Getting parent activity in your local S. Association

Cynthia Faisst said: Jun 28, 2004
Cynthia Faisst
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
126 posts

I was talking to teachers both local and clinicians at one of the last Suzuki Events I attended and asked them how they were getting their parents active in their local Suzuki Associations.

The teacher trainers that I spoke to indicated that they had very week or non existant associations in their region. I also appreciate that these are still very new organizations in the life of the Suzuki Movement in America.

How ever I do know that there are some stronger and old ones out there. Could any of you tell us when you have your meetings and how you invite parents to participate. How much of a leadership roll do parents play in your association and what tasks do they usually perform.

i.e. would you be able to get parents to your meeting if you held them on a week day morning when most teachers are not teaching after school? How do you manage this scheduling problem between parents and teachers?

I would really like to hear from Suzuki members from all over the country.

Ms. Cynthia
Studio:
Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin
Director of Santa Ana Suzuki Strings located at the
Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center
Volunteer, bring music to under-served communities around the world. Create Sound Investments and Futures.

Ghost People said: Jun 28, 2004
 93 posts

It would be lovely to have more parent participation in something like a regional association. However, families are SO busy, and, frankly, overcommitted. (I often lament how over-booked and pushed my students are, and wouldn’t it be nice if they really had time for their music. The reality is, though, without these kinds of students, most of our studios would be considerably smaller.)
My point is, I would rather my families took what little time they have and practice.
I also had a friend point out once that it can get really out of hand the number of groups we are to belong to….In the Suzuki world, for example, there is SAA, then regional organizations, then maybe local (city), then individual studios…she made the comment that the next thing you know, there will be a Suzuki organization for each city block! (And they all collect dues :confused: )
Anyway, I know these can be very good things in some instances, but I think we as teachers need to be very careful what we expect of our families.
This is not to say that there is the occasional parent who has the time-resources to do a lot; we just have to be realistic on the percentage of parents who can.

Cynthia Faisst said: Jun 28, 2004
Cynthia Faisst
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
126 posts

In the affluent community where I teach, parents have a lot of talent and resources. Yes they are busy. This is the type A personality capital of the western world.

They managed to rasie enough money to keep an award winning music progam in their school system.

We do have many non-profit organizations in O.C. often run by people who happen to be parents. These organizations manage to raise thousands of dollars for their causes. I am sure some of their members might be Suzuki parents.

How do we attract that kind of commitment to a Suzuki Music program or Association?

Parents, its your turn. Any ideas. Comments. Suggestions.

Ms. Cynthia
Studio:
Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin
Director of Santa Ana Suzuki Strings located at the
Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center
Volunteer, bring music to under-served communities around the world. Create Sound Investments and Futures.

Ghost People said: Jun 28, 2004
 93 posts

For those of us who live in an area with a nonexistent association, and have no idea what this is all about:
What are the benefits of an association? Why do you need an association? What do you do? What is it for? How much time do you spend on it? Does it really help matters? Thanks for your input.

Ghost People said: Jun 30, 2004
 93 posts

Our Suzuki Board

consists of 11 parents and 7 teachers (we are looking to add another teacher in the near future). Our program has

about 130 children registered from age 3 to 16 years old. The city we live in has only about 200,000 people but

we are fortunate enough to enjoy a vibrant arts community.

We meet once a month with the teachers and

occasionally on our own as a parent board. We are responsible for all the inner working of the Suzuki program…

the concerts, group lesson, orchestra concerts, publicity, registration, promotion, fundraising, accounting,

parties, and general info that people need. I can’t imagine how the teachers would run the program without

volunteer parents. I think they would burn out very quickly.

To keep this short I would have to say that I

think the “bar” is set by the Registrar in each program. If parents know of the commitment involved and expected

then they will be less likely to balk at the private or group teacher. Once the parents are used to helping out

at events and weekly group lessons, they are more likely to become friendly with the various parent board members

and then we recruit them!
We offer a “lifetime” discount on registration to parents who commit 2 years on the

board. I think this helps a little bit. It is not a draw, but more of a thank you in the years following their

assistance.

Hope this helps give you some insight on a program running in a Canadian

city.

Cheers!

