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Continuing the international exchanging “The Violet Society”

Short-term serialization in the quarterly journal
Vol. 1 “The history of The Violet Society”

Quarterly journal Vol. 156  One society was inaugurated by the interested Suzuki teachers in 1988. The society was named from the violet bloomed with strong fragrance. We have had 24 concert tours for international exchanging since then.

  “It is wonderful if the children learning in Suzuki method all over the world could interchange through music.” says Mr. Yutaka Murakami, a representative of the Society and also a violin teacher in Kanto area, at the starting. He hoped that not only the bonny children like a large rose, but also the “ordinary children” who is trying hard like a violet should accumulate experiences. He was sure that it would be a great step. The teachers who sympathized with his idea started to work as volunteers.

Four essentials

   It is not a so easy matter. We need to plan for the concert tours in foreign countries, mainly Europe which is far from Japan. We need to prepare for them thoroughly and when people in the foreign country accept our eagerness, children can acquire something great, performing and accumulating experiences.
There are four essentials of the Society for the concert tour:

*Performance in church
*Participation in music festivals
*Interchanging with the children of Suzuki method in the regions
*Home stay

  We ought to realize these four essentials at each tour. We participate in the music festival in the region and perform for a large audience. We experience performing in the church with the root of western music, interchanging with the children learning in Suzuki method without language, and staying in the family of different culture being offered hospitality. OIK has been cooperating for it since the first tour. It is a non-profit organization quartered in Bonn, where staffs from more than eighty cities , mayor, governors, teachers who don’t belong to the Society work together to select the appropriate programs to meet the purpose of the Society and support it. It was lucky that Ms. Kazuko Kuschel , a Japanese lady who was married and lived in German, worked as a liaison. We were fortunate enough to be able to continue working for eighteen years. Host family even postponed their travel schedule when mayor asked them to accept the children for home stay.

With Suzuki family all over the world

  What we are going to realize through it is off course Dr. Suzuki’s idea. We aim not only to improve performance skill, but to cultivate mind every day and improve personality through music. Mr. Murakami, a first generation student of Matsumoto Music School, was taught by Dr. Suzuki’s for long time. When he was a boy, Dr. Suzuki said to him. “It depends on your sense whether your life will be enjoyable or miserable.” He has kept those words in his mind since then. Dr. Suzuki pointed, “Yutaka-chan, you are fully exposed to the view.” and Mr. Murakami correct his attitude and the way he talks.

   Suzuki teachers and children spread all over the world sharing same idea. Mr. Murakami says, “We can recognize the people with same idea and share the ideas, no matter which country they are from, even Germany or other.” He also says, “We don’t tell children how they should do and get result, but how they judge and what they obtain. I hope it becomes the chance for children to improve “the sense to live.””

  The qualification for participating in the concert tours of The Violet Society is only “to be able to play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star well” and thus we have been having the tours for eighteen years. We will look back on twenty-four concert tours with happiness and unhappiness next.

Continuing the international exchanging “The Violet Society”

Short-term serialization in the quarterly journal
Vol. 2 “Overcome many difficult situations”

  The concert tours were not satisfactory at the beginning. Since Mr. Murakami enjoyed the taste of Europe through the classical music from the short-wave broadcasting or a phonograph when he was a small boy, he decided to have the first concert tour in Europe without hesitating. He realizes it, hoping that he could introduce Japanese children to the people there and they can gain great deal of different culture. The first Europe concert tour was a first experience for the teachers and children with trial and error.

Severe situation

Quarterly journal Vol. 157
  The performance to the best of our ability was criticized severely in the local newspaper as “performing well without emotion”. Mr. Murakami looked back and said, “I was shocked and did not have the words.” He wanted to have a wonderful performance and expect children to perform perfectly, and then it was considered to be “a method of teaching by a cruel teacher”. Children who were not used to perform in front of the audience and looked so nervous were considered to be “children without childlike mind”. I did not realize at all how the perfectly coordinated performance by children who learned in same method as theirs was considered in another country.

The words from Dr. Suzuki

  After we had three concerts, Mr. Murakami said to Dr. Suzuki, “This is hard work. We are having hard time.” Then Dr. Suzuki replied, “Then you should quit it. I did not have a teacher. I was in a lone situation.” He gave me a hundred of fancy square cardboard (Shikishi) which had his own writings on and told me to bring them to Germany. He said, “If you keep trying to do something for long time, you will see your own way.” I felt nothing held me back.

