Sunday, August 16, 2009

Suzuki Institute

The Suzuki Institute was awesome. I learned a lot, and it was rejuvenating to have a week away from cleaning and dishes, where I could focus on learning and growing as a violin teacher! The whole experience sort of made me want to go back to school. I stayed at The Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary, which I affectionately called 'The Convent' since my small room, just large enough for a twin bed and a desk, reminded me of movie depictions of rooms in convents. Also, all the people in my Suzuki class were women, and many of them were staying in the seminary as well. Oh, it was fun.

I met some terrific people and enjoyed thoughtful discussions about both playing music and teaching music.

There was an amazing frozen yogurt and smoothie joint just a few miles away, and classmates and I made more than a couple of trips there. It's probably similar to the Pinkberry phenomenon, which I've heard a lot about but never tried. Tart, tangy frozen yogurt with fresh fruit toppings. Way, way better than Cold Stone could ever be.

In addition to classroom lecture time, I got to observe some truly wonderful teachers working with students for a total of 15 hours of observation over the course of the week.

Our course teacher said something wonderful that I hope I can always remember:

"My number one goal isn't to train excellent violinists. Over the years I've had some students who were not a good reflection of my teaching, but I don't care. My first priority is that they become lovely human beings, and secondly, that they learn to love music. All the rest is details - important details, but details. And you know, some of those students who never become good violinists just may need me in their lives for reasons I don't know at the time."

She sent me home with lots to think about and a list of about 30 books I really want to read. For my fellow musicians and music teachers, I highly recommend attending courses like these, even if you don't want to become a "stereotypical" Suzuki teacher (whatever that may be these days). The principles taught can only benefit you and broaden your horizons.

Ahh, inspiration is a wonderful thing.

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