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At the 2018 Conference, all Affiliated Chapters were invited to a session to connect and hear news of each other’s recent successful projects. The comments from each of the Chapters were audio recorded. Here is an edited (for clarity) transcript of the conversations.

General Question: What are some of the less-known SAA services for chapters?
—There is time budgeted for a once-a-year phone conversation between the Chapter Liaison in the office and Chapter leadership. Some chapters have used this time to discuss upcoming by-law changes, create recruiting materials, or to have a sounding board for solution finding. Each Chapter is their own independent organization, separate from the SAA, so SAA can not dictate plans of action, but we can listen, reflect what we see, and tell you what we see has worked in other Chapters, and connect you with them.
—If you provide all of the content and graphics, we will send up to two emails a year to all the SAA members in your area. Suggested use: one email about the benefits of membership, and one to announce your largest event of the year.

Suzuki Association of Washington State
Topics: Success of yearly festival, leadership from younger generations, discussion of gathering spaces.

Barbara Riley, SAWS : We’ve had a festival every year for almost 40 years. We had an original agreement that Carol Cross made with the then president of the college who was so impressed with what we did that he said, “We will offer you ½ price (on rent) forever.” Of course, like all institutions, the budget for our university is really tight, and they just across the board told all organizations like us… they said, we can’t offer that to you anymore. In the meantime they are tearing down buildings and building new ones which don’t have auditoriums, so we already had a problem. I heard from Minnesota that they figured out a way to have a festival in a hotel. Seattle is a big city and we could certainly do it there…
We have an annual festival which includes teacher training on Friday, and then the kids come on Saturday and we have a Graduation in the middle of the day. We have master classes, group classes and a final concert. With piano, we have all instruments, violin, viola, cello, bass, up to 200 kids that we’ve had.

SAU response: We’ve had a lot of success partnering with a Charter school in Utah. We have some Suzuki teachers who teach as part of an El Sistema program in the school itself and the agreement with the school has been that they will let us use the space for free for any Suzuki event, provided we provide free admission or registration or whatever to their teachers.

BR: We almost had that in the bag, and then we found out from the principal that the classroom teachers don’t want people using their classrooms. We just wanted a little corner of the rooms for master classes, but they said no. We need maybe up to 30—35 rooms of varying sizes, for master classes and an auditorium for a couple hundred people.

Q: Churches?

A:They haven’t had enough spaces for master classes, and they don’t have the facilities for piano

A: Part of it is that WA is a very large state, so most of our folks come from the west side, the side most people her about, then some come from the other side of the state. The advantage of the middle of the state is that no one traveled more than three hours. But if it were in the larger population center, Seattle for instance, which is where there is a lot more available, they would have to travel 5 or 6 hours, and much less likely to come.

BR: we do it once a year, and we also have a membership meeting, which we have to have by law, at that time. If we separate it—separate piano and strings—then we would be in trouble since we couldn’t have that membership meeting. It’s a situation we have to solve.
One of the exciting things for me being one of the oldest members of the group is the young people. The new young people. Yuko Honda was one of our members, and she said (some years ago), where are the young people, when are they going to come? Well, they are now here. They are in WA, and here too. We are so pleased we have young people joining us.

A: Think outside the box for the spaces. Maybe State park.

Suzuki Association of Indiana
Topics: success of website, strengths of individual board leaders, sending a leader to the Leadership Retreat.

Elizabeth Efroymson-Brooks: I wanted to mention that we have a pretty good website now. One of our weaknesses and strengths is that our organizations depends on a few individuals. We only have 35 members and our board is 8—10. We have a really good media person right now and she redid the website and sends out our e-newsletters. She now has to attend to her personal life and give away that. How do you get more new blood from a limited pool of people?
But for our show-and-tell, please go to our website, it looks really great. It also has our newsletter. We have four newsletters. We don’t do any mailing, I think that’s why fiscally we are in pretty good shape. The other thing I would recommend, our president went to the Leadership Retreat. She kind of reluctantly took the presidency and now she’s all gung-ho. I think we spent quite a lot of money to send her to the retreat, but it was really good thing.

