ACR Open Letter to the SAA Board

Tags: ,

Marla said: Aug 25, 2020
Marla Majett
Suzuki Association Member
Cello, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Atlanta, GA
3 posts

Dear SAA Board of Directors,

We, the undersigned members of the Advisory Committee on Race, are unclear on how the Board views our role in the discussion on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility in the SAA. It was surprising to see the letter to the membership which was sent out on August 21, 2020 without having been consulted regarding the content. It is recognized that one of the first steps in the process of improving diversity in a community or organization involves centering the voices of marginalized members of the community. It is equally clear that the Board sees itself at the center of this work, with the ACR on the margins. How can we improve this situation so that we are working together, instead of working in parallel or even divergent pathways?

There are several points in the Board News about which we would like to comment. The following phrase is of great concern: “Our goal is to provide access to [DEI] training for teachers and others during the next 18-24 months.” This is far too long—the timeline should be quartered to be effective. As Dr. Suzuki said: “Anything you think of doing, however insignificant, should be done immediately. Spur yourself on and carry it through without becoming discouraged. If this becomes an ingrained habit, things you thought were impossible will become possible, and closed doors will open, as you will discover in many ways.” In fact, many other organizations have responded to the present state of heightened awareness by immediately examining their structures and operations as well as investing in required changes. An example of this is MacPhail Center for Music which is currently undergoing an Intercultural Development Inventory. This process includes the participation of members of the organization and highlights areas for improvement, including bias and overall DEI competency. SAA trainers must not be merely competent in this area. They must be highly aware, sensitive, and skilled to be able to reach the level of Dr. Suzuki’s humanitarian ideals.

We also have questions about the following statement: “Materials include videos, books, articles, websites, etc. resources sanctioned by the Board’s Advisory Committee to the Board.” Assuming that the ACR is the committee being referred to, we are not aware of having sanctioned any materials, particularly for a website resource area. It is quite concerning that the voice of the ACR is being employed in this way, when the committee was not involved in the creation of this resource database nor did we even have knowledge of it. Is the creation of the committee merely a prop to lend validity to measures decided on and undertaken by the Board?

The fact that the SAA Board News, on the topic of DEI and Anti-Racism Education, was sent without our prior knowledge is an example of the lack of communication between the Board and the ACR. We recommended a DEI consultant to revise the entire SAA structure and culture—including placement of underrepresented groups in leadership positions within the organization, overseeing DEI training for the whole membership, and communication between the ACR and the Board. We were led to believe that the SAA was positive about working with the DEI consultant recommended two months ago because she spoke to the community as a former Suzuki mother and a culturally fluent professional that could be of great service to the membership in North, Central, South America and the Caribbean. However, we were asked to wait for another proposal, which we have not received up until this date. How do we know if we need to provide other references if we are not kept in the loop? Why do we continue to receive letters to the membership concerning issues of diversity and race about which the Advisory Committee on Race has had no notice and has not been given the opportunity to advise?

This has been an ongoing problem. As working professionals and for the sake of the health of the organization, we encourage you to agree to a communication path that is one in which we are not only a seat to fill or a name to put on paper. We aspire to one where the voices of Black, Indigenous and People of Color are truly heard and respected with their cultural and historical nuances. We believe we are supported in this position by the many members at the SAA the Zoom Town Hall Discussions who called for the ACR to have official status within the SAA.

With knowledge and awareness that education inequality is the most urgent civil rights issue, we wish you a productive week and close with Dr. Suzuki’s empowering words: “We all have unlimited shortcomings. Yet one way of seeing things is to consider our lives as a time frame that allows us continually to work at changing our weaknesses into strengths.” Black lives matter.

In Peace and RespectACR Open Letter to the SAA Board,

Marla Majett (Co-chair)
Andrea Kelley
Carolina Borja

Julie Bamberger Roubik said: Aug 26, 2020
Julie Bamberger Roubik
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Milwaukee, WI
16 posts

Bravo Marla. Thank you for your leadership and bravery in bringing up these points.

Julie Bamberger Roubik
Wisconsin Conservatory of Music Suzuki Faculty
[javascript protected email address]

Julie Carew said: Aug 26, 2020
Julie CarewCello
Greenfield, MA
1 posts

Thank you, Marla Majett, Andrea Kelley and Carolina Borja for your honesty, transparency, and efforts to be seen and heard as an integral part of the SAA.

Charles Krigbaum said: Aug 26, 2020
Charles KrigbaumTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Wylie, TX
78 posts

Thank you Marla Majett and to all serving on this committee for your leadership, your courage, and your clear communication to us. Marla, you touched my heart and changed my life through your courage at the listening sessions. Your letter is a beautiful example of the transparency that I long for in our organization.

When we received the email from the SAA on DEI updates, I felt cautiously optimistic that the seeds of real change were being planted. And now we are able to see the actual situation. It’s heartbreaking.

On a personal note, I recognize that in matters regarding the SAA Board or other “powers that be” in our organization, I’ve been conditioned to not make waves and to lay low and keep a low profile and not rock the boat. Because people that do get treated very poorly. I’m committed to transformation in this area. You can count on me to support and assist wherever equity, diversity, access, inclusion, transparency, and accountability are involved. Like many others, I long to be on the side of solutions and growth versus a history and past that keep getting recycled over and over and over.

This message has been brought to you by:

Charles Krigbaum, Director
North Texas School of Talent Education
www.ntste.com
www.facebook.com/NorthTexasSchoolofTalentEducation

Hannah said: Aug 26, 2020
Hannah Mindeman Shuman
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Austin, TX
2 posts

Thank you to Marla, Andrea, and Carolina for writing this letter. I am saddened by how the ACR is not being consulted or listened to. It is clear that something is broken within the SAA that needs to be fixed.

Laura said: Aug 26, 2020
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Stanton, MN
27 posts

Marla,

I appreciate that you are a BPIC voice speaking to a predominantly white membership to highlight what has to simply be called systemic racism within our professional organization.

SAA, we can be better than this. If Every Child Can, then Every Adult Can, too!

I await a response from the board that includes action items to address Marlas letter.

Thank you Marla,

Laura Geissler

Cicely said: Aug 26, 2020
Cicely NelsonViolin, Viola
Los Angeles, CA
4 posts

Thank you so much to Marla and to the entire advisory committee on race for your devotion, bravery, and vision for this organization. We can do so much better and I’m so grateful to you for pointing the way!

SAA, you are being clearly shown how to remedy this and truly the only way to steer the ship properly is to listen to the ACR at this point. It is time. Do the right thing and heed the ACR.

Black lives matter.

Carole Kane said: Aug 26, 2020
Carole Kane
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Chesterfield, MO
18 posts

Thank you Marla, Andrea, and Carolina for this well-written response to the SAA Board. Now we can all clearly see the lack of transparency and deceiving moves from the Board. I am further saddened by how the ACR is not being listened to or consulted. The recent letter from the Board along with Marla’s response is proof that the SAA Board thinks it can deceive its membership with platitudes and false hope. It is clear that the SAA Board has lost it’s way in promoting Dr. Suzuki’s legacy.

Now is the time for the SAA Board to hire an outside organization to guide the Board in all changes related to Diversity, Equity, and inclusion. Waiting 18-24 months as suggested in the recent Letter from the Board is unacceptable. Marla Majett has already written a letter to the Board backed with research why immediately appointing 5 BIPOC was necessary and appropriate.

SAA doesn’t even have a grant writer or officer of development. Currently they are not an organization that is truly about inclusion or accessibility, and it is coming out in a very bad way as some “Legacy” Suzuki teachers are fighting against change. Well, I am also a Legacy Suzuki teacher and I see through the smoke and mirrors. It’s time for the SAA Board to move the SAA out of the dark ages of its discriminatory practices and become current with what is becoming standard practices in other large organizations by getting serious about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The SAA Board should appoint 5 BIPOC SAA Board members now before you destroy Dr. Suzuki’s dream!

Carole Kane
Carole Kane Suzuki Violin Studio, Chesterfield, MO

Jean Kountz said: Aug 26, 2020
Jean Kountz
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
West Chester, PA
2 posts

Thank you Marla, Andrea, and Carolina for speaking up! Your leadership and guidance are inspirational.

Carmen Suzanne Evans said: Aug 26, 2020
Carmen Suzanne Evans
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
2 posts

Thank you Marla Majett, Andrea Kelley, and Carolina Borja.
Thank you for your leadership and commitment to the Suzuki community.

Carmen Evans

Christy Paxton said: Aug 26, 2020
Christy PaxtonInstitute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Bentonville, AR
6 posts

Marla, Andrea, and Carolina,

What an outstanding model you are of leadership that is clear, honest, fair, and brave. I have been following the work of thought leaders inside and outside of our organization, and this has to be one of the most constructive pieces of literature that I have read as a call to action. There is no mistaking the tone as an expert-voice on the topic of race and race issues as we are currently facing. As a lifelong Suzuki child/parent/teacher, this example of leadership gives me something to strive for, strengthens my own voice, and encourages me to lean in and do the hard work that is necessary for change.

Hmmm… that sounds a lot like what we, as the expert-voice behind our teaching, ask our students to do every day.

To see the example we want to model, to set a clear vision.

To beautify, clarify, and amplify our tone as we gain a musical, harmonic, social voice with depth of expression and heart.

To commit to the life work, the practice of daily listening and reading and reflecting that transforms our lives, our work, and reaches and uplifts others.

It is not enough to have a listening forum. One must continue to listen.
It is not enough to take a DEI course. The inclusion must come from within.
It is not enough to lead. We must look at whom and what we are following.
It is not enough to be a good person. We must reach all who have felt alone.
It is not enough to sit in our personal freedom and circumstances with contentment. We must offer freedom of belonging to all.

I stand with you, and a body of teachers whose voices are emerging with more clarity, tone, and insistence that we move forward, together. All of us.

With utmost respect and heartfelt sincerity,
Christy Paxton
Teacher, Mother, Friend, Daughter, Sister, Healer

Sarah Bylander Montzka said: Aug 26, 2020
Sarah Bylander MontzkaTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
203 posts

Dear Marla, Andrea and Carolina,

Thank you for your guidance and clear expectations. Your commitment to transparency, accountability, equity and inclusion inspires me to keep working for meaningful change.

You can count on me to support your call for:

  • Open and collaborative communication
  • Examining structures through a DEI consultancy at the institutional level
  • Fast-tracking DEI training opportunities
  • Customized and required training for SAA teacher trainers

I long for our organization to be at the forefront of best practices. I want to steep myself in a growth mindset community of action-oriented leaders who lift up marginalized voices while empowering new generations of young leaders to take Suzuki’s message into a future we will not see.

Our community must meet this moment.

Mark Mutter said: Aug 26, 2020
Mark MutterTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Detroit, MI
7 posts

Dear Marla, Andrea and Carolina,

Thank you for your honesty and clarity.

It would be a perfect world if we would get that from our leadership, and yet we still need to demand it!

Your salutation says it all, “with Peace and Respect.”

There will be no peace and unity in the SAA until its membership is treated with respect by a Board and various committees that truly listen to its membership. They need to take swift action based on the needs of the membership. The Board and its various self serving committees should be transparent in their actions that they are taking to fulfill those needs.

If the SAA is going to survive they need to change direction and chart a course that reflects the desires of it membership and our future.

People of color don’t need your check lists, they need you to see them and listen.

SAA Teachers of Color should be leading the direction of our DEI training.

Online Training and Teaching isn’t a temporary thing. It is the future. The SAA needs to get on board with both feet in the future. Your membership is already there.

With the hope of future peace and respect,

Mark Mutter

Lisa Hansen said: Aug 26, 2020
Lisa Hansen
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
22 posts

Ms. Majett, Ms. Kelley, and Ms. Borja,
Thank you very much for your willingness to serve on the Advisory Committee on Race. Thank you also for enlightening us on the SAA Board’s lack of action. It is disheartening to hear that the ACR is not being consulted. Your guidance is appreciated, and your bravery is inspirational.

Carolina said: Aug 26, 2020
Carolina Borja
Suzuki Association Member
Cello, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
19 posts

Carta Abierta a la Junta Directiva de la SAA

Queridos miembros de la Junta Directiva:

Nosotras, las abajo firmantes y miembros del Comité de Consejería Racial (CCR en Español, ACR en Inglés), estamos confundidas en cuanto a cómo la Junta ve nuestro rol en la conversación sobre Diversidad, Equidad, Inclusión y Accesibilidad en la SSA. Fue una sorpresa ver la carta enviada a toda la membresía el 21 de Agosto de 2020 sin haber sido consultadas con respecto a su contenido.

Se ha reconocido que uno de los primeros pasos en el proceso para mejorar la diversidad en una comunidad u organización requiere centrar las voces marginalizadas de miembros de la comunidad. Está igualmente claro que la Junta se ve a sí misma en el centro de este trabajo, con el CCR en las márgenes. ¿Cómo podemos mejorar esta situación para que trabajemos juntos en vez de trabajar de forma paralela o divergente?

Hay varios puntos de las Noticias de la Junta sobre los que queremos hacer varios comentarios. La siguiente frase es de gran preocupación: “Nuestra meta es proveer acceso a entrenamiento(DEI) para profesores y otros en los próximos 18 a 24 meses. Esto es demasiado tiempo, el periodo debería ser acortado a la cuarta parte para ser efectivos. Como lo dijo el Dr. Suzuki: “Cualquier cosa que usted piense en hacer, sin importar cuán insignificante, debe realizarla inmediatamente. Anímese a seguir adelante sin perder el aliento. Si esto se convierte en un hábito arraigado, las cosas que pensaba que eran imposibles se volverán posibles, se abrirán puertas cerradas y descubrirá muchas maneras de hacerlo.” De hecho, muchas otras organizaciones han respondido al presente estado de mayor conciencia, con la examinación de su estructura y funcionamiento, al mismo tiempo que con inversión en los cambios requeridos. Un ejemplo de ello es el Centro MacPhail para la Música, que está pasando por un Inventario de Desarrollo Intercultural. Este proceso incluye la participación de miembros de la organización y trae a colación áreas que requieren mejoras, incluyendo sesgos y competencias generales de DEI. Los entrenadores de la SAA no deben ser meramente competentes en esta área, deben ser altamente conscientes, sensibles y expertos para ser capaces de alcanzar los ideales humanitarios del Dr. Suzuki.

También tenemos preguntas sobre la siguiente declaración: “Materiales que incluyen videos,libros, artículos, sitios web, etc. Recursos que han sido aprobados por el Comité de Consejería de la Junta.” Asumiendo que el comité en cuestión es el CCR, no estamos enteradas de haber aprobado ningún material, particularmente que venga de sitios web. Es preocupante que la voz del CCR esté siendo empleada de esta forma, cuando el comité no estuvo involucrado en la creación de esta base de datos ni tenemos conocimiento de la misma. ¿Es la creación de este comité simple utilería para darle validez a las medidas que adopta la Junta?

El hecho de que las Noticias de Junta, sobre DEI y educación antirracista, se hayan enviado sin nuestro conocimiento es un ejemplo de la falta de comunicación entre la Junta y el CCR. Nosotros recomendamos a una consultora de DEI para que revisara la estructura y cultura enteras de la SAA, incluyendo el nombramiento de grupos con baja representación en posiciones de liderazgo dentro de la organización, la supervisión de entrenamiento DEI para todos los miembros y la comunicación entre el CCR y la Junta. Se nos hizo creer que la SAA estaba deacuerdo con trabajar con la consultora recomendada hace dos meses, pues ella habló a la comunidad como antigua madre Suzuki y profesional culturalmente fluida que podría ser de gran servicio para los miembros de la asociación en Norteamérica, Centroamérica, Sudamérica y el Caribe. Sin embargo, se nos pidió que esperaramos a otra propuesta, la cual, a la fecha, no hemos recibido. ¿Cómo sabemos que debemos dar otras opciones cuando no se nos mantiene informadas? ¿Por qué continuamos recibiendo cartas, dirigidas hacia la membresía, relacionadas con asuntos de diversidad y raza de los cuales el Comité de Consejería Racial no ha sido notificado y no ha tenido la oportunidad de aconsejar?

Este ha sido un problema continuo. Como trabajadoras profesionales y por la salud de la organización, los invitamos a ponerse de acuerdo con un camino de comunicación en el cual no seamos simplemente una silla en la que sentarse o un nombre a poner en un papel. Aspiramos a un sendero en donde las voces de las comunidades negras, indígenas y de personas de color sean realmente escuchadas y respetadas, con todos sus matices históricos y culturales. Creemos que muchos miembros de la SAA, que participaron de las conversaciones en Zoom del ayuntamiento y que pidieron que el estatus del CCR se volviera oficial dentro de la SAA, nos apoyan en este aspecto.

Con conocimiento y conciencia de que la desigualdad en la educación es el punto más urgente en cuanto a derechos civiles, les deseamos una semana productiva y cerramos con las palabras empoderadoras del Dr. Suzuki: “Todos tenemos deficiencias ilimitadas. Sin embargo, una forma de ver las cosas es considerar nuestras vidas como un marco de tiempo que nos permite trabajar continuamente para convertir nuestras debilidades en fortalezas.” Las Vidas Negras Importan(Black Lives Matter).

En paz y con respeto.

Marla Majett (Copresidenta)
Andrea Kelley
Carolina Borja

Carta Abierta a La Junta Directiva De La SAA

Elizabeth Guerriero said: Aug 26, 2020
Elizabeth Guerriero
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
Lawrence Township, NJ
55 posts

Dear Ms. Majett, Ms. Kelly, and Ms. Borja,

I sincerely appreciate your hard work, openness and honesty in the letter above in very difficult, and clearly unprofessional circumstances.

The Suzuki Association of the Americas Board of Directors and CEO/Executive Director Pam Brasch does a disservice to the organization, the membership, the children it serves, and the legacy of Dr. Suzuki each time it utilizes BIPOC voices and the Advisory Committee on Race as a shield or “ad hoc” rather than directly and honestly listening and elevating.

There must be transparency and accountability of finances (appropriating funds for DEIA), missing budgets, excessive board travel (FY 18), strategic plans, and the common answer received about the language barrier for Latin American Board appointments. These are not difficult problems to solve. It is time for the organization to work with full outside consulting such as Madeline Crouch Inc. (https://madcrouch.com) or some other organization, and a full DEIA Study of the organization should occur and be implemented, such the Cook Ross/NAfME study: https://nafme.org/dei-study-faq/

These suggestions have been made many times before, here, via email, via personal conversation and by other members. Why do they continue to go ignored? Change the MEANS.

Dr. Elizabeth M. Guerriero

Ryan Caparella said: Aug 26, 2020
Ryan Caparella
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Oak Park, IL
3 posts

Marla, Andrea, Carolina: what a powerful and clear message.

I am so disappointed to hear communication between the Advisory Committee on Race and the Board hasn’t been more direct. I am an optimist and peacemaker by nature; my gut reaction in these situations is to look for possible miscommunications. Nonetheless, given the events of the past several months, the fact that the 8/21 Board News email was distributed without being reviewed by the Advisory Committee on Race is incomprehensible to me. I can’t speak to the intent of the recent email—whether it was earnest or meant to placate—but this uncertainty might have been avoided entirely if the Committee were better utilized.

As my students can attest, my brain is wired for odd analogies. Since I first read Marla, Andrea, & Carolina’s letter this morning, I have been thinking back to my childhood and my father’s penchant for attempting to fix things around the house. He was reasonably handy, but had an undeniable propensity to bite off more than he could chew, to the recurring dismay of my mother.

“Why can’t we just call the plumber?!”

It wasn’t that my father ever wanted to break a pipe, electrocute himself, or fall through the ceiling from the attic (sorry, Dad!), just as I still believe in my heart that the SAA wants to do the right thing in regard to fostering inclusion and diversity within our organization. In the case of my father, the only real damage done was (usually) to himself, and perhaps my mother’s sanity: Our organization bears a much broader responsibility.

I don’t begrudge the leadership of our organization for lacking specific expertise in organizational diversity and inclusion—none of us can be specialists in everything. But we clearly need additional resources and external guidance to commit to making the changes our membership deserves as promptly and thoroughly as possible. We need to call the plumber.

Nancy Modell said: Aug 26, 2020
Nancy ModellTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Springfield, NJ
5 posts

Dear Marla Majett, Andrea Kelley, and Carolina Borja,

Thank you for setting the record straight through your articulate and heartfelt letter.

It is dispiriting to learn that the ACR has not been kept in the loop as inferred by the SAA’s recent letter to the membership. Why has the SAA established an ‘Advisory Committee’ if the Board doesn’t communicate with you and listen to your advice?

I agree that the pace has been too slow and that the voices of your Committee who live diversity, daily, should be guiding us.  In order to keep our loving community moving forward in these times, I implore the SAA Board to open the lines of communication with you and your team immediately.  

With Dr. Suzuki’s encouragement: “…Don’t rest – without stopping… – carefully taking one step forward at a time will surely get you there.”  Thank you for your persistence and wisdom.  I hope you will be included in all discussions with ‘the powers that be’ — immediately.

With hope for the respect ARC deserves,
- Nancy Modell

Lani said: Aug 26, 2020
Lani Bortfeld
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Enfield, CT
21 posts

Marla, Carolina & Andrea, I am impressed by not only your willingness to take the risk to speak out via this letter, but also by your actions in your communities—what you have done with the gifts you’ve been given. Thank you for your voices, your passion and your actions. I agree, that the lack of consultation with the ACR regarding the August letter the SAA sent out, lack of communication on a DEI consultant, and the misleading statement about ACR-sanctioned materials are all VERY troubling, and I hope someone from the SAA board will address these issues immediately!

On the other hand, formulating DEI training that will service the many cultures, languages, countries and races within the SAA is not something that can be rushed. Also, the SAA Board is spread out over the US & Canada (note the lack of representation from Latin American countries) and can’t turn on a dime like an organization in one location in one part of the US. I’m wondering if there is something the SAA could put forth now—a series of questions we can ask ourselves and our Suzuki families—while we wait on more comprehensive DEI training?

My understanding is that Beth Cantrell contacted former students of color to be an ad-hoc committee about a year ago, and this is the basis of ACR today. The ACR was not elected by SAA members, or even chosen to represent the many different countries and cultures within the SAA.

We are facing centuries of racism, cultural and linguistic suppression, not just in the US, but throughout the countries of the Americas. The ACR, to my knowledge, is primarily teachers based in the US, although I know Carolina has strong ties to Colombia and her amazing program, the Afro Colombian Strings. Historically, SAA leadership has come from the US, so the SAA needs to be very careful now not to rely on the teachers of one country as we work on these most challenging issues. I hear the demands that the SAA Board appoint x number of BIPOC to the board immediately, but how will they be chosen and which countries will they represent? These are not simple issues that can be rushed through, without risking alienating even more BIPOC throughout the Americas.

Ryan Caparella, I love your post and its non-judgmental tone, along with note of humor, which is so healing in this time of conflicting passions and viewpoints. I think the question the SAA faces is, “Which plumber and what process do we use to select one?”

I pray for the SAA board and all its members in these times of conflict. If we can remember that mistakes are our helpers, and problems lead to growth, maybe we can use our minds, bodies, hearts and souls to begin this long journey toward a better SAA and a truer reflection of Shinichi Suzuki’s love for all children and hope for the world.

Christine said: Aug 26, 2020
Christine GoodnerInstitute Director
SAA Staff
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
Hillsboro, OR
103 posts

Thank you Marla, Andrea, and Carolina for your work on the committee, your openness, and your suggestions for positive progress forward. I hope that this letter will open up communication and you will feel your voices are being heard and represented well to the SAA membership.

