Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ability Development from Age Zero-- Shinichi Suzuki-- 4.8 Dobbies

So my five year old's cello teacher gave me this book when we started lessons with her a month ago. I know. I am brave. And heroic. I believe that some kind of medal is in order... Anyway, to say that I was apprehensive to start this little fireball on an instrument would be an understatement. HUGE. She's kind of spacey and a bit of a klutz. I have nightmares that involve her and her cello in a variety of scenarios. None of them end well.

But we started her six year old sister on the violin and felt strongly that 'she of the many accidents' should play a different instrument. They already compare themselves to one another too much already. So, cello. Lily. Pray for us.

BUT, when we started Ms. Valerie gave me two books to read. One was, "Ability Development from Age Zero," and it has changed my life. It's changed my perspective as a teacher and more importantly as a parent. It's not very politically correct (not even one little bit) and you can tell it's kind of the random thoughts of a very old little Asian man (so sweet). But he's brilliant, and he's so insightful. Honestly, I'm a better person for having read this book. I don't think there's a day that goes by where I don't think of passages and strive to improve my behavior and approach to my children. Which quite frankly is saying something, because I avoid things that make me feel guilty. (i know. i'm fun.) And I'm also a pretty big proponent of raising your kids the best you know how and letting the chips fall where they may. With a bit of guidance. What I'm trying to say is that my kids aren't in swimming and dance and Chinese lessons and advanced math (HAH) and and and.... They're kids. This is the only time in their lives where they get to be kids and play. So our kids do, and they're great at it. I still subscribe to this method of child rearing (FOR ME) but Suzuki helps us be better at what we do. Moving on.

This really is a book designed for those who are starting littles on an instrument, but I think it can be applied to many situations.

Point the FIRST: In no way shape or form should one feel bad if they have olders who don't play instruments (OBVIOUSLY. Goodness I'm a fountain of wisdom.) and I could see how one might feel guilty about what one is NOT doing with the child folk while reading this--heavens, I was starting to feel bad about starting my littles so late at FIVE, which quite frankly is just NONSENSE. NON. SENSE. He's an opinionated little Asian man who LIVES to teach the littles the violin. I mean my heavens, the main methodology/books we use to teach starters is Suzuki. This is HIS LIFE. It's kind of awesome. And not for everyone. MOVING ON geez woman, so much prattle...

Point the SECOND: I wrote all over everywhere in this book and just realized Lily' teacher probably wants it back. FAIL.

Main Points:

Saying "My child has no talent" is actually the same as saying, "I did not educate my child to develop the sprout of his talent." Which I agree with, but sounds harsher than it really is. Many many parents don't want, or don't forsee their child loving a life with a musical instrument--plus it's a huge time suck, so if it's not for you, it's not for you. Period. No guilt. Next.

Children practice in spite of being scolded. Why don't you make happiness part of their incentive? This one just slapped me across the face. Seems obvious no? Probably for most individuals, for me? Not so much. YES, good heavens YES. I'm an idiot...

An unlimited amount of ability can develop when parent and child are having fun together. (Again, I has the stupid.) This also makes me look back on many of the starter students I've had in the past and cringe. Oh, if only I had a time machine...

Adults Must Self-Reflect-- Parents must constantly ask themselves whether they are good examples for their children. In other words, a parent should ask himself if he is noble or if he is striving to be noble.  This one also kicked my can. I find myself asking this question in my head 10 times a day now, even when my kids aren't present. Am I being noble? Sure that person in church is treating me like trash, but can I be noble anyway? Yes I can. It's HARD and I'm not happy about it, but I can at least try.

A truly civilized human being is thoughtful of others, pours his love on others, knows the joy of living, and enjoys working for the happiness of all. Biggest take away from the whole book, right here. GOLD STAR if you're already applying this to your lives. HUGE FREAKING STAR. I perhaps get a non-descript dot. I'm working towards star. It's a process.

Scolding children without changing oneself does not help the children. And sigh...

Reverence for children is reverence for life. I agree, but I've also taught the eight year olds' Sunday school class. Just the fact that I didn't end their lives... Moving on.

When you can delicately feel what is in the heart of another, then you will be able to understand Bach and Mozart. The ability to feel music means understanding the human heart. YES.

Practice not being angry instead of developing an ability for anger.

Personality is a talent.

If a child is brought up to have a beautiful heart and wonderful abilities, with love for others and the happiness of being loved, then the mission of a parent is ended. The way will open up for the child later. Parents do not need to worry whether or not their children will succeed. And that's pretty much the heart of the matter. It's more about raising beautiful loving children than brilliant prodigies. Some choose to do this with music, others with art, others with sports, others with education.... It all boils down to the same thing.

Of all the work that people do, there is nothing more noble, nothing more important, than  raising your own child to be a fine person. We all do it in our own way. We're not perfect, but we're trying to be good.

ACT WHEN YOU THINK. Basically, do it now. Don't procrastinate. Easier said than done when dealing with emotional little girls wielding bows and lots of personality.

It's a short and quick read, but really provides a lot of insight with teaching children (teaching them ANYTHING). He cuts right to the heart of the matter, and you can't help but chuckle at his "know everything" tone.

Big fan. Has helped me a lot with day to day dealings of my littles, and definitely with my students.

4.8 Dobbies

1 comment:

  1. Another Suzuki friend of mine told me this was an excellent parenting book too! Apparently I wasn't listening the first time so I needed a reminder :) Love you!