Suzuki Association of Ontario
Topics: Success of newsletter, revised scholarship system,

Kate Einarson: We brought our newsletter and scholarship application form.

Carmen Evans: We also do ours electronically. We do encourage our members to print the newsletter and put it in their studios. I put it on the bulletin board of the school I teach at.

KE: Printing it and mailing was a real cost, so this is a real savings, and we’ve mostly diverted those funds to giving more scholarships to teachers.

CE: We’ve got more scholarship applications than we’ve ever had before. We guarantee we will give out two teacher trainer scholarships twice a year for a total of four, but last year we were able to give away 10 teacher training scholarships. Members that receive teacher training scholarships are obligated to write in our newsletter about their experiences at training. I really like how that has started to build, just to remember that we are committed to lifelong learning.

Q: Do you focus mostly on teacher training scholarships?

CE: We do offer a really limited number of student scholarships. We only offer student scholarships to come to this conference (SAA biennial conference). We offer teacher scholarships primarily. As our function of being a professional organization, our mission statement is promoting Suzuki education. So we do offer the two travel scholarships to assist students coming to Minneapolis. This year no one took advantage of them, though I think about 5 kids from Ontario are here.

Comment form SAU: We offered some student scholarships this year, so we can answer some questions, and it was difficult but successful.

CE: So I can say with being a bigger geographical area, we do an annual conference — again for teachers — but there is a Saturday student day and a Sunday teacher conference. We try to basically every other year do somewhere central, aka closest to Toronto where most people in Ontario live. On the alternating years we do something southwest, or northeast. I’m finding it hard to get people to host the conference.

Q: What kind of facilities do you use?

CE: it definitely varies. The last time when we were in Ottawa, we were in — this is going to sound so Canadian — a curling facility (laughter). Also in an elementary school. The student day was at the elementary school and the teacher day was at a curling club. Last year we were in a church. 250 students there that day. Lots of different instruments.

KE: And that year the teacher day was in a hotel. We got a really good rate from the hotel on the conference facilities since there were many people staying in the hotel. So that’s part of how we tend to generate money for teacher scholarships. Usually the conference brings in more than the organizers spend. Generates revenue for us above and beyond membership dues.

CE: There’s a bit of pressure honestly on the conference team. We give them seed money, and we need the seed money back and it is understood that it would be great if they could raise a bit more. Some committees have been really successful. It seems to me the most successful ones have a lot of parent volunteers helping with fundraising. Honestly a lot of parents have more skills at that. Other ones have cleared the budget.

Q: If we have specific questions about scholarships, can we email you?

KE: The email is on the form we are passing around. (also can be found on the Chapter Affiliates page of the website, under “Teachers” tab)

Q: How many members do you have?

KE: We have about 130 teacher members? Mostly teacher members.

Q: How many come to your conference?

CE: About 60. That’s pretty awesome. One of our board members lives 12 hours away, so I haven’t actually met them in person.

Southeast Texas Suzuki Association
Topics: Report on effects of Hurricane Harvey on STSA

Claire Eary: The hurricane really affected our community, our teachers and students. I brought a few pictures. It was Hurricane Harvey. It came at the end of August. Rain and rain. Flooded the city. I have a couple of pictures of schools. People had to be rescued from their homes, got out on boats, helicopters.

Diana Quam: We got out by dump truck. We didn’t lose any instruments. My husband went back in with a canoe and rescued my instruments the day after it happened. The floor and walls had to be torn out about 4 feet up throughout the whole house. My studio is empty right now. I’m back in my house (applause) and there are some people still not back in their house.

