Suzuki/Starr Videos

The ISA gratefully acknowledges William Starr and the SAA for providing ISA the rights to post this video series on the ISA website. All rights reserved by the ISA, June 2021.

William Starr interviewing Dr. Shinichi Suzuki

History of the Suzuki/Starr Videotapes

William and Constance Starr traveled to Matsumoto with their 8 children beginning in 1968 to study the Suzuki Method in depth. The family spent 18 months there becoming an integral part of the life at the then-named Talent Education Institute. These videotapes are the result of Bill Starr's extensive personal interviews with Dr. Suzuki on the philosophy of Talent Education, working with parents, and the teaching points of the Suzuki Method Violin School Volumes 1-4. Additionally these videos contain a wealth of student lessons with the Japanese teachers and concert footage recorded during those 18 months. Here a description of these videos and their process in Bill Starr’s own words.

"As soon as Suzuki returned to Matsumoto, he called me into his office to discuss my plans. I had written him a detailed letter, in which I told him I wanted to video interviews with him in which he would explain his method in detail, piece by piece, violin in hand. I knew I was asking a lot of him, but I hadn’t covered what I could offer him. I did include a resume, including my experience as a conductor, string quartet player, orchestra soloist, etc. He led off with his suggestion that I could conduct the Matsumoto Kenkyusei String Orchestra. I also taught classes in music theory, sight-reading, and vibrato.

Suzuki made most of the video sessions I had scheduled with him, and I rounded out the video program with lessons by Yuko Mori, in Matsumoto, Mitsumasa Denda in Nagano, and Hisai Hirose in Tokyo. I ended with twelve hours of videos, a broad coverage of the Suzuki violin method in Japan.”

What a treasure for all Suzuki teachers and families to hear and see Dr. Suzuki and these early Suzuki Method teachers working in their home environment. We are forever indebted to the entire Starr family for this unparalleled archive.


Reel 1 - 57 minutes

Begins with a concert from 1969 that shows a group of children playing Minuet 2 by Bach. The film continues to discuss important points in Dr Suzuki’s Philosophy of Music Education and Talent Education. After, there is footage of Dr. Suzuki teaching group lessons where the children learn about posture and positioning with the box violin.

Reel 2 - 1 hour

Begins with an explanation of how the bow is held. There are different ways depending on a child’s level. He explains how the parent is the educator and needs follow through with what happens in lessons. There are clips of Suzuki teaching rhythm, bow hold and other Pre-Twinkle games to the children. Then, a lesson is shown with the children and their wooden violins. Dr. Suzuki speaks about how it is important that the environment for the child is healthy for them to learn; then speaks briefly about how each Twinkle variation prepares a player for the next one.

Extra - 1 hour, 4 minutes

In this video, Dr. Suzuki introduces multiple concepts which are followed by group and private lessons taught by Mr. Denda. Dr. Suzuki begins by introducing the beginner bow hold followed by Denda’s group class where he goes through the Pre-Twinkle exercises. Next Dr. Suzuki introduces Variation A then followed by several beginner lessons given by Denda, each working on Variations A and B on open strings. The final segment of this video includes Dr. Suzuki introducing the placement of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd fingers on the violin.

Reel 3 - 1 hour, 23 minutes

Begins with two private lesson excerpts taught by Mr. Denda with a three year old child. These lessons covered aspects of bowing, including bow hold, arm and finger placement, rhythm, and string level placement. The second lesson shows the same child, four months later, at just 4 years old with the left hand and holding the violin. Private lessons are taught by Miss Mori and Mr. Yamamura topics include bow exercises, left hand fingers, and Twinkle Variation A.

Dr. Suzuki gives a lesson on Bach Minuet 1. Dr. Suzuki demonstrates Twinkle Variation E, pizzicato tone-matching and other checks for intonation and Tonalization, Twinkle Theme, Lightly Row, Song of the Wind, and Go Tell Aunt Rhody. Dr. Suzuki also speaks about the importance of listening to the recordings.

Reel 4 - 1 hour, 2 minutes

Contains private lessons with Miss Mori on violin-hold, bowing exercises, Twinkle Variation A rhythm on open E and A strings, left hand work, Book 1 pieces Go Tell Aunt Rhody, Perpetual Motion and Andantino, and G Major finger patterns. A private lesson by Mr. Denda with a five year old child repeating earlier pieces, now with longer bows.

Then, a group performance of Allegro, followed by Perpetual Motion played in a group concert at the summer school in Matsumoto. Dr. Suzuki demonstrates O Come, Little Children and important Tonalization work. Dr. Suzuki tells how he came to write Allegro and demonstrates the teaching points. Dr. Suzuki demonstrates Perpetual Motion, the first use of the fourth finger, D Major Scale, Allegretto, Andantino, Tonalization Exercise in G Major and G Major Scale, and Etude. Dr. Suzuki lists “The Five Questions” that teachers and parents must ask every day.

Reel 5 - 1 hour, 2 minutes

Dr. Suzuki demonstrates string crossings from A to E string, the introduction of the practice in Perpetual Motion and application in the Bach Minuets. Dr. Suzuki explains the new bowing pattern of two staccato up-bows in succession in Minuet 1, how to prepare for the string crossings at the beginning of Minuet 2, the importance of teaching correct intonation in G Major as it resonates well with the violin and demonstrates the bow strokes for both Happy Farmer and Gavotte.

In Book 2, Dr. Suzuki demonstrates the Tonalization exercise in G Major and Chorus from Judas Maccabeus. He tells us that the most important concepts for the beginning of Book 2 are a full sound and clear intonation, which help to develop enhanced musical sensitivity. Dr. Suzuki plays through Musette, Hunters Chorus, and how to practice the faster up bow staccato in the Long Long Ago Variations.

