The SAA Conference in 2016 was my first, and I continually ask myself why it took me so long to attend!

I have been a member of the SAA since 2001 and have gone to institutes for teacher training almost every summer because of the benefits of continuing education. But, for some reason, the conference seemed like a bonus, something for teacher trainers and institute directors, but not for a young Suzuki teacher. I don’t know where this idea came from, but it was completely inaccurate and I’m sorry it took me so long to give the conference a try. It is now permanently on my calendar, and I have been looking forward to attending this next one ever since I returned home from the last. I cannot emphasize enough what a great experience it was for me, and for those who are skeptical, I highly suggest you give it a try. I don’t think you will regret it. Here are my top takeaways from last year’s conference:


I emphasize the importance of community in my studio all year long. I know students and families who are connected to one another feel more encouraged to practice, attend concerts, plan play-dates, etc. I guess I forgot that I, too, need my community. While at the conference I was able to catch up with mentors, teacher trainers, friends from graduate school and acquaintances from the Pacific Northwest. Just realizing how connected I am to this community has been invigorating and life giving. Because we reconnected at the conference, I have reached out to more of my colleagues and mentors over the past year and feel a great deal of encouragement and support.

Tools and Inspiration

I loved getting to attend such a diverse assortment of lectures. I ran from one side of the conference center to the other so that I could learn as much Dalcroze as possible, observe masterclasses, discover supplemental repertoire for violists, and learn the personality type for each of my students. The only downside was that I couldn’t be in three places at once! It was wonderful to hear teachers share their insights and passions and get to walk away with so much knowledge from so many different perspectives.


I recently listened to the “Building Noble Hearts” podcast interview with Dr. Alice Ann M. O’Neill, and one of her reflections really stood out to me. Dr. O’Neill said that early on in her teaching, her mentor, Alice Vierra, made her a copy of all of her teaching materials and told Dr. O’Neill, “All Suzuki teachers share all of our knowledge with each other because it’s for the good of the children.” I have always found this to be true at Suzuki institutes and have been struck by the generosity of my teacher trainers. At the conference, however, this feeling was exponentially bigger. It is hard to capture in words, but it really felt like each presenter wanted to share everything they had to offer.

I went to the conference a little skeptical. But much to my surprise, I left feeling encouraged, inspired, and excited to share my new wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm with my community back home. I hope to see you all in 2018. I cannot wait to connect with and learn from each of you!