Travel issues and distance learning for Canadian teachers

Kathleen Schoen said: Jun 13, 2012
Kathleen SchoenTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Recorder, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Edmonton, AB
25 posts

At the SAA conference, the Canadian teachers had a discussion regarding the high cost of travel in our country and how this creates a financial burden on teachers who wish to take teacher training units, especially those from more isolated areas and those from “smaller” instrument areas such as viola, double bass, or recorder. There were some teacher trainers present at the meeting, so we were asking them about how much of the teacher training could be delivered by distance education (correspondence, chat, Skype, YouTube, video conferencing, etc…), There is no way that this could substitute completely for face-to-face observation and learning, but it could help. The Suzuki Charter School in Edmonton has recently acquired videoconferencing capabilities, so if a teacher trainer in another part of the country could access similar equipment, it could be possible do deliver some course work by this means.
The other solution discussed was to do something towards creating a fund to help subsidize travel costs for teachers. As I understand it, if such a fund was administered by the SAA it would not be possible for Canadians to receive a tax receipt for donations. Would we be able to set up a Canadian fund to make it tax-deductible?
What do you think? Are you in favour of working with technology or money? or both? Lets continue the conversation.

Kelly Williamson said: Jun 14, 2012
Kelly WilliamsonTeacher Trainer Flute, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Cambridge, ON
262 posts

Hi Kathleen! Sorry I missed the discussion… we had a flute committee meeting at the same time as the Canadian teachers’ lunch. I often bring up this difficulty, because many people outside of Canada can’t relate to the distances involved. When I have been in other countries that are considered to be big, relative to neighbouring countries around them, they still don’t really stack up compared to Canada! (When I tell them that it took us 55 hours to drive from London to Calgary—i.e. the middle of the country to maybe 11 hours from one end—that helps to describe it.) Since all of the flute trainers in Canada live within two hours of each other in the middle of the country, that leaves our teachers in Halifax, Vancouver, and also Edmonton, quite marooned.

The cost of air travel is of course much higher in Canada, something that is not always understood. For the conference, I drove 2 1/2 hours to Buffalo and stayed overnight to catch a flight from Buffalo airport the next morning. It would have cost $750 to travel from Toronto; it cost $350 from Buffalo. I’d have had to travel an hour to Toronto anyway—it saved a lot of money, even though it was more time and more hassle.

Now for another side to the argument. I am often impressed by the sheer commitment demonstrated by teachers in Latin America, who also face large distances and big financial challenges when they want to get professional training. As I said in a presentation at the conference on what Latin America has to offer the larger Suzuki community, it is not unusual for us to have people in our classes who have traveled by bus, 26 or even 33 hours straight (over two nights) to be able to attend a class. And that’s just to get there! And those are the successful stories, of journeys that proceeded without delays or incidents. One of the participants’ tale of her travel odyssey from Patagonia was so hair-raising that after taking book 1 in Lima, she waited another five years for book 2 to come to Argentina… she wouldn’t undertake the trip again. When they are in Lima, they find the costs very high, and travel in the city is also difficult. One of the participants in my class was the first one to get there every morning, at 8:15 or so for a 9 am class. He’d come every morning and practice. Since earliness is not exactly the norm in Lima, I asked how far away he was staying. He was staying in a hostel on the edge of the city; traveling by bus, it took him around two hours in each direction. And of course he did this every day for the nine days of the course.

Contrast this with a teacher in London who told me she thought the SAA should bring teacher trainers to different locations, to make it easier for people to continue with their training. She was living three and a half hours by car, at most, from a teacher trainer on her instrument. (Enough said.) Sometimes it’s a question of how much we want something.

Just to know, I looked into how much that trip from London to Calgary would cost, by bus. Purchased in advance, it would cost $115. It would take two days and nine hours, according to the trip calculator on Greyhound. :) So even longer, but also quite a bit cheaper, than the trip from Jujuy, Argentina to Patagonia (33 hours, or one day and nine hours). Food for thought. And just one more—we have had participants from Patagonia at the last two conferences. To get to Minneapolis, they first had to take the 26-hour bus ride to Buenos Aires. Then they got on the plane! It makes my trip from Buffalo look like peanuts, both in terms of money and time.

Regarding your question on Skype learning, there was a discussion among the teacher trainers and it was generally agreed that distance learning could facilitate, for sure. Especially for follow-up and continuing with a teacher we have already met face to face. As you say, let’s continue the discussion!

