Sometimes among Suzuki trained teachers there comes up a question. Do we use only Suzuki’s ideas or do we incorporate ideas from other famous teachers for the best success of the student? For my part, I can only see any experienced effective teacher eager to exchange ideas with other teachers and then try those same ideas out in their own studio. Honest exchange of ideas brings us as teachers into a more open space of heart and mind, which in turn, allows our students to see and feel this in us and thus be able to process this into their own frame of being. How else can any of us, teacher or student, progress beyond our present state, mentally, musically or in any way? Yes, we must to the greatest degree possible, understand and assimilate and utilize our gifts from a loving seasoned and dedicated teacher! I am convinced that going beyond where we are now would also be one of his goals for us! Isn’t going beyond where we are now, the goal of any of our endeavors?
Actually, I see the idea of developing theory and improvisation abilities in our students in the same context. For a long time our educational system has taught music with the same goal in mind as for most of the other subjects, namely, to prepare the students for the work place. Music classes were there to at least start to prepare the student to play in the professional Symphony Orchestra. So, it was thought, what they needed to learn was to properly read and play orchestra parts. I have no wish to put down orchestra playing or the ability to read musical notation. May we long enjoy both! What I am saying is, can we also get beyond the printed page? That is not something new. Music is and was always improvised back through time, until it began to be written down. Why are our students unacquainted with this musical form? I think we teachers are involved here. We can actually, take the first steps to remedy this situation. I have outlined how I deal with this in Elements of Music Theory/Improvisation.
Below is a Ted Talk by musician and researcher, Charles Limb, on the effects of music improvisation on the brain. The findings of his research are basically that there is heightened brain activity associated with music improvisation versus activities of memorized musical performance. Thus, a music curriculum that includes music improvisation should stimulate more brain activity than does a music curriculum based on memorized music only. Personally, this does not mean I will abandon learning and memorizing the music of the baroque and classical masters, but it does mean that I embrace forms of improvisation, in addition to classical methods.