Urban Strings Program

Caitlin said: Aug 15, 2013
Caitlin Leffingwell
Suzuki Association Member
3 posts

Hello all!

I have been teaching violin for an after-school program in Hartford, CT for almost 2 years now, and one of my greatest desires is to see a full-day strings program there.

However, because this path was wholly unexpected (though very happily welcomed), my undergraduate degree is in Urban and Community Studies—not music—and I’ve found very few options for developing my qualifications without re-doing that step (which isn’t currently possible). I have a good deal of experience (particularly with the urban piece) and a strong musical background through my high school’s exceptional strings program, and if possible I would like to use further education to specialize in strings.

As such, has anyone else had a similar experience entering the music (specifically STRINGS) education field without a traditional starting degree? What educational experience have you found most helpful/necessary in starting your own strings programs/studios? I would be very grateful for honest input, suggestions, and even stories of how it has been done. Thank you!


Rose Lander said: Aug 16, 2013
Suzuki Association Member
55 posts

dear caitlin,
i think the most helpful course of action you should take is to begin accreditation of the suzkuki books by taking the requisite courses sponsored by SAA/ i do not think the academic degrees in music would be that helpful. the most outstanding teacher in the usa is ronda cole. check her out. she completely changed my approach to teaching children. there is no one on the scene that approaches her unique knowledge and ability to communicate.

good luck!
rose lander

Alissa said: Aug 16, 2013
Alissa Rieb
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
61 posts

I would speak with the college of education at your state’s university and
community college. Also look up “alternative licensure” for your state on
the Internet.

My bachelors was not in education, but I was offered a position that needed
a state license. In NM, there is OPAL for those who already have a
bachelors AND are considered a necessary teacher for a position. That
meant that it was unlikely someone else could be found for this school.
This granted me a temp license while I completed tests and a portfolio of
my teaching. I only had to take one summer school education class and had
three years to do the tests and portfolio.

There also are programs here through the university specifically designed
for working professionals to get an education degree.

I have now been a licensed teacher for 6 years.

Get advice from your school too. Maybe, they could hire you as a long term
substitute as you go through the steps for your state. You are likely
going to need their help along this road.

Good luck!

Clara Hardie said: Aug 17, 2013
Clara Hardie
Suzuki Association Member
Detroit, MI
21 posts

I agree with Rose. I wasn’t a music major but I have Books 1-6 Suzuki teacher training done and now my main source of income is teaching violin. I’m teaching private lessons and a program for youth from a soup kitchen in my city called Detroit Youth Volume.

My major was Social Science Theory in college. That has helped me understand issues of oppression in the communities where I teach in Detroit and how to make Suzuki violin truly accessible for very low-income families.

My co-teacher and I also just got trained in Music Together so we have a new method for sharing music with little ones 0-5. I wanted to do the Suzuki Baby Training but it was very expensive and a longer training.

If you get an Education degree, there are many 2-year expedited programs, you will have to have a boss but you will also maybe get healthcare…

Caitlin said: Aug 27, 2013
Caitlin Leffingwell
Suzuki Association Member
3 posts

Thank you all for your advice—I greatly appreciate it. I’ve completed the ECC and Book 1 classes, and will be completing both a SPA and Book 2 class in the next few months. It really does seem like Suzuki training makes the most sense right now.

Just in case this info could benefit anyone… Connecticut has an Alternate Route to Certification Program (ARC) that—unlike the undergrad degree required by most music masters programs—requires only 30 credits of previous music education. I’m currently looking into ways of acquiring those credits, but it seems most likely that I’ll go through Berklee Online classes, which offer “Certificates” in various areas and can be taken completely online. I still have more research to do, but in some ways it’s a matter of contacting the right people and seeing what falls into place.

I appreciate hearing from fellow teachers who have taken less traditional routes to music education!

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