by Kathleen Schoen - Edmonton, Alberta
The first Suzuki Convention of the Americas was hosted by the Association Mexicana del Método Suzuki in Cancun May 1- 5, 2019. There were participants from an estimated 27 countries, including Canada! There is not room to list all the Canadian teachers here, but a special shout out to the three Canadian students who participated in the group classes and orchestras: violinist Natalie Leung and violist Erica Rose Leung from Ontario, and flute player Maica McEachern from the Northwest Territories. Student classes ranged from Suzuki Early Childhood, through pre-Twinkle up to Book Three. Students Book Four and up participated in the orchestras, playing violin, viola, cello, flute, recorder, piano, and guitar. Piano students had a range of masterclasses and recitals, and EVERYONE sang in the choir! Teachers shared experiences and ideas in many inspirational sessions.
Hearing all the students, from babies to advanced players, coming from so many different places to make music together, really emphasized that “Every Child Can!”
For more inspiration, plan to attend the SAA Conference in Minneapolis May 21-25, 2020
by Diana Nuttall - Edmonton, Alberta
This year, my husband surprised me with a wonderful gift: a Musical River Cruise down the Rhine in October! I was thrilled! However, leaving my students for almost three weeks in the middle of the year concerned me, so I decided to ask a teacher to substitute for one of the weeks. I phoned Carey Cheney in Utah and she agreed to come!
While we sailed up the Rhine with James Campbell, and the The Gryphon Trio, Carey Cheney would live in my house, in Edmonton, and teach my students. My students’ parents volunteered to pick her up at the Airport, and bring her all the food she needed (more than she needed, it turned out!). I approached the Edmonton Society for Talent Education to see if they would share her airfare if she stayed the weekend and taught a workshop open to all Suzuki cello students in town. Adele Bosse-Morgan jumped at the offer, and got her Board to agree. Then I realized that a number of teachers in town might be interested in working with Carey so I arranged a Friday morning teacher session. It rapidly filled up!
It turned out that Gail Lange was on the same cruise! While I visited Beethoven House in Bonn and ate Raclette in Zurich with Gail, Carey came, lived in my house and taught all my students! She ended the week at my house by doing a workshop for seven cello teachers on her books “Solos for the Young Cellist” series, and then did a weekend workshop for the Edmonton Society for Talent Education. As a result, all the Edmonton Suzuki Cello community enjoyed my trip!
It was lovely to come home to students that were inspired by Carey’s teaching and enthusiastic about returning to lessons! What a great way to end a trip of a lifetime!
by Rhonda McEachen - Edmonton, Alberta
Edmonton Suzuki Piano School (ESPS) was established as a non-profit society in 1977 and continues to thrive today. We are a vibrant piano community with 13 Suzuki trained teachers that provide private and group lessons to our families. Our major events include the Fall Workshop (October) and Spring Festival (March/April). Visiting students and teachers are more than welcome to participate.
We are organizing the River City Suzuki Piano Institute in July 2019, where teacher training in Volume 6 will be taught by Gail Lange
For further information on the Summer Institute or any of our programs, go to edmontonsuzukipiano.ca
by Thomas Schoen - Edmonton, Alberta
The Schoen Duo Studio celebrated Bach in the Subways on March 23, 2019. There is no subway station in our neighbourhood, but there is a new LRT station under construction! TransEd gave us permission to play some Bach on the actual construction site. Here is Thomas and a group of his students serenading the construction workers.
After a minuet or two, we moved into the Bonnie Doon shopping mall where we were joined by Kathleen Schoen’s flute and recorder students and cello students of Janet Dougan for a flashmob and more music at the LRT presentation centre.
by Kathleen Schoen - Edmonton, Alberta
Borealis Suzuki Winds Institute will be hosting Creative Ability Development (CAD) Teacher Training with Alice Kanack, August 19—23, 2019, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Alice is the author of the Fun Improvisation books for Piano, Violin, Viola, and Cello, Improvising String Quartets, Musical Improvisation for Children, and Baselines & Fantasies. She is currently developing a new book in the series for young flute players. Her approach uses musical improvisation to develop full engagement in the creative process with students (and teachers!) of all ages and levels. Not only do the students enjoy her improvisation activities very much, but the freedom and ease that they develop through this work carries over into the standard repertoire. My students are now quite happy to improvise baroque ornamentation or a cadenza to a classical concerto.
This CAD Teacher Training course is open to teachers of all instruments. Register at this link:
by Merlin B. Thompson - Calgary, Alberta
Have you ever noticed that around the time your students are in Junior High School, they seem to reach a threshold in their music studies? After years of consistent progress throughout elementary school, they seem satisfied with their music studies and want to continue, yet they’re often content with just working on one piece even over very long periods of time. So, what are the options? Composition, improvisation, ensemble music? How about something that will amplify every one of your preteen/teen students’ relationships with music!!
Beginning in January 2018, I decided to respond to the Preteen/Teen Threshold by doing something completely new – engaging my preteen/teen students in examining their own Everyday Musical Connections through a Project-Based Learning approach. Everyday Musical Connections (EMC) is the descriptor I use to capture the breadth and depth of every person’s unique relation with music. At times, music is a companion, diversion, interruption, refuge, catalyst, and reminder. Project-Based Learning (PBL) is an established educational approach widely used in classroom settings. PBL is all about organizing learning experiences that prompt students’ active participation in their own learning, rather than giving students a series of facts to learn for an exam or tasks to master for a performance.
Over the past year and a half, I have included EMC projects with impressive results for my preteen/teen students. Each week, we spend 5-6 minutes of our lesson time in fine-tuning their investigative process. Students present their finished projects at informal home concerts and formal public concerts. Parents are typically blown away by the insight and sophistication of students’ presentations. Thus far, students’ explorations have included analysis, video creation, audio presentations, PowerPoint, transcription, personal anecdotes, and live demonstration. The topics they choose are as varied as their own personalities. Everything from – what makes a good song good, to the evolution of the Batman musical theme, to how does music affect work habits. Comments from students after they finished their projects – “I learned that I know more about music than I thought.” “Now, when I need to make an analogy at school, I take examples from music.” “I loved working on something that actually belonged entirely to me.”
I appreciate the way EMC explorations serve to amplify students’ own musical persona, to shine light on the depth of their relation with music, and highlight music as an important part of their lives. Students also exercise their disciplinary knowledge of music and strengthen the higher-order skills of critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, analysis, communication, and reflection.
In a nutshell – using EMC projects is positively the most exciting and music-affirming activity I’ve ever employed with my preteen/teen students!! It’s completely transformed my studio!
To find out more about Everyday Musical Connections and Project-Based Learning – please visit merlinthompson.com and click on Everyday Musical Connections (https://merlinthompson.com/project-based-learning/).
By Thomas Schoen—Edmonton, Alberta
The Suzuki Method is alive and well in Alberta! We have 119 registered Suzuki teachers working all across the province. While many teachers are located in the major urban centres, there are quite a number of very active teachers in smaller centres, as well.
While much of the Suzuki activities are in bowed strings (including viola and bass), guitar and piano, we have a vibrant SECE community, a very active flute and recorder community, and a growing trumpet community. We also have teachers in Suzuki voice and, as of recently, now have a Suzuki harp teacher as well.
I have had the good fortune to travel to many parts of Alberta as a festival adjudicator, and have enjoyed seeing and hearing the wonderful work Suzuki teachers and students are doing all over Alberta.
Some activities of note are: