Article - The Nurturing Environment

by Marylou Roberts, from the Ann Arbor Suzuki Institute February 2014 Newsletter

Dr. Suzuki had many helpful thoughts on the environment, and using environment to teach. The 
environment is created by everything that surrounds children in the learning process; places, 
instruments, sounds, and also includes attitudes, words and actions of parents and teachers. The 
total environment has a profound effect on the life of a growing human being. 
 
"You can make a huge difference with children by making one change in the way that you raise 
them. Give the child a good environment and create the desire to learn. Those children who 
make the effort to train hard will develop wonderful abilities, but I must caution you about the 
attitude and mindset of a mother toward her child. While it is certainly true that the more one 
practices, the more ability is developed, please do not forget that forcing your child to practice 
rigorously while incessantly scolding and yelling at him, will invite far different results than 
doing it the proper way. "
So how do we as parents give the child a good environment, which will create the desire to learn?

1 Bring the child into your space mentally and physically. This is even important to teens. 
Admire their playing, and not just through the bedroom door. Sit down with your child and just 
enjoy the moment. Happiness with each child and sharing joy in the learning process will feed 
not only the musical journey, but all the people involved with it. 

2 Children need your attention to details in a way that shares the learning instead of pointing 
out faults. If you hear your child racing through the practice, suggest a speed instead of saying 
"slow down" or complaining. I am reminded of the speed limit sign, which has its limits (pun 
intended). Much more effective at controlling speed is the sign that blinks and simply displays 
your speed. Find the speed the child is playing on a metronome, and then pick a new slower 
speed. Even more support can be found in group class, when their children are playing at a 
slower speed. The child will eventually learn to slow down when necessary.

3 Variety is natural. In listening to the Suzuki CD regularly, also include live playing, other 
recordings and musical styles. All music that comes from the heart is wonderful and also creates 
an excellent ear. 

"Everyone would surely agree that, had Beethoven been raised in an Osaka household then he 
would of course have grown up speaking the difficult Osaka dialect instead of German. A child 
who grows up surrounded by the Osaka dialect painlessly masters it's difficult nuances. This fact 
signifies the potential of every child to end up tone-deaf, or conversely, to develop a keen feel for 
music. I therefore appeal to all mothers to play fine music for your babies and young children 
every day. By calling upon that powerful spirit that all young children possess, create in them an 
inner strength."

4 Being kind in the practice session is good for you both. Read any lesson notes, or have the 
child say the point - before playing.

"The most important quality to have in this world is kindness and goodwill towards all people. A 
child must be kind to her father, he mother and her friends. She must be glad to be around people 
and good to everyone. When she grows up, she will be well-loved and carry with her the 
happiness of one who lives surrounded by love. The greatest task of parents is to nurture this sort 
of ability as much as possible in their children. In order to do that, the parents themselves must 
be kind and gentle-hearted and act on kindness."

5 Practicing twice a day often works well because the mind is fresh and ready for more. It is 
said that children progress through about one book a year when they practice twice a day. Our 
children are bombarded with information, both at school and on the internet. Sometimes a full 
mind can't absorb anything new. Practicing in two segments may work much better.

6 Play for stuff. Children like to share in the right environment - at school, at social gatherings, 
at places of worship, at play-ins, concerts, talent shows and group events. 

7 Talk to Other Parents and Share Ideas. We have a wealth of involved parents with great 
ideas as well as those who are just figuring out how this all works. Be supportive, listen and 
share ideas with other parents, it all creates a strong learning environment for us all.

"It is by wanting in their hearts to learn that children become experienced. That is, they 
internalize ability. It is through experience that the difficulties of starting something new 
completely disappear and a level of skill is attained." -Dr. Suzuki
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