Kelly

Barb said: Jun 14, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Very nice to see this addressed! And nice to see a discussion area and page just for us! :-)

After my fourth year of teaching, I am taking ECC and book 1 training this summer. It is about a 13 hour drive (without stopping) which I will divide into two days, and am only doing because I was able to get someone to carpool with me, and happen to have free lodging along the way at a relative’s. If I didn’t play the cello, flying may have been an easier option, but … the cost.

I am thankful that housing in Idaho is so reasonable at $20/night (in dorms)—that is very helpful. Edmonton is actually a little bit closer, but more expensive, and timing wise… book 2 is on offer there this year. If I had unlimited resources and time I COULD do that after my book 1 course this year, but, alas, those things are not unlimited.

I really don’t anticipate being able to justify the cost of going to the SAA conference, and I might not get to subsequent teacher training for a while as I only operate a small studio, but I DO think I will enjoy the Parents as Partners videos online (and podcasts) every year.

Looking at the map of Institute locations, I know there are teachers in much more remote locations (in Canada AND the US) who would have to travel much further than me—probably some who just don’t consider Suzuki training due to logistics.

Some DL training would be WONDERFUL. My husband participates in upgrading paramedic training and part of his Cadet Instructor Cadre (military) training with DL courses. Our kids have taken some of their school courses as DL courses. Why not some aspects of the Suzuki training? Even if just portions of the courses could be delivered online, it would shorten courses and lower housing costs.

Some travel subsidies would also be helpful!

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Daphne Hughes said: Jun 15, 2012
Daphne HughesTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Guelph, ON
57 posts

I would love to hear from some of our younger teacher trainers about their feelings regarding courses given via video conferencing or on Skype. There is no way that I would be comfortable dealing with that situation, but at my age technology is not a happy part of my life. I need those warm bodies in the same room!

My limited experience with Skype has not been terribly successful—sound and video tend not to be synchronized and it depends so much on the location and the equipment everyone is working with. Once again, it seems it is only in larger urban centres that this is relatively easy to arrange and I doubt it would solve the problem of teachers living in very small communities in the middle of nowhere. And these are the people that are having major problems accessing training.

p.s. Many thanks to Kathleen for arranging for this discussion and the link on the SAA website.

Kelly Williamson said: Jun 15, 2012
Kelly WilliamsonTeacher Trainer Flute, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Cambridge, ON
262 posts

Hear, hear! Thanks Kathleen!

Kelly

Kathleen Schoen said: Jun 15, 2012
Kathleen SchoenTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Recorder, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Edmonton, AB
25 posts

Hi, Kelly! Hi Daphne! Thanks for joining us!

The experience of the South American teachers certainly puts things into a different perspective, doesn’t it? As some of my students would say, #firstworldproblem!

And the question of perceived value does change your priorities. As a contrast to your anecdote about the London teacher, I should mention that it cost me $850 to fly to Minneapolis for the conference, and driving across the border for the cheaper fare is not practical when you are as far north as Edmonton. I have in the past contacted a teacher trainer who was living in Minneapolis and arranged to do some teacher training after the conference, to get double value out of my expensive ticket, but then I had to pay double in order to bring a student so we could have someone at the correct book level to observe! (The student was my own daughter, so we were able to turn it into a working family vacation, but still, $1700 is a bit steep just to get there.) I wish I lived 3 hours from a teacher trainer in my instrument!

However, any solutions we can find to help with the distance and access problem should also be helpful for our South America teachers. Since becoming involved in Suzuki recorder, I have had opportunities to have similar conversations with some of the South American people, and these issues are definitely shared on both continents. For every SA teacher who takes that tortuous 33hr bus ride, how many more are there who can’t? For every Canadian teacher who pays thousands of dollars to attend a conference or a unit course, how many more are there who can’t?

As for Skype—yes it has some serious drawbacks. My husband teaches Skype lessons to a student in a rural town 3 hours away, and one day the video link failed completely and they had a totally aural lesson—no visuals! He said it was an interesting experiment. But he does see this student in person about once ever 4-6 weeks when they come into town.
Apparently the videoconferencing set-up that the Suzuki Charter School has acquired is less likely to have these drawbacks, but it is the kind of thing that companies and universities would have, not individuals. Perhaps some kind of corporate sponsorship could help with access to this kind of facility? A telecommunications company such as Telus would have places all across the country where this equipment might be available—not in every small town, mind you, but perhaps only a few hours away?

