Frank Longay Memorial Scholarship

Frank Longay

The Frank Longay Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to a guitar player for Suzuki teacher training.

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A native of California, Suzuki Guitar School pioneer Frank Longay was born in 1948. He began his relationship with the guitar as a teen interested in rock and roll, and was a self-taught performer in the San Francisco Bay area in the 1960’s and ‘70s. Entering college as a guitar major, he immersed himself in classical guitar, eventually studying with Rey de la Torre and George Sakellariou.

Early in his career as a guitar instructor he attended a Suzuki violin recital performed by students from Matsumoto, Japan. This was a life altering experience for him and soon he was working with Suzuki cello teacher Barbara Wampner and Suzuki violin teacher Shannon Murphy learning the details of how Suzuki’s method works. Next, he created his own guitar repertoire and began teaching Suzuki guitar. Building on his success, Mr. Longay reached out to other teachers around the United States and Latin America and together they formed the first SAA and ISA guitar committees. Soon after, the ISA committee work expanded to include ESA guitar teachers as well.

As the founding chairman of both committees, Mr. Longay’s work formed the basis of the growing Suzuki Guitar School repertoire and he began his long career traveling the world teaching the method and training teachers. Meanwhile at home, he founded the Longay Guitar Center, which later became the Longay Conservatory of Guitar. This school was a beacon of excellence in the world of the guitar, and its students have won prestigious awards including the Bay Area Unicef Concerts and the Junior Bach Festivals.

His efforts distinguished him as an internationally recognized music educator and the generations of teachers and young students who benefited from his generous and intense teaching style are legion, and remain devoted to the memory of this very important mentor. Mr. Longay’s legacy is distinguished by his commitment to raising the standards of parent education, the development of tone production, and an organized approach to reading that continues to inspire teachers and parents around the world.

Frank Longay receives the Creating Learning Community award at the 2006 SAA Conference

Frank receives the Creating Learning Community award

Image by TJ Boatman

For his dedication to the development of Suzuki Guitar School and the creation of the Longay Conservatory of Guitar, Mr. Longay was honored as a 2006 recipient of the distinguished Creating Learning Community award presented by the Suzuki Association of the Americas.

When he passed away in 2011, the guitar community mourned the loss of one of its most important and dynamic leaders. Frank Longay will be missed, but his work will live on in the repertoire he did so much to shape, in the incredible playing of his many students, and in the teaching of so many teachers following in his footsteps.

Frank Longay Quotations (Frank-isms)

“My experience is that when I hold a vision for myself, my work and my school it seems to manifest.”

“Suzuki is a vehicle for better parenting and better families.”

“Part of being a good artist is reflection. It is important to have time to reflect.”

“Ask the fingers to do the proper movement. If the fingers are never asked, the muscles will never respond.”

“Should we include the buzzing noises or not? Who thinks yes? Ok, let’s not have them.”

On posture: “Did you know, it’s a proven fact, that there’s a good reason why we do not perform brain surgery in a row boat.”

“Never say it’s too difficult or I can’t. You have to be careful about things you tell yourself.”

Excepts from “Remembering Frank Longay

By the SAA Guitar Committee

“It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Frank Longay. The man who taught and inspired so many left us far earlier than we wished. While his contributions to the development of the guitar are immense, it is his teaching of children that I will remember most. He made a special connection with the youngest students that is hard to describe or replicate. I think they would do anything for him.”
—Joe Pecoraro

“I was one of Frank’s first students back in the early ’80s. Frank always inspired me with his love for teaching and his love for his students. He was warm, patient, innovative, and funny. I always looked forward to my lessons with him and because of his influence, I loved playing guitar and have continued on to make it my career.”
—Connie Sheu (the little girl in Book One)

“Taking a one-week institute with Frank transformed me from a conservatory student in search of a career into a Suzuki teacher and evangelist. Over the years, I took many more workshops with Frank and volunteered to do work for the Method, and through it all, Frank was there like my personal North Pole, setting my compass with his unwavering commitment to Suzuki ideals and his deep belief in the value of children and humanity.”
—Seth Himmelhoch

“Frank came to Ann Arbor for eight years, guiding, prodding, and holding everyone to a higher form of excellence than we had ever dreamed of… Seeing my students being taught by Frank was amazing. Frank was always encouraging, yet challenging; admiring, yet not too soft.”
—MaryLou Roberts

“He was always searching for ways to improve his own teaching and the quality of the experience he provided his students. He held nothing back when it came to the children in his care and he passed that message on to all of those who worked with him over the years. As we move on, I will remember the training sessions, the jokes, the volleyball, the passion for our work and the respect that was shown to everyone he worked with.”
—Andy Lafreniere

“Frank’s identity will forever be associated with this Method and philosophy that he both loved and sought to emulate with all his resources. His school has “painted the dream” for a whole generation of guitarists, and his commitment to excellence is something that all of us in the Suzuki Guitar community will do our best to carry forward.”
—William Kossler