Ghost People said: Jun 30, 2004
 93 posts

20 years ago, our area had a

wonderful association (primarily parents, with teach input). It’s primary purpose was to organize and put on

weekend workshops for it’s members. The workshops were often very good, and generally worked very well, until

some teachers began taking control of the group, and turned it into a profit center/power grab/recruitment tool

for their own studios. Association eventually disbanded, leaving a very bad taste in everyones mouth. There are

still splinter groups in the area trying to reorganize, but not being very successfull. I am afraid that many of

the same problems resurface.

My city remains nameless.

Ghost People said: Jun 30, 2004
 93 posts

There is obviously a lot of anger still being

held, which I’m very sorry to hear about.
Your post, however, struck a chord with me: I am a teacher who once

worked under a parent association. They insisted on maintaining complete control, and honestly had no expertise

in the fields of teaching, fundraising, and Suzuki philosophy. Teachers had to beg for a living wage, which we

never really got. (Their attitudes made it very clear that we were not considered to be working a full time job,

or that we were even professionals.) Many of their decisions could be directly traced to what would benefit their

personal child.
All that being said, when I read your post, I could easily see it being written by these said

parents.
There are two sides to every story.
If there is a different view, I would be more inclined to

respect the professionals.
Being a parent and being impartial is very difficult. I would not want to have

complete power over any of my children’s teachers, as I know I would have a difficult time seeing the good of the

whole, and would be most tempted to have situations ideally suited for my own child’s particular circumstance.

(I am not a pushy parent; I am referring to every mother’s innate protective instincts.)

Ghost People said: Jun 30, 2004
 93 posts

The Association in my area has been running fairly

successfully for over 20 years. The teachers in the Association all run independent studios, but all our families

are required to members in order to particiapte in extra-studio events. The work of the Association is fairly

simple. It is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, that sponsors an annual summer Institute, provides scholarships

to students and to teachers, both to established Suzuki teachers, and to teachers in the area interested in Suzuki

training. The Association also sponsors musical events, parent workshops, and maintains a commercial liabiliy

policy that gives either individual teachers or larger groups access to venues for our activities that require

proof of insurance. The events and workshops are all teacher initiated and organized, but parents do get involved

in making the event happen. The Board its’ self mostly provides fiduciary oversight, and assures that the

resources of the organization are being used in a manner consistant with our mission.

Ghost People said: Jul 1, 2004
 93 posts

Anonymous

All that being said,

when I read your post, I could easily see it being written by these said parents.
There are two sides to every

story.

Actually, I WAS writing from both sides. I am a parent of multiple suzuki

children (I won’t specify so that events and persons will remain unidentified) and my wife is a long time

teacher. It really is too bad…our community had both a wonderful resource and a focused organization whose

mission was simply service to the area students. I also took Book 1 teacher training years ago, and was able to

relate our then wonderful local association to the other trainees.

I agree that teacher input is often very

necessary to keep the focus of the organization, but please also recognize that checks and balances must be in

place to prevent abuse.

Ghost People said: Jul 1, 2004
 93 posts

I’m afraid I must disagree on the “checks and

balances must be in place.” That is the line (stated/implied) used by parents in my situation. (By the way, I

too am a Suzuki parent.) As I tried to point, checks and balances are inherent in the music teaching business.

If I am doing things that my parents really don’t like, they walk. Simple. What I do is not a matter of

survival for people. (Please keep any debates about the necessity of music, I am well aware :D I hope you catch

my meaning!)
I am very much aware of this in my studio, and do my best to keep all policies and such fair and

equitable. I think this fact is the “checks and balances” in all studios.

I guess I find it extremely hard

to believe that there really was a whole troop of corrupt (my word, yes, but that is what it sounded like in your

post—”profit center/power grab”) of teachers out there!

I am really wondering in your personal situation

if Suzuki teaching income has every been the backbone of your family’s finances? Having a spouse who teaches,

while you are actually the primary breadwinner, does not necessarily give you a good understanding of the

financial situation. I, too, know a number of good teachers who see their jobs as “pin money” for the family,

and, meaning well, grossly undercharge for their services.