The teachers I know well all want to see every teacher, parent and child treated with dignity & respect. They want each student to be taught with excellence and the profound respect for their humanity that Suzuki so powerfully pointed us to.

Along with this comes a desire to see quick action taken, and appropriate training offered widely, to be sure we are actually doing so. If we have been leaving some out of this vision we want to do better, right away, with enough information not to inadvertently cause more harm.

I hope the ACR will be able to help guide these actions and be a more integral part of the process moving forward and that their suggestions will be heard and acted on.

With much love and respect to each of you!

Christine Goodner

Blog: The Suzuki Triangle

Suzuki Licensed Book: Beyond the Music Lesson: Habits of Successful Suzuki Families

“When Love is Deep, Much can be Accomplished” ~ Suzuki

Sophie Enloe said: Aug 26, 2020
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
7 posts

Thank you Marla, Andrea, and Carolina. I, and many others, hear and support you in your call for the SAA board to truly center the work of the ACR instead of using its existence as a prop for performative “progress”.

I was elated to learn that the ACR had been formed, and felt optimistic that some real change and progress would follow. This makes it all the more disheartening to hear that the ACR has been effectively sidelined from the board’s decisions and communications around the very issues on which its input is most needed.

The board should partner in an authentic and meaningful way with the ACR in order to make the progress necessary to truly embody Dr. Suzuki’s philosophy. This means consulting the ACR around all communications and decisions to do with DEI, acting in a timely manner to follow through on the ACR’s recommendations, and being absolutely truthful about what the ACR has or hasn’t sanctioned.

I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be for BIPOC to engage in the work of helping white-led organizations like ours become equitable and anti-racist. This must be such an emotionally and psychologically draining task, not to mention the time and effort required. To ask for this work and then ignore it, or use it to justify one’s own decisions, seems to me like the worst of performative allyship, more harmful than simple inaction.

To Marla, Andrea, and Carolina—we are with you. Thank you for your work and your leadership, and for clearly outlining the path that the SAA board must take in order to begin transforming our desire for equity into reality.

Sophie Enloe
She/her

Maya said: Aug 26, 2020
 
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Toronto, ON
1 posts

Thank you Marla, Andrea and Carolina. Thank you for all of your work and clear cut letter. I too was hopeful when I heard of the ARC being formed but it seems there just isn’t enough clear communication on roles and courses of action.

Like Mr Krigboaum said above, many of us have been conditioned to stay silent and not make waves. Keeping a low profile is not working nor is it an acceptable way to feel as a member of this community especially when you can face real life consequences for speaking up, even a little bit.

Thank you for speaking up and for giving so many of us a voice that been actively silenced until now. You can count on me for ongoing support.

A kind reminder to all members that there can be no expectation of peace and respect from those who have been historically denied. If it is given, it is to be deeply revered. When asking for “patience” from BIPOC fellows in these matters remember that you are asking a group of folx that have always been patient and have already been waiting decades for a chance just to be heard, let alone headed.

Maya
She/Her
Latinx, Asian, Indigenous
Toronto, Canada

Paul Kim said: Aug 26, 2020
Paul Kim
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
Fargo, ND
1 posts

I am sharing this letter and discussion with my Suzuki colleagues, students, and families. I wish to spread awareness and volume so that the SAA board sees and hears more voices calling for accountable change and inclusion.

Thank you to the ACR and the vocal, visible members of the SAA who are pushing for what is right.

Paul Kim

Daniel Gee Cordova said: Aug 26, 2020
 Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools, Cello, Viola
Austin, TX
8 posts

Marla,

Thank you and the other members of the ARC for the time, dedication, and expertise you have invested in advocating for all teachers and students who do not yet have a seat at the table. The committee exists precisely for this reason. If not given the ability to work hand in hand, we are continuing a precedent of ignoring and alienating our BIPOC members.

In this time, it is evident that much needs to change in our organization as well as our society in order to support and serve everyone. I am encouraged and hopeful that we are on the path to significant and lasting change that will bring all of us closer together and stronger as an organization to use music to enrich the lives of all of the world’s children. It is through working with the ARC that we will be able to make this vision a reality.

Meret said: Aug 26, 2020
Meret BitticksTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute
Evanston, IL
12 posts

Thank you to Marla, Carolina, and Andrea for your continued work on our behalf. For your model of persistence and resilience. For your generosity of spirit in these times where it seems we all need so much from one another and often receive so little.

I have been reflecting a lot about the concept of intent. We are very fortunate to belong to an organization of well-intentioned educators. However, intent is the beginning. It is the starting point. We intend for our students to understand a concept… does that mean we abdicate our responsibility for ensuring that they do? Obviously not!

Our intention is that every child can learn and we exist as an organization to support teachers to that end. It is apparent that we need to rethink our resources to build upon our intent. We need to approach our work not only with great intent but also the knowledge and skills to ensure our language reinforces and reflects that intent. Knowledge and skill plus intent allows us create a loving, diverse, and inclusive community within our own studios and our organization.

To be clear, there are resources that exist already that the SAA can use to create the training we so desperately need. There are professionals, at least one of whom has been recommended by the ACR, that help organizations with exactly this issue! We don’t need to wait, we need SAA leadership to listen to the ACR and the membership, make a decision, and lead us forward into our inclusive future.

I stand with the ACR.

Meret Bitticks

Sarah Washburn said: Aug 26, 2020
 
Suzuki Association Member
1 posts

This is so well put, thank you for putting so much time and thought into making this problem visible to us. I’m embarrassed that I was somewhat placated by the SAA email, and the changes that they say are being made, but you are absolutely right that the timeline is too slow, and it is absolutely unacceptable that this was put forth without even the KNOWLEDGE, let alone the consultation and centering of the the voices of the Advisory Committee on Race.

Julianne Carney-Chung said: Aug 26, 2020
Julianne Carney-Chung
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Brooklyn, NY
6 posts

Thank you Marla Majett, Andrea Kelley, and Carolina Borja, for your tireless work, generosity and dedication. We are all indebted to you.

It is essential that your voices are listened to and centered in this vital Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility process by all of us in the SAA, and especially at the board level.

Thank you for sharing your concerns here regarding this process with the SAA, including the recent email to membership. Your names are being used yet your voices are not being fully incorporated in decision making. It is important this entrenched and problematic dynamic continues to be illuminated.

I stand with you all, and echo your concerns.

Julianne Carney-Chung
Director of Suzuki Program
Brooklyn Conservatory of Music
NYC

John said: Aug 26, 2020
John Glew
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Chicago, IL
2 posts

Thank you, Marla, Andrea, and Carolina, for your letter.

My question: what is the point of establishing an Advisory Committee if the SAA board isn’t going to engage with it? To publish a letter that specifically addresses diversity, equity, inclusivity, and anti-racism training without even “running it by” the Committee suggests that the board doesn’t, in fact, feel that it needs advising.

I, for one, was led to believe, by the letter, that the board asked the Committee to create a list of relevant resources for publication. It’s not only disappointing to learn that this isn’t true, it’s cause for concern. Why would the board make such a deceptive statement?

I am in complete agreement that the board needs to promptly find a DEI consultant promptly.

I also agree that the 18-24 month time frame for rolling our DEI training for the entire SAA membership is much too long.

Enough is enough.

Thank you, Marla, Andrea, and Carolina, for this important information and for your commitment to our organization!

Sincerely,
John Glew
SAA Member

Cecilia Calvelo-Hopkins said: Aug 27, 2020
Cecilia Calvelo-Hopkins
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools
Puzol Valencia, Spain
14 posts

Thank you Marla, Carolina and Andrea for this letter and for the all the work your ACR committee is doing on behalf of our Suzuki community at large. I agree with you in all the points you make and hope that this message is received by the SAA board with humility. Our association can do better, but in order to advance in this direction the Board needs to consult with you (ACR) and delegate in this area which obviously is not their expertise. All the comments above are testimony that many of us feel this way.

Furthermore, thank you Carolina for taking the time to translate the letter to Spanish. It is of such importance that all these communications are sent in all languages spoken in the SAA region so that everyone understands what is going on and what’s at stake at this crucial moment. Hopefully we can have a translation to Portuguese and French soon so the teachers and families who speak those languages can be kept in the loop as well.

I am sorry I have been absent for the last 7 weeks, we had a family problem that we are still dealing with. Please know that even if you do not hear from me often I am here in spirit, and I stand with the principles that you state in your letter and I agree also with Mark Matter in that “There will be no peace and unity in the SAA until its membership is treated with respect by a Board and various committees that truly listen to its membership”

Thank you again,
Cecilia Calvelo-Hopkins


Gracias Marla, Carolina y Andrea por escribir esta carta y por todo el trabajo que están haciendo en el comité de ACR en nombre de toda la comunidad Suzuki de las Americas. Estoy de acuerdo con todo el contenido de la carta y espero que el mensaje que ustedes han expresado con tanta claridad sea recibido por la Junta con humildad. Nuestra asociación puede y debe avanzar en esta dirección, pero para eso debe trabajar codo a codo con el comité de ACR y delegar ya que no son expertos en este ámbito. Creo además que los comentarios arriba de tantos colegas son testimonio de que muchos de nosotros estamos de acuerdo.

Gracias Carolina también por tomarte el trabajo de traducir la carta al español, es importantísimo que todas las comunicaciones de este tipo se envien en todos los idiomas hablados en la SAA, para que de esa forma todos podamos entender lo que esta pasando y lo que se juega en este momento clave. Ojalá tengamos la traducción al portugués y al francés prontamente así los profesores y familias que hablan esos idiomas también pueden enterarse de lo que está sucediendo.

Siento haber estado ausente en las últimas 7 semanas, hemos tenido un problema grave de familia con el que estamos aun lidiando. Por favor sepan que aunque no oigan nada de mi estoy aquí en espíritu y apoyo todos los principios que ustedes explican en esta carta. Además estoy de acuerdo con Mark Mutter en que “No habrá paz ni unidad en la SAA hasta que todos sus miembros sean tratados con respecto por una Junta y otros comités que de verdad escuchen a los miembros que representan”

Gracias otra vez,
Cecilia Calvelo-Hopkins

Abigail said: Aug 27, 2020
Abigail Shiman
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
College Park, MD
1 posts

Hello Suzuki Community,

Thank you Marla, Andrea, and Carolina, for your work and for your words. I stand in support of the ACR and believe it is critical that your voices are centered as the SAA moves forward. Thank you for your letter. Thank you for shedding light that you were not consulted before the recent letter on the ACR reached the inboxes of our community. This is not okay, and I urge us all to voice our concerns to the Board and our support of the ACR.

I ask the Board of SAA, how are you bringing the ACR into the real planning of these deeply complex and systemic issues? The Board must take concrete action and share it with transparency, create specific and sustainable timelines on implementing the changes Marla, Andrea, and Carolina have proposed, and must bringing in the requested DEI consultant to help bring about the lasting change that the SAA Community IS asking for. I fear that if these actions are not taken NOW, we will not see or be the change that our organization would so deeply benefit from so that ALL our members, but specifically the teachers, families, and students in our community who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, are respected, heard, and seen.

Sincerely,
Abigail Shiman

Carolina said: Aug 27, 2020
Carolina Borja
Suzuki Association Member
Cello, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
19 posts

Caro Conselho de Administração da SAA,

Nós, os membros do Comitê Consultivo sobre Raça (ACR), abaixo assinados, não temos certeza de como a Diretoria vê nosso papel na discussão sobre Diversidade, Equidade, Inclusão e Acessibilidade na SAA. Foi com surpresa que vimos a carta aos associados enviada em 21 de agosto de 2020 sem termos sido consultados sobre o conteúdo. É reconhecido que um dos primeiros passos no processo de melhoria da diversidade em uma comunidade ou organização envolve centrar as vozes dos membros marginalizados da comunidade. É igualmente claro que o Conselho se vê no centro desse trabalho, com o ACR à margem. Como podemos melhorar essa situação para que trabalhemos juntos, ao invés de trabalharmos em caminhos paralelos ou mesmo divergentes?

