Beautiful Hearts & Strong Minds
Karen’s philosophy in life and in teaching music is inspired by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. In her studio, playing an instrument is actually not the most important thing: music lessons exist for the development of children to live with noble, beautiful, and kind hearts. In pursuit of developing beautiful hearts, she has found that music also develops a strong mind. Those two things together are a powerful combination. Karen has seen her students evolve from apprehensive to adventurous, disorderly to disciplined, and from passive to passionate. When asked why she chooses to teach music, the answer is always quite simple: because musical children become better human beings.
Teaching music is not my main purpose… If children hear fine music from the day of their birth and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart."
/ Dr. Suzuki, 1983 /
Karen strives to develop the whole child – not just the musical skill level – and expand a student’s knowledge of the world. For example, if a student is playing Russian Folk Song, they are given “atlas homework” and required to find Russia on a map. If they are playing a Waltz, they will be given “YouTube homework” to see what the dance looks like. If they are playing Capriccio, they are required to look up the word “caprice” in an English dictionary. Ultimately, she hopes to encourage sensitivity and compassion for all cultures and beliefs.
A Vibrant Musical Community
Karen believes that music is best when shared and she emphasizes building a vibrant musical community within her studio. Studio events include monthly group lessons, field trips to Calgary Philharmonic or Calgary Opera, masterclasses, two annual recitals, and ARMTA’s Music Marathon. Many students also choose to be involved in RCM or Conservatory Canada exams, Contemporary Showcase, and the Calgary Performing Arts Festival.
The overarching goal is not necessarily to become a professional musician. The goal is to develop an identity as a musician, and have children use the term ‘musician’ to describe who they are. It means that Karen operates more of music-immersion program where music holds a meaningful place in children’s lives now and into adulthood. From her experience, students in an immersive musical environment are the ones who enjoy the lifelong benefit from being involved in the activity. This does not necessarily mean that they will play at Carnegie Hall, but it does mean that they will have built up enough ability over the years to maintain some of it throughout their entire life. It means that lessons have a much deeper purpose.