Consequently, I really have to question if you

are truly representing both sides.

The parents in my former group I am sure felt they were being a good

checks and balances also. As an impartial person, however, I could easily see where many of their rules directly

benefited their own child personally.

I must repeat, I do not think these parents (most, anyway…) were

“bad” people. How many parents, when seeing that just the tiniest bend of a rule, will make their children really

happy or whatever, aren’t at least tempted to bend that rule? ;-)

said: Jul 1, 2004
 122 posts

These points bring up the question of what the

parent organizations are for. I don’t think that parents should have the final say in the artisitic development

of a program, institute, or workshop-that’s the TEACHER’S expertise. However, they can be invaluable in

fundraising and the nuts and bolts aspect of running these events.

I have also seen ego driven Suzuki

teachers out there that say bad things about a student’s teacher to the parent and child, which I think is an

unprofessional way of doing things. Just because a person is paid does not meen they behave professionally.

“When love is deep, much can be accomplished.”
-Shinichi Suzuki

Ghost People said: Jul 2, 2004
 93 posts

[box]Anonymous

I guess I find it

extremely hard to believe that there really was a whole troop of corrupt (my word, yes, but that is what it

sounded like in your post—”profit center/power grab”) of teachers out there!

I am really wondering in your

personal situation if Suzuki teaching income has every been the backbone of your family’s finances? Having a

spouse who teaches, while you are actually the primary breadwinner, does not necessarily give you a good

understanding of the financial situation.

Consequently, I really have to question if you are truly

representing both sides.

quote]

I never said there was a “whole troop of corrupt teachers,” so

please do not put words into my mouth, and I have no idea why you are questioning my representing “both sides,” or

whether our teaching income is important to our family finances (incidentally, it is, along with all the other

gigs my wife and I play). I am simply reporting what occured in our city with our Suzuki Association. It was

obviously not a good situation. The Association (not the teachers personally) had a huge cash surplus, and instead

of rolling those funds into scholarships for workshops, scholarships for lessons, scholarships to institutes, or

the purchase of instruments for needy families, their concern was to simply grow the associations coffers ($15K+),

and to rule over those funds. That also lead to other “power” issues that eventually contributed to the

Association’s collapse.

I suggest that a better direction for this thread would be to return to the

original intent—to find out options and opportunities for starting a Local Association. I hope that members of

strong associations (that ARE operating as a support mechanism for the goals of Suzuki enrichment in their

communities) simply post some operational guidelines for their own organization—guidelines or bylaws that they

feel have made a difference in the way their group functions. Local parent associations can be an incredible

asset to a group of students, a city, and even the overall music education system. Those same parents also need

teachers input to help keep them on track (even the best of intentioned parents groups can get sidetracked with

unimportant issues). Rather than defending an unspecified association that had its problems and has since

collapsed (I don’t know if you are in my town, or just recognize some similarities with your own), I think we

need to focus on what can be brought in on the organizational level to insure a solid footing for the group. After

all, what we are doing is for the kids—not for our own stature by controlling a huge war chest of funds that

exists for its own benefit and glory.

I will start the ball rolling with this obvious suggestion from our

own experience: any association should have in its bylaws a statement regarding operating funds. When a cash

cushion for operating expenses is established for the group (and all groups need one, to cover everything from

incidental mailing costs throughout the year, to having some cash available for a shortfall at a workshop that

wasn’t attended as well as projected), anything over X$’s should automatically be rolled back into student

scholarships for local workshops, scholarships to students to attend summer institutes, and even instrument loan

programs for needy families (how many cities have an after-school string program at a needy school that couldn’t

benefit from instruments being donated). Association funds should NOT be made available for student scholarships

to study with local teachers—no local teacher should be in the position to benefit financially from the funds of

the local association for their own studio.

Next?

Ghost People said: Jul 2, 2004
 93 posts

The only reason I chose the phrase “whole troop”

was I couldn’t conceive of just one or two teachers being able to destroy an entire association. I most

certainly can be mistaken, though, so please accept my apologies.

I highly doubt we are referring to the

same association, by the way, as the one I formerly belonged to continues to limp along, although they lose

teachers on a regular basis.

I totally agree that there should be something in writing indicating what an

association is to do when a certain amount of funds is reached in their bank account, and many of your suggestions

sound wonderful. However, I am assuming that a bad experience is what is making you be emphatic about not

allowing the funds to be used for scholarships for private study. I think that is a very worthwhile use of them;

all the workshops and institutes, etc are not going to help a needy child at all if at first they cannot have

lessons. I guess I don’t see how that could be construed as financially benefitting an individual teacher.

Wouldn’t it be just the same as if they had a non-scholarshipped student? They teach so many hours, they get

paid, but in this instance the check is cut from the association and not the actual family.
I don’t want to

make you uncomfortable, and give out information that might be a little too revealing, but is there something that

happened in your situation that was beyond that? Again, I think scholarships for private study should be made

available; so what do you think allowed the situation to be abused in your association? Maybe there is a certain

phrase or something that should be written up in association guidelines that would have prevented

it….

Again, my apologies for any misinterpretation. It really does go to show how one’s personal

experience can affect how one sees something!

Ghost People said: Jul 2, 2004
 93 posts

No offense taken. I agree that using Association

funds to scholarship local needy students to study would be terribly benefical, but I think it opens up a

opportunity for abuse. I don’t have any experience with this scenerio, but my management business dealings for

many years suggests a separation needs to be present (if you are familar with the “corporate veil” that can’t be

broached in corporations)…who will be deciding which teacher gets the scholarship student and their associated

funding? A committee, an individual… And then you may encounter only certain teachers being considered for the

list, or a certain teacher may get an unusually high percantage of students (and the Association’s $). It just

seems to me that teachers would be best served if they kept an arms distance from this. An option to this would be

to use seed money to recruit a new teacher (and perhaps pay for their initial institute training) for an after

school program at a local school which doesn’t have a string program. One years funding could get the program on

its feet.

Ghost People said: Jul 3, 2004
 93 posts

The parents association I belong to works on

fundraising to help those who can’t afford lessons otherwise or can’t afford instruments and to help new

families and existing ones with ideas on problems music related, education related, and growing pains, find that

they are not the only ones going through a particular situation and to share ideas. We do not have the expertise

to set up recitals ( though we help with set up and food) and we certainly do not tell the teachers how to teach—

that is what we are coming to the teachers for. There is no hostility that I am aware of and several teachers,

who have children of there own in other teachers studios belong to the parents association and are welcomed as

parents. We do not set rules of how many meetings one has to attend but usually make them a pot luck social event

and have high attendance. Making something fun to come to , even for adults, aids greatly in getting people to

come out. Older kids babysit and sometimes do violin games.

Ghost People said: Jul 3, 2004
 93 posts

“I agree that using Association funds to

scholarship local needy students to study would be terribly benefical, but I think it opens up a opportunity for

abuse. I don’t have any experience with this scenerio, but my management business dealings for many years

suggests a separation needs to be present (if you are familar with the “corporate veil” that can’t be broached in

corporations)…who will be deciding which teacher gets the scholarship student and their associated funding?

I continue to be intrigued over what happened in your association that you think this kind of abuse would

be unavoidable :confused:
First off, it sounds like there is a shortage of students in your area, if teachers were (or

you think would be) filling up on scholarship students. That is so seldom the case, especially I would think in a

place that you describe as having had a long-running association.
Anyway, to answer who decides: I would think

it would not be that difficult. If there are multiple teachers with space in their studios, I would think a

simple rotation system would work. Teacher A gets one, then Teacher B, on down the road until it comes back to A.

(Problem deciding the order? Good old-fashioned draw straws or whatever.)
Honestly, I find the hardest

decision in this kind of process is deciding who gets the scholarship in the first place!

Cynthia Faisst said: Jul 4, 2004
Cynthia Faisst
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
126 posts

Wow!!

I really openned up a can of worms didn’t I. My appologies to the National Office if this made you all nervous.

In the mean time I hope the brave openness was instructive and infused some insight.

I learned

that being a teacher and a parent at the same time clearly increases the amount of passion you feel about your

local Suzuki Association. If I should ever become a parent as a teacher I see the need to have a code of ethics

in place. Strattling both teaching and parenting really demands a great deal of your objectivity. I would

really feel stretched to my limits if I had to wear both of those hats.