Há vários pontos nas Notícias da Diretoria que gostaríamos de comentar. A frase a seguir é de grande preocupação: “Nosso objetivo é fornecer acesso ao treinamento [DEI] para professores e outros durante os próximos 18-24 meses.” Isso é muito longo—o período deveria ser dividido à quarta parte para que seja eficaz.Como disse o Dr. Suzuki: “Qualquer coisa que você pensar em fazer, por mais insignificante que seja, deve ser feito imediatamente. Estimule-se e siga em frente sem desanimar. Se isso se tornar um hábito arraigado, coisas que você pensava serem impossíveis se tornarão possíveis e portas fechadas se abrirão, como você descobrirá de muitas maneiras.” Na verdade, muitas outras organizações responderam ao atual estado de consciência intensificada examinando imediatamente suas estruturas e operações, bem como investindo nas mudanças necessárias. Um exemplo disso é o MacPhail Centre for Music, que está atualmente passando por um Inventário de Desenvolvimento Intercultural. Este processo inclui a participação de membros da organização e destaca áreas para melhoria, incluindo preconceito e competência geral de DEI. Os instrutores da SAA não devem ser meramente competentes nesta área. Eles devem ser altamente conscientes, sensíveis e qualificados para serem capazes de alcançar o nível dos ideais humanitários do Dr. Suzuki.

Também temos dúvidas sobre a seguinte declaração: “Os materiais incluem vídeos, livros, artigos, sites, etc., recursos sancionados pelo Comitê Consultivo ao Conselho.” Presumindo que o ACR seja o comitê ao qual se refere, não temos conhecimento de ter sancionado nenhum material, principalmente para uma área de recursos do site. É bastante preocupante que a voz do ACR esteja sendo empregada dessa forma, quando o comitê não estava envolvido na criação desse banco de dados de recursos e nem tínhamos conhecimento dele. A criação do comitê é apenas um adereço para dar validade às medidas decididas e executadas pelo Conselho?

O fato de a SAA Conselho de Notícias, sobre o tema DEI e Educação Anti-Racismo, ter sido enviado sem o nosso conhecimento prévio é um exemplo da falta de comunicação entre o Conselho e o ACR. Recomendamos um consultor DEI para revisar toda a estrutura e cultura da SAA—incluindo a colocação de grupos sub-representados em posições de liderança dentro da organização, supervisionando o treinamento de DEI para todos os membros e a comunicação entre o ACR e o Conselho. Fomos levados a acreditar que a SAA foi positiva em trabalhar com o consultor DEI recomendado há dois meses, porque ela falou para a comunidade como uma ex-mãe Suzuki e uma profissional culturalmente fluente que poderia ser de grande utilidade para os membros nas Américas do Norte, Central e Sul e Caribe. Porém, fomos solicitados a aguardar outra proposta, a qual não recebemos até esta data. Como saber se precisamos fornecer outras referências se não formos mantidos no diálogo? Por que continuamos a receber cartas aos membros sobre questões de diversidade e raça sobre as quais o Comitê Consultivo sobre Raça não foi informado e não teve a oportunidade de aconselhar?

Este tem sido um problema constante. Como profissionais que trabalham em prol da saúde da organização, encorajamos a SAA a concordar com uma via de comunicação em que não sejamos apenas uma vaga a preencher ou um nome a colocar no papel. Aspiramos a uma posição onde as vozes dos negros, indígenas e pessoas de cor sejam verdadeiramente ouvidas e respeitadas com suas nuances culturais e históricas. Acreditamos que somos apoiados nesta posição pelos muitos membros da SAA que participaram das discussões do Zoom Town Hall e que pediram que o ACR tivesse status oficial dentro da SAA.

Com conhecimento e consciência de que a desigualdade na educação é a questão de direito civil mais urgente, desejamos à SAA uma semana produtiva e encerramos com as palavras de empoderamento do Dr. Suzuki: “Todos nós temos deficiências ilimitadas. No entanto, uma maneira de ver as coisas é considerar nossas vidas como uma estrutura de tempo que nos permite trabalhar continuamente para transformar nossas fraquezas em forças”. Vidas negras são importantes.

Em paz e com respeito,

Marla Majett (co-presidente)
Andrea Kelley
Carolina Borja

Carta Conselho De Administrao Da SAA

Ann Montzka Smelser said: Aug 27, 2020
Ann Montzka SmelserTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
40 posts

Thank you, Marla Majett, Andrea Kelley and Carolina Borja for being the Advisory Committee on Race. To hear you are not being listened to in a community that bases its entire philosophy upon listening is unconscionable.
Of all of the issues in front of the SAA Board I cannot think of any situation that is more immediate to our world at this very moment. One that requires quick and clear action from the SAA based on advisement from you, the ACR.
Open communication and transparency is the only way we can build trust and move forward in the SAA. Thank you for your communication about this pressing mater. I am ready to listen and support and learn with a DEI training plan that is lead by BIPOC and supported by the ACR.
I want to be part of the solution and not the continuation of systemic racism,
Ann Montzka Smelser
Life-time SAA member

Angel Falu-Garcia said: Aug 27, 2020
Angel Falu-Garcia
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Rochester, MN
20 posts

Marla, Andrea, and Carolina,

Thank you for speaking your truth against the lack of transparency and inactions of the SAA board. We need leadership that values Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. And so we need this leadership to provide appropriate DEI training for all its members. We also need true representation from across the American continents. We need to be seen, heard, and treated with dignity and respect.

The SAA Board must appoint 5 BIPOC Board members NOW.  

Ángel M. Falú-García

Board President, Southeastern Minnesota Suzuki Association 
Violin and Viola Instructor at AFalú Strings Studio

Kenesha Ryce said: Aug 28, 2020
Kenesha Ryce
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Austell, GA
1 posts

This is very disheartening to hear. I recently reactivated my SAA membership after 5 years of inactivity. I reactivated following the zoom meetings addressing racial issues within the organization. I was hopeful that the SAA board was listening and would use the resources being presented in those meetings to provide trainings and make absolutely clear what we as a community stand for and who we stand with. Sadly, I see that is not what has happened. I am young and perhaps a bit naive about such things. This year has been a HUGE wake up call for me. My default assumption is that if people know better they will do better. Unfortunately that is rarely the case. To the board I ask that you do better. This simply requires you to utilize the resources at your disposal. I want so desperately to avoid becoming a jaded cynic. I ask for your support in that endeavor.

Nora Friedman said: Aug 28, 2020
Nora Friedman
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools
Brooklyn, NY
38 posts

Dear Marla, Andrea and Carolina,

I am honored to work in the company of such courageous, graceful and righteous pedagogues, demonstrated once again in this open letter. As I sit down to sort through my thoughts and wrangle them into words, I am reminded that, if it is not easy to write just a response letter as a white woman, it must be doubly so to pen the first cry of injustice as a Black, Indigenous or Latinx teacher in this community we have seen such a lack of… words fail me… consciousness. I must admit to also having found the recent SAA letter heartening, but apparently the Advisory Committee on Race, whose council we are so sorely in need of, has been treated as a prop and (yet again) marginalized. When you are marginalized, education and Dr. Suzuki’s vision is deferred.

Dear SAA, Dr. Suzuki’s work was built on a deep focus on tone. Since the first listening session after your tepid statement after the killing of George Floyd, I can hear your tone is getting stronger. Where it was a spider tone, now it is getting into goldfish territory.

What is the tone you would like to set for this and future generations? I know you are moving fast to communicate with us and to make it right, but I implore you to center (this means involve, signal as to the existence of, defer to, turn to with questions, make no moves without, listen to, seek guidance from) these wise counselors who you have hired to help you. They are not just a prop to help you sleep well at night. That is called tokenism. HAVING the ACR is not “the work”. The work is yet to come and thank goodness for them. This is not the moment to pat yourselves on the back for a job well done. Without the ACR we will get this job done wrong, which is worse than not doing it at all. I would even like to go a step further and recommend that communication on this matter comes directly from the ACR rather than through the establishment mouthpiece of the Board. As you can see from Marla’s letter, she and the other ACR members are fully capable of communicating with the SAA members.

Additionally, I ask that you expedite DEI training, but in collaboration and good communication with the ACR. We must begin this path immediately, for it is a long one. SAA, now is the time to listen hard to your teachers, who are ready to help you fix your mistakes with respectful honesty.

Sincerely,
Nora Friedman

SAA member since 2011
Violin instructor and Dept. Head at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music

Kate Jones said: Aug 29, 2020
Kate JonesTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Bass
Fort Worth, TX
1 posts

Dear Marla, Carolina, and Andrea,

Thank you for your service, and for helping us move as an organization towards a better future for Suzuki students, Suzuki teachers, and Suzuki teacher trainers. I hope that your letter continues to keep the conversation going on the topic of equality.

As a teacher trainer, I stand with you and look forward to a future of inclusion for underrepresented groups within the SAA. I believe these steps are not easy, but necessary.

Thank you for bringing your expertise, compassion, and truth to the SAA and shedding light on much needed change.

In full support,

Kate Jones
Suzuki Bass
Fort Worth, TX

Andrea said: Aug 30, 2020
Andrea YunTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
21 posts

Marla, Andrea, and Carolina,
Has the makeup of the ACR changed to just the three of you? Or are you three writing as representatives of a sub-committee of some kind? I don’t know the latest about what’s going on in this committee. Sorry if this was announced somewhere and I missed it.
Andrea

William Kossler said: Aug 31, 2020
William KosslerTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Guitar
Winston-Salem, NC
8 posts

To the members of the Advisory Committee on Race,

I was saddened to read the recent attack on the SAA leadership that was sent out by the ACR. I have worked with many of the SAA leadership people over the years and have found the majority of them to have the very best of intentions. If errors are made, I have always found that the most useful and truthful reaction is to ascribe it to their heads and not their hearts. Most of these people are volunteers, over stretched and over stressed by these additional responsibilities they have taken on. They are there however with a desire to truly serve others, and if they need to do better, they could use all the help and encouragement they can get in taking action that reflects the big picture.

The greater membership of any organization is going to have its lunatic fringe that does things like expressing racial bias, and we shouldn’t think that the SAA would be any different. Martin Luther King modeled the correct approach here: to the extent that we lock arms and fight racial bias together without attempting to put love at the center of our efforts, we are just wasting our time and often making the problem worse.

It sounds like there are communication problems between the ACR and the SAA leadership. This should be an internal matter. Problems like this are opportunities to engage in honest heartfelt communication, to help educate each other, and to build bridges of trust and respect—these are not an opportunity to vent. The fact that the ACR “went public” with their concerns to the membership does not build the necessary trust between these kinds of committees and the people they say they are intending to serve. I’d be willing to bet that this letter did much more damage than good.

This letter from the ACR states: “We aspire to (a communication path) where the voices of Black, Indigenous and People of Color are truly heard and respected with their cultural and historical nuances. We believe we are supported in this position by the many members at the SAA the Zoom Town Hall Discussions who called for the ACR to have official status within the SAA.”

I believe that most of the SAA membership would indeed agree with the above statement. However the following statement below taken from this letter from the ACR is not so universally supportable:
“We recommended a DEI consultant to revise the entire SAA structure and culture-”including placement of underrepresented groups in leadership positions within the organization, overseeing DEI training for the whole membership, and communication between the ACR and the Board.” I personally do not want to see the revision of the SAA based on DEI mandates, including giving them the authority to appoint individuals to SAA leadership positions based on race.

There were several quotes by Dr. Suzuki in this letter to the SAA leadership. I believe Suzuki’s most important quote—”Where love is deep, much can be accomplished”— was left out, both in letter and in spirit.

I’m sure there are problems associated with the SAA that can be tied to race (this seems to be a pretty universal human affliction), but there is also a heart of gold there, in both leadership and membership, that must constantly be held up and celebrated. In doing so, the darker aspects of our fellowship not worthy of Dr. Suzuki’s mission can be routed out by all of us in a spirit consistent with that of our founder. I spent a year in Japan with Dr. Suzuki, and while the general purpose of the ACR is one that I believe he would applaud, I also believe there is much about this letter directed by them to our Board that he would not approve of.

I hope this letter of support for our Board of Directors will encourage them to set a course of action that they know is consistent with the desires of majority of SAA membership.

“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being.”—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Sincerely,
Bill Kossler
SAA Trainer, Guitar

Amy Cele said: Aug 31, 2020
Amy Cele
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Windsor, CT
3 posts

Dear Marla, Andrea and Caroline,

I am thankful for your letter and the needed work you have set out to do as members of the ACR. I am equally thankful for the voices added here in support of the open letter above, particularly those of teacher trainers who play an important role in shaping the culture and mindset of this vast body of Suzuki teachers. I am left wondering about the silence of other SAA teachers who serve in leadership roles within the membership.

The lack of communication with the ACR, back-peddling on a DEI consultant, lengthy timeline, and misleading statement about ACR sanctioned materials are deeply troubling. I am left with a lingering feeling of uncertainty regarding the actions and intentions of the SAA when it comes to the past and future communications, such as the most recent email.

The risks of a delayed response, lack of transparency and a failure to embrace the need for a change of culture within the SAA are great. I sincerely question the sustainability of the SAA if there is not a real shift in the culture of this organization. If the SAA continues to craft letters to the membership without truly embracing the real and immediate call for change and if the voices of the ACR and BIPOC membership continue to be ignored, I fear the SAA becoming an aging body whose work is obsolete and ineffective in today’s world. The result would be disengagement of current teachers (especially among newer, younger teachers), a failure to recruit new Suzuki teachers, and more tragically the furtherance of the notion that the Suzuki method is an elitist approach where families, students and teachers of Color do not envision a place for themselves.

Respectfully,
Amy Cele

Kelly Williamson said: Aug 31, 2020
Kelly WilliamsonTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Cambridge, ON
318 posts

Like Amy I have been pleased to see the amount of support being expressed here for the members of the ACR, who are choosing the unpleasant task of telling the truth to the membership in the continued search for the betterment of the Suzuki community. They do not need to have all of this extra stress and obligation in their lives! I am very grateful that they continue to walk the hard road on our collective behalf, and would like to add my thanks to those above.

It is interesting that a few people see the ACR’s open letter as an “attack” on the SAA, and others are trying hard to see where an attack could be construed. Perhaps it is for each of us to decide which way we see it, and why that might be. I would like to address a few other points from Bill Kossler’s post. Not only do I not see an attack being made, I am sorry to attest that it is not just a “lunatic fringe” of the SAA where bias of varying kinds is acted upon, including racial bias. Nor is it a rare occurrence. I have personally seen and heard it at institutes, in text messages and emails, on the SAA discussion forums (both public and private) and in SAA committee meetings. Acknowledging this is not airing dirty laundry, or telling secrets that would best be dealt with in private. It is facing reality so that we can learn and do better. It is clear that a great many SAA teachers are ready to do this work.

It is embarrassing to me to see the words of deceased civil rights leaders being used to support the “tone policing” of anti-racism advocates in our membership, here and elsewhere in these discussion forums. Surely we are robust enough as a community of seekers to be able to withstand self-examination? Surely every uncomfortable idea need not be dismissed as “negativity”, but can be considered objectively and accepted or withdrawn?

At the risk of being accused of ageism, this is indeed a new age. Many people have tried to make the world a better place, including Dr Suzuki, and have taken considerable strides forward. We still have a lot of work to do. Personally I am not content for the Suzuki community to be a community free of racism—which we all agree is a state we have yet to reach. I believe it is in line with Dr Suzuki’s humanitarian ideals that the Suzuki community must be an anti-racist community. For that to happen we need professional input, and this is what is being asked for.

If anyone is concerned about what DEI consultants might have to say about the structures or activities undertaken under the umbrella of the SAA, again I would ask them to think about why that would be.

Kelly

Meret said: Aug 31, 2020
Meret BitticksTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute
Evanston, IL
12 posts

The variety of opinions (mostly supportive of the ACR though they may be) in this thread points to the need to hire an independent DEI expert consultant to help us work through our issues and identify areas of which we are unaware. I urge the SAA to take the ACR’s recommendations seriously and make investing in a quality DEI consultant a top priority.

To particularly address one point in Bill Kossler’s post, I don’t believe the ACR (or anyone else) is advocating appointing people to positions of leadership in the SAA strictly based on race. However, the mark of a healthy board is diversity of experience and that does include a person’s race or country of origin. I refuse to accept that we cannot find exceptional candidates who identify as a person of color and/or are currently living in Latin America. Our board must be reflective of our organization’s values and prepared to help us realize our aspirations.

MaryLou Roberts said: Sep 1, 2020
MaryLou RobertsTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
SAA Board
Suzuki Association Member
Guitar
Ann Arbor, MI
317 posts

I support better communication, respect of our committees, and the board, the Advisory committee on Race. Thank you for this important work. Thank you to those who posted their goal of effective DEI training, I hear a call for action, supported growth and inclusion. This is not an easy task, and there will be mistakes. We know as teachers this is how we learn, and just as music lessons are life lessons, we can and will grow.

I would like to point out the Advisory part of the Advisory Committee on Race. I serve on the Teacher Development Advisory Committee. We are both advisory, meaning we don’t directly make the decisions on behalf of the SAA. We advise, and sometimes a solution we think will work doesn’t move forward if it is not inclusive of all peoples of the SAA. It has to be considered from a wide angle. It can be frustrating at times. Please consider the advisory role.

The ACR has more than 3 members. This letter represents 3 undersigned members. It is a snapshot of their frustration. Communication has been ongoing after this letter was sent, and there has been active reaching out, which is not apparent. Leaving this letter without follow up is only a part of the picture.

I fully support research into beginning DEI initiatives. There is some research that mandatory DEI training has not reduced racist problems in some surveys of companies. It is an ongoing process that I hope we can all be involved in the small step approach over time. In order to be effective, there needs to be a multi faceted approach. There are so many angles to cover!

While this is a new month, the beginning of the school year, it seems like a good time for us to share little videos, articles and books that have been meaningful and useful for us as Suzuki Teachers and leaders in our communities. This can start immediately. Our book discussion group, supported by the SAA uses this book: “So you Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo. I highly recommend this book, and consider the chapters as a potential outline for our teachers.

We are a resourceful group, capable of sharing our collective wisdom, let’s get started!

Caroline Salisbury said: Sep 1, 2020
Caroline SalisburyInstitute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
San Gabriel, CA
2 posts

To our colleagues on the SAA board, and the membership at large,

Guided by the vision of our mentor, Dr. Suzuki, our movement is rightly embracing the ways we can improve our organization so that Every Child Can, Every Teacher Can, and Every Parent Can by addressing and repairing systemic inequalities that divide people from marginalized racial groups away from accessibility and opportunity.

Undoing generations of inequality is something we all must do at individual and communal levels by raising our racial literacy to understand and speak about the issues with fluency, and by raising our racial stamina to stay involved in difficult conversations.  As we build our racial literacy and stamina, our community (teachers, trainers, parents, board members) will be better equipped to bring about transformational change in our organization as a whole.

Our membership, teachers, teacher trainers, board members and parents need support for developing racial literacy and stamina.  Adding training to the ECC course would be an excellent step to ensure all new teachers and parents in our movement are properly oriented to our values!

As a precursor to transformative action in our institution, a critical component for developing literacy and stamina is to honor the leadership of the members on the Advisory Committee on Race.  Without having teachers from racial minority groups (Black, Indigenous, or People of Color) in positions of leadership and closer to the nexus of decision-making power, our racial justice initiatives are just repackaging existing inequality. We must radically change our systems from the inside out, not only our feelings and rhetoric.   

The invaluable perspective and willingness to lead our progress offered up by Marla Majett, Carolina Borja, and Andrea Kelley is a gift to our whole community. Their leadership must be respected, their recommendations must be followed, and they should be honored for their time and dedication. Though the members of the committee have not sought remuneration for their labor, best practices today include compensating Black, Indigenous and other Peoples of Color for their time and labor to bring racial diversity to councils addressing racial inclusivity in institutions. 

It is unacceptable for our board leadership to promote solutions or programs regarding racial inclusivity or in building racial literacy and stamina in our community that have not been made in full collaboration with the members of our ACR. Additionally, the members of the ACR should have institutional power to lead all further initiatives and make recommendations for wide and lasting impact.

Beyond our systemic improvements to the organization at large, as led by members of the ACR, all teacher members, including trainers, must be engaged in individual transformation by building personal literacy and stamina.  We can build our literacy with the following process: with intentional empathy and without fragility, Listen – Learn – Change – Act.

We can LISTEN to teachers from marginalized racial groups by reading and watching their words and perspectives. We LEARN by looking for ways to be impacted by what we hear. We CHANGE by internalizing what we hear, LISTEN to, and LEARN, and invite an improvement of heart, thought, and behavior. We ACT by letting this change inform our behavior to do less harm today than we did yesterday.  Repeat today, tomorrow, and forever.

A key component of Dr. Suzuki’s genius was his drive for innovation – in how he embraced a “New Idea!”  We honor his memory when we innovate and create new ideas based on new information. With the guidance from our ACR, we can innovate our movement with better ideas to nurture with love the communities we have traditionally underserved.  We plead with our leaders and membership to respect the authority, wisdom and expertise of the generous teachers on the ACR by following their recommendations and supporting their vision for a more inclusive SAA.

With hope and love,

  1. Caroline Salisbury
  2. Kristina Turner
  3. Julie Bamberger Roubik 
  4. Laura Reichardt Geissler
  5. Chloe Helene Groth
  6. Laurie Niles
  7. Jentry Barrett
  8. Ryan Caparella 
  9. Lisa Hansen
  10. Carole Kane 
  11. Christy Paxton
  12. Rachel Rennels 
  13. Laura Burgess
  14. Sophie Vitells Enloe
  15. David Strom
  16. Ángel Falú-García
  17. Maya Killtron
  18. Hannah Shuman
  19. Cicely Nelson
  20. Beth Guerriero
  21. Gretchen Judge 
  22. Shulamit Kleinerman
  23. Ashlie Skidmore
  24. Stephanie Judy
  25. Jennifer Yarbrough
  26. Meret Bitticks
  27. Kenesha Ryce
  28. Nicolette Solomon-van Wyck
  29. Kristin Jutras 
  30. Karen Bailey
  31. Abigail Shiman
  32. Carmen Evans 
  33. Jodie St. Clair 
  34. Kari Lapins 
  35. Erin Ellis 
  36. Nonie Reesor
  37. Jennifer Turbes
  38. Adrienne Caravan 
  39. Gretchen Grube 
  40. Tamara Gonzalez
  41. Laura Nerenberg 
  42. Mariel Pagán Jiménez
  43. Stacy Smith
  44. Karla Berglund Hughes 
  45. Daniel Gee Cordova 
  46. Cecilia Calvelo-Hopkins
  47. Calida Jones
  48. Chenoa Alamu
  49. Sarah Washburn
  50. Julie Carew
  51. Jessica Retana
  52. Zachary Carcella-Sweet
  53. Laura Sciavolino 
  54. Jeni Martens
  55. Kate Einarson 
  56. Lauren Smee
  57. Heather Hadley
  58. Grace Youn 
  59. Jane Anabe
  60. Sarah Hart
  61. Marion Goodrich
  62. Daphne Benichou
  63. Desiree Abbey
  64. Diana Golden
  65. Laura Sinclair
  66. Rebekah Hanson
  67. Rebecca Floyd
  68. Linda Piatt
  69. Lenni Jabour
  70. Erin Ratzlaf
  71. Aminda Asher
  72. Bryony Stroud-Watson
  73. Greg Noland
  74. Jennifer Law Gray
  75. Charlie Savot
  76. Karyn Grove
  77. Catherine Mickelson 
  78. Laura Jauregui 
  79. Natalie Brejcha 
  80. Christy Libbus
  81. Megan Crawford
  82. Elizabeth Erickson
  83. Diana Vira
  84. Mark Mutter
  85. Carey Alain Cheney
  86. Julie Bickel
  87. Rebekah Waggoner
  88. Lindsay Serdar
  89. Laura Shaw
  90. Erin Cano
  91. Ellie Glorioso-Wible 
  92. Connor Bell
  93. Melissa Solomon
  94. Lauren Cless
  95. Katherine Sullivan
  96. Carol Waldvogel
  97. Alex Revoal
  98. Debra Spencer
  99. Karen Roth
  100. Christine Faught
  101. Jay Pike
  102. Kerri Laurence Williams
  103. Debra Smoller
  104. Deborah Inman
  105. Anne Marie Huber 
  106. Gretchen Seaver Lee
  107. Marisa Wissman
  108. Emily Connolly
  109. Mary Horst
  110. Charles Krigbaum
  111. Jennifer Moberg Pforte
  112. Aria Hartley
  113. Daina Volodka Staggs
  114. Annette Lee
  115. Ann Montzka Smelser
  116. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  117. Sasha Garver
  118. Angela Thompson
  119. Benjamin Salisbury
  120. Nora Friedman 
  121. Tal Schifter
  122. Sarah Burden Lang
  123. Julie Schmidt
  124. Emma Pease-Byron
  125. Allyson Denise Walker
  126. Cecilia Pinto Canelo 
  127. Abbey Hansen
  128. Susan Sophocleus
  129. Mary Bassett Shemon 
  130. Mary Grant
  131. Lillie Manis
  132. Mary Walters
  133. Miya Kunin-Jeske
  134. Katie Lawton Carpenter
  135. Rebekah Blackner
  136. Corina Santos
  137. Amara Sperber
  138. Wendy Seravalle-Smith 
  139. Jan Janz
  140. Alicia Randisi-Hooker
  141. Russell Fallstad
  142. Lisa Humphrey
  143. Andrea Prewett
  144. Jessica Jankauskas
  145. Fabio Dos Santos
  146. Stephanie Sims Flack
  147. Angela Robertson
  148. Annabel Moynihan
  149. Kristen Tourville Wyatt
  150. Jean Dexter
  151. Mengwei Shen
  152. Susan Gagnon
  153. Shinobu Saito
  154. Meg Risso
  155. Kate Jones
  156. Jenny Mendoza
  157. Cindy Kriehn Malmin
  158. Genevieve Schrim-Joyce
  159. Luciana Arraes
  160. Stephanie Ruddy
  161. Karianne Waterland
  162. Kelli Fitzgerald Ingels
  163. Vanamali Medina
  164. Meg Lanfear Kelso
  165. Luciana Castillo
  166. Elizabeth Cunha
  167. Renata de Lemos Miranda Jordao
  168. Susan Beth Barak
  169. Sue Garber
  170. Stephanie Bramble Chevalier
  171. Margie Karp
  172. Adrianna Khoo
  173. Sarah Harrington
MaryLou Roberts said: Sep 1, 2020
MaryLou RobertsTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
SAA Board
Suzuki Association Member
Guitar
Ann Arbor, MI
317 posts

I would like to point out in this petition that the Advisory committees give advice. No Advisory committee member is paid. This petition states:
“Their leadership must be respected, their recommendations must be followed, and they should be honored for their time and dedication. Though the members of the committee have not sought remuneration for their labor, best practices today include compensating Black, Indigenous and other Peoples of Color for their time and labor to bring racial diversity to councils addressing racial inclusivity in institutions.” 

Respecting leadership is a wonderful idea, listening, making recommendations, being honored for contributions, time and dedication applauded!

The concept of Advisory part needs noticing. The ACR agreed to this set up. To make a decision in conjunction with the Board would model the kind of collaboration we need. That needs clear communication, being aware of who makes the decisions and adhering to confidentiality when appropriate.

I hear a desire for a better working relationship and that includes everyone involved. It is my hope that by Listening we will be informed accurately, really hearing all sides. When we listen to understand, we will Learn and discover the path forward. This openness will bring about Change, and then we can Act.

I am dreaming about this kind of future for us all.

Jessica Mauer said: Sep 1, 2020
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Kalamazoo, MI
5 posts

I would like to express my agreement with Mr. Kossler’s statement. I also do not personally want to see the SAA restructed on DEI principles. While I have only been a Suzuki teacher for four years, I grew up Suzuki as well, and I would have to agree with Mr. Kossler that any large organization may have fringe elements, but those are not reflective of the membership as a whole. To suggest the entire membership needs DEI training is, in my opinion, something that should be stated cautiously if it is stated at all; this is entirely my own opinion.
That there are responses on this thread in support of the Board of Directors’ statement, and in support of the open letter from members of the ACR, shows how varied SAA membership is. I believe the Board of Directors showed restraint and respect in their statement. This is a difficult topic, this is a difficult time, and it will be difficult, if not impossible, to find a solution that everyone agrees with.
But if we learn nothing else as Suzuki students and Suzuki teachers, isn’t it that we reach our goals through many small steps? Steps that students and parents may think are too slow, or evading the point, but small steps that do eventually bring us to our goal? I support the Board of Directors. Their statement was the first step in a journey of a thousand steps. To echo Mr. Kossler again, I hope they will be encouraged to make changes that are consistent with the desires of the majority of the SAA membership.
Jessica Mauer
Suzuki Piano Teacher

Kelly Williamson said: Sep 2, 2020
Kelly WilliamsonTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Cambridge, ON
318 posts

Dear Ms Mayer,

You and I have never met—I have been a member of the SAA for 24 years. Not as long as many, but long enough to have made contact with quite a number of Suzuki colleagues who remain my friends and also my admired mentors.

I wonder at your certainty that your view is the one shared by the majority of SAA members. How is it, then, that the large majority of SAA members that I personally know are strongly in favour of DEI training for all SAA members? This is including quite a significant group of teacher trainers as well…

Kelly

MaryLou Roberts said: Sep 2, 2020
MaryLou RobertsTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
SAA Board
Suzuki Association Member
Guitar
Ann Arbor, MI
317 posts

Hi Kelly,
Because we see a snapshot of the membership, and not the whole, there may be a misperception. Those who lean more toward the activist side in forums and on Facebook are more visible and bring forward their views publicly. There are over 7000? members or so. Many are quiet, thoughtful, caring and thinking about all of this, and not voicing their views so strongly. To proceed with care, I see the need to let those with opposing views share, too.

Cecilia Calvelo-Hopkins said: Sep 2, 2020
Cecilia Calvelo-Hopkins
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Suzuki in the Schools
Puzol Valencia, Spain
14 posts

Hi Marylou,

I think that your sentence that says “Many are quiet, thoughtful, caring, and thinking about all of this, and not voicing their views so strongly” is a bit derogatory and yet, in the light of what is happening in the US and elsewhere in the world with BLM, maybe irrelevant.

Derogatory because (correct me if I am wrong) you seem to imply that those “activist” who are voicing their views more loudly are not being “caring or thoughtful” like the quiet ones? If that is what you are saying then I disagree. Voicing our opinions here takes a lot of care and thoughtfulness. We are taking time away from our families and personal life to examine what is happening in our association/society, and time is all we have in life. We just want to get involved and bring about needed change so that ALL teachers and kids CAN be SUZUKI. Of course not all 7000 members of the SAA have the time and/or desire to do this. You have to have some passion and conviction to put yourself out there. I, for example, have nothing to gain by coming here and stating my points of view in public, I’m doing it (like most of the other colleagues who are asking for transparency and action) because we are ready for more, we think we can do better, and we feel this is the time! Look all around us, many orchestras, choirs, school associations, music associations, educators associations, school districts, etc, are putting forward concrete DEI plans of action to address the needs of their BIPOC communities immediately. They are collaborating with them and letting them take the lead. The SAA Board has provided us with forums and this group here, and they have taken steps towards solving these issues but it is not enough.

I also said above that your sentence seems a bit irrelevant, because as you may know from history, in order to bring about any social change, loud voices have to start showing discontent, and those voices start making noise because there was disconformity and awkward silences and pain and exclusion to begin with. So, if we are going to make this world a better place by the compliant and quiet voices, no change would ever happen. These are growing pains that we have to go through, and I believe we will be fine afterwards. It is hard now, because we are dealing with all of this stuff that is heavy and uncomfortable, but that is how life is, this is how humans grow, by confronting difficulties and fear.

And finally, if the “snapshot” vs. the “whole” of the association is of such great concern, we could do a poll or some form of voting where all SAA members are asked to express their opinion, and then we would know more precisely if the quiet voices are leaning one way more than the other. I happen to be a member of the SAA for over 2 decades who has worked and lived and is in close contact with many members of the Suzuki world at large in all North America, Latin America, Europe and Australia and I do not think that our concerns are so rare or unique.

Thank you everyone for all the time you pour into these exchanges, the time of the regular teachers, the SAA Board members, the SAA TTs, the ACR board members, the Suzuki parents, and everyone else. This matters, life matters, justice matters, and BLM.

Cecilia Calvelo-Hopkins
(sorry I have no time to translate all this to Spanish right now, it is very late here in Spain and I teach tomorrow morning)

MaryLou Roberts said: Sep 2, 2020
MaryLou RobertsTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
SAA Board
Suzuki Association Member
Guitar
Ann Arbor, MI
317 posts

Hi Celia, and Colleagues,

“Derogatory because (correct me if I am wrong) you seem to imply that those “activist” who are voicing their views more loudly are not being “caring or thoughtful”

Sorry, that is not what I meant.

I mean that there are other passionate teachers who are not speaking out as strongly but are just as caring about Black Lives Matter. They should be allowed to do so and be equally heard without saying they are “wrong” or starting a debate. That is why we aren’t hearing other views on this forum and other places. I think there are many angles to listen to, and when we listen, we will find our path to inclusion.

I am saying that each person needs to be authentic, so please also allow this, too.

There are studies showing that mandatory DEI training is not effective.

I too have nothing to gain by posting here, just to stand for balance and allowing everyone to feel safe as we journey through this tough time. Why be forceful? We know as Suzuki teachers that doesn’t work. We can work better with a little more space and confidence in our leadership, be allies…we can do this!

Andrea said: Sep 2, 2020
Andrea Kelley
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
Lenexa, KS
1 posts

Hi MaryLou,

You said, “Why be forceful? We know as Suzuki teachers that doesn’t work. We can work better with a little more space and confidence in our leadership, be allies…we can do this!”

The simple reason to be clear (forceful, using your word) is that people are literally dying and being killed because black lives do not matter as much as white ones. The unconscious racism of nice people is one of the subtle ways in which this unfair and deadly treatment of black citizens is allowed to persist. Some of us don’t have time to wait.

You may not be able to comprehend this, and I’m far from the first person to say this, but i fear for my son’s life EVERY DAY he walks out the door. EVERY SINGLE DAY. Since when is the Suzuki philosophy not in line with justice and peace for everyone? Please let us get on the right side of this. Please. I am begging.

DEI now. I don’t care what studies you read, MaryLou. Can we at least try to understand, as teachers living in this world, what is going on and why Black Lives Matter must be stated and acknowledged? Is it really a matter of opinion?

MaryLou Roberts said: Sep 3, 2020
MaryLou RobertsTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
SAA Board
Suzuki Association Member
Guitar
Ann Arbor, MI
317 posts

Hi Andrea,
Thank you for expressing your “why” in all of this. I do comprehend. By asking questions, I learn, and in no way do I intend to not have DEI initiatives in my life or in my local Institute. I have plans. The question is: how does training Suzuki teachers help to keep our Black and Brown children be safe? If they are valued in their Suzuki programs, that would be a good start, and within our power to change what we can. So as to respect the topic of this thread, I will start another to collect ideas for action to reach out that Suzuki teachers can do to be inclusive.
Thanks for your help,
m

Priscilla said: Sep 3, 2020
Priscilla JonesTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
11 posts

I agree that the SAA Board should be listening to its Advisory Committees.   I also know people on the SAA Board to be loving and caring people, and  I look forward to reading a response from them.