Here’s one last question before I have to run away—if we could access a portion of a unit course on line, would it be possible to accumulate partial “credits” towards more than one unit, and finish them all at one time when we were able to travel to do it in person? I know that this is one of the reasons that the Institute in Edmonton started by only running every 2 years, but offered two units back-to-back over 9 days in the years that it did operate—so that teachers could do twice as much for the same travel cost. If part of the training unit was already done, perhaps the possibility of doing 2 or more units could be done over the usual one week schedule at other Institutes?

Barb said: Jun 15, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Daphne, good points. I have heard that Skype is improving with the timing, but still haven’t tried it with the video. Maybe, though, it would work well enough in certain regions .. people might still have to travel to an event, but not such great distances??? It would be good to hear from teacher trainers on this.

Already we ARE using technology more than in the past—all my communication and registration with the institute I’m attending has been online, and I received my 55 page packet for the TT course online. (Still had to MAIL in my SAA membership/DVD submission, but I hear changes are coming there, too.) I see that part of the course is watching videos. That would be easy enough to do online. Discussion can be done online (as we are doing here). Submitting written assignments can be done online. I still think the BEST way for anything instrument related, including observing, is in person, and I look forward to being part of the institute experience with a chance meet others in person and watch the kiddos, etc…. But maybe especially the book one courses could be shortened, or at least an online ECC could be developed? I see the SPA course already does some of this with pre- and post- course work.

Or maybe some online courses would not be meant to replace the courses as they are now at all. Maybe they will be a different classification, but still be registrable—or not? So it could be understood that a teacher might not have the full training. I wouldn’t want to “cheapen” the Suzuki name with incomplete training (as is actually already happening by people using the name because they use the books), but I would like to see more training, even if not the ideal, be available to more people if it will help them to become better teachers.

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Barb said: Jun 15, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Kathleen, we were writing at the same time and I didn’t see your post. The idea of being able to do pre-course work and then combine two courses is great!

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Swan said: Jun 21, 2012
Swan Kiezebrink
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
5 posts

Hello everyone!
I live in northern, rural British Columbia (our town is 4200), where I am one of 2 registered Suzuki piano teachers for the entire north (my colleague is 3 hours west). It is not a well-known method here; I have taught for 22 years now, 5 of them with the Suzuki Method, haven taken my training through Book 4 for 4 consecutive summers 11 straight hours south in Langley, BC. Edmonton is 10 hours east of us. Suzuki violin is established in Smithers (3 hours west) where the other piano teacher lives.

I have been very discouraged since moving here from Smithers 5 years ago, with how extremely difficult it is to retain students in this method, as there is no one for my moms and kids to relate to. I have undertaken, since 2010, to colloborate with Smithers to bring a teacher up from Washington DC each summer for a weekend where we host one year and they host the next. It has worked reasonably well, and the lady is VERY gracious with staying in our homes and eating at our places, not demanding motel, etc. This has worked for us as teachers to watch her teach, and for the kids to have someone other than me to teach them, which I think is important, as well. But it costs a lot of money….

Daphne has come to Smithers in the past ( I took my ECC with her), and can vouch for the remoteness up here. I had tried several times, when doing my teacher training to apply for help in travel costs, etc, as did my colleague in Smithers. So if the SAA has begun to recognize the distances up here, then that’s great for others coming up!

I have been so happy with the Parents As Partners online- it really does help connect us, as well as my parents. I’m glad to see a Canadian forum to discuss this-sometimes it seems like my best bet is just to stick to RCM!

I agree with Daphne about technology- where we live, it is hit-and-miss for Skype as well. But pre-recorded like the Parents as Partners works up here.

I would love to hear from the Edmonton piano people!

Tim Eckert said: Jun 22, 2012
Tim Eckert
Suzuki Association Member
Piano, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools
30 posts

Hi, I’m one of the Edmonton piano people.
Our website is: edmontonsuzukipiano.ca
It has a fair bit about what we’re doing.

Is there something specific you were wondering about?

You could come for our weekend workshop in early November (first weekend) called the Fall Institute. We bring in guest teachers from out of town, usually at least 2 piano teacher trainers. Registration info will be available in September. Let me know if you want more info.

Thanks to Kathleen for getting the ball rolling.

