More interesting material, this time of the kind I disagree with
. I don't think Mark's allegations can be characterised as an attempt to assassinate Suzuki's character. And I think the writer, who works at a Suzuki school, is falling into the common trap of attacking the messenger. Something we see in cults all the time^. I personally view the discussions about Mark's own method as an irrelevant side-show. Certainly many will disagree, but I think such discussions do nothing but change the topic from Suzuki's lies in an attempt, conscious or otherwise, to sidetrack the issue. From wiki's Character Assassination page:
Character assassination is a deliberate and sustained process that aims to destroy the credibility and reputation of a person, institution, social group, or nation. Agents of character assassinations employ a mix of open and covert methods to achieve their goals, such as raising false accusations, planting and fostering rumours, and manipulating information.
If Mark's allegations are true - and I certainly believe they are - then the above does not in any way shape or form in this universe or any other apply
. Read the whole entry, I'll just copy a few quotes and send any readers here to the source via the following link:October 29, 2014: CHARACTER ASSASSINATION DOES NOTHING TO BENEFIT MUSIC: WHY THE SUZUKI METHOD IS WRONGFULLY UNDER FIRE
A buzz has started its way through the community of music education. Allegations that Shinichi Suzuki, creator of the Suzuki Method, lied about his musical training with Karl Klinger and friendship with Albert Einstein. ...
Let’s get two things straight and move on: The worth of someone’s creative output is not dependent on the people they know, and ad hominem attacks are the cheapest form of argument.
Again I would disagree that the attacks are ad hominem attacks. We are talking about an alleged (and I think very very probable) falsified reputation which launched a multi-million dollar industry.
Does no one perform the Beethoven 9th because its composer had gone deaf?
That may be the stupidest comment I've ever read.
Lois Shepheard is an expert on Suzuki and his method, and responded here two years ago to O’Connor’s first blog in which she addresses each allegation. In her book, Memories of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki: Son of His Environment (Glass House Books, 2012), she writes:
“I was aghast when he [Suzuki] said suddenly, ‘You don’t teach Suzuki Method…You teach Suzuki-Shepheard…No one teaches Suzuki Method but Suzuki.’…It could be a trap for a teacher, anxious to do the right thing by the Suzuki Method if he or she disregards what was studied and known previously or assimilated since. Suzuki never said: ‘You must do exactly as I say. I’m right and you’re wrong.’ Instead his often repeated phrase was: This is what I have learned.” (pgs 63-64)
Yes, Lois Shepheard is considered an expert on Suzuki
- and I'll grant she knew the man and knows the method well, but is she also an indoctrinated member of his personality cult? I believe the following quotes from her book not only show that she is, but also that Suzuki was a complete and utter fraud, a bad teacher (or not a teacher at all) and a musical illiterate. Rather, he was simply another deluded mentally ill leader of a cult living out a fantasy surrounded by indoctrinated followers. Regarding his musical literacy, sure, he liked to talk about music, but in reading Lois's books and other materials, I've yet to come across any teaching advice or any comment that shows even a rudimentary grasp of basic music theory, let alone evidence he took private violin lessons from a master for 8 years. The advice that I've seen so far documented all relates to the right bowing hand. Now, I don't play violin, but I do play guitar. Certainly in guitar playing, a teacher that only focused on the right hand (or strumming/picking) hand would be considered a pretty weird teacher. Sure the right hand is important and there are various skills it has to master, but those pale in comparison to the role of the left hand. And I imagine the right hand of a guitar player has more to do than the right hand of a violinist? Please correct me if I'm wrong.
I have plenty of more quotes to share from Lois's book, which reads like a random sampling of crazy Monty Python sketches, when I have time, but I think these will suffice for now:
He told us how, as a young man, he’d gone up into the mountains and learned how to be a healer. I watched him heal people on several occasions. It appeared to sap a lot of his energy. I’ve seen children who’d fallen and hurt an arm go happily back into a class after a few minutes of his ministrations. ‘Now you go play,’ he’d say. I saw an American boy with a fairly severe leg injury of several months’ duration, limp toward Dr Suzuki and 30 minutes later, walk away easily. Some Zen training is described as channelling the healing vibrations available in nature.
A nun rose and proceeded to explain her difficulties with teaching. ‘Professor Suzuki, I have a number of students,’ she said. ‘They don’t have good posture and I just can’t get them to hold the bow correctly. They never seem to be able to play a piece from memory; they just don’t have the confidence. They don’t play well in tune either. What should I do?’ Suzuki’s answer was immediate. ‘Pray to God,’ he said (as Alfred Garson reported).
Suzuki told us he’d learned to withstand cold and heat and that, as part of his training, he’d grasped white hot metal. He never wore a coat, even in the depths of Matsumoto winter. ... Certainly, those who study Zen can develop, among other attributes, indifference to the discomforts of heat and cold.
As he listened to Monday concert items (or indeed to some performances in his teaching studio), Suzuki often appeared to fall asleep but was immediately alert when the kenkyūsei stopped playing. I asked him once how he kept going through his long hours of teaching. ‘Oh,’ he said. ‘When a student plays, I decide in the first two minutes what I’m going to teach and then I sleep till he finishes.
In Matsumoto, in the middle of his teaching, our master would leave his studio and we’d all wait till he returned from watching a sumo contest on TV. He loved watching those huge men wrestling. I was amused at that. They were such a contrast to his small frame.
It was an expensive lesson; one paid for a month’s tuition whether there for a month or just a day.
Dr and Mrs Suzuki visited my students at the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind (RVIB) School. Dr Suzuki happily posed with a nearly blind, partially deaf child with severe learning difficulties but he complained about her bow-hold after she played.
Is it really so hard to believe that a man who claimed to be a healer AND to have held white hot metal lied about his past? Is it really hard to believe that a teacher who sleeps during lessons and while awake goes off mid-lesson to watch TV was not really a teacher at all, or at best a very bad one? And then there's the smoking which killed his wife:
Waltraud lived all her married life in a cigarette smoke filled home (the 50-60 Camel cigarettes per day). ‘Ach, that man,’ she said. ‘He kills me with his cigarettes.’ Mrs Suzuki eventually died of emphysema in 2000. Dr Suzuki told us that when he was young he saw a picture of the world’s oldest man. It was a Russian with a cigarette in his hand, so Suzuki determined that to attain a long life he too must smoke. It must have worked; he passed away in his 100th year.
Granted, most of his generation smoked. Still, you've got to admire the justification he gave. I hope he said that before his wife died and not after.