CE: Several members were flooded. Judy Offman is not in TX anymore, she decided to move to Florida. A lot of our members helped with cleanup as well as people in Houston. People everywhere pitched in to help. School was supposed to start august 28. Every school was delayed at least 2 days, some two weeks. Some campuses ruined and had to send kids to different schools. Some even had to be closed permanently. Then was the orchestra rooms, which was one of the concerns we had. This is just one of our schools (photo). All these instruments were ruined with the water. Trashed. So SAA started a fund, and we had more than 500 donors. Colleagues in Houston and Dallas too. Members of the SAA, and from elsewhere. Fishburn violin shop worked with Darbi (Green) to get instruments back in hands at the lowest price possible (also Lisle Violins). Large state organizations developed a fund and a central registry. Many different associations. Not everything’s replaced. This is Teri’s new cello room (funded by the SAA Hurricane Relief Fund)

DQ: We have fewer activities. Most people were very into getting their house back together.

CE: cancelled events. ½ the participation.

Suzuki Association of Wisconsin
(newest Affiliated Chapter as of a few hours earlier)
Topics: a brief history, and on becoming an Affiliated Chapter,

Jenny Burton & Gretchen Grube Rebar: We’ve been around for 25 years. We’ve been doing 1 year as a teacher retreat: a SPA course and group class courses. The other years we do a student retreat in Madison in a hotel, where we have 30 teachers come volunteer their time and bring in 5 clinicians from out of state. They each get $1,000. Which is exciting since it gives us time to have parent meetings, time for parent panels. Then we had a crazy idea that we should all play together at the state fair, because why not? We will be doing that in August, right after American Suzuki Institute.

GGR: (Since I’m so new, ) I’ll be in contact with a lot of you to figure out what this all entails.

North Texas Suzuki Association
Topics: Their successful and long running scholarship program:

Charles Krigbaum: We have a trophy festival which is like a solo and ensemble festival. All of our members volunteer their time to listen to other kids play a polished piece. We fill out a form, we give them a trophy, it’s preparation for later competitions, but in a very positive and Suzuki environment. The parents pay a fee to be in the trophy festival, so our cost is very low because we just that’s the only cost. We generate thousands of dollars and give it all out for scholarships. The other thing we do is every year in January we have a Chapter wide teacher development training. We always do it in the enrichment format. Not a unit. We alternate years between non-instrumental and instrument specific topics and we generally have between 35-50 teachers in every course. Humongous courses. This also generates thousands of dollars for scholarships. So between trophies and training teachers, we serve the needs of our teachers, we serve the needs of our parents and children, and we then give that all right back out. So we really exist to collaborate to be a community. We do our training, we do events for kids. What we don’t do are big celebration concerts, or things like that because our Suzuki area is thriving. We all have huge schools and we don’t have a need to come together in big concerts. We all have our own big concerts. Where we need each other is to raise money and to give scholarships and for us to all be trained together.

Ashlie Skidmore: At the trophy festival we had over 450 students participate over two days. One more towards the Dallas side of the metropolitan area, and the other closer to the Fort Worth side of the area. Kids are coming from Louisiana, south Texas, all over. We bring the best trainers, the most exciting things, and people come in nationwide, and we are delighted to have them come to our trainings, because it goes to our kid’s scholarships.

Q: What percentage of the funds raised go to scholarships?

A: Almost all of it.

Q: How do you do the adjudication for the trophy festival?

A: Volunteer. There was a time when we paid clinicians to come in and do it, and we made the shift a few years back to move to all volunteer, so that we could put more of the money into the scholarship. There was some resistance, but we did it. I would say most of the people are back in it.

Q: So most of the teachers are adjudicating other people’s students.

A: Yes. So if I’m going to enter 25 kids, I have to listen to the equivalent of 25 kids. But actually this is much better because we had worse situations when we were hiring clinicians. When it’s us taking care of each other’s kids, we know how to create the environment, we know what it is supposed to be like, and everyone is generally more happy.

Q to: Who adjudicates the scholarship?

AS: We have a scholarship committee and we have 3 people on it, and when they commit to being on that committee, they do not enter their own students that year.

Q: Where do you do those?

