Not everyone was able to study with Dr. Suzuki and I have now 4 older students who want to become teachers. I need to pass on his ideas. I would like to train them officially. One of my students just graduated from CIM with two Master’s Degrees – one in violin performance and one in Suzuki Pedagogy.

I am taking Mozart Book 9, 10 and G Major from Cathy Lee at the local Institute to help me find out what the Americans want to hear when we play Mozart for the DVD… And I found another fantastic way to practice! Once I’m warmed up, I play along with the 19 year old who won 5th place in the International Tchaikovsky Competition in 2007 – Hyun-Su Shin. I love her playing!!!

There is now an entire blog dedicated to the best classical music on You Tube – Isn’t that wonderful?
Anyway – after about and hour and a half of practice – I go to You Tube and put Hyun-Su Shin on full screen and crank up the volume and play along with her! It is so FUN! And so EXCITING!! Sometimes I even follow her fingerings sort of spontaneously – it feels a bit the way group class did in Japan when we played Tchaikovsky all together in a group…

I can say that I am now studying with Hyun-Su Shin. In Japan, when we were each learning various pieces, we would ask each other, “Who is your teacher?” (It meant “which recording are you absorbing?”) “Oh I am studying with Ginette Neveu …” (One of Suzuki Sensei’s favorites – she actually WON the Wieniawski Violin Competition in 1935 1st place over David Oistrakh! Do you know about her?) I studied Sibelius with her. Anyway … I feel that Suzuki Sensei heartily approves of this new method of study with the videos!!

PS Why am I not studying Mozart with Zino Francescatti? Because … he is so romantic that I am afraid the judges here will not like it if I pick up too much of his style… 😦 Anyway I love Hyun-Su Shin, so all is well. 🙂

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Filed under Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, Suzuki Method, Suzuki Sensei, Teaching, violin