Letter of Introduction for Student

Mikaela said: Sep 28, 2012
Mikaela CashViolin, Viola
28 posts

I have a family who is moving out of the area, but lucky enough to be moving into an area with many Suzuki teachers. I have compiled a list of recommended teachers for them, and the mom requested that I also write a letter of introduction for them to give to their new teacher. This idea had never occurred to me before, but I love the concept, because it will allow their new teacher to understand the musical background of these students.

Have any of you written or received such a letter? If so, I’d love to read it or a summary of its contents.

And, what information would you as a Suzuki teacher receiving a transfer Suzuki student find valuable in such a letter?

Thanks all!

Colleen Lively said: Sep 30, 2012
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
8 posts

I have used an “evaluation” paper in the past for students who are moving. Unfortunately, I don’t have it currently as it was lost in a computer glitch and my own recent move. But the “evaluation paper” listed basics such as: child’s name, how long they have been taking lessons with me, previous teachers and amount of time with them, note-reading capability (whether or not they are in school orchestra) and books used, current Suzuki piece, most polished piece, additional method/theory books used, scales, pros and cons of student. In other words: “Suzy” has good use of full bows, but is hesitant to play much at the frog, she has good shifting to 3rd position but needs to work on 2nd position. She likes variety so I encourage her to practice in a different room each day. Her mother is a very faithful parent and will ask questions if she does not understand the assignment.

I hope this helps. In my 27 years of teaching in 5 different states I have always struggled with “transfer students” which takes me at least a month of lessons to figure out things like: should the student really be on Lully Gavotte or should I backtrack and review concepts in Bourree? (Yes, a recent example of a transfer student who had skipped from Hunter’s Chorus to Lully Gavotte), and what scales can the student play, how is intonation, etc. I have been fortunate in my last 2 moves to be able to call or e-mail previous teachers to clarify a student’s struggles.


Paula Bird said: Sep 30, 2012
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

I think it would be easier to tell your student to have the new teacher contact you, or for you to contact those teachers that your student thinks they might like to contact. I know in the past that I have been contacted through the Suzuki teacher “network” through the pipeline of teachers that know me and what I do. Then I might have a personal contact with the teacher before meeting the student.

The reason I suggest this is that I might receive more helpful information from the teacher privately than I would in a letter of introduction. Although I am always truthful in my comments, there are still additional comments that might need to be made to the new teacher to help him or her understand what the student issues might be. The student and the parent might not be encouraged by my additional comments, and they would not necessarily need to know about these comments. Although my student and the parent might be fully aware of the issues we work on, I can still offer more complete information to the new teacher if done privately.

I’m sure other teachers out there understand exactly what I mean. It helps me to understand student and parent personalities, work ethics, quirks, and whatnot. It saves me time to know this up front, and I would not be getting this insider info through a letter of introduction that the parent and student would be able to open and read.

So my advice is to contact the new teacher or potential new teacher. Better yet, maybe you can contact some Suzuki teachers you know well and ask for their recommendations.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

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