30th Anniversary of the Suzuki Voice Program

By Päivi

01st February 2016

The Suzuki Voice Program (previously known in English as “Suzuki Singing” and “Singing in the Suzuki Style”) has been developed by Doctor of Music Päivi Kukkamäki 1987—2003 with the same children during 17 years at Sibelius University, Docmus-department. The idea to start this program with expectant mothers came from Ilari Kukkamäki 1985. Over the years Dr. Kukkamäki has travelled to 21 countries, participated in 42 conferences, conventions and workshops: with lectures, program introductions, demonstrations with her own students and training new teachers.

Now it is time to say Thank You!

The Suzuki Voice Program and the Talent Education Institute of Singing celebrate their 30th Anniversary 2016. The best things during these 30 years have been working together with children, teachers and parents. Teaching Suzuki Voice to children of all ages has been the work of my heart. Meeting people from different countries and finding singers, who wanted to become Suzuki Voice Teachers has been absolutely fantastic! Suzuki Voice Program has grown step by step. It has given so many beautiful things to so many families! It has touched us deeply!

I had the honor to know Dr. Shinichi Suzuki for 12 years and Mrs. Waltraud Suzuki for 14 years. I met them the first time in Easter 1986 in Finland and the second time in Japan the same year in Matsumoto Talent Education Institute, where I studied. I am grateful for the support they gave me during the years and I remember the advices I received from them for the life long journey with Suzuki Voice students and their families. Sometimes it has not been easy to open the road, but I have not given up, what I promised to them in 1986.

Thank you to all the families, who helped me with this. Since now we have made 22 concert trips to 17 countries. The first trip was with 45 persons to Sweden in 1988. The 8th European Suzuki Conference was held in Borlänge, and Dr and Mrs Suzuki heard the first time Suzuki Voice students’ singing. We had also many babies in the group, and staff in the boat was in the believed that we would be the group of motor cyclists. They were so surprised, when 11 baby carriages entered to the boat. The next year we got an invitation to The 9th Suzuki Method International Conference and the first time I brought Suzuki singers (33 persons) to Japan. We sung Volume 2 songs in different languages in harmony. The audience was especially delighted, when 1,5-year-old Christian was singing on stage. Many students who started the Program during pregnancy are now adults. Singing has become an important part of their life, many are studying music or voice as a profession (opera, solo, musical theatre or Music science studies) and nowadays many are working as a musician or professional singer.

I am very grateful of the support of my professor Kari Kurkela, who leaded my “Growing through Singing” - follow up study at Sibelius University 17 years. My thesis was completed in February 2003, and I received the Doctor of Music degree. I thank European Suzuki association. Step by step Suzuki Voice Teacher Training levels 1—5 were accepted in ESA Board meetings. Early years Mrs. Suzuki - Vice President of ISA- was at present during meetings. Advanced Level 5 training requirements were accepted and approved by the ESA Board September, 2003. The same year Suzuki Voice Program was approved by the International Suzuki Association. I formed International Suzuki Voice Committee in 2004.

I would like to thank my dear colleague Mette Heikkinen. I asked her to join the Program in 1988 and in the same year we made Volume 2 and Tape 2. 1991 I was appointed an ESA Teacher Trainer and Mette in 1993, and since then we have trained together in Finland. We started to make Long Term Teacher Training requirements. Nowadays Suzuki Voice Program Professional Development Teacher Training Curriculum will be revised by Suzuki Voice Teacher Trainers and Advanced Suzuki Voice Teachers. Revision is available every year in March www.suzukivoice.com under login.

In 1989 I met Australian lady June Brown in Japan during the 9th Suzuki World Convention. Her dedication towards the program has been important. She was the first Teacher who made Suzuki Voice Teacher’s ESA Level 1 exam in Finland 1998. Because of her January 1990 I took the first time my Suzuki voice students to Australia. I have been 11 times there, and the first Australian Suzuki Voice Teacher’s exams were made in 2001. Katrina Pezzimenti from Melbourne made the first ESA Level 5 exam in 2004 and she was appointed the 3rd ESA Suzuki Voice Teacher Trainer in 2006. Katrina travelled year after year to Finland and also to many different countries where Suzuki voice was introduced. Her input to the Suzuki Voice Program has been remarkable. She is the ISA and ESA Suzuki Voice Committee member.

In 1990 I met Mary Hofer the first time during 4th Suzuki Method Teachers Conference held in San Francisco, USA. My group visited the first time the American Institute 1997. “Singing across the Ocean exchange program” gave us many good memories. I was happy to train the first SAA Unit 1 courses in 2005 and in 2006 at Wisconsin University. Mary Hofer was appointed SAA Teacher Trainer in 2009 and she is the member of ISA Suzuki Voice Committee.

Jaume Fargas i Fernàndes from Barcelona has been a special person to the Program since I met him in Reykjavik, Iceland 1992 during Suzuki Voice Workshop. He has always offered his help. Original Volumes were handmade by me (Volume One 1986, Volume Two 1988 and Volume Three 1993). How happy the Suzuki Voice Community were, when we finally had music made by computer. There must be thousands of hours computer work, he has made during these years. He was also the first Spanish speaking Suzuki Voice Teacher, who helped with the translations. The idea of “Songs for Sharing” workshop was made by Jaume and me in 1999.

I gave the first Suzuki Voice workshop in Lima, Peru in 1993. I have never seen teachers-in-training, who were so keen to learn about the Program. The second time in Peru was in 2000 and there I met Analia Capponi from Argentina. On that time I did not know that she will become almost like the daughter who lived in our house, when she year after year came to Finland. She is the first ESA Level 5 Suzuki Voice Teacher from SAA, who was appointed the fourth ESA Suzuki Voice Teacher Trainer in 2012. Analia Capponi-Savolainen is making her Doctor of Music degree at Sibelius-University. She has a studio in Argentina and in Finland, and she is the member of ESA Suzuki Voice Committee.

I have seen many singers who have become an excellent Suzuki Voice Teachers. Please look the list of accredited teachers from www.suzukivoice.com. I am proud to inform that during spring 2016 we will get the fifth ESA Suzuki Voice Teacher Trainer from Finland; Mervi Sipola-Maliniemi. The next one will be Amelia Seyssel, who made the first ESA Level 5 Teacher examination from USA 2014. Soon also Eriko Shimada will be the first ESA Level 5 Teacher from Japan/England. Three Suzuki Voice Teachers have passed away: June Brown (Australia), Margret Ponzi (Italy) and Dinah Wright (New Zealand). Each one of them gave their repertoire and translations to the Program and it has been a real honor to know them.

I am happy to see, how International Suzuki Voice Family has grown during these years and how we are working together for the benefit of Suzuki Voice. We have friends all over the world and we get together to sing every second year during international “Songs for Sharing” Suzuki Voice Workshops. The 13th will be in Poughkeepsie, New York 2016, when the area celebrates its 300 and our Program its 30th Anniversary. The 14th will be in Finland in 2018, when Suzuki Families association will celebrate its 30th Anniversary.

My biggest thank you is to my family and parents. My husband said in December 1985 “Why you do not start to teach expectant mothers using the Suzuki Method”. That was the start of the Program, the research and all travelling. Without my parents I wouldn’t have been able to travel with my 4 children.

Voice is a splendid Instrument!  Let’s have a wonderful 30th Anniversary celebration!

I want to end my writing to the words of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki: “Wishing for Beautiful Tone Beautiful Heart”


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