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The Mother Tongue Approach

No matter where we are born, whatever continent or country, we will hear and adopt the language that we are subjected to. Every  culture and human society that ever existed, has developed a language of music to some degree or other.

Suzuki’s philosophical approach to learning music was essentially built upon his belief that we all are born with the inbuilt ability to acquire language.

No matter where we are born, whatever continent or country, we will hear and adopt the language that we are subjected to. From our first ability to hear sounds (even within the mothers womb) we are picking up sound information and interpreting it in relation to the places, people and experiences that begin to make impressions upon us and within which we begin to make sense of the world.

Language acquisition is a natural part of human development, we all learn to speak in our mother tongue, and we do so in an unconscious manner. Not really ‘trying’ hard to speak (on a conscious level), but developing our new language skills over time. Almost through ‘osmosis’…

Baby Talk

When, as adults, we first start to speak to our babies, we use long sounds, baby sounds, and we ‘play’ with the musical sounds of language in a natural way. Watching to see how our babies respond to the long vowel sounds or the funny ‘popping P’ sounds we are making, or the long ‘trilling T’ sounds as we roll them in our mouths.

We play with the sounds one by one – breaking the components of language down naturally, as we share silly sounds and gibberish language with babies, we laugh and admire the small copy cat sounds as our baby begins to play the sounds back – and mutual love and appreciation grows between the two parties as they enjoy the sounds and newly found level of communication they can now share!

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Marlina Vera – “Mother & Child”

Toddler Tantrums

As we play with our toddlers, we begin the more serious business of ‘naming’. Of identifying objects and places and people – and teaching that each has a particular name.

Our toddlers are learning and developing the cognitive skills that go alongside their growing vocabulary, but they already are masters at using language through the body and the sound of their voices to express themselves emotionally.

Frustration, excitement, joy, pain are all part of the emotional language that toddlers are well versed in expressing. Yes – we have witnessed the toddler tantrums – they certainly can make life interesting! But it is with a different focus that we witness these events when we realise that our child is already so accomplished at understanding and expressing themselves so eloquently with sound and gesture – even when their language skills, especially their cognitive language skills and functions are still so new. We could celebrate their outbursts as explosions of sound, colour and emotion that evidence to us that our small children are finding ways to explore their feelings, their world and the different timbres of their voice, body and the language they are still acquiring! Would it change how we see these ‘tantrums’?

These explosions of emotion are keys that allow our children to sense and feel their way through life. And exploring that expression through sound – and eventually music – is a creative and expansive exploration of their unique humanity, which when nurtured and respected can create a well-rounded and empathic individual child, grown into adult.

Creative Expression through Emotion

Any accomplished musician has the ability to interpret a series of tones placed in any arrangement, and create an emotional response to them. Extending long sonorous notes to explore vibrato, or create dolce ‘sweet’ notes that move through the air and enter the hearts of the listener. They can alter tempo and timbre to create dynamic and exhilarating displays of passion or furry! Non of which can be achieved without the understanding of human emotion and the innate ability and understanding of how that emotion translates into sound. Firstly, through the voice, and then through the instrument of choice!

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Marlina Vera – girl with Guitar

“Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart” – S.Suzuki

Undoubtably music is a language of all peoples Рwhether it is created through the voice, the clapping of hands or feet, the percussive effects of basic drums, or the instruments of an orchestra or an electronic device. As humans, we have devised many ways to recreate sounds in our external world. Every  culture and human society that ever existed, has developed a language of music to some degree or other.

There are many reasons why we may have evolved to do this. Sound is our way of communicating. It is the impulsive nature of every human that needs to move an emotional or ‘high energy’ state from “within” to “without”! It is how we balance the growing pressure that can build inside our very being – whether it is fear, joy, exhilaration, pain or sadness – there is a pressure that is relieved when we allow the experience of that energy which builds within our very being to expand and explode out of us in the expression of sound, voice, song…

It is also the means that as a group of collective peoples, we can present that inner movement of energy (which can sometimes be hard to define), and extend it outwards to others within our community. It is a ‘reaching out’ from the deepest part of ourself, that enables us to meet the ‘other’ and join with them through tone, timbre, rhythm or melody. It unites us and brings our inner biology and our outer biology into a greater harmony with our tribe! It helps us to become one, and to identify ourselves within the group – a system or a greater body (or energy) than we are on our own. That is why we can experience such enormous waves of energy and connection and unification through music! Whether experienced in a huge stadium, through an anthem of unity, or the simple singing or listening to a lullaby or participating in a sacred drumming ceremony under a starlight sky in the open air with a handful of like-minded souls. Music brings us together – it makes us more than we feel we could ever be when we are alone; it reaches deep into our emotional being and can often be a ‘soundtrack’ for the important emotional events in our lives.