Jenifer said: Jun 26, 2012
Jenifer NoffkeViolin, Voice, Piano, Viola
Melbourne, FL
7 posts

I’m very interested in the prospect of online training!

Chantale said: Jun 27, 2012
 Violin, Viola
Orleans, ON
4 posts

I’d be very interested in online training as well!

Margot Jewell said: Sep 14, 2012
Margot JewellSAA Board
Teacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
148 posts

Hello all,

I am presently in Chicago attending my first SAA board meeting. Although I am not officially representing Canada, the board members do appreciate me giving some input on Canadian issues. It was very helpful to read your thoughts about teacher training for remote teachers. I am also curious how you feel about how to encourage teachers to settle in more remote areas, so that the Suzuki approach can be available to children in those areas.

Kelly Williamson said: Sep 15, 2012
Kelly WilliamsonTeacher Trainer Flute, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Cambridge, ON
262 posts

I think it’s a great idea. I can’t imagine how it could be coordinated without quite an investment of time and money, considering that even teachers in major cities find it challenging to build their studios.

There might be an advantage in that remote areas might be really keen to gain opportunities for the families who live there—perhaps cities might offer some sort of support, even if it were very modest (such as underwriting space for teaching, and/or offering advertising and community outreach). I have mentioned my colleague Fernando Formigo. He lives in a town of 40,000 people in Patagonia. He runs his studio through the local state-run conservatory, and makes a lot of effort to tap into financial support that the Argentinean government offers for people living in remote regions. He is also a great connector and keeps abreast of all flute-related people and events in the area. In this way, he gives his students access to master classes outside of the Suzuki community, and he has managed to offer two Suzuki workshops in his city. (I’ve given details about his workshops before, but they were very successful with participants from near and far—up to 34 hours away). Of course he also had significant support from the SAA as well—thank you, thank you! He has paved the way for a new violin program to be established in the city. As I was told by a number of people there, to them, the Suzuki method “is” Fernando Formigo! Before him, the method was completely unknown in San Martin de los Andes, and probably the whole region of Argentinean Patagonia. So one person can make it happen… using the pluses and minuses of the situation to best advantage.

That said, the incentives would probably have to be strong to convince a family to move to a remote area, unless both partners would have job prospects. I would think it would be of most interest to young teachers looking for experience and adventure. :)

Kelly

Barb said: Sep 15, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Margot,

How can we get the Suzuki method into the schools? That would REALLY make the Suzuki approach available to the kids in remote areas. And provide more income for a teacher than a fledgling private studio.

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Kathleen Schoen said: Sep 17, 2012
Kathleen SchoenTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Recorder, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Edmonton, AB
25 posts

I taught for 3 years in Lloydminster, Alberta, a town with a population of 27,000 people which is 3 hours from Edmonton and 3 hours from Saskatoon. I am now commuting once a week to teach in Camrose, a town one hour from Edmonton, with a population of 17,000 people. In both places I got into the situation with support from the local community college or university campus, and in both places the support was affected by fluctuations in the college funding. I have also taught in major large population centers: Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton.

I think that one thing that teachers in more isolated areas need is role models for their students. If teachers who have large studios in major centres would take their performing groups on the road to visit and play in some of these places, there would be a greater excitement and demand for Suzuki instruction, and it would become more financially worthwhile for teachers to set up studios in these areas. Many of these communities have had no exposure to high level classical performance on any instrument, and the main issue in parent/family education is teaching that there is violin playing beyond the local fiddling scene, or flute playing beyond the local high school band. They want to know “why should they bother” with music lessons, because they have had no exposure to the potential ability of the students. Think back to how the Suzuki movement got started in North America—it was the tour group that Dr. Suzuki brought from Japan!

We have discussed before how expensive it is for teachers to travel in Canada—touring a student group isn’t any cheaper, especially if you are really traveling to smaller centers. It would be ideal if the SAA could provide some support in two ways:
1) travel assistance for teachers from isolated centres to get training
2) travel assistance for touring student ensembles to isolated centers.

Yes, we can post things to YouTube, but somehow seeing a very young student playing very advanced repertoire doesn’t seem as “real” there as in a live concert.

