Closing Address: The Joy of Giving and Receiving

by Marilyn Kesler, Chair-Elect

As teachers, we are always giving, but in return we are blessed with gifts well beyond our sacrifices. Churchill wrote, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Maybe this is the reason so many of us continue teaching well beyond a retirement age. The mere fact is that we are rewarded every day with the joy of teaching. I am sure you are asked often, “Don’t you tire of teaching Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star?” Your answer is probably the same as mine. “No, I don’t tire of teaching Twinkle, because although the tune doesn’t change, teaching Twinkle to each and every child is different and special.”

As we give of ourselves to our students and to our organization, we are helping to prepare others for their future. Thank you for your service to others. May you be rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing you are touching the hearts of many children and their families, which is making a difference in the world.

40th Anniversary Postcard

By Dr. Susan Baer, presented at the Birthday Dinner, May 27, 2012, on behalf of the Board of Directors

Good evening! My name is Sue Baer and I chair the SAA board development committee. That’s the committee that is charged with figuring out ways to raise money for SAA. You may not realize it, but the revenue generated from your membership dues is just barely enough to sustain the minimal operations of this organization. Anything beyond that such as scholarships, programs, and program support must come from sources above and beyond membership dues. That’s why it may seem to you that we always have our hand outstretched! It’s actually quite uncomfortable to maintain this posture, especially with you, our friends and colleagues, but we do it because we are utterly committed to the belief that the SAA will shape the future of music education in this world.

We’re here tonight to celebrate all of the marvelous things we’ve accomplished in the last forty years and also to look forward and to imagine what lies ahead for the SAA. What is it we want? What are the possibilities? What can we, as an organization, do to affect a positive change?

In a very practical sense, in order for our organization to thrive, we need two things: money and action. We need money in order to develop more resources, resources to help us become better teachers and resources to help parents help their children.

The other thing we need is action. We need our membership to network within the organization in order to help each other do our jobs better. We need each member to speak to the masses in order to bring broader visibility to Suzuki education. When the name Suzuki comes up, we want people to think first about music rather than motorcycles. People need to recognize Suzuki education as a powerful approach to developing capable, creative, warm, curious human beings. Each one of us has the power to affect this kind of change, each in a small way, each in our own little corner of the world.

At the Annual Membership Meeting yesterday morning, each Board Member shared a personal pledge to help the SAA move forward. So now I want to ask you: What can you do on behalf of the SAA and all of the people in this room to make a difference? Think money and action. Here are some ideas:

  • Make a financial contribution to SAA: To the annual fund, to a scholarship fund, or honor someone in the SAA website Galaxy of Stars.

  • It may seem a bit morbid, but you can provide for the future of this organization by remembering SAA in your will.

  • Or just tell me the name of someone you know who likes to make large donations to nonprofit organizations that serve the arts and education. I’ll take it from there.

If you can’t spare a dime, then offer up your voice:

  • Volunteer to speak about Suzuki education at your local Rotary Club Meeting, the library, or a university music ed class. And take a student performing group along to drive home your point. A performance is worth a thousand words.

  • Take your students into the community—to arts festivals, malls, retirement homes, summer concerts in the park. Our students are terrific ambassadors for Suzuki education.

  • Reach out your hand to other teachers in your area by collaborating to put on a workshop or master class. Or gather for coffee to discuss ideas about parent education or celebrating book graduations.

  • Offer a studio scholarship to a child in your community who wouldn’t have access to lessons if not for your generosity.

  • Invite a learning disabled child into your studio in order to bring joy to this child’s life and to engage your other students in practicing empathy.

  • Submit an article for the American Suzuki Journal. Everyone has at least one inspirational story to tell or a clever idea to share

The possibilities are truly endless. It doesn’t matter if this contribution is big or small, money or action. But it is up to each one of us to make the future of Suzuki education and the SAA become more than a dream.

On the table in front of you, you will find a postcard. This is your opportunity to make the dream a reality. Please address the postcard to yourself. On the other side of the card, you’ll find a space to make your commitment to the future of the SAA. Think carefully about what it is that you value about this organization. Think about how you would like to see those things unfold in the future. Then think about your own special strengths and assets. How can you put those strengths and assets to work to make our future brighter? Please design a resolution that speaks to your vision of the future of SAA, your commitment to make a difference, and write that on your card. Big or small, money or action. Make it reflect what’s important to you. Someone will be around to collect them shortly. The resolutions on these cards will be read by every Board Member, because your commitments reflect your vision for our future.

In a few months, you’ll find this postcard in your mailbox. After the initial shock of getting a hand addressed card wears off, and you realize it’s your own writing, you’ll see the big “40” and get all nostalgic about the great time you had at the SAA conference way back in May. And then you’ll see the promise you made and think about how really great it feels to be able to make a difference. You’ll relish the satisfaction of knowing that you designed one dynamic act that, in concert with all of the other dynamic acts represented in this room, shaped our future. And then you’ll think, maybe I can do more….

Each one of us will contribute to the future of SAA in our own way. We are many voices, but we share a single heart. To you, the heart of SAA, happy birthday!