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’…
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!
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!
“Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart” – S.Suzuki
Undoubtably music is a language of all peoples – whether 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!
Visit the website of Marlina Vera for original artwork HERE