Character First

“Character First, Ability Second” ~Dr. Shinichi Suzuki
One of the things that makes the Suzuki philosophy truly unique is its emphasis on Character First. This is another episode of the Suzuki Essentials series.

I’m going to be honest. This is one of the reasons that I was drawn to the Suzuki philosophy. My own history is that I didn’t learn to play from a Suzuki teacher. But as a university student studying the Suzuki philosophy I saw the benefits to have parental involvement.

Nurtured by Love was the thing that stood out to me.

After many years of teaching violin, I was lucky enough to be exposed to the Suzuki Early Childhood Education. Character First is at the forefront of the SECE classes all over the world.

First foster the heart, then help the child acquire ability. This is indeed nature's proper way. Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

Dr. Suzuki believed many components of learning a musical instrument would contribute to creating character in his students.

Exposure to Beauty

One of the key components that Dr. Suzuki believed that exposure to the beauty of music would create beauty in the person. We can see this concept demonstrated by many educational philosophies. Children naturally want to learn, it’s up the the teacher, parent, guide to cultivate an environment of beauty. When exposed to the beauty of art that person would want to strive to create more beauty around them.


We all know that learning a musical instrument takes a lot of discipline. We can watch our young musicians to see how that discipline can serve them well in all areas of life. They know how to take something large, break it down into manageable pieces, study the details and bring it back together. They see patterns and connections between different areas in their lives.

It is up to the parent in the beginning to provide the framework of discipline. Often these beginning steps require a great deal of self reflecting from the parent. Everyone gets to learn when we do Suzuki lessons. For the parent, it may be how we can have more discipline in our lives. As the child grows they are given more of the responsibilities of discipline to handle on their own.


In order to communicate our music effectively, we need to be empathetic beings. Maybe we need to have understanding of how the composer felt while writing a piece. We are often communicating emotive states through music and that creates a deep empathy.

Reading aloud
also creates empathy and emotional intelligence. It can help inform our performances as musicians. Find more about reading aloud and musicianship here.

As you go down your child’s musical journey, remember that there are many aspects of what they learn that are not measurable. Take time to observe them. Write things you notice in your practice notebook. Character development is just as important as the musical skills they will be mastering.

Thanks for joining me on this Adventure in Suzuki Parenting and happy practicing!

How's this work for your Suzuki parenting adventure?

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