I just listened to a podcast called Hidden Brain, You 2.0:  Empathy Gym.
It’s about Empathy and Racism.

The main point I got from the clip was that Empathy is not a fixed personality trait.   People have to exercise their “empathy muscles.”  We also need to be aware that our Empathy gets colored in ways we often don’t even notice, because in fact we are all more empathetic to our own kind – our own kind being the people who live in the same environment as we do.   It takes training and effort to get ourselves to recognize this.

The podcast gives as examples: 

  • situations where police are more empathetic to their own group – their fellow officers, rather than empathetic to the people they deal with.

  • a group of fans can be more empathetic to a team and team spirit, rather than empathetic to another human being who has a different team to support.  

  • I would add, an SAA Board listens to their own ideas, but doesn’t take the time to listen to their committees.   Or….

  • SAA community members react to a letter without hearing both sides.

In certain situations we are blinded to our own empathy-biases.  Dr. Suzuki showed us how much the environment we live in shapes us.   I support the idea of the SAA environment changing in ways that allow us to address the issues of DEI. Thank you for boldly and clearly bringing forward the issue of communication and listening.

Let’s continue to build our SAA community empathy muscles.

Jessica Mauer said: Sep 3, 2020
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Kalamazoo, MI
5 posts

Dear Ms. Williamson,
I didn’t mean to give the impression that my views are held by the majority of the SAA membership. I don’t believe I said that, but maybe I should have re-read what I had written a few more times before I posted it.
I wanted to share my views, which I seem to share at least in part with Mr. Kossler, who I am also certain has been a member of the SAA much longer than I have been, and knows many more people in the membership than I do.
I also wanted to encourage the Board of Directors in what I felt was a reasonable statement, and reasonable steps moving forward, taking into consideration the varied membership of the SAA.
But I also haven’t met any Suzuki teacher or student (in over twenty four years of being a Suzuki student, an accompanist for Suzuki group classes, and a Suzuki teacher) who has engaged in racist comments, racist behavior, or racist practices in their studio, school, or institute, while in my presence. I have never read an article in the Suzuki Journal that used racist language, or encouraged or promoted racist actions. I have learned from Suzuki teachers and fellow students of all colors. I don’t see the need to re-train any of these kind and compassionate SAA members on DEI principles, and I hope they would feel genuinely insulted if it was insinuated they needed the training, too. It’s one thing to continue on the path of lifelong learning, it’s another to be told that you require certain re-training. That is my personal opinion, and I don’t think the entire SAA membership is in agreement with me.
Jessica Mauer
Suzuki Piano Teacher

Kelly Williamson said: Sep 3, 2020
Kelly WilliamsonTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Cambridge, ON
318 posts

Thank you for clarifying, Jessica. (I hope that is okay even though we have not met!!!) I did get the impression that you thought your and Bill’s views represented the majority opinion. I don’t think anyone has any data to represent what the majority opinions are—as Cecilia said above, this would be important information for the association to gather.

The following comment is not directed to you specifically, but it follows the discussion about what the majority of the SAA members support, or even opine. I don’t think that we can forget that schools were integrated by force. If it had been left to the wishes or comfort of the majority, it would not have taken place. Some things need to be done because they are right.

Many racist acts take place unperceived by people who are directly watching. Racism can be very subtle as well as overt. It is possible to feel defensive and that we have nothing to learn or to improve in the way that we interact with people of other backgrounds or cultures… it is also possible to focus instead on training in improved communication (including the examination of bias) as being part of lifelong learning, and something through which we may grow on a personal level.

All the best,

Kelly

Kelly

Jessica Mauer said: Sep 3, 2020
 
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Kalamazoo, MI
5 posts

Kelly-Yes, using my first name is fine :) It feels like we’ve met now, anyway.
I’ve appreciated learning from everyone’s opinions on this thread, thank you very much. I’m not getting email updates when new comments are added, so I’m not going to post anymore until I get that sorted out. Thank you again for the learning opportunities that are available on this thread, and especially for the original post from the members of the ACR that got it started.
Jessica Mauer
Suzuki Piano Teacher

Elizabeth Guerriero said: Sep 4, 2020
Elizabeth Guerriero
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
Lawrence Township, NJ
55 posts

Dear Suzuki Association Board of Directors, and Pam Brasch CEO/Executive Director,

It has now been 10 days since the open letter from the Advisory Committee on Race with no public response. The continued marginalization of BIPOC voices in the SAA is unconscionable and unethical.

To quote Dr. Suzuki (and their original letter above) “Anything you think of doing, however insignificant, should be done immediately. Spur yourself on and carry it through without becoming discouraged. If this becomes an ingrained habit, things you thought were impossible will become possible, and closed doors will open, as you will discover in many ways.” How will the SAA make things right?

Sincerely,

Dr. Elizabeth Guerriero

Esther Fellows said: Sep 4, 2020
Esther FellowsTeacher Trainer
SAA Board
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Mounds, OK
235 posts

Hello Kelly. Speaking not as a Board member, I would like to address your statement to quote:
“…don’t think that we can forget that schools were integrated by force….” (posted Sept 3)

In 1968 when MLK was assassinated, (in April), many students in the Denver area, myself included, banded together to begin integration in the Denver Public School System. We attended School Board meetings that were open, and voluntarily gave up our places in the predominantly white schools that we went to, and gave the places to the kids who were in predominantly Black and Hispanic schools. That was absolutely not by force. It gave the school system some breathing room to begin a process of integration, which did not take place overnight. However, it did take place. And up to that point in Denver, attendance at a school was not by race, but by location of home. There was Blacks and Hispanics and others of color in my school and had been in elementary, junior and senior high schools.

My experience was two schools, vastly different, one with more races than I had been around before and one more focused on goals and competition than I can verbally describe. It was a wonderful experience in many ways.

While the assassination of MLK was horrible, devastating to a myriad of white people who hated the distinction of one person over another, simply on the basis of skin color, it was not an act to FORCE integration. Caring people all over the USA responded. I’m sure our group of students was not the only one in the USA to do what we did.

One thing I’d like to point out is that our volunteerism, in a spirit of love and aid, gave the DPSBoard and administration some room and time to make decisions. Your assertion of integration by force leaves out a great deal of information and is a blanket statement.

Kelly Williamson said: Sep 4, 2020
Kelly WilliamsonTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Cambridge, ON
318 posts

Hello Esther—I admit this is quite confusing. Why were the US grand marshals present, if Ruby Bridges and the other children did not need physical protection?

I have seen photos and footage of white people screaming obscenities at Ruby and holding signs, and other unspeakable images of the worst kinds of threats against her. I have read John Steinbeck’s eyewitness testimony (and that of others) attesting to what happened, and how schools in the south were desegregated.

This may be history that I did not live. But it is history that is well documented.

Kelly

Kelly Williamson said: Sep 4, 2020
Kelly WilliamsonTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Cambridge, ON
318 posts

Regarding the use of the word “force” with respect to the process of school integration in the US—and particularly in Denver—a friend sent me the following article:

https://www.5280.com/2018/05/the-legacy-of-denvers-forced-school-busing-era/

Kelly

Elizabeth Guerriero said: Sep 4, 2020
Elizabeth Guerriero
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
Lawrence Township, NJ
55 posts

Dear Ms. Fellows,

How lovely to hear from you once again as a not board member! As a board member, do you think you could, after 10 days of inexcusable inaction and deafening silence by the Suzuki Association Board of Directors and CEO Executive Director Pam Brasch on this issue, rally the board to provide a reasonable response to the over 200 members who have written the board directly or via petition over the last week, as you so boldly rallied for Denver Public Schools in the 1960s? Or at least provide a response to the three grievanced members of the Advisory Committee on Race?

Note: Per the bylaws of the ISA, SAA Board meetings are required to be open and I have requested in writing on August 15th notification. Those Denver Public School Board meetings were open. The board has not responded to this request.

International Suzuki Association Bylaw: 1.4.C.Each Regional Association shall be democratically structured and function democratically, including but not limited to election of Directors and other leadership by vote of its Country Members and/or individual members in each country; having open Board meetings at which any member may attend; and providing that actions taken on behalf of the Regional Association are approved by its Board.

Please notify membership regarding when the public meetings are occurring as soon as possible so interested parties can attend.

Dr Elizabeth M. Guerriero

Dear Suzuki Association Board of Directors, and Pam Brasch CEO/Executive Director, 

It has now been 10 days since the open letter from the Advisory Committee on Race with no public response. The continued marginalization of BIPOC voices in the SAA is unconscionable and unethical.

To quote Dr. Suzuki (and their original letter above) “Anything you think of doing, however insignificant, should be done immediately. Spur yourself on and carry it through without becoming discouraged. If this becomes an ingrained habit, things you thought were impossible will become possible, and closed doors will open, as you will discover in many ways.” How will the SAA make things right for the members of the Advisory Committee on Race, Marla Majett, Andrea Kelley and Carolina Borjas who boldly spoke out about injustice in the organization?

Sincerely,

Dr. Elizabeth Guerriero

Julie Bamberger Roubik said: Sep 4, 2020
Julie Bamberger Roubik
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Violin
Milwaukee, WI
16 posts

Why have we not heard anything from the SAA Board on either of the letters posted here? I think there has been more than enough communication from the membership to indicate there is widespread desire for SYSTEMIC change in the organization. And yet nothing has been heard—not even a “we hear you and we’re discussing your concerns” message. This bothers me.

Julie Bamberger Roubik
Wisconsin Conservatory of Music Suzuki Faculty
[javascript protected email address]

Hannah said: Sep 5, 2020
Hannah Mindeman Shuman
Suzuki Association Member
Piano
Austin, TX
2 posts

Same, Julie. I know people are busy and overwhelmed—but some sort of response is necessary.

Elizabeth Erb Sherk said: Sep 6, 2020
 
Suzuki Association Member
33 posts

Good Evening on Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020.
I have just read this long and very engaging conversation among our members in my gmail account entitled “SAA Discussion Weekly Summary” and posted at 4 am this Sunday morning.
My contribution to the conversation is three links that have also shown up in my inbox this week and also on Facebook.

I saw this on the BBC and thought you should see it:

The Nigerian drummer who set the beat for US civil rights - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-53985119 Babatunde Olatunje probably deserves a place in the consciousness of the Suzuki Membership right up there next to Shinichi Suzuki.

The Muthadi International Drumming Festival here in Toronto was active all this Labour Day Weekend. I am just tuning into the recording of it on Facebook. Muthadi is a Toronto based drummer from West Africa who should be known to us Suzuki Music Educators. https://www.facebook.com/muhtadidrumfest/videos/227541545363061

Arun Pal percussionist is another world class musical artist in our Canadian community who has been coming to Southwestern Ontario Suzuki Summer Institute ( SOSI) for years and leading our children, parents and teachers in great rhythm and improvising workshops. http://www.arunpalmusic.com/

I do not think Arun is merely a “token member of our community”.

I send these by way of encouragement that Diversity, Equality and Inclusion are NOT FRINGE CONCERNS! They are central to world peace, which was one of Suzuki’s Central concerns.

Elizabeth Sherk, pianist at North York Suzuki School of Music in Toronto.

Beth Cantrell said: Sep 8, 2020
Beth CantrellTeacher Trainer
SAA Board
Suzuki Association Member
306 posts

Dear fellow SAA members,

I am writing to you as an individual, a person who cares deeply for Dr Suzuki’s mission, and for the dignity of every person.

I hear your cries for change, and see your frustration. I recognize your pain, your fear and anxiety. I hear you.

As we continue on this journey together, I ask for three things, and they are hard things: 

-Trust – I recognize that this is a difficult request; many are disinclined to give trust right now. Please choose to believe that you are being heard and that action ensues.

-Patience – our current situation around how we communicate has grown over many years. It will take time and practice to remedy. Both for individuals and for the organization.

