Turn Up the Heat!

It is my privilege to greet you at the beginning of a new fiscal year for the SAA, a new term for me as Board Chair. The theme for this edition of the ASJ, Rejuvenation, is so appropriate, as many of us look forward to the beginning of a new academic year with our students. My deep admiration and appreciation go to the thousands of Suzuki teacher members and Teacher Trainers who have invested and sacrificed their time, energy, finances, and intellectual attention into continuing Suzuki training and development to bring out the best in their students.

In our recent Annual General Meeting (July 25, 2023), our Executive Director Angelica Cortez enumerated the core pillars of the SAA: Dr. Suzuki, learning, and community. Dr. Suzuki’s vision and philosophy of education enable us to become a music-learning community. We belong to this community because we strive for excellence in developing “great hearts” through music instruction. Yet, to be an inclusive community that supports growth requires an acceptance that we all are enough. The acceptance we allow each student and each other is never satisfied with static mediocrity, it always encourages rejuvenation and revitalization of mindset and skill in the journey to excellence.

Let’s face it: nurture is our nature. By default, that requires us to focus on inclusivity rather than the limits of exclusive access to what we offer. The ultimate goal of Suzuki principles is helping to make better humans through music. So many of you unsung heroes are engaged in this process regularly, with amazing results. Just a brief commercial: it would be an encouragement to all of us to hear your stories, your “oops” as well as your successes. Please consider submitting to the ASJ!

The Oxford Dictionary defines rejuvenate as “give new energy or vigor to; revitalize.” This season, as we envision our own paths to excellence as teachers and learners (always as learners!), let’s revitalize our perspective by turning up the heat. As unbearably hot as recent weeks have been in the northern hemisphere, I have not lost control of my senses in encouraging this concept. Admittedly, one doesn’t usually think of heat as a source of rejuvenation, particularly not in the summertime, but it is. Getting some rays at the beach, relaxing in a hot tub, warming up from a frigid room, an outdoor barbecue, the aroma of baking bread . . . heat can spark our rejuvenation even when outdoor temperatures are extreme!

Think about it—heat is thermal energy produced through the movement of atoms and molecules. Little things with the potential energy for big changes. We constantly work with the movement of little things and micromovements. Envision the creative actions employed while producing a beautiful tone through the movement of those fingers and supportive posture, or the eternal search for that “aha” expression that energizes and revitalizes teacher and learner alike.

To take the analogy further, heat is transferred through three processes: conduction (through a solid, direct source), radiation (through rays, waves, or particles at the speed of light), and convection (through molecules of gases and liquids). Our students learn through conduction (direct instruction), radiation (nurturing environment, familial support), and convection (the immersive experience of listening and group participation). We’ve been teaching through the properties of heat all along!

For any of you that spend quality time in the kitchen, heat is a necessary change agent enabling the production of life-sustaining nourishment, delectable delights, and warm memories. I encourage you to “turn up the heat” to revitalize your studio and classroom this year. Providing your instructional experiences can be nourishing, delectable, and memorable to you and the families in your studios. In addition, I certainly hope you have been able to take some time for self-nourishment to revitalize and rejuvenate before beginning the new year. We must maintain our restoration and nurture our own spirit. How, you ask? Read on!