A teacher goes over Allegro with a student, using whole bows for each note. They work on a G Major scale in the Twinkle rhythms, and then she hears another student go through Etude. We then see a performance of one of Miss Mori’s students playing through Minuet 2. We see one of her students perform Etude and another perform Minuet 2. Next there is a group class from a school in Tennessee doing bowing exercises together, and then playing Tonalization and Chorus from Judas Maccabeus.

Reel 6 - 1 hour, 13 minutes

Begins with Brahms Waltz and Dr. Suzuki discussing clarity of the legato stroke in this piece, showing the changes in left hand positioning between G Major and G Minor Tonalization, performing Bourrée and demonstrating the bow division. He shows the bow techniques in The Two Grenadiers, Witches Dance, and Gavotte from Mignon. For Beethoven Minuet, Dr. Suzuki shows a way to practice the consecutive dotted figures under a slur with stop-bow slurs, and in Boccherini Minuet, the trill figures, how the bow needs to be prepared in advance when coming in off the beat. Dr. Suzuki explains that when played in tune and with a good sound, certain notes on the violin make the open strings ring.

There is video of a large staged performance of Boccherini Minuet from the Suzuki annual concert in 1969. A clip is shown of a televised recording from a performance of Brahms Waltz by a Tennessee school in Venezuela. He gives us more Tonalization practice, now starting on the G string, and emphasizes that the bow must be pulled through the strings, not pushed onto them. Dr. Suzuki performs Martini Gavotte, clearly defining the beginning and end of each phrase and showing the different characters and bowing styles in the piece.

Reel 7 - 1 hour, 11 minutes

Contains Suzuki’s demonstrations and analyses of Minuet, Gavotte in G Minor, Humoresque, Becker Gavotte, Gavotte in D Major, and Bach Bourrée from Book 3. He also demonstrates a new exercise added to Book 3 focusing on using small bows during quick string changes.

Additionally, the reel contains a performance of Gavotte in G Minor by students of Mr. Denda, a lesson with an 8-year-old studying Humoresque in Matsumoto, and a performance of Bach Bourrée by a 6-year-old student.

Reel 8 - 1 hour 24 minutes

Contains Suzuki’s demonstrations and analyses of the Position Etudes and shifting exercises found in Book 4, as well as the three Seitz Concerti movements and the Vivaldi Concerto in A minor, 1st mvt. The reel also contains a performance of the Seitz Concerto No. 2, 3rd mvt. by a group of students with a wide range of ages and abilities, and a lesson with Mr. Kataoka focused on the student improving her bow technique and learning how to play with a strong tone.

Finally, the reel contains two consecutive performances of the Vivaldi Concerto in A minor, 1st mvt., the first by a group of Suzuki summer school students, and the second by a group of Suzuki students who performed in America in 1969, which demonstrates Suzuki’s ideal bowing for this piece.

Reel 9 - 1 hour, 6 minutes

In the first half of this video, Dr. Suzuki demonstrates various bowing techniques. The focus is on tone production and tone color. Featured pieces are Twinkle Variation A and Tonalization. In the second half of this video, Dr. Suzuki teaches an advanced group class. The focus is also on tone production and tone color. Featured pieces are Twinkle Theme and Eccles' Sonata No. 11 in G Minor.

Reel 10 - 1 hour, 4 minutes

Begins with an advanced group class and a teacher training session, both taught by Dr. Suzuki. The students and teacher trainees focus on phrasing and tone. Featured pieces are Vivaldi Concerto in A Minor, 3rd Movement, Bach Minuet in G Minor, and Handel Bourrée.

The video ends with a private lesson taught by Mrs. Tanada, student group performances, and student solo performances. Featured pieces are: Fiocco Allegro, Vivaldi Concerto in G Minor, Corelli La Folia, Eccles Sonata No. 11 in G Minor, Veracini Sonata in E Minor, Bach Minuet 2, and Mozart Concerto in A Minor, 1st Movement.

Reel 11 - 1 hour, 16 minutes

Students of all ages perform repertoire that is supplementary to the solo Suzuki books. Advanced violin students perform movements from Mendelssohn and Mozart Violin Concerti. An advanced solo violin group class performs Mediation from Thais. Cello group classes perform early Book 1 pieces and an advanced cello group performs Saint-Saen’s The Swan.

This Reel also showcases a beginner string orchestra performing arrangements of Suzuki Book Repertoire. Piano students ranging from beginner to intermediate to advanced levels perform pieces both from the Suzuki books and supplementary advanced repertoire.

Reel 12 - 1 hour, 6 minutes

Showcases a wide variety of students in performances and lessons. The students range from age 4 to 16 who have all studied under Japanese and American teachers for different lengths of time. These lessons show the ubiquitous and flexible nature of the Suzuki Method across age and culture. Japanese and American teachers, including John Kendall, teach students vibrato. Mr. Kendall concludes with a few parting words.

Interview - On Educating Children - 38 minutes

During this interview, Dr. Suzuki discusses the ways in which the Mother Tongue Method can be applied to all subjects. He specifically refers to a successful 4 year experiment done in a school where Suzuki applied the Talent Education Method in teaching math, reading, and other subjects under the direction of Mr. Tanaka. Dr. Suzuki additionally discusses his experience with teaching Kindergarten and training the children’s memory through the use of haiku.

Interview - On Working with Parents - 48 minutes

During this interview, Dr. Suzuki discusses all the fundamental elements of the Talent Education/Mother Tongue Method. He starts at the very beginning with his discovery that every child can speak Japanese, leading to his firm belief that every living soul has the power and ability to learn. He touches on many of the key elements of the Mother Tongue Method including environment, repetition, ability, listening, parental involvement, review, group classes, and observation.