On an individual level it is a language that we need not explain in words, but that allows us to explore our emotional and maybe even our spiritual sensibilities. Something which can sometimes be ‘tricky’ to do in other languages. Because music needs no explanation – it simply is allowed to be what it is. And very often it connects with ‘the other’ in a way that they can receive it without explanation or criticism. It is a powerful agent for emotional good health and for creative expression.

It exists to help us to explore our own heart, and to reach out and touch the heart of others.

If that is not admirable – then I know not what is!

Images:

Visit the website of Marlina Vera for original artwork HERE

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“Begin Early, go slowly and never stop”

Begin early – is not just about acquiring the skills of a thing, but the ‘art’ of living itself.

“Begin Early, go slowly and never stop”

Whatever we do in life, our experiences are made up of tiny moments – seamlessly stitched together across the ocean of time.

Yet each moment is a fragment – an immediate, but transient experience of our existence in that single moment!

We may use past thoughts, memories and ideas to colour and bring meaning to the moment – but the moment itself is new. It is fresh. It has never been lived before!

And so too – each moment is a beginning.

Beginning early is a choice. When we know what we want, what desires are in our hearts and what motivates us, we can choose to begin a pathway to claim and to experience those desires. But it is also a choice that is double edged. When we are driven by a desire to do something, or to be something – it is the fire that drives us and motivates us. We will be driven towards that goal, in any way our vehicle (our body and mind) knows how.

The ‘art’ of our choice is in HOW we choose to move towards that goal.

Will we find a joy in the journey? Will we recognise the fruits of each step and of our small daily thoughts, our victories and our triumphs? Will we be present through the whole journey – and learn to live it and to love it fully? Or will we only ever have our eyes on the goal – the final destination. Never recognising the passage of our life, and how we ‘play’ it, is like the playing of a beautiful piece of music on the finest instrument we will ever know: our soul.

If your life were a piece of music, what would it look like, what would it sound like?

And if you choose to help your child to write their own melodic life song – would it be one filled with harmony?

Begin early – is not just about acquiring the skills of a thing, but the ‘art’ of living itself.

Begin early – brings the harmony of music into the language of the individual soul and helps that individual to formulate and grapple with the subtle changes that express human experience: love, fear, anger, pain, joy – all the colours of life itself. Which is why Shinichi Suzuki says: “Music is the language of the heart – without words”

 

Learning to go slowly

Within each moment, time stands still. We sometimes become aware that we are in a ‘special’ moment – and recognise that we are in the flow of time itself, but that it also seems to be frozen.

At its heart – that means that in each moment we can chose to ‘freeze’ that momentary experience, and then we can choose how to react to that moment.

Will we chose action, or passivity? Will we chose joy or frustration? Will we see our experience in colour or in black and white?

Learning to go slowly is the art of choosing how we experience our life day to day, moment to moment, step by step. Whether we are in a moment of happiness or sadness…

In each moment we can chose to be carried away by the tide, or to chose a destination and aim our course and our efforts towards achieving a specific goal.

It is easier to place ourself within the flow of life that will naturally and easily take us in the direction we chose to head towards, rather than to battle against the current.

 

And Never Stop…

But however the form of our journey unfolds – and sometimes it will flow easily, and sometimes it will rage like the sea in a hurricane – when we recognise that it is just a ‘part’ of a greater whole. That it is part of a journey that we can choose HOW to respond to. When we keep passion, love and hope in our hearts, we are armed with every good thing.

Music is a part of that armoury.

It has carried me through the good and the bad.

It has helped to define areas of my life and bring them into clarity – and has cushioned and been a backdrop throughout. So perhaps Shinichi was correct when he said:¬†“Perhaps it is music that will save the World”

 

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Introducing…Suzuki Thoughts

Ramblings of a guitarist on Suzuki’s philosophies and teachings…

Guitar is an instrument of the SOUL.

It Sings to the quiet and subtle depths of our inner experiences and is the resonant ‘box’ that can pull the heart strings.

It is represented in mainstream and popular music, and in the immortalised strokes of old painters. Songs of the ages and melodies of our ancestors have been plucked from the single lines of tension strung across the hollowed timbres of trees that have lived and grown breathing the air you now breath.

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Suzuki thoughts

Are my personal musings and pre-ambles over the quotes, thoughts and philosophies of Shinichi Suzuki. The Japanese artist, musician, writer, philosopher and educator of the 20th Century.

Sometimes romanticised poetic elongated streams of thought.

Authorities educational observations on his teachings and his teaching method.

I hope you come to find some food for thought in these pages…