A: We have two locations that are both offered to us for free. One of them is a Mormon church, because one of our past musicians has the connection there, and we’ve been able over the last few years to host the Fort Worth side event at one of their stakes (a large Mormon gathering building). And then the Suzuki Music Institute of Dallas graciously gives us their location for Dallas as a donation, so we are not spending money on location because then we wouldn’t be making any money.

And then the last thing I’ll say about that is we get everything we possibly can for free. If you want to give out lots of scholarships, people will give you places, they will give you this that and the other, and you keep asking until you get the answer that you want, but there are always places that will give you locations or this or that.

Q: So you just go to them and say, “ We want to do this event to raise money for scholarships.” and they say yes?

A: Well, you may have to go to seven but the eighth person might tell you that. And we’ve been fortunate that for us it is in the context of relationship so we have a relationship with someone in our organization who has a relationship with the location. We hosted a Suzuki Alumni Project Concert this year, and we got the location for free. Beautiful church. Always get everything you can for free, and don’t give up until you get what you want.

Suzuki Association of Colorado
Topics: Growth over recent years, success of fall festival over a large geographical area

Kat Fritz: We are Colorado. Our organization was down to about 5 members like 3 or 4 years ago and now we are up to 65 which we feel really good about. There was a big question of do we move forward or do we just cut our losses. I wasn’t part of that conversation, I came in afterwards. We are pretty excited about that. We did a fall festival based off of Washington State model. I had lived in WA state and I had experienced that a bunch of times as a teacher myself. So I brought that model to the board. We are running our own fall festival — kind of taking a lot of their ideas with a day long festival and incorporating the graduation recital at the same time as the big play-in. Also, having a teacher workshop where we bring in outside teachers. We are going to have different instruments represented with the teachers that come in.

Adam Riggs: We also had a spring teacher workshop.

KF: We are looking at our programs at what is working and what is not. I’m really interested in what you have to say. The events can create burnout. We are always looking at that and volunteerism. Cost benefit ratio of how much energy are you putting out and how much are you getting back. I think we are still looking at that. What programs do we need to keep, what do we want to add, how do we want to serve our people? We also have a big chain of mountains right through the middle of our state. It’s a big state, like all of our areas are. Geographically divided—so how to work with the east and west side of the state has been a bit tricky.

But we did have, very exciting, last year on the same day we had on three separate sites, a play-in in Durango, a play-in in Steamboat, and we had the fall festival going on in Denver, so that was three locations that were simultaneously working to create something in their own community. We were thinking it worked really well, but at the same time, for example, if someone from Steamboat wanted to work with the cello teacher that was in Denver, that didn’t work because it was on the same day. So we are looking at that. The community and collaboration feeling was good but the logistics of it we might look at for the future.

AR: We’ve also been updating the website and getting everything online. We have recordings coming in for the graduation and all the registration in online now. That takes a lot to get that set up. There’s been a lot of things to learn. PayPal, getting the registration forms so they line up.

KF: Busy year, but we like the ideas about fundraising because that is our next step. Now we are a 501c3, we can start asking for donations and putting that out.

Q to NTSA: Who adjudicates the scholarship?

A from NTSA: We have a scholarship committee and we have 3 people on it, and when they commit to being on that committee, they do not enter their own students that year. It’s done by video, it’s put on YouTube, it.

MWR: decide that save the details until later and decide to transcribe an in depth interview with NTSA

Suzuki Association of Massachusetts
Topics: Learning on the board, “You’re always looking for your next board member,”shifting attitudes about board membership, shift to resource based instead of event based

Emily It’s wonderful to hear about each organization in its different stage of development. I’m loving that. I’ve been involved for 8 years now. I’m learning that these organizations tend to cycle. There’s a lot of great energy and a lot of stuff happens, and then those people get really busy and things change and it goes up and down. That’s something I’ve been learning. I’ve come ½ cycle with our organization. Right after I joined with our board there was a collapse. I was so new I didn’t see it was a bigger sort of pattern. There had been a lot of good energy. That was around 10 years ago when they got the non profit status, and things were going great, they built the first website, and then one of the people in the leadership got ill, and everybody else had a child, and then there was nothing.