Ashwin Philip Kashap said: Sep 18, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
2 posts

I have a few students (six) that I teach by distance learning, two by Skype and four on a Lifesize Passport videoconferencing unit. The videoconferencing is better for sure, though it requires a fast up and download speed and static IP address, so those have to be figured into the cost of the lessons. Luckily for the videoconferencing lessons the students have the use of a videoconference unit in their small rural community’s civic centre. It has a pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) camera in their room which I operate by remote control. The unit operates in HD at both ends, so sound and video are very much like live. This took a provincial grant and started as a pilot program. When the granting agency changed its mandate and stopped, the students bought me the videoconference unit and I paid it back in a half year of lessons.

I find such things as the height of the camera and monitor are pretty important. Also the mother in the room does many hands-on things which I ask her to do which facilitates things a lot. A funny thing is that young children sort of don’t realize I’m a human being, they just think I’m a TV. and do funny things in front of the camera as a result. That takes some working around as they are occasionally shocked when the TV addresses them personally and asks them not to dance around, etc.

For both Skype and videoconference lessons I find it’s best for me if I have the same edition of the book the student is playing from. If I want to talk about a fingering or bowing issue, or find a spot in an unmemorized piece or etude quickly, this speeds things up. My distance students fill in their daily practice habits and outcomes at www.onlinepracticerecord.com, and I follow up with online comments about how they used their time, etc, on that same site after they check off “enable teacher comments”, which some are reluctant to do.

The main downside of the lessons is that there is about a 0.5 second delay between us. Perhaps greater bandwidth and faster up and download speeds would eradicate this, but these are cost prohibitive at the moment. Thus to play together takes an immense amount of concentration as the student appears to play consistently just after I do. At their end they think we are together, but I can’t do this nearly as much as I normally would live in the studio.

I hope these things might be of some use to other teachers using or about to teach video lessons.

Philip Kashap
Canada

Rebecca Zimmer-Payne said: Sep 18, 2012
Rebecca Zimmer-Payne
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Guelph, ON
1 posts

Wow, what great information from all posts this dialogue was great information from all of the teachers across Canada. What an excited opportunity to now communicate so easily:)
I have encountered this financial and logistical difficulty of teacher training myself since I am relatively new teacher just three years this fall I have been busy every summer getting at least one or two books certified as fast as I can to keep up with my new teaching studio. I am fortunate enough to be very close to SOSI (Southwestern Suzuki Institute) which makes it easier but I saved up this year and my husband and I went down to Ithaca Suzuki Institute to complete my Book 6 Violin, a goal I have been aiming for since I began teaching. In this short time I have been able to get Book 1-4 the SPA and Book 6 by doing some creative arranging in class location between the RCM in Toronto, SOSI, Ithaca, NY and the Guelph Suzuki String School. Why I mention these various venues is that 4 teachers were able to approach a teacher trainer Elayne Ras and request that she run a Book 4 class which I was able to be a part of earlier than a summer institute so that we could catch up to our students as we are all new teachers. She was generous enough to grant our request and offered it on Sundays so that we did not have to reschedule our studios, yet could attend her students and other teachers at the school for observations which was fantastic to learn from and I am very greatful for this unique and wonderful experience. I too would love to come to some institutes in the other provinces but with teaching during the summer and finances of just starting out it is very hard to do more than one institute a year. I hope that soon we can do more portions online after taking the SPA I found it very helpful and great to have feedback from Teacher trainers and classmates on new techniques and ideas. I hope more scholarships for travelling soon arrive as I will definitely apply for them now that I know it is possible for travel to institutes in the States and hopefully Canada as well.

Wendy said: Sep 21, 2012
Wendy Seravalle-Smith
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Cello, Violin
Thornhill, ON
117 posts

hello all—I am just starting to teach by SKYPE and will update you on my experience as I learn and experience more. As for traveling for teacher training, I never traveled so much as I did for VIOLA training—Oregon, Washington state, Stevens’ Point and not too far to Ithaca. It certainly was worth it and met so many close friends that way but it would have been nice to have had some $ to help looking back. Also going to Japan was worth the $ for how much it changed my life. One could not even put a value on that. I wonder if practicum course components could somehow be done with a trainer via videotaping some sessions and getting feedback and it would also be good preparation for a teacher to do the achievement certificate.

