Testimonial by former student, Isaac Sellhausen
I was inspired to learn the classical guitar at three-years old when a five-year old girl in my Montessori School class gave a recital at a school gathering. I was first amazed, then hooked. I needed to learn how to play this wonderful sounding instrument! I begged my mom to ask my teacher how my classmate had learned to play. That began the next 6 years of Suzuki guitar lessons with Miss Annalisa Ewald.
At first it was impossible, then difficult and finally downright boring as I made my way from Book 1, through Book 9. Learning by ear is emphasized early over reading by musical notation in Suzuki. I memorized the basics such as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and gradually and painfully moved all the way into elaborate pieces such as [Vivaldi variations]. Learning to play the guitar and read music didn’t come naturally to me. It took weeks, months and years before I could play notes by ear then more complex music. I developed through hard work, repetition and effort to perform a solo repertoire.
As part of a big family, I knew I was doing something different than my twin sister or any of my older brothers, and that was satisfying. I know now that in learning to play guitar I was in a special environment. Shin'ichi Suzuki, himself said, “I want to make good citizens. If a child hears fine music from the day of his birth and learns to play it himself, he develops sensitivity, discipline and endurance. He gets a beautiful heart.”
I slowly became the only musician in my family and attended the local concerts and recitals of my Suzuki classmates. We performed at recitals at many local venues; the Stamford Mall at Christmas, the Whole Foods catering area, Southport’s Pequot Library and the Norwalk Maritime Aquarium’s Shark Tank!
I believe it was my persistence and tenacity at practicing the guitar that has partly made me the person I am today. Malcolm Gladwell introduces in his book, Outliers, the concept of the 10,000 hour rule. Claiming that his studies have led him to believe one of the keys to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for at least 10,000 hours. I don’t think I practiced for 10,000 hours, but it certainly helped me succeed in learning the guitar. As the philosopher Albert Einstein said, “It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I stay with problems longer." While I am definitely no Albert Einstein, I believe my early hard work and hours of learning to play the guitar have in some way, helped me to succeed at schoolwork, sports and whatever I put my mind to. It has given me a calm patience and quiet confidence, and ability to stick with something, no matter how difficult. I fully intend to bring this effort and diligence to my college career, to stick with problems, no matter how difficult, until I have achieved my goals.