The Pineland Suzuki School for students aged 3 to 18 was founded in Augusta by Kobayashi and Ellen Gawler, based on the principles of Sinishi Suzuki, in 1994.
“Ellen and I got our students together in our living rooms,” Kobayashi said. “That was the real beginning.”
Betsy Kobayashi started teaching music in Buffalo, N.Y. Then she studied for two years with Sinishi Suzuki in Japan where she met her husband, Naoto Kobayashi. She stayed five more years in Japan before moving to Maine.
Kobayashi said Suzuki, who lived to be 99, believed “all children could play music just like they could speak their mother tongue. If all Japanese children can speak Japanese, and all English children can speak English, then all children can learn to play music, he believed.”
Pineland Suzuki has students who come from as far away as Orono and Portland, though most are from the Augusta area.