The 2012 SAA Conference, “40 and Forward!” was a landmark event that featured quality, quantity, and a passion for learning and sharing. After two years of brainstorming and planning, it was thrilling to see and feel real people gather together in real time and a real space, ready to go forward!

The success and hopeful spirit of the conference was a tribute to:

  • The forty-two instrument and area coordinators and assistants who worked and reworked ideas to forge meaningful, inclusive sessions.

  • The SAA board of directors for the theme and serving in countless ways to facilitate the conference.

  • The presenters who spent many hours creating and refining sessions to bring forth excellence to the membership.

  • The hosts and assistants who contributed to the smooth execution of sessions and whose summaries will appear in this journal.

  • The CEO, Pam Brasch, for her skillful guidance throughout the process, and her dedicated SAA staff, for presenting the conference in an inviting, professional manner, and for being so kind and committed to making everything run smoothly.

  • The general membership who volunteered ideas, time, and willing hands whenever needed, prior to and during the conference.

  • The clinicians and guest artists, who inspired and shared expertise and wisdom with the conference attendees.

  • The 895 conference participants for finding the means to attend the conference and sharing a joyful spirit of inquiry and purpose.

  • The membership’s belief in the worth of a child and the impact that quality Suzuki education can have on his or her environment.

Thank you all for awakening our spirits through being together and working to continue learning and growing!
The conference events began in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Thursday evening with a guitar concert and interactive sessions, and continued through Monday morning with a heartwarming closing address, “The Joy of Giving and Receiving” from the new board of directors chair-elect, Marilyn Kesler.

2012 was a celebratory year, marking the fortieth anniversary of the SAA and more than fifty years of Suzuki education in the Americas. The Kaleidoscope Concert with host Bill McGlaughlin and a selection of young Suzuki student performers set in motion a host of celebration activities. The disciplined, inspiring performances and interviews of this fabulous concert vividly showcased the diligence, excellence, and stages of study indigenous to the Suzuki method.

Gilda Barston, Bill Starr, and Barbara Wampner at the 2012 Conference

Gilda Barston, Bill Starr, and Barbara Wampner

Bill Starr, an SAA founder, presented a keynote address, “SAA is 40! Visiting the Past, Vitalizing the Future.” With humor and insight, Mr. Starr captivated the audience with the history and emergence of the Association from its humble beginnings in a Chicago hotel in 1972. Judy Bossuat-Gallic presented a fascinating session, “Shinichi Suzuki: Environment Shapes the Man, His Method and His Teaching” that brought to life the teacher and founder of the method.

Other celebrating occurred Sunday evening at a Heritage Banquet with special speeches from Sanford Reuning—“Looking Back” and Ruth Engle Larner—“Looking Forward.” Susan Baer presented a challenge to every SAA member to do something meaningful that would express gratitude for the SAA organization. Each of us wrote an idea on a postcard that was collected for future mailing and reminding of this seminal moment. Later that evening, the incredible Time for Three, (“The world’s first classically-trained garage band!”) featuring Nick Kendall, Zach De Pue, and Ranaan Meyer, gave a benefit concert to support the SAA Scholarship Program. Their encore, “Amazing Grace,” was an emotional moment, and an appropriate tribute for forty years of the SAA!

Special conference themes included sessions examining the music of J.S. Bach and the musical elements of the Baroque era. Each instrument with Bach literature featured informative presentations on the topic. A lecture/performance keynote by Katie Lansdale enthusiastically launched the teachers into the topic. Bach master classes and further Bach performances were given in instrument areas. Thanks to the great presentations, the response was overwhelmingly positive!

Brian Lewis and friend at the 2012 conference

Brian Lewis and Anna Joiner

Another conference theme was community engagement. Keynote speaker Brian Lewis spoke about the “importance of art and having it accessible to every child, because we all need to experience art, regardless of our background.” Specific details about how to make this happen were given. Other presentations suggested music, themes, and the logistics of engagement locally and abroad.

In addition to the above mentioned events, the conference was a venue for every instrument area to put forth a full spread of stimulating sessions, for thirty-seven general sessions, for two exhilarating SYOA orchestras, for student performing groups, for the Clinicians Concert, for an exhilarating Ensembles Concert, for keynote addresses and for connecting, networking, sharing, and kindling commitment and gratitude for the Suzuki method and the SAA organization.

Enjoy the conference summaries that follow and be grateful that so many SAA members took the time to make the 2012 conference a reality. It was 100%, genuine Suzuki spirit—an incredible experience!