Carol Ourada and Carolyn McCall at the 11th SAA Conference
The SAA would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to Carolyn McCall for her many years of service to the organization and Suzuki community at large.
Through her numerous articles in the American Suzuki Journal and the Minijournal, her wisdom has touched both teachers and parents. The articles span a spectrum of topics such as motivation, concert manners, group classes, practice pointers, reading skills, listening, instrument care, teenagers, studio management and the business of teaching, and many continue to be recommended reading for teacher training courses. Carolyn’s devotion to teaching groups led her to compile a resource book for teachers titled Suzuki Repertory Group Lessons for Suzuki Violin and Viola. Published in 1993, this book expands upon the importance of group classes by offering many creative ideas to incorporate into a lesson.
In addition to her writing, Carolyn served the SAA as its 2004 conference coordinator. Her endless hours volunteering made this biennial event truly a success! Not only did she head up a large conference planning team of over forty coordinators, she also encouraged a record number to attend (1,325 enrolled), representing nine different countries. The theme chosen for 2004 was “Excellence from the Start,” and through Carolyn’s expert guidance, the weekend featured a wide variety of enriching sessions and moving performances.
Carolyn’s contribution in the teaching field has included violin and viola instruction as well as music and movement work. Her nurturing character has influenced many, many parents and students in her local area and at various Suzuki institutes. It is with great appreciation that the SAA thanks Carolyn for her vast contributions to the Suzuki world, making it a better place for all. We wish her the best as she moves on to her next adventure in life!
A personal tribute from Linda Perry:
My history with Carolyn McCall goes back to the days when she was ten years old and came to our house for violin lessons with my husband in Edwardsville, Illinois. Carolyn relates stories of my son David riding through the room on his little car during her lessons. A few years later, she converted to viola, realizing even at her young age that there were a lot of violinists in the world and that she might have more opportunities as a violist. When she tackled a Brahms sonata in high school and needed a pianist to play it with her, she bartered her baby-sitting skills for my pianism.
Impatient to get on with her life, Carolyn zipped through high school in three years and was accepted by Guillermo Perich in viola performance at the University of Illinois, where she initially thrived and enjoyed playing in a quartet that attended the Banff summer chamber music program It was there, while practicing on a grueling schedule, that she first developed tendonitis—the beginning of hand problems that were to surface throughout her career. She dropped her viola performance major but still managed to complete her UI music degree in just three years.
By age nineteen, Carolyn had finished college, and I threw rice at her wedding the following summer as she left with her new husband to go to Austria and her first teaching job. Soon came the children, Eric and Nora, and the whole family returned to Edwardsville and Southern Illinois University, living in the basement of her parents’ home while Carolyn completed her master’s degree in Suzuki pedagogy with John Kendall in one year. I accompanied her graduate recital, which she did on the installment plan (one section at a time) because of continuing issues with tendonitis.
Upon completion of this degree, Carolyn’s family moved to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, for a Suzuki teaching job, and she also taught at the UW campus there. In those years she began teaching at the American Suzuki Institute at Stevens Point each August and developing another specialty with her music and movement classes.
In 1999 Carolyn returned to her roots in Edwardsville as a teacher in the SIUE String Development Program. Three years later she began Goshen Suzuki Strings, a thriving independent program serving Edwardsville and surrounding communities. Jenell Wright, parent of three children in the program, says:
As a Suzuki parent in Carolyn’s Goshen Suzuki Strings program for the past six years, I have personally witnessed her amazing teaching abilities in action with my children and with other program children. Carolyn has a bountiful mix of talents that she beautifully blends together in teaching Suzuki string students. She possesses outstanding communication skills and is very creative in using metaphors to help children grasp new concepts. Carolyn is a fabulous violinist and violist who has used her ability to demonstrate and perform for the students in a rare, non-intimidating manner. In addition, her patience, calmness, and respect shown to each student have definitely helped several program parents become better parents to our children, both in enforcing Suzuki concepts at home and in everyday life. Thank you, Carolyn, for being such a wonderful, trusted teacher and friend to your program students and families. The gift of music-making and music appreciation you have given to our children are life-long gifts that will be enjoyed for years to come!
After knowing Carolyn as a child, a teenage babysitter, a graduate student, and Stevens Point colleague, I now know her as a close friend and my Saturday “walking buddy” on the bike trails. I have been aware of her growing unease for her hand issues, as well as concerns for her future as a self-employed woman with no medical or retirement benefits, and she has been struggling with the decision to give up work that she loves and to which she has devoted much of her life.
But Carolyn is not only a Suzuki teacher. She has many other facets to her personality and multiple skills to her credit. She loves life and knows she has much to offer others. I see her looking forward optimistically to her new career, whatever that may be, and I know she will give to that effort the same energy and love she has devoted to the Suzuki community over the past years. Brava, Carolyn, and best wishes!