However, I have also known some of

those Teacher/Parents and they can be great fun to have in your association and be some of the most committed

people in the Suzuki Movement at the national level.

Teachers vs Parents

While you have brought up some problems that can occurr between the goals of parents and teachers I hope

we can keep looking for ways we can survive those conflicts and get beyond them . Perhaps it would be

instructive for new associations to read about these situations in another post. Best yet share your

convictions with the National Office or a national board member. Our national Association has the

responsibility of nurturing our associations and providing them with the resourses they may need. I would be

happy as a local teacher if we could provide them with the information that they need to know how to be more

useful.

One thing that any Suzuki Association needs is to develop the leadership skills of the parents and

teachers that server their local regions and communities. In O.C. we also have a local non-profit center that

helps non-profits become more succuessful and run more ethically and effectively. Are there any associations

who have taken advantage of these kinds of resources?

The needs of more rural communities might be

different than growing urban communities. Even though I am in one of those more urban communities I can still

learn from what you are doing.

As more and more people pour into our rather urban county there is a

increase in the diversity of parents and teachers. Sometimes it is the density of the population and new roads

that seem to be pulling us apart into smaller groups. How can we survive that process and what are new ways

larger Suzuki Communitties can stay in touch but also form and retain the intimacy of the smaller groups with out

loosing the resources we had before?

I also am in a region where one instrumental community seems to have

different needs an goals than another instrumental community. How can we create and keep these bridges open and

still respect each others interest?
What are ways we can smooth the shared American experience of being multi-

cultural and including families from a variety of ecconomic experience?

To have a healthy Suzuki Community

the teachers will always be out numbered by the parents. We are very much at the mercy of parents

organizationally. Attracting good teachers to your communitty and keeping them there means supporting their

needs and effectiveness as teachers so they do not experience burn out.

How can we attract parents into our

programs who can contribute to the Suzuki Philosophy in its most ideal sense? Teachers! If we are going to

find these parents we also have to nurture them and make their efforts as volunteers appreciated. I know this is

not easy if you have limited resources as teachers. IF you have separate committees for Parents and Teachers

how do your keep them in effective communication with each other?

I often wish SAA provided a guide

book for this purpose to new teachers who are out there in new places with out a supporting

association.

Inviting parents to a pot luck so they can get to know each other is a great idea.

Providing them with the childcare can be very problematic especially when you have quite a few toddlers. Any

other ideas on this.

Ms. Cynthia
Studio:
Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin
Director of Santa Ana Suzuki Strings located at the
Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center
Volunteer, bring music to under-served communities around the world. Create Sound Investments and Futures.

Ghost People said: Jul 5, 2004
 93 posts

Regarding scholarships for private study: I think

they are a good idea and I also agree that there is potential for abuse. Would it not make sense to focus the

scholarship money on families who started in lessons already but have fallen into hard times?

Sometimes a

serious illness or death in the family or other circumstance leaves a teacher in a position of either (a) loosing

income, or (b) having to let the child go in order to make room for someone who can pay.

Children in these

situations need to have their lives as normal as possible. They are already experiencing loss. I don’t think it

would be greedy of the teacher to help the parent apply for help in a situation like this, if that help is

available. The teacher will not be left saying “Yahoo..Now I am making all of this money out of the

association!!”

I also think that a committee on the association could be competent to review the evidence

and determine if the need is genuine.

Cynthia Faisst said: Jul 5, 2004
Cynthia Faisst
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
126 posts

I can see

that issues about how you fund things and what you fund can create a real contentious debate among Association

members.

Look what a problem it is for some of our corporations. I am sure our local non-profit center

would have some guidelines and suggestions about this in terms of legallity and ethics. When ever I read grants

in reguard to funding arts projects they use quite a bit of language to describe what type of restrictions must be

applied to those funds; In order to keep them out of litigation later.

I hope someone on the SAA National

Board has seen this post. They may be well aware of some of the local association issues and

conflicts.

