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Violin World Yowls at Challenge to Fabled Teacher
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Violin World Yowls at Challenge to Fabled Teacher

Mark O’Connor Fans a Debate About the Suzuki Method

The bitterly traded charges of deception and unfair attacks would have been right at home in a rough-and-tumble political campaign. In this case, though, the acrimony erupted in an area that is usually much more placid: the market for children’s violin lessons.

It all began when the American violin virtuoso and composer Mark O’Connor, who started publishing his own instruction books several years ago, took aim at the giant of the field: the Suzuki method, known for teaching legions of children around the world to saw away at variations of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” Mr. O’Connor not only criticized the method but also accused its creator, Shinichi Suzuki, of fabricating parts of his biography to promote it. The International Suzuki Association countered that his allegations were “inaccurate and false” and implied that he was trying to discredit Mr. Suzuki, who died in 1998, to sell his own books. An examination by The New York Times of some of Mr. O’Connor’s key charges found that they were undercut by evidence.

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