Rie Sasaki said: Sep 24, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Fort St John, BC
2 posts

Hi, I am new in canada, just have moved from Connecticut a year ago. I live in Fort St John, which is high up north in BC. I don’t see any Suzuki teachers around, but I have been introducing Suzuki method in this locally owned music school that I work. Right now, I have maybe 10 students that are taking Suzuki method from me. Most of them are graduates from Kindemusik (which this school teach exclusively) and sort of works well with Suzuki method. I have taken through book 3 but am willing to keep continue taking it through the end… my dream is to be a trainer myself and increase more suzuki teachers around this area… :) Then I really agree the needs of distance learning, and would be so great for mom like me having three kids at home! It is really costly to travel from here to major cities also… And I also agree that it would be so nice if some of suzuki school can bring kids to do some concerts in remote area like mine here. My son is learning suzuki violin but the teacher here is not having proper knowledge about suzuki method. I hope some violin teachers can come and do some workshops also…

Margot Jewell said: Sep 24, 2012
Margot JewellSAA Board
Teacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
148 posts

HI Rie,

It is so good to hear from you and from others who are facing the challenges of teaching in remote communities. You have an inspiring vision of spreading the word about this wonderful way of learning and teaching. Did you read back in this string of posts? There is a message on June 21 from a piano teacher in Vanderhoof and one on June 22 from a piano teacher in Edmonton. These may be your nearest colleagues, and perhaps you can establish some sort of support network there. Maybe you can get over to Edmonton for their fall workshop? Observing other Suzuki teachers work is always an inspiration!

Kathleen Schoen said: Sep 25, 2012
Kathleen SchoenTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Recorder, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Edmonton, AB
25 posts

Hi Rie,

My husband Thomas (violin and viola) and I (flute) have family in Dawson Creek, just an hour south of you. We are there to visit several times a year. If there’s anything we can do to help, please contact us! Thomas helps direct the advanced performance group of the Society for Talent Education in Edmonton. They are trying to get organized to do more touring, so if there is interest in having them come to Ft. St. John, do let him know.

Barb said: Sep 25, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

Hi Rie,
Check your private messages. I’ve named a few violinists in your area who may have teacher connections.

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Rie Sasaki said: Sep 30, 2012
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Fort St John, BC
2 posts

Thank you so much! Feel like I’m not alone anymore.. hahahaha Margot, thank you for the suggestion, yes, for sure they are close to my town. I have heard there is one suzuki piano teacher in Grande prairie (2 hours east) also.

And, Kathleen, it is so nice to know that you come up to Dawson Creek! I think it would be so nice if you guys can come here and bring students. I can also play an accompaniment for concerts too. (I used to accompany all suzuki violin books). Do you also have piano students for touring ? Our school doesn’t have suzuki violin program, but I teach suzuki piano, so it will be direct impact to them if they see. It will take time for violin program to spread in this town, and need more suzuki violin teachers…

If you guys want to do some performance here in the town, i will be happy to accompany also. I did many violin duos and accompany flutes also back in Connecticut. If we have a little orchestra, we can do Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto with you two! :)

Barb said: Oct 5, 2012
Barb Ennis
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
678 posts

So, I’m looking at what Cello book 2 courses are on offer next summer and I see two of the three institutes, in Utah and Montreal, offer back-to-back books 2 and 3 Cello. That’s great as it saves on travel costs in the long run. Someone here mentioned that Edmonton does that, so I looked back at what they offered last summer (no teacher training this coming summer) and I see they did it for some, but not all teacher training courses.

Are we going to see more institutes offering back-to-back consecutive courses, or is it just these few who do that?

I really would rather take my training closer to home (BC) than Utah or Montreal (or Michigan). Nice to get two for one trip, but airfare is still going to be somewhere between $500 —$700—and the one with lower airfare has a higher cost for lodging, and for either I would also need to also rent a cello—so I’m still not sure if I can justify the cost this year. Is there any way to know what different (closer) institutes will be offering in 2014? How far in advance do they plan? Since Edmonton and Walla Walla WA offered Cello 2 last summer will it be a long time before I see it there again? Will Langley, BC ever offer cello teacher training? I want a crystal ball! :-)

Barb
Music Teachers Helper—for individual teachers
Studio Helper—for entire music studios or schools

Diane Briscoe said: Oct 12, 2012
Diane BriscoePiano
Gatineau, QC
38 posts

I am a faculty member of the SuzukiPiano Association of Ottawa\Gatineau. We are seeing a decline in younger Suzuki piano teachers in our area. Institutes have been closing down the last few years; Suzuki training is expensive, far away, and a big time commitment for many young people just finishing an education and already laden-down with debt. And I’m sure we’ve all noticed that at institutes and workshops many of the younger teachers are absent—probably in part because of home responsibilities and young families.

