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Re: [xmca] Vygotsky, Suzuki, and Carl Orff

Many years ago I was intrigued about what Suzuki's underlying philosophy was, so I managed to track down two books by him which were not strictly confined to musical training. All he could talk about was his Japanese Buddhist views. He seemed to understand himself to have derived his musical education ideas directly from Zen. He had not a word to say about epistemology, psychology, ontology or any of the other ologies I was looking for at the time.


Elia Nelson wrote:

Thanks for expanding on my off-the-cuff response.  I'll freely admit that I
am not particularly familiar with Suzuki's theory, only his methods as I've
seen them widely applied in the States.

Do you have a reference to Suzuki on personal tutelage as in your point
(b)?  I'm curious about the connections between this personalism and the (as
noted in my previous post) emphasis on the part of Suzuki-method teachers on
group lessons and parent involvement.


Elia J. Nelson, nelsoe3@rpi.edu
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Dept. of Lang., Lit., & Comm.

On Thu, Sep 17, 2009 at 8:43 PM, David Kellogg <vaughndogblack@yahoo.com>wrote:

I feel strongly that Vygotsky would be opposed to the Suzuki method on
several grounds:

a) Suzuki is naturalistic. He makes an explicit parallel between music
education with native language learning and everyday, spontaneous concepts.
Vygotsky argues that foreign language learning and science concepts
represent the next zone of  development for school age children.

b) Suzuki is personalisic. He is heavily based on individual tutelage,
along the lines of the "teacher-pupil" duet which Vygotsky condemns in the
"Preface to Thorndike".

c) Suzuki is elitist. He invests heavily (literally and figuratively) in
the bourgeois family, and this has made it peculiarly susceptible to the
kind of elitist education schemes Vygotsky abhorred.

I am not so sure about the Orff Schulwerke method. Orff ran a gymnasium in
Germany in 1925 and Vygotsky may or may not have been aware of his work. On
the one hand, Orff method teaching rejects naturalism, personalism, and
elitism and embraces something that is very clearly a community of practice
(with peripheral participatory roles for very young children). On the other,
Orff makes an explicitly parallel between musical phylogenesis and
ontogenesis that Vygotsky would probably not be comfortable with.

Of course, Orff's later relationship with Nazism, which, like Wagner's, was
not unrelated to his views about phylogeny and ontogeny in music, was
something Vygotsky could not have known about. In fact, we still don't
really know about it ourselves. On the one hand, Orff wrote music that was
highly appreciated by the Nazis and took Nazi commissions that other
musicians would not touch with a barge pole (e.g. the de-Judification of
Mendelssohn's "Midsummer Night's Dream"). On the other, he was close friends
with the founders of the White Rose, Orff claimed to have been a White Rose
member himself, and I think it is quite possible.

David Kellogg
Seoul National University of Education

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