In recognition of the 35th anniversary of the beginnings of the Greater Philadelphia Suzuki Association (GPSA), member Jean Kountz asked charter member Dawn Price Flewellen if she might go back in her files and find anything of interest to commemorate this event. What resulted was a fascinating compilation of historical GPSA documents outlining the organization’s first five years.

The earliest document is a letter to Dawn outlining the minutes from a meeting of twelve Suzuki piano teachers in which they discussed the formation of a regional Suzuki association for the greater Philadelphia area, as well as, what type of activities they could sponsor.

With each newsletter, event flier, photo or recital program, the story unfolds as to how our chapter affiliate evolved from the Suzuki Piano Association of South Eastern Pennsylvania (with an annual membership fee of $5) to what would eventually become the Greater Philadelphia Suzuki Association. The first membership list shows 14 piano teachers, four of whom are still members (Dawn Price Flewellen, Jane (Sanbuichi) Guerin, Kathy (Fitzgerald) Moser, and Gloriana Sewell). As a direct result of Dr. Suzuki’s 1982 visit to Philadelphia, documented by photos and a newsletter apologizing for getting things off to a late start on account of his visit, the organization grew to include violin teachers in the area with Linda Fiore coordinating the violin activities. Its name was also changed to the Suzuki Association of Greater Philadelphia and annual dues raised to $10. The first meeting including the new violin members was held at the home of pianist Joan Krzywicki.     

Also revealed in the documents is the story of the untimely passing of Suzuki piano teacher Marie Henderson and how a permanent scholarship fund was gradually formed in her name, for the purpose of helping children attend summer institutes.

For anyone considering organizing a group of teachers in their area, the documents are a wonderful history of how our organization, now a rather large non-profit with 65 teaching members, began from scratch.

Our present day annual calendar includes a fall brunch, fall play-in, fall and spring area-wide recital, Piano Workshop, Graduation Recital, Enrichment Day and annual meeting, which always includes an interesting workshop for the membership. Occasionally, we will offer a special workshop, such as Caroline Fraser presenting her method of teaching reading, or offering a Suzuki Principles in Action course for area teachers.

I am most grateful to all those teachers who began what would become GPSA as it has greatly enhanced my studio and I have met many wonderful teachers through the organization. I encourage anyone thinking about taking the first steps in forming their own regional organization to make it a reality and hope that this history in documents can serve as an inspiration.