Canadian Newsletter
Vol. 4, No. 2, Summer 2022
Vol. 4, n° 2, été 2022
For information/pour vous renseigner

The Canadian Suzuki e-Newsletter apologizes for the late publication of this issue.

Equal Measure Workshop for Teachers

by Sarah Westwick (BC)

In collaboration with the East Vancouver Community Music School, Suzuki violin and viola teacher Sarah Westwick, will host the annual Equal Measure Workshop on Thursday September 1st, 2022 at 10 am PST over Zoom. She will discuss music by composers from historically excluded groups, as well as why it is important to include this music in the repertoire we teach, where to find resources for your teaching studio, and share the experiences we have gained from our annual Equal Measure festival.

Six years ago the EVC started holding a yearly student recital devoted entirely to music by women composers. This was started in recognition that a great deal of wonderful music has been ignored through the centuries in the classical music industry. In 2021 we expanded this to include composers from all historically excluded groups, including Black, Indigenous, trans and other composers. In 2022 we expanded this into a festival; including a student recital which is open to everyone (not just students from our school), followed by a faculty & friends concert so the students can experience hearing professional musicians perform. As a result of COVID we now hold this event with a hybrid model -some students perform live in the venue, others over zoom, and others send in pre-recorded videos to be played at the event. In 2022 we had some violin students from Cambodia participate!

After our 2022 festival we received inquiries from teachers outside of our school requesting help learning about these forgotten composers and finding their music. As a result, we are hosting a seminar to address these questions. In the repertoire portion of the seminar we will focus on solo and chamber music for all levels of students, and there will be an opportunity for participants to ask questions.

We have a grant from the City of Vancouver to host this event making it free to participate. To reserve a spot please fill out the registration form on our website or if you have questions and would like to contact us please send an email to

Suzuki Piano Practice Challenge: Part I

by Elizabeth Sherk (ON)

Let’s begin with a little background: The concept of a Practice Challenge for piano students had been initiated in 2020 in Latin America as a program to bring piano students together, particularly students isolated by the pandemic.

Gail Gebhart, a Suzuki piano teacher and trainer, who has a studio in the Detroit area, learned of this program from Leslie Mizrahi, a Suzuki piano teacher in Mexico City. Gail was captivated by the concept! She was inspired to replicate the Practice Challenge for North American teachers. Some features had to be modified in order to set it up for students in the U.S. and Canada. Take language, for example. All the original source material had been created in Spanish! Fortunately, Leslie is a fluent English speaker, as well as Spanish.

Our two visionaries, Leslie and Gail Gebhart, made an appeal to some Canadian piano teachers inviting them to participate –more about them later. Leslie and Gail chose a playful detective theme for this first year. Using daily clues, participating students followed the clues to find “The Piano Thief” by keeping up their own daily practicing. On the last day, the thief was found, the piano was found, and the online final recitals proceeded with aplomb. All North American teachers who participated were heartened by the interest and enthusiasm for the Practice Challenge concept, as were the families of the students who joined the Challenge.

Leslie and Gail made creative use of several internet platforms: Zoom, Gurucan App, Facebook, Youtube and We Transfer to facilitate a special experience of good piano practice in community during the years of the global pandemic. Their technological wizardry was directed by Ruben Braverman in Mexico. We were in awe of all the ‘happenings’ that were created for the enjoyment – read: practice (!) -possible for the participating students, their families, not to mention the teachers.

As can be expected, there was enthusiasm and interest to re-offer this Challenge in the fall of 2021. Our two visionaries, Leslie and Gail had bigger plans, however. The Practice Challenge for 2022 was to include all the Americas and would happen in at least three languages: English, Spanish and Portuguese. Invitations were extended to teachers in all the Americas to participate. Many more Canadian teachers became involved. (When you read Part II of the Suzuki Piano Tour Practice Challenge, you will meet more Canadian participating teachers other than this writer!)

The second year called the Suzuki Piano Tour Practice Challenge was just that: a piano tour of all the countries of the Americas where families and teachers used the philosophy of Dr. Suzuki to train the art of piano playing to young children as naturally as we teach children to speak our mother tongues. The month-long piano practice challenge resulted in a renewal of ability development. With a rush of accomplished pleasure everyone realized, “Hey! We can play piano easier now at the beginning of April than when we started at the end of February!” For the 419 of us in Year 2 who joined from 17 American countries plus Germany, Qatar, China, Netherlands and Belgium it was a happy experience of realizing “We are not alone! We are part of many, many people all over the world who are training ourselves and our children in the noble character strengths of creativity, peaceful problem solving, and enjoying the process.”

Please read Part 2!

Edmonton Suzuki Piano School’s Family Ensemble Concerts

by Rhonda McEachen (AB)

The Edmonton Suzuki Piano School (ESPS) is alive and well and surviving through the ups and downs of the pandemic. We currently have 13 teachers who work as independent contractors teaching piano lessons and group classes to our ESPS students.

Like all music teachers during the pandemic, we had to get creative! In early 2021 when everyone was stuck at home due to COVID and freezing temperatures, we decided to try out an online event that encouraged families to practice and perform a song together. In April 2021, we held our first Family Ensemble Concerts. These were held online, with both pre-recorded and live performances. There were absolutely no rules: it could be any song the family wanted to prepare using any instruments they had available to them. Some groups had the whole family participating, and others were just a few family members. Some families had some help from their teachers, others were able to take on the task themselves, and we ended up with 22 families participating.

Needless to say, these concerts were amazing, heartwarming, cute, inspiring etc. There were lots of piano duets (we are piano teachers after all), but many other instruments were also used: violin, cello, tambourine, guitar, voice, xylophone, flute, etc.