It would be wise to provide some guidelines for local associations to consider when ever

handling funds. Being treasurer and directors of association policy requires a bit more knowledge now days than

it has in the past reguardless of the size of the organization or the amount of funds they are working

with.

If I were a treasurer or Chairperson of a Non-profit organization today I would want to have a

userfriendly Guide or financial tool that would help me know of and watch for some of the pitfalls I would want to

prevent or need to seek assistance with from my national association. I am sure that one thing that has made

this more complex is that laws and regulatinos regarding non-profits vary from State to State. Welcome to

Federalism.

If I were volunteering on the board for a growing association that was creating new

projects every year l would want to have an appropriate non-profit consultant or better yet a lawyer on staff or

working probono that I could check in with on occasion.

I know of one state association who had to pay back

taxes on all the teachers that they employed for workshops and institutes.

Additionally it would be good to

know what is standard practice among non-profits when providing scholarships. Its very important that these kind

of awards are done in a way that can be respected by all of the participants. Some times it is really important

to see that they are set up to be judged or determed by a remote committee that everyone perceives as objective.

You also have to write the requirments for a scholarship or grant with care and have it looked over by impartial

consultants outside of the group. This is when the insites of a national committee or even another related

educational non-profit may be helpful.

As a multi-national organization we have resources in terms of

people and talent that we do not often take advantage of. Now that we have on line access with one another

distance should no longer be an excuse not to get advice.

The teachers trainers are starting an online

community, perhaps the directors and board members of Suzuki Associations should have a place where they can meet

and exchange information.

I am a member of 3 different Suzuki Associations in my region. Two of them

are dominated by the piano teachers. As a string teacher I am a minority member. I have limited influence on

their activities. In the third association I also belong to a remote Chapter of string teachers who meet less

frequently and do fewer activities. This year was the first year that the Piano teachers agreed that they

should bring a string clinician to their summer session. I would have liked to have had that support sooner but

there will always be these imbalances of influence and funding.

How is your association meeting the needs

of every Suzuki Family fairly and impartially with the resources you have? Especially in multi instrument

associations?

Ms. Cynthia
Studio:
Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin
Director of Santa Ana Suzuki Strings located at the
Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center
Volunteer, bring music to under-served communities around the world. Create Sound Investments and Futures.

Ghost People said: Jul 7, 2004
 93 posts

In regards to abuse of the scholarship students

money. it is already aet up in our school laws that scholarship students are given to teachers trainees for the

first two years. If that student shows exceptional dedication to the instrument and is still in financial need

then scholarship money cintinues and they either stay with that teacher if the teacher becomes part of the school

or move on to another teacher at the school if their trainee teacher has moved on. A review of tax records,

showing financial need is required. all of this is spelled out to all parents before they join the school

regardless of income. Those who can afford to and wish to contribute to the scholarship fund do (any donation is

acceptable) and the scholarship student is not treated differently or is even known to the rest of the student

body (new students often start with teacher trainees and move on to more advanced teachers later). We are

greatful for the fine education in both music and in learning and concentration skills that our school affords our

children and for those who can, it is nice to share that opportunity with others. We are in a very large city

with all income levels and backgrounds, there is definitely NO shortage of students (if parents come to the

interview and are not willing to follow the guidelines as written they are turned away). What works for us is

that EVERYTHING is spelled out in advance, both the teachers and the parent/student guidelines and

responsibilities. They are agreed to in the beginning and there are NO exceptions and there is very little

contention because of it. So much of what I read here is that things are left ambiguous and rules are bent. When

that happens animosity and misunderstandings follow.

Cynthia Faisst said: Jul 9, 2004
Cynthia Faisst
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
126 posts

IF you are running an

institution or an educational business much of your operations require bylaws and documentation of your practices.

Especially inregards to managing funds. I think your right the more detail you can put into your manual of

practice the more clarity you have. It also means you have really done your work as an organization and thought

through how you are going to carry out your organizational mission.

But I also think that you need

consensus between both Parents and Teachers about the goals of an association. If you do not have trust and

consensus you can end up with a situation where only a few people are doing all the work or participating in the

activities.