I think online training is the way to go, or the number of Suzuki teachers, at least piano teachers in my area, will continue to dwindle. Other programmes, such as preschool music programmes, offer online training so it can be done. The SAA’s Parents as Partners online conference was great.

Diane Briscoe

Kelly Williamson said: Oct 12, 2012
Kelly WilliamsonTeacher Trainer Flute, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Cambridge, ON
262 posts

Hi Diane,

I appreciate what you are saying. I’d be interested to know what the statistics are with respect to the ages of teacher workshop participants across all of the instruments, and divided by instrument. My experience this summer was different than you describe. I taught two book 1 courses at institutes, one in Canada and one in the States, with five total participants. All were under the age of thirty. (One had just completed a DMA, one is in the middle of a master’s degree, one had completed a bachelor’s degree and another is in the middle of hers… and the fifth was just barely eighteen!) We also had an auditor who was repeating book 1 in one of the classes—she is in her early thirties.

In fact, I am forgetting one other person who just finished book 1 with me at my home studio a few weeks ago—she is also a young professional under the age of thirty. Without having hard numbers, I’d venture to say that we are not seeing an absence of young teachers starting training in flute. (If numbers are down over all age groups, that’s another question.) For one of the other book 1 courses at an institute I attended this summer, there were six participants ranging in age from mid-twenties to mid-fifties. A good and desirable range, and definitely no absence of younger teachers.

To speak to your other point, about distance learning, my opinion is that it is good to use it where appropriate, but ideally we really need to have face to face contact, especially for teachers who are just starting their training. Part of my reasoning is from the perspective of the trainer—to get to know the person we are working with, and for them to get to know us. Another part is the class dynamic, which you just don’t get when you are not in the same room together. I noticed the difference when working with the person who studied with me last month. We did part of her training via Skype because of necessity: we were nine hours into her training when my dad had a sudden heart attack and I had to go out of town for two weeks. It was great to be able to continue her course—partly with the help of local colleagues for lesson observations and a few training hours, and partly via Skype with me. In addition to being able to stay on target for her course completion, of course she appreciated not having to commute an hour each way to my house every day! I was very comfortable using Skype to complete her course requirements. However, I would not have wanted to teach the course entirely at a distance. Though you can cope with the situation for demonstrations (of hand and body positions, tonalization exercises, etc), we couldn’t really play together. Even if you have only one participant in the class, you want to be able to play together. I think there is no replacement for face-to-face communication.

For follow-up and on-going mentoring it’s perfect. To institute on-line training as the way all of our Suzuki courses are offered? I’m not convinced that it is really necessary, except in cases of extreme geographic challenge or other exceptional reasons.

Kelly

Diane Briscoe said: Oct 15, 2012
Diane BriscoePiano
Gatineau, QC
38 posts

Kelly—thanks for your comments. What about the Every Child Can course being offered online? What about a combo of hands-on and online courses for teacher training? I.e. Bk 1 hands-on, then Bk 2 offered online as well in-class? I just wonder if instead of x number of teachers taking training in a class, there were be double that number if online training were available(?) I agree -hands-on is great—but I really do think there is room to include online training in some capacity.

Swan said: Oct 16, 2012
Swan Kiezebrink
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
5 posts

Hello Rie,

I am very happy to see another northerner! I lived in Ft St John in the 90’s, so I appreciate your being isolated up there- but you are close to Grande Prairie, which is great. Vanderhoof is about 6-7 hours south-west of you, west of Prince George. There is another Suzuki Piano teacher in Smithers, 3 hours west of me yet towards the coast. We alternate each summer with bringing a teacher-trainer up from the US to spend a few days with us up here ( I grew up and taught piano in Smithers). Vanderhoof is hosting this year; I would love to invite you to come down with your students! That would be wonderful! If you would like more information, message me- I’ll try to remember to check in once in a while to see if you’re there. I’m hoping, hoping, that Edmonton can send us a few of their pianists to inspire us!:) If not this year, maybe another….

Margot Jewell said: Oct 17, 2012
Margot JewellSAA Board
Teacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
148 posts

I am thrilled to see that the northern teachers are connecting! We are so blessed that building community is a major objective of the SAA, and it is exciting to see it happening here in Canada, especially today which is Dr Suzuki’s birthday! If you don’t hear back from soemone in this discussion forum, you may want to send a private email. You can get email addresses from the SAA teacher directory that members can access online.

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