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Reimagining Suzuki—and Music Education

When my son was 4, he began taking violin lessons through a Suzuki program. Shortly after, Ashton began asking me to play along. Nothing could make me happier than collaborating with my child. But I have a confession to make...

I do not have what it takes to play traditional Suzuki Book 1 accompaniments.

True, these parts have cultivated the development of hundreds of thousands of string players. Absolutely, their simple structures beautifully support budding musicians.

Yet as a professional musician, I lacked the discipline or resolve to restrain my vision to notes on the page. Compelled to push my own creativity while challenging his ear and musicianship, I improvised original settings, drawing from eclectic styles, sophisticated harmonies, complex rhythmic patterns, interwoven counterpoint.

As we rehearsed, I emphasized that music—and life, for that matter—is about excellence, but not excellence alone. Equally imperative: Find your own voice.

What distinct vision might YOU bring to the world?

It was finally time for Ashton’s first “show,” a marathon recital featuring some twenty youngsters with varied abilities. He was slated to play one of the Suzuki greatest hits of all times: Go Tell Aunt Rhody.

Before the big day, he confided,

“Dad, I want this to be really special. Instead of a NORMAL pianist, will you play with me?”

I had a good chuckle at his use of ‘normal.’

“Oh, and wouldn’t it be cool if we both wore purple sunglasses?...”