If teachers do not include parents in the scheduling of meetings, planning of activities,

development of programs, etc. teachers could find themselves doing all the work and burning out. If parents

do not include teachers in planning and developement of ass. programs and activities they may have difficulty

attracting quality, well trained teachers to participate in their association. I think we are looking at a

trend in educational practice that more and more communities are recognizing as worth pursuing. Where can we

look to find other educational methods where parents and teachers are asked to work together to the extent that we

do in the Suzuki Method?

When we communicate our needs as teachers or the influence parents can have

clearly they rise to the occasion. We have had situations in our association where even teachers were not sure

they wanted to volunteer becuase they were not sure what they were getting themselves into. Some of the

teachers where doing all the jobs but not training others or documenting the tasks neccesarry to carry out those

roles in the organization. (As Suzuki Teachers we should be good at task analysis.) If parents volunteer they

also want to know what is required of a particular role.

One year I realized I was doing everything for my

recitals except the reception table. It was not humanly possible to get everything done. I made myself right

down everything that I needed to do to put on a recital and discovered that there were many things that parents

could do that did not require musical expertise. In an ideal situation I would have them meet as a committee

and plan how they wanted a recital to be held, scheduled etc.

My only frustration is that they have

not agreed on the same night to meet. They are also scattered all over the county in a dense urban traffic

bound environment. I am even looking for a affordable intranet solution that would allow them to meet on line

when they can not get to gether physically Does anyone have any suggestions on this?

How many Suzuki

Communittees have managed to form at least some kind of PTA within their studio or program. How have you given

parents insentive to get together? How often do you actually meet?

Ms. Cynthia
Studio:
Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin
Director of Santa Ana Suzuki Strings located at the
Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center
Volunteer, bring music to under-served communities around the world. Create Sound Investments and Futures.

said: Jul 11, 2004
 1 posts

We tried a few years ago to

start a parents organization. I can only say. Have a clear plan before you proceed. Know exactly what

responsibilities you want the parents to take on and how much control you want to hand over to them.

celia in tennessee

When love is great, much can be accomplished.

Ghost People said: Jul 11, 2004
 93 posts

I used to work in a program where the parents had

way too much control over the artistic development and the money. The also had a huge say in hiring new teachers.

Parents aren’t trained Suzuki teachers-a lot of the time they want some with a great personality but aren’t

necessarily looking at the quality of teaching. I left that program.

I think Parent Organizations CAN be

great, but as the previous poster said, have a plan.

Cynthia Faisst said: Jul 16, 2004
Cynthia Faisst
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
126 posts

I am

very interested in the way others have set up the activities of parents in their local studios or

programs.

Obviously there needs to be a balance between the wills of partents and teachers. But how did

you find that? What did you need to clarify?

It is clear that parents will always out number teachers.

Teachers will always have musical expertise that parents don’t have. What would Dr. Suzuki have said about

this. I was always impressed how he seemed to get along with his own organization. Of course it was happening

in a culture and language I did not fully understand. I’m sure he had his frustrations with students and their

parents. Some how he inspired them to do some wonderful things for themselves.

His expectations were

very high but he was also willing to stick around and keep after them untill he got what he wanted them to see.

I’ve watched my father serve several churches while growing up. I know that sometimes they insisted on doing

things their way instead of his. Sometimes he was right and this ment that they missed out on their potential

as a community. Sometimes he underestimated what they could do and discovered that they had some great ideas to

contribute. But know matter what happened he recognized that he had to start with where they were in their

development and grow with them from that place.

Sometimes he realized that they had out grown him and the

things he liked to do and felt that they needed some fresh leadership. Sometimes he felt that he needed new

chalanges and needed to find people that needed his gifts. Its tough as Suzuki teachers if you are planted in a

community with your own family. IF you have difficulty with a particular group of parents you have to keep

working with them whether your personalities are compatible or not.

There is so much to do as a teacher

running your own program. You have to delegate some things to parents and trust them to express their own

ability. There is never enough time to educate parents. Its not any easier getting their attention than the

children. But it can be done. I think that if we do a good job of inspiring them to study Dr. Suzuki’s

philosophy they will be more likely to do things that work for the program.

One reason I started this

dialogue is because I wanted to know what ways we can attract parents to doing Suzuki Parenting. I would still

like to learn more creative things I can do to get parents working together.