After that first year, we decided to do it again in April 2022, and this year we had 35 families participating. Once again it was held on Zoom, and an even greater variety of instruments were heard: violin, viola, cello, trumpet, flute, double bass, egg shaker, triangle, and tambourine. It was notable how many more parents participated this year!

These Family Ensemble Concerts allow families to create, practice, perform and enjoy music making together, regardless of skill level. It’s a chance for students to learn some music outside of the Suzuki repertoire and reinforces the Suzuki principle that all children (and their parents) can learn! And what fun to hear a variety of music and instruments in one concert!

We have decided to make this a yearly event as there have been so many positive outcomes. One of the grandmothers who was watching emailed to let me know that she had been feeling low that day, and watching the concert really cheered her up. That confirms what we all know to be true -music enriches and nurtures the human spirit.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s concerts!

SAO Online Event Announcement

Are you looking for ways to enhance your existing family education program? Are you looking to start a new family education program in your studio? Let the Suzuki Association of Ontario (SAO) help you! This fall, Suzuki families will have the opportunity to join a 3-part series of online events. Hosted by Kathleen Schoen (AB), these sessions will focus on introducing the essential elements of the Suzuki philosophy as well as practical techniques for a successful start in a Suzuki studio. Sessions are not instrument specific and are open to all Suzuki families and teachers.

Event series: $25 per family, single event $15.

Registration for your studio and Suzuki families, now open. Discounts available when you register 11 or more families!

Individual session registration, coming soon.September 24, 2022 at 7pm, October 22 at 7pm, 2022, January 2023 TBD.


Suzuki Piano Practice Challenge: Part II

by Elizabeth Sherk (ON)

Please be sure you have read Part I of this remarkable story!

In summarizing Year 2, the focus will be on highlighting the extensive participation of Canadian Suzuki piano teachers as well as to suggest the variety and depth of the experience of all participants. On the Gurucan App, Ruben Braverman and Jarturo Enriquez posted:

  • weekly charts full of interesting practice tips and games including ways to practice while on vacation without access to a piano;
  • cultural clips from 17 countries of the Americas;
  • a 3 hour live streamed workshop for parents and teachers, entitled PIANO WITHOUT BORDERS featuring Caroline Fraser, Françoise Pierredon, and Juan Carlos Barios;
  • an Escape Room Game to enable teachers to get to know each other by playing a quiz game about instruments and dances from our various cultures;
  • a Kahoot Game for older students.

Teachers from different regions prepared short videos on pertinent topics:

  • LISTENING by Gail Gebhart, MI
  • 3 Ps of PRACTICE and “SLOW as SNAILS, and SPEEDY as CHEETAHS” by Heather Bissell, FL
  • “STINKY SOX”, by Vickie Pautz, TX
  • PRACTICE GAMES that her mum played with her and that she now plays with her daughter as they both learn/ed to play piano by Hillary Nordwell, WA
  • THE PRACTICE TREE for players of the Twinkles, the Honey Bee, Lightly Rowand Cuckooby Flor Canelo, PE
  • The KIND HEART, reflecting the Suzuki quote, “The Child’s Smile is a reflection of the Parents’ Smile” by Rae Kate Shen, CA

THE SUZUKI PIANO TOUR PRIVATE FACEBOOK GROUP is still active. It is still possible to see how this challenge actually worked day by day! Catherine Gunn, BC, shared: “I participated in the Piano Tour by joining the Suzuki Piano Tour Private Facebook Group, watching videos of children all over the Americas who were learning the same repertoire as my students. It was heartening to see them all trying so hard and having similar successes and difficulties to my students. I work in an isolated little bubble, so don’t get to see many other Suzuki piano kids.”

Sherk Park 2A
Sherk Park 2B
Sherk Park 2C

Culmination Days were March 26 and 27 with many virtual recitals. Teachers as well as students committed to learning and performing selections from their own country’s music. As the Canadian animator for this year’s challenge I will insert the links prepared by some Canadian teachers:

Diane Briscoe, QC learned a piece from Martha Hill Duncan’s Limestone Etchings, a collection of pieces paired with original pencil drawings which honour the picturesque and historic city of Kingston, Ontario. (contact author for link)

Paula Lin, ON, accompanist/teacher, embraced the opportunity to share “V”-Valse chromatique, composed by Sophie-Carmen Eckhardt Gramatté from her Alphabet Suite. S-C is a Russian Canadian, who with her second husband, Ferdinand Eckhardt, immigrated to Calgary in the 1950s. Both Calgary and Winnipeg have concert halls honouring the contribution these two Russians made to musical culture in Canada. S.-C. and her first husband, Walter Gramatté lived in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. They were befriended by the cellist, Pablo Casals. (We remember that Dr. Suzuki was also befriended and inspired by Maestro Casals in Japan in 1961.) Paula chose to learn a piece composed by this remarkable Russian-Canadian musician just after the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine by Vladimir Putin. The piece sketches vivid images of fresh air dancing through fields of spring. S.-C. marked it “Zefiroso, light as a breeze.”(contact author for link)

Peter MacKinnon from Peterborough shared an audio recording of “Heut’ triumphiret Gottes Sohn” BWV 630, by J.S.Bach, played on the 1721 Schnitger organ of Sint Michaeliskerk (Grote Kerk), Zwolle, Netherlands. (contact author for link)

Elizabeth Sherk learned a piece by the Montreal Jazz artist, Oscar Peterson:

Ching Tien Lo, Toronto based pianist, teacher and dramatic artist prepared an exuberant recording of Brahms’s Capriccio in Bb Op. 76 No. 1:

And, now, what might we do for Year 3?

Check out our website for information about upcoming Institutes and Teacher Development opportunities in Canada:

Suzuki Association of the Americas
PO Box 17310, Boulder CO 80308