When I came on, the website didn’t work but I was also informed that we couldn’t change the website because the people who had built it had invested so much in it.* So I spent a better part of a year trying to fix this website, and getting passwords from people who were gone. This was how the time was spent, on the seeming minutia. A year or two of that kind of thing, and then I realized, I will do so much better if I don’t try to do all the things, but if I look for people who are willing to do these things. I had a great conversation with the owner of our biggest student violin shop, Johnson violin shop in the Boston area. She’s got a big non profit herself.

I said, “do you have any advice about board dynamics?” She said, “You’re always looking for your next board member.” Because it’s a volunteer position, you don’t know what’s going on in the lives of those volunteers, and at anytime you may lose someone who is doing that job that is keeping the whole mechanism working.

When I shifted my attitude from, “Oh my gosh! There are all these problems I have to fix!” to, “Oh, who do I know, and who do they know?” Now we are 8 of us, and we also shifted our focus from really trying to planning a lot of events. It’s such a drain on resources on human and finances. We had a plan and there were 14 kids and 10 teachers. What’s wrong with this picture? What did that do for us statewide? Yes it was fun for those kids, and a good day, but we thought, let’s not kill ourselves to plan the events to keep the traditions going. That was hard too because someone would say, “Well, so and so started that tradition, we have to have that event! And it will disappoint that person if we don’t do this event. “ I said, no. Let’s fix the website, lets get a website going, and then see.

We have definitely shifted from event planning to more resource based things. We still have certain events, but that’s the major change in our approach. I would love it if we were fundraising more. We give out maybe $1,500 in scholarships, but it’s pretty stable. We are pretty lucky.

North Carolina Suzuki Association
Topics: building on the success of a well attended play-in

Laura Eis: (: What you are saying about everything collapsing when you joined, that was my experience too. I wasn’t actually elected the first time, we didn’t actually have elections. I was just all of the sudden, “Hey, do you want to be the treasurer?” “Sure!”

We’ve been through a couple of different people on the board. The people who founded our association were ready to turn it over to the younger people. “We’ve put in our time, we’ve done this.” But all the people who had agreed to do it were really busy. We’ve been trying to re-invigorate and get new membership, and sustain the membership that we have. We had a state-wide play in in 2016 that was very successful. It was in the center of the state. It ended up being more like a workshop where students had classes and then a play in at the end. This past January we had another one where we had a teacher luncheon where the teachers all met in the morning, and then in the afternoon, we did one or two classes for the kids and then a play in at the end. So, we’ve had success with that. In our bylaws it says, one year do a teacher retreat, one year do a play in. So we’ve been trying to stick to the bylaws. (After talking with the chapter liason at the SAA, we decided that) the bylaws are a guideline and not written in stone, and if we had one successful event, we will work to repeat that. We’ve just been trying to keep things going, do what we can for our community. Issue of getting people involved. When we had a state play-in in Charlotte, we had a lot of people join from Charlotte, but next year if we do it more towards the beach, are those people still going to want to participate. It’s hard to maintain that.

Greater Philadelphia Suzuki Association
Topics: Success with new board organization and new website.

Jennifer Stomberg: I’m the president this year. We are also in a situation where there are wonderful people who instituted us to be a Chapter Affiliate and they have been keeping it going for all these years, they are exhausted, and they are older. There wasn’t a next generation who has been involved who was ready to step up. So it is all a new turnover. In the meantime we absorbed the New Jersey Suzuki Workshop under our umbrella. I think it’s a really good thing. We are sort of making the transition now. We have a new website, and that’s been a lot of work with getting the old website to talk to the new one. I’m not that tech savvy. We used Go Daddy—don’t use Go Daddy.

Comment from Christa Hendricks from SAMass: Use Wix

JS: Well we can’t because we need an online store.

CH: Wix has that

JS: One of the best decisions we made was to pay someone to fix the website. It was only once, but very worth it. Just to blow my own horn, which not a very comfortable thing, it’s fixed. But I’m having to manually go in and extract information.