With the post-Conference details wrapped up and plans underway for 2010, it’s certainly time to extend boundless gratitude to the many members, families and friends who helped make the 13th Conference one of our best. (Of course they do get better every year!) Names of many of our sponsors, coordinators, donors and student participants are included in the reports and articles features in this issue. Only with the dedicated service of legions of volunteers is it possible for a relatively small association to present events of the scope, complexity and richness that characterize SAA Conferences. On behalf of the Conference Team, Board and staff, I salute all who donated their time, resources and talents to expand our vision of what Suzuki can accomplish throughout the Americas.

I’d like to recognize our 13th Conference sponsors. With their support (and your support for them, as well), the Suzuki community can continue to expand its goals and programs. Thanks to each of them: Alfred Music (Platinum), Shar Products (Platinum), The Potter Violin Company (Gold), Connolly & Co. (Gold), Yamaha and The Music Connection (Gold), Johnson String Instrument (Silver), Lisle Violin Shop (Silver), Lyon & Healy (Silver) and The Brannen-Cooper Fund.

With exhibit booths located in a large section of the Hilton Ballroom—and a tasty buffet dinner on Friday evening to mark the opening of the show, shopping for instruments and supplies was especially fun this year! Our exhibitors included the following companies: ABC’s of Strings, Alfred Music Company, All Strings Attached, Carriage House Violins of Reuning & Son, CICA Violin, Claire Givens Violins, CodaBow International, Connolly & Co., G. Edward Lutherie, Johnson String Instrument, Knilling String Instruments, Last Resort Music Publishing, Inc., Latham Music, Lyon & Healy Harps, Peter Zaret Violins, Schmitt Music Center, Shar Products Co., Smart Music and Finale, Southwest Strings, Super-Sensitive Musical String Co., Suzuki Violin Co., The Frederick Harris Music Co., The Music Toolbox, The Potter Violin Company, The Sound Post, The String House of Kanack, YAMAHA and Young Musicians.

Since the SAA aspires to offer worthwhile opportunities for leadership, it’s exciting that participation on the SAA Conference Team offers such great opportunities for involvement. Heartfelt thanks to Sally Gross, assisted by Christie Felsing, for sharing remarkable leadership skills as Coordinators of the Conference Team. To each of our Conference Instrument and Special Area Coordinators and Assistant Coordinators, we owe thanks for their leadership and commitment. Please read their informative articles in this issue and become acquainted with what’s happening in other instrument areas—as well as your own instrument area(s). No doubt you’ll be inspired by their enthusiasm!

Please note also that in addition to the Instrument Area sessions highlighted in this issue, there were also over 30 informative general sessions covering topics from Body Mapping to Using YouTube to Teen Mentoring…and more. (See the website for a full listing.)

In addition to the coordinators who have reported in this issue, there were other valuable members of the Conference Team: our Hospitality Coordinators and International Ensemble Coordinators. Danette Schuh and Nancy Brown worked tirelessly to decorate both the Convention Center stage area and the Hilton stage. In addition they designed and created fabulous, colorful table decorations, carrying out our international theme for Sunday evening’s post-dinner Latin American Ensemble performance. Many thanks to Danette and Nancy and their assistants: Cathy McGinnis, Julia Dean, Lynn McCall, Joyce Hodge and Deanna Badgett.

Thanks to our International Ensemble Coordinators for 2006 and 2008. Sandra Payton and Margaret Shimizu managed all the details for our International Ensembles Concert. This year’s event featured very polished, beautiful performances by Measure 5 from Rockford, Illinois, directed by Rachel Handlin and Janine Solberg and Vivaldi Strings from Wheaton, Illinois, directed by Julie Maura. Our appreciation goes out to those students, their parents and teachers!

During the Sunday evening dinner, we were treated to a PowerPoint presentation on Pioneer Suzuki Programs in the US and Canada. Thanks to Barbara Wampner, Heritage Committee Chair, for collecting materials and information and to Kathleen Spring for assembling the presentation.

Countless hours went into the preparations for the Latin American Suzuki Ensemble’s journey and their inspiring presentation. Surely that project should go into the annals of Suzuki history as one of the largest projects SAA has undertaken! The endless planning and long-distance preparations and effort of all the teachers and families from the participating countries are highlighted in this issue. Many thanks to Marilyn O’Boyle, Coordinator and to Caroline Fraser, Caitlin Blondet-Fraser, Laura Jauregui de Campero, SAA office staff, and all the donors and local organizers, host families and local teachers who volunteers in so many ways to the success of the program.

Local programs and teachers graciously provided support in countless ways. Special thanks to the Suzuki Association of Minnesota (SAM) and to the MacPhail Center for the Arts, its Suzuki Program and Suzuki Parents Group; to students from Augsburg Talent Education and MacPhail for providing student groups for participation in numerous sessions. Additional thanks go to Preucil School of Music for lending instruments and equipment and to the MacPhail Center and the University of Minnesota for harps. We also appreciate the Aber Center’s sharing the Pre-Conference Research Symposium with the SAA Conference.

Special thanks to Carol Waldvogel, Volunteer Coordinator, who solicited over 40 volunteers to help with various events and to Christie Felsing who coordinated session hosts for all of our general sessions. For this Conference and future events as well, volunteers help with errands, lend equipment, assist with concerts, take photographs, move chairs and stands, stuff packets, help with registration, host sessions, take tickets and stand by to help with any last-minute tasks.

I would like to thank the SAA Board members for pitching in throughout the Conference weekend to help with many details, including the very successful Silent Auction, the touching presentations of Creating Learning Community Awards, the Suzuki “Tell Me Your Story” project, and much, much more. We are so fortunate to have such a committed, hard-working and extremely talented Board.

The SAA website is now featuring many photos of the Conference, personnel lists and concert programs, some video material from the Conference, ordering information for some of the recorded performances, final facts and figures about the Conference and a full listing of all of the Conference’s 125+ sessions and presenters. Check it out—whether you were able to attend or not, you may be quite amazed!

And finally, hats off to the Hilton Minneapolis and their flexible, friendly and helpful staff and management. For the past four conferences, we have enjoyed the Hilton’s lovely guest rooms and benefited from the its warm and inviting performance and session venues. Mark your calendars for May 20-24, 2010. We’ll be back in Minneapolis at the Hilton and Convention Center again. If you haven’t been to an SAA Conference in Minneapolis, you’ll have another opportunity!