Matsumoto, home, sweet home

So yesterday, I awoke and felt like I had come home.  Two of the most special years of my life were spent in this place.  Not always easy, especially in the first year, when I looked Japanese but couldn’t speak, read, or write the language. And, more importantly, while I failed to understand much of what Suzuki-sensei was trying valiantly to impart.  I was resistant, confused, and sometimes just plain stubborn!  His unfailing patience, persistence, and refusal to give up ultimately triumphed, and  I began to realize the extent to which my life was being forever transformed.  There was the music, of course; the PANDA tone, the two-tone vibrato, the Monday concerts each week which could turn into a public master class as sensei left his seat in the hall and made his way onto the stage mid-performance.  Weekly lessons were also master-class style, with all 10 or 12 students for that day seated along the wall as, one by one, each had his lesson.  But much of the teaching occurred without our instruments in our hands – stories shared by sensei about life, service, the things that truly matter in the life of people about to embark on the journey of passing along this method to children and families.  Sometimes his stories spoke of earlier times, when teaching was held in his home and the kenkysei (teachers in training) were called upon to rake leaves, clean, take care of that environment.  Other times there were stories that humbled us, of a student among us who silently performed menial tasks while the rest of us deemed ourselves superior musicians.  Without fail, sensei let us know what was ultimately important.  He noticed, I have no doubt, who jumped up to retrieve his ashtray, the kenkyusei who thought of serving tea to a guest.  So while I will be forever grateful for the daily group lessons, the weekly individual instruction, and the performance opportunities of those two years, I know that even had I never held a violin in my hands, I would have taken from that time so much of what really matters in my life as a teacher of the Suzuki Method.  Suzuki-sensei, deepest gratitude from the bottom of my heart…

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