Obituary: John Kendall, advocate of the Suzuki method, 93

Posted on: January 20, 2011

In Saturday’s (1/15) Wall Street Journal, Stephen Miller writes, “John Kendall imported the Suzuki method of music training to the U.S. and helped foment a revolution in string pedagogy. Mr. Kendall, who died Jan. 6 at age 93, became a leading evangelist for the method, which involves teaching children as young as three years old to play violin and other instruments by ear. The Suzuki Association of the Americas estimates that perhaps 100,000 students annually are taught with Suzuki techniques, although the true number is impossible to define. Suzuki practitioners agree that it brought more kids into music training. … Mr. Kendall’s first exposure to the Suzuki method came in the late 1950s, when he saw a documentary film featuring 750 Japanese Suzuki students playing Bach’s Double Concerto for Two Violins. … Traveling to Japan on a grant in 1958, Mr. Kendall met Shinichi Suzuki, a concert violinist who had developed his techniques for decades. Mr. Kendall returned intent on adapting the Suzuki method for U.S. students. Key to the Suzuki method was the insight that children can learn music as they do language—by listening and trying to repeat what they hear, with lots of parental encouragement.”

Posted January 20, 2011