-Grace – Please, let us not give up on each other. Be kind. Breathe deep. Allow space for learning.

Thank you.

For the Happiness of Children,

Dr Beth Cantrell

Beth Cantrell

Elizabeth Guerriero said: Sep 9, 2020
Elizabeth Guerriero
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
Lawrence Township, NJ
55 posts

Dear Dr. Cantrell, the Suzuki Association Board of Directors, and Pam Brasch, CEO/Executive Director,

How can the membership trust when it’s now been 15 days with no response to the open letter from the Advisory Committee on Race?

It’s difficult to be patient with a board that consistently demonstrates an “our response is no response” attitude towards the hundreds of members who’ve signed petitions and written emails in support of Marla Majett, Carolina Borja, and Andrea Kelley. This is an attitude that has been present not just in this moment, or all summer, but for many years.

Perhaps the board could show true grace by elevating marginalized voices. Appoint at least 5 BIPOC board members immediately.

Sincerely,

Dr. Elizabeth M. Guerriero

Shulamit Kleinerman said: Sep 10, 2020
Shulamit Kleinerman
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Seattle, WA
29 posts

Dear Dr. Cantrell, the Suzuki Association Board of Directors, and Pam Brasch, CEO/Executive Director,

In adding my voice to this important conversation, I want to say first that I have some patience for the fundamental slowness of action from the organizational structures in any nonprofit. Budgets have to be drawn up. Bylaws can prohibit a desired pathway for action. A few boardmembers who just aren’t keeping up with their email can delay a whole group being able to assemble to vote on the simplest action point. Or the group may sincerely be trying to make change but some board members may intentionally block it. Or a big donor may pressure you. When I hear the language of demand for immediate change, even when it’s a change I long to see, I always feel empathy for the individuals in any organization who are tasked to respond, since I know that just like passing laws, there are tedious processes, legal and political, that truly can’t be avoided.

But I also understand that folks making demands don’t start out with the language of impatience. People get to the point of urgent demands only after many instances of frustration, and when “asking nicely” hasn’t gotten them anywhere — for weeks, for years, for generations. After a summer of disappointing resistance from the SAA Board, I’m in awe of the grace and respect that Marla Majett, Andrea Kelley, and Carolina Borja have shown in their open letter. This is exactly the kind of leadership that I want to see, for my students of color, for my white students, and for myself as I take my own tentative steps toward confronting and undoing the legacy of racism in my own teaching practice. Please, for heaven’s sake, take the good advice that they are giving because they were asked to do so.

Many of us as white people are newcomers to this work — the work of facing how we have inherited the pitfalls of racism without even knowing or intending it, and how we may be reenacting them without knowing it, even in our professional work. If we’re embracing the process of change, no doubt we’re going to make mistakes along the way. Without more information, I would start from the assumption that the Board’s failure to make clear communication channels with its own advisory committee is that kind of rookie mistake.

The thing about this kind of mistake is that it’s really doable to acknowledge and repair it. As musicians and music teachers, we know that mistakes are an inevitable part of the learning process. The point is to learn from them and to be transparent. What is so damaging in the various half-responses from members of the Board, all summer long, is the defensive stance, the failure to take responsibility. The work is slow, many of you are working hard to rise to the occasion (thank you — I really do believe you), and there are real impediments — but those things can’t serve as excuses. I keep hearing something along the lines of, “Stop blaming us, we’re working hard.” Without the defensiveness, you could choose to speak for your experience in a very different way: “We’re working hard, and the changes are still too slow. I see that, and I’m sorry. I won’t give up.”

I get it that board members of the SAA didn’t know they’d be called to do emergency antiracism work this summer, and perhaps many of them might not have signed up for the job if they had known. (This is why bringing in some new voices is really important! Not only would it help the community, it would take some of the pressure off of you.) Being asked to change is really, really hard. It’s especially hard to take responsibility for injuries that we contributed to without even knowing. So I have compassion for the resistance that comes up—the feeling that people are still mad at you no matter what you do.

What I would suggest is that when people are asking you to change, it’s not because they are trying to threaten you or your work — it’s actually because they want to stay in relationship with you. It’s not an insult or an attack, it’s an invitation to heal the relationship. We are called to do this every day in our relationships with our students and in our families. To have the opportunity to do the hardest kind of growth in our professional work is actually an amazing gift.

Beth Cantrell above asks for grace, patience, and trust, as if those things are being withheld. I would suggest that grace is being shown right here, in the leadership of Marla, Andrea, and Carolina, and in our community coming together on behalf of the voices that have been silenced in our field. Patience has been shown (and I am so gobsmacked to hear a white woman lecture people of color about patience that I don’t even know what to say). Trust? Trust is earned, and as an individual I may personally find it hard to trust this organization’s values after its thinly-veiled “all lives matter” letter in the spring and after its false claim that nonprofits are somehow not allowed to affirm the value of black lives. But in reaching out to the Board and asking for change, trust is exactly what this community is giving you, again. It’s giving you the trust and respect of believing that you can do this hard work, that you can rise to the occasion, that you can do better by your colleagues and make the Suzuki community a healthier and safer place for all of its members.

Sarah Bylander Montzka said: Sep 10, 2020
Sarah Bylander MontzkaTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
203 posts

Thank you, Shulamit Kleinerman.

Kelly Williamson said: Sep 10, 2020
Kelly WilliamsonTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Cambridge, ON
318 posts

Thank you Shulamit. Every word.

Kelly

Charles Krigbaum said: Sep 11, 2020
Charles KrigbaumTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Wylie, TX
78 posts

Thank you, Shulamit Kleinerman!

This message has been brought to you by:

Charles Krigbaum, Director
North Texas School of Talent Education
www.ntste.com
www.facebook.com/NorthTexasSchoolofTalentEducation

Lauren Cless said: Sep 11, 2020
Lauren Cless
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Acton, MA
2 posts

Thank you, Shulamit! Deep appreciation for your perspective.

Lauren

Mark Mutter said: Sep 11, 2020
Mark MutterTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Detroit, MI
7 posts

Thank you Shulamit!

Your words are exactly what we all need to hear.

I implore everyone to read Shulamit’s words!

Mark

Alexander Revoal said: Sep 11, 2020
Alexander Revoal
Suzuki Association Member
Cello
Oak Park, IL
3 posts

Thank you Shulamit! Your words are a compassionate and respectful reminder that we are, all of us, here to do the continuing, and unending work of making the SAA a more perfect organization.

Meret said: Sep 11, 2020
Meret BitticksTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
Flute
Evanston, IL
12 posts

Thank you, Shulamit for your thoughtfulness and eloquence. I hope the Board takes your words to heart.

Elizabeth Guerriero said: Sep 12, 2020
Elizabeth Guerriero
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
Lawrence Township, NJ
55 posts

Thank you, Shulamit for your eloquence and gentle, clear tone. So much could be fixed if the Board truly wanted it fixed and you’ve mapped it out so clearly.

I wonder, are they listening?

Carole Kane said: Sep 13, 2020
Carole Kane
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Chesterfield, MO
18 posts

Thank you, Shulamit for your graceful words expressing what we all are feeling and inviting the SAA Board to do better! We are all watching, listening, and waiting, with high expectations. The end is inevitable, so why are we still waiting?

Carole Kane

Carrie Reuning-Hummel said: Sep 14, 2020
Carrie Reuning-HummelTeacher Trainer
Institute Director
Suzuki Association Member
44 posts

Some early morning thoughts that I wanted to put here, even before they are completely ready to put in public, possibly….

When the Suzuki approach was first introduced to the USA (and I believe Canada) in 1964, there were many well-known violinists that were adamantly against the method. I came to have a theory about this: that violinists who have been told from the age of three that their “talent” for music is a gift from God, and that they are special because of it, have a strong need to remain special. They know nothing else. They personify themselves through this messaging. They cannot possibly even see how masses of children could be special too, that every child can.

In the same way, I am wondering about us as Suzuki teachers. Each one of us chose this approach for very personal reasons, but I would bet that most are in it because we want a world that reflects the beautiful values that Suzuki espoused. We truly want to nurture each child who crosses our path. This is truth. And it is not a bad thing that we are personified by this choice we have made.

But, it is a heart-breaking truth that there is an underbelly to our world that we can not ignore any longer. Our society is allowing black people (I am sticking to BLM for this theory) to be killed for the color of their skin and our society is allowing us to offer less to people of color in so many, many ways. Of course I could go on and on about what our society is doing and has done for centuries. I am part of society. It could be very tempting to sink in to all of my good intentions. After all, there is hardly a moment of my whole life- my teaching life of almost 50 years (!)- that has not been for the good of children. I have deeply personified myself with this work. It is horrifying to realize that the intention of my life has not been pure solution, and that I have unintentionally left many children behind.

It is my responsibility to STOP with the blind spot. It is the responsibility of each of us to stop. But we absolutely need leadership and expert help in this area where we are raw beginners. I am not comfortable being a beginner in this area but I know enough to know that I need help with seeing and knowing what to do.

I think that part of the outrage from people who already see the blind spots in our association and individuals, is that they also personify themselves as being part of a group of people who should be for the good of all children. This is personal to each one of us. I hope that during this season of anxiety and anger all around us, that our Suzuki family can use our philosophy to truly and intentionally make world change. We owe it to ourselves.

William Kossler said: Sep 14, 2020
William KosslerTeacher Trainer
Suzuki Association Member
Guitar
Winston-Salem, NC
8 posts

Dear SAA membership,
I appreciate the posts I’ve read here by those of us interested in positive change and are addressing the vestiges of racism that exist in ALL of us. I am also deeply troubled by much of what I read in what comes to my email inbox as a summary of this discussion. I don’t know the details of the history of the grievances referenced by the people responding to Beth Cantrell’s recent well written and heartfelt letter, so I can’t answer these people in detail. I do know Beth well, though, and I know that she has her heart in the right place. I also know for a fact that she is a very competent leader, a good listener, and is working diligently to make right whatever it is that needs to be corrected in our SAA.
It is my hope that the general membership of the SAA will not read these posts in their email boxes and assume that Beth is either insensitive or incompetent. We are lucky to have her in her present position serving us. Lets please be careful that our posts are not misunderstood as personal attacks. Most of what I read is careful about this, some is not.
Bill Kossler

Elizabeth Guerriero said: Sep 22, 2020
Elizabeth Guerriero
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Viola
Lawrence Township, NJ
55 posts

Dear Suzuki Association Board of Directors and Pam Brasch, CEO/Executive Director,

Circling back, where is the reasonable response due to membership? Hundreds of members have written in response to the injustices outlined by the Advisory Committee on Race in the letter originally posted above.

Membership awaits some fantasy of the Carver Governance ‘everyone speaks with one voice’ to explain steps forward that has not, does not come. The timeline is a seeming abyss—in a system designed to mute diverse voices- while the reality is that there are just SIX (6!) BLACK leaders in the association among all the 742 Chapter leaders, Teacher Trainers, Lifetime Members and Program Directors, and the Advisory Committee on Race (ACR). In fact, FOUR (4!) are on that very committee, the ACR.

Where is the outside, DIVERSE arts-based neutral outside consulting to fix all this? It is time. Sincerely,

Dr. Elizabeth M. Guerriero

Jennifer Kovarovic said: Sep 24, 2020
Jennifer Kovarovic
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
Seattle, WA
19 posts

Dear Marla, Andrea, and Carolina,

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts, expertise, and vision with our community.

I did not see the letter to the SAA (posted by Caroline Salisbury) in time to sign, but I support and endorse every word of it. Black Lives Matter.

  • Jen

You must log in to post comments.

A note about the discussion forum: Public discussion forum posts are viewable by anyone. Anyone can read the forums, but you must create an account with your email address to post. Private forums are viewable by anyone that is a part of that private forum's group. Discussion forum posts are the opinion of the poster and do not constitute endorsement by or official position of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, Inc.

Please do not use the discussion forums to advertise products or services