Ms. Cynthia
Studio:
Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin
Director of Santa Ana Suzuki Strings located at the
Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center
Volunteer, bring music to under-served communities around the world. Create Sound Investments and Futures.

Cynthia Faisst said: Aug 4, 2004
Cynthia Faisst
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
126 posts

Out of 400+

readers only 1 has taken the pole. And not more than 10% of you have contributed to the discussion. Yet I

know you are all reading this stuff.

I would be so pleased to hear what other people are thinking

about this topic. Perhaps you have been on vacation this month. Please give us your input when you

return.

Incidently your opinions in the pole are annonymous. So there is no risk in taking the pole. I

know you have your opinions.

In particular I would like to know what you will be doing to organize parent

activities and interest this fall.

Ms. Cynthia
Studio:
Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin
Director of Santa Ana Suzuki Strings located at the
Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center
Volunteer, bring music to under-served communities around the world. Create Sound Investments and Futures.

Ghost People said: Aug 4, 2004
 93 posts

Maybe I am doing it wrong but I can’t seem to get

my vote to register.

Cynthia Faisst said: Aug 6, 2004
Cynthia Faisst
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
126 posts

It seems to be working now. I think I set it to

run well into the fall season so peole can use it as they return from summer breaks.

It might help if you

register with the forum.

Its hard to keep all of these guests straight.

Ms. Cynthia
Studio:
Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin
Director of Santa Ana Suzuki Strings located at the
Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center
Volunteer, bring music to under-served communities around the world. Create Sound Investments and Futures.

said: Nov 20, 2004
 5 posts

I just joined the forum recently, and was reading

through some old posts and found this. Sorry I didn’t vote (if it is even still open.) For the last 8 years, I

have been living in small towns, teaching independently as extra income along with gigging. We mainly rely on my

husband’s income.

We recently moved to a larger community, and I am now teaching through a Community Music

School. They have several Suzuki teachers a well as many other types of teachers (Kindermusik, orchestras, bands,

chorus, etc., etc., etc.) and private non-Suzuki instruction. I am loving not having to deal with collecting the

money or organizing the recitals, so I can definitely see the benefits of having a parent organization, having

done it for these many years all by myself.

The nice thing about having a completely independent

organization (the staff are all full-time or part time employees, and don’t teach through or have children in the

school) is the ability to make more independent decisions benefitting both teachers and students. The drawback of

course is that teachers feel a little underpaid and parents sometimes feel they are overpaying.

I got very

sad seeing the discord evident in several of the posters’ experiences with Parent Organizations. In fact, I am

disappointed with the attitudes on several threads I have read here. How is so much ill will being generated

within and between our studios and within our organizations?

I certainly understand the stress on teachers

of having to make a living, and the concerns of parents to get the best opportunities for their kids. My feeling

is that we (the SAA, the teachers, the other parents, or ALL of us) are not doing a very good job of promoting the

PRIMARY purpose of the Suzuki method: Nurturing all children to achieve their full potential as fine people. This

is not accomplished by creating an adversarial relationship between teacher and parent, between parents, or

between students.

I feel I am possibly not being clear about this, as my husband and 3 kids are all trying

to talk to me as I post this, but I feel this needs to be said. If we all humbly

approach our role as a part of this incredibly important mission, I think a lot of these bad experiences can be

avoided. Furthermore, I don’t see how dwelling and obsessing about bad experiences in the past helps further

this goal. I appreciate that these cautionary tales can help us avoid problems in the future, but I would also

like to hear how problems were solved, as that would help others and give me more hope in the

future.

Teaching Suzuki is a great job. Making a difference in the lives of my students—helping them to

grow as musicians and as people—treating them and the parents as valuable people (at least as valuable as I am)

and helping the parents to see how the Suzuki community nurtures them as well as their children if properly

utilized gives me energy and hope and pays me back in joy. Being a Suzuki parent is hard work, but more than

worth the effort when I see what I fine person my son is growing into.

OK, I could go on and on, but I’ve

rambled enough. I think I’ll post the rest of my thoughts on the “betty boop” thread, which also got quite

nasty. :(

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