By Margot Jewell - Toronto, Ontario
Lance Stoney is the only Suzuki trained violin teacher in Fort St. John, a BC town of 20,000 on the Alaska Highway, a 14-hour drive from Vancouver. He has one Suzuki colleague in town, a pianist. The nearest Suzuki violin teachers are in Prince George (4 1/2 hours) and Edmonton (7 hours away). These distances make it difficult to collaborate with musicians outside of Fort St. John, although Lance and some of his senior students participate in a summer orchestra program in Smithers, BC (9 1/2 hours away).
At age 3, Lance started studying violin at a Suzuki program in southern BC. He kept playing through high school, and took some RCM practical and theory exams. Then when he started working at other jobs, music went on the back burner. Thirteen years ago Lance moved to Fort St. John for work. People in the community learned he played the violin and a child wanted to start studying with Lance. By 2018, his studio had grown to 60 students so he was able to give up his job in the oil patch. In a phone conversation, he shared the following thoughts:
About professional development:
* A few years after starting to teach, he decided that he would pursue Suzuki training. Almost every year Lance has taken courses at the Suzuki Institute in Seattle. He also appreciates the opportunity to watch a variety of teachers when at an institute. He feels that people who are “pioneering” need to find out if they are on the right track, and refresh themselves with new ideas. It is harder to access this when living in a more isolated community. He said “personal development as a teacher is a must for building the studio.”
* He has continued working on his own playing, successfully completing his grade 10 RCM exam last year.
About building a program from scratch in a small community:
* You have to be willing to work with all ages. He teaches students from age 4 to 65.
* You have to be open to different approaches. Some are people interested in fiddle music and others in sacred music. He explains that “the classical approach is the push-ups and sit-ups of learning the instrument.” Once you have a good foundational technique you can learn any style of music.
* Collaborate with the local musical community. He puts his intermediate and senior students together with the adults to make a string group that can accompany the local adult choir in performances of Handel’s Messiah, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Schubert’s Mass.
* Set teaching priorities. Don’t waste time on things that are not as important, or you will get frustrated and irritated by teaching.
* Teaching is fun when you’ve got a range of levels and ages.
* The goal is to “provide educational development for the local community; both amateur adults and children.”
By Jean Grieve - Oakville Ontario
Last year in our Oakville Suzuki program, we discovered that we did not have enough senior students registered in our association (past Book 4) to run our advanced violin groups. We decided to offer a quartet program where each group arranged with a teacher to meet at a time everyone could manage for approximately 18 sessions in the year.
To our surprise a large number of students signed up, and we formed eight quartets and all registered with Oakville Suzuki. We set two pieces that everyone could play together at our Senior Christmas concert, and arranged for a special masterclass with Witold Swoboda in April where each group performed a classical piece. Several of the quartets also performed at festivals and seniors’ residences.
The most successful groups were those where the students were already friends, and they signed up again this September. We now have five groups but one has not been able to find a teacher at a time when the students can get together. This is one of the biggest problems when parents, teachers, and students are very busy. There is no doubt, however, that we will continue to offer the option for our senior students.
By Paule Barsalou - Guelph, Ontario
Canada was well represented at the 2nd International Suzuki Teacher Trainer Convention 2019 in Madrid in October. Canadians present were Suzuki teacher trainers Paule Barsalou, Wan Tsai Chen, Carey Alain Cheney, David Evenchick, Susan Gagnon, Dorothy Jones, Sharon Jones, Joanne Martin, Alice Anne O’Neil, Kelly Williamson, and Nicole Wilton. Also present was Margaret Parkin, ESA Instructor of Violin.
The format of teacher training in each region and reciprocity between regions were discussed in several sessions. Reciprocity between SAA and ESA is described in the ESA teacher training manual: http://www.digital-e-brochures.com/EuropeanSuzuki/TTraining2018/30/
Dorothy and Sharon Jones presented a session on Suzuki Early Childhood Education.
Kelly Williamson presented a session called Time to Stretch! Teacher Training in a New Area, where she outlined her experiences teaching in Latin America.
Paule Barsalou was on a panel discussing called Suzuki Teacher Training in Universities, alongside Kathleen Springs from University of Colorado, and Veerle Van Gorp, Wim Meuris, and Wilfried Van Gorp from AP School of Arts in Antwerpen, Belgium. She shared her experience in developing a new long-term teacher training program in a collaboration between Suzuki String School of Guelph and Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, ON.
Karen-Michèle Kimmett joined the conference via Skype and spoke on a panel called Suzuki Teacher Training in Diverse Environments, alongside Eduardo Ludueña (who talked about training violin teachers in Latin America), Helen Brunner (who related her recent experience training violin teachers in Russia) and Carmencita Arámbulo (who discussed her experience training piano teachers in the Philippines). Karen shared her experience training violin teachers in South Africa and Zimbabwe in collaboration with trainers Martin Rüttimann and Christophe Bossuat.
Joanne Martin spoke on a Panel called Suzuki Teacher Training – Then and Now, alongside Judy Bossuat-Gallic, Christophe Bossuat, Akira Nakajima, Sven Sjörgren, and Tanya Carey. She described her experience as a Suzuki teacher trainer pioneer in Canada.
Carey Cheney, David Evenchick, Susan Gagnon and Margaret Parkin were each charged with the delicate task of leading discussions such as Goals for Book 1 and Examinations and Assessment, Suzuki in Universities andMentoring Teacher Trainers, and Reciprocity Procedures and Challenges Suzuki Teacher Trainers are Facing. This was not far from the type of exchanges one would hear at the United Nations! Bravo to this foursome for their tact and diplomacy in handling these discussions.
A huge thank you is extended to teacher trainers Martin Rüttimann and Carey-Beth Hockett for their vision in organizing this wonderful conference.