Why we’re not doing Suzuki

The whole, long story of thought and process.

Skipping the $500/month it would have cost us for two kids the first year.

It wouldn’t be fair to say that this is the main reason I declined, because, technically, if we wanted it enough we might be able to cut a bunch of other things in the budget, see it as an investment and so on.

And this is not intended to be a Suzuki-bashing thing.  It obviously works for those it works for, and these things I’m going to mention are just indicators of our family’s uniqueness, along with my own quirks.

  • I was bothered by the reports of all these kids going to college for their instruments, and I couldn’t figure out why
    • I’ve since realized that because of my “dabbling” tendencies I instinctively mistrust anything that minimizes exploring new learning opportunities.  I’m not saying Suzuki does this, I merely have learned that most adults are not like me and my dad.  Most adults will continue getting better at what they are good at instead of learning more things.  It is the natural adult behavior of avoiding looking foolish.  New things provide a greater opportunity to look foolish
    • I felt guilty about narrowing my kids’ focus this soon
    • Obviously this isn’t a requirement, I’m just listing actors that influenced my decision.
  • I was bothered by the assurance that these kids “never get in trouble”
    • I didn’t like the implication that it was this that would save my kids.
    • I didn’t like the idea that this group was automatically “the good kids”
      • I’ve found it’s harder to explain why we do things differently than “good people” than it is to explain why bad behavior is bad.
  • I questioned my ability to focus on one thing on a daily basis
    •  and thought I’d like better to be memorizing scripture or poems if I was spending that dedicated one-on-one time
  • The frequency of lessons meant giving our lives to this process.  Or at least it felt that way.
    • For the first year, a 1/2-hour lesson for each girl, each week, arranged with different teachers, along with a group class for each girl, with a group at their level and/or in their instrument.
    • And anybody with young children knows nothing just takes half an hour, so that’s 3 nights a week absorbed.
  • I realized I have in mind that I’m raising a little Daddy and two Mommies, and connected to that it’s not my first goal that any of them should make their living by performing music.
    • This is very hard to verbalize, because it sounds bad for a mom to be discouraging any dream their children might have at any point in time (this worshiping at the shrine of a child’s potential really rubs me the wrong way, but that’s another post).
    • Basically, I have enough of a challenge balancing my writing and storytelling desires with meeting their needs; I don’t want to give them the same difficulty by introducing to them the flavor of something that will call them away almost-exclusively during evenings and weekends– not counting practice times.
      • Teaching lessons would be the exception to this, but I couldn’t stop thinking of the prime family-times being invaded by outside “opportunities.”
    • As much as I love music I was afraid of it becoming “the life.”  I didn’t want it to be the core; I want it, well, we only know in terms of ourselves, so the best I can say is that I want it to be the delight, not the work, of living.

So I had some impressions, and negitive feelings I hadn’t yet put my finger on.

And when I have “negitive feelings,” I’m always asking myself Is this because it’s wrong/Im not supposed to do this, or is it because I should be and I don’t want to?

So even though I was ready, on the one hand, to throw out the idea because of the cost, I didn’t know if I would be using the cost as an excuse to avoid something I’d never been able to do: whether that was being disciplined or watching my kids get something I didn’t, I wasn’t sure.

So I was praying for clarity, telling God I was willing to let him change me if this was going to be his method, and so on.  And I think it was the next day I got my answer, as clear as could be.

I had put on a compilation of modern-ish folk music someone gave Natasha for her birthday, and the kids and I were dancing with it, having a ball, when all these ideas I articulated above became articulatable.  And foremost in my mind was, This is the music I want.  This is what I love: the dancing delight of sharing music and life and the joy of together.

Anybody can argue who likes (if you don’t expect much of an argue back) but I felt a huge relief at not having to develop a fondness for classical music (preceded by a million twinkles and a script of almost-songs).  My musical associations have everything to do with words and interaction with the music– not anything can I expect from Suzuki.

I sat the girls down the next morning and said we wouldn’t be doing violin or cello, but they’d be able to choose between guitar and piano, so I could teach them when they were big enough to play.  Without skipping a beat they both said, “Piano.”

There were no tears shed over the shift, which I was thankful for, and I couldn’t help feeling it was some sort of conformation that I at least wasn’t going a wrong way (crushing their dreams or anything like that).

The closing “feeling” to this thought-process was that the kind of music I love, the stuff they would/will be learning seems more like… edges.  I think music should be important, like I think food is important.  But I don’t think either one should be the center of our lives.  The core of what bothered me about Suzuki was that I couldn’t imagine it “working”without making it central to our lives.

And I couldn’t help feeling that dredging up that level of discipline for music felt really close to idolatry, considering it doesn’t exist anywhere else in our lives.

Anyway, I feel the need to reemphasize that this isn’t to bash anyone who does Suzuki and feels the benefits of it.  I’m talking about the process I went through before concluding I was making the right choice by letting the opportunity pass.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *