Remarks at the SAA Annual Meeting, May 2007

As I prepare to leave the SAA Board after six years of service and reflect on what I have observed over the years I have been involved with Suzuki, I realize that I have a unique perspective on the Suzuki movement. Even though I am not in the age group of our original pioneers, I have been actively involved since 1964 as the child and violin student of two of the pioneers, Sandy and Joan Reuning, and have been active myself as a teacher for thirty-four years.

From this vantage point I see that in the beginning years Dr. Suzuki was certainly the “hub of the wheel” for all of us. We gathered any place he traveled to hear his words of wisdom, learn his philosophy, and observe his violin teaching and pedagogy.

Then, as Dr. Suzuki became older and his traveling diminished, the hub shifted to the pioneers. These wonderful people shared with us Dr. Suzuki’s words of wisdom, philosophy and great teaching points. The SAA began, and we gathered to listen to these leaders. I personally worked with William Starr, Louise Behrend, and of course my parents, and I felt the “purity” of Dr. Suzuki’s ideas as they were passed along.

Now that our organization has grown to 8,000 people, most of whom are teachers, I feel that the hub of the wheel has necessarily shifted once again, this time to the SAA. I see the SAA as the holder of Dr. Suzuki’s vision and the keeper of his legacy.

While on the Board, I saw that the SAA is “growing up,” and is taking on increasing responsibility as the hub. As a board we always start from Suzuki’s philosophy, and then push ourselves to think farther and farther forward. As we know from Dr. Suzuki’s sometimes daily “new idea,” he would be doing the same if he were alive today. One example of a priority which has come to the forefront for us is fundraising. We can see clearly that we will not be able to move forward until we have the funds to support the wonderful ideas of the Suzuki Community.

When I step back and take the “pulse” of the Suzuki movement and the SAA (which are one and the same), what I feel is a new momentum. As Max DePree writes in Leadership is an Art:

“Leaders are obligated to provide and maintain momentum. Leadership comes with a lot of debts to the future. There are more immediate obligations as well. Momentum is one. Momentum in a vital company is palpable. It is not abstract or mysterious. It is the feeling among a group of people that their lives and work are intertwined and moving toward a recognizable and legitimate goal. It begins with competent leadership and a management team strongly dedicated to aggressive managerial development and opportunities. This team’s job is to provide an environment that allows momentum to gather.

Momentum comes from a clear vision of what the corporation ought to be, from a well-thought-out strategy to achieve that vision, and from carefully conceived and communicated directions and plans that enable everyone to participate and be publicly accountable in achieving those plans.” *

As Dee Martz said in her outgoing speech, we are all leaders of the SAA. We can feel proud that we have a momentum that is palpable and that we put Dr.Suzuki and his work at the center of all that we do. It has been my honor to be part of this momentum.

* Max DePree, Leadership is an Art. New York: Dell Publishing, 1989, pp. 17-18.