 At the same time, I remember Dr. Suzuki told me “Smile, smile!” when I was a small boy and made a mistake during playing. Then I have been trying to communicate my feeling “Enjoy playing” to children, when they play. We had many try and errors for ten years, and now I find the audience in every country gives big applause to the children’s performance.

Enjoyable home stay

  There were different opinions of home stay between the people in the region and us.

  Mayor or the chairperson found the appropriate host families for children, but they asked us to stay longer, saying “We cannot understand each other in such a short period. We need at least one month. We were appreciated for that, but we were not able to afford to do it. We have to make negotiation, saying each other “Then one week. “ or “No, four days.” and so on. At first, children looked helpless when they went to host family’s houses, but then they started to be able to communicate with their broken language and they wanted to stay more with host families even in the three days home stay. Off course, music is a common language. Children who learn Suzuki method become friends quickly after playing together and smile each other. There was no selection and “ordinary children” kept international exchanging.

  I will talk about plenty of treasure for mind which children bring back after the concert tours next volume.

Continuing the international exchanging “The Violet Society”

Short-term serialization in the quarterly journal
Vol. 3 Treasure for children’s mind

  Each concert tour was for about weeks and about fifty people including students, teachers and parents participated in it. The tour schedule was not so tight and we had sightseeing to experience the culture of each country directly.

Dilemma about informal performance

Quarterly journal Vol.158
   In the program of concert for two hours, we played in unison first, then solo and ensemble, and in union again at last. Mr. Mitsuru Sato, a cello teacher in Kanto area, was in the tour for several times and undertook the job of leader when Mr. Yutaka Murakami was not in good health condition in 2005. He said, “It is wonderful that each child has a chance and got good result playing informally. This is the point I consider important. But we had many dilemmas in the performing in front of the audience by the children who don’t practice together usually.”

   First of all, participants receive a tape of performance. Teachers will be sent for group lessons for more than seven or eight children. Participants will practice together at first time at the hotel in Narita where they stay on the day before the departure day.

  “To tell the truth, we don’ practice enough. There are many points to correct for using bow, playing solo, and ensemble. We always have conflict about how far we should advise. We have dilemma in performing informally and difficulty to perform for the audience. Teachers and I have been in doubt for eighteen years,

I am glad that I kept learning to play the violin.

  Although we felt uneasy every time we take departure for the tour, children certainly improved their skill at each concert. The audience also inspired us. They have a long history of music, and the audience is used to and good at giving applause. Children were nervous at the beginning, but they came back to us with big smiles after they enjoyed playing with applause.

  Children were excited and said, “I was so happy to get applause.” or “I am glad that I kept learning to play the violin.” It was the purpose and hope of The Violet Society that children who did not stand out at all and kept practicing as teacher told them became to be confident in their skill and thought “more” at the moment.

Present for mind

 Children were with tears in their eyes at the concert in church. They might have had special feeling in the performance with solemn atmosphere in church which was the base of European music. They recognize something existed, holding everything and resonating with sound they played.

  It is same as home stay and exchanging with Suzuki in each country. Even though children don’t understand other languages, they communicate each other with body language and common music. Mr. Murakami always remembers what fifth-grade boy said;”Human beings wear clothes of many colors like white, black or yellow. We can get along each other as skeleton. We are all same, then.” It was a moment that he was sure of what children gained, which was more than teachers expected.

  We were assured more of it when mothers said, “The children’s life style has changed a lot. They seemed to have gained something.” or “They grew up more.” Children said, “I want to work for United Nation.” or “I want to study abroad.” These are the results from what they experienced directly.

Like violets which bloom every year

  Japan is not well known in foreign countries. We don’t know about other countries well, either. Mr. Murakami believes, “If children get along each other when they are small, they can avoid making war. There will be relationship between them as earthling. It might sound like a dream, but this is what Dr. Suzuki hoped. It is our job to share his idea with children.”

  As Dr. Suzuki hoped, it is important for children to improve their senses to live as well as the music skills, and then become great persons. The Violet Society will continue to have concert tours from now on to realize it.