at the Suzuki String School of Guelph

By Paule Barsalou—Guelph, Ontario

Canada Newsletter Art 1

Hurray! A new violin Suzuki Pedagogy Program has been launched! After years of efforts in finding a university willing and able to start a long-term teacher training program in Canada, The Suzuki String School of Guelph has made the bold leap to start its own two-year Suzuki pedagogy program. This program will cover the processes of technical and musical development through the first eight volumes of the Suzuki Violin School, as well as discussions of the history and philosophy of the Suzuki Method® and its application in the context of private and group lessons. The second year will also include a practicum of a minimum of two hours of teaching a week under the supervision of a teacher trainer. Participants meet for three hours per week for 26 weeks a year.

Thanks to Prof. Jerzy Kaplanek and Dean Glen Curruthers , who have been wonderful supporters of the program, the Faculty of Music at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) in Waterloo, Ontario is providing the teaching space and allowing its students to take the course for credit. I am the teacher for the first cohort, which started this fall. It is hoped that we will start a new cohort next year and start a cello program, as well.

Starting this program was no small feat. Discussions with WLU date back to the ‘90s, when Daphne Hughes, Sally Gross, and Gail Lange made the first approach. It was a challenge to help university administrators, who were not familiar with our Suzuki pedagogy courses, to really understand the content, breadth, and value of such a program. The need is certainly there, as until we established this program, the only way for Canadians to participate in long-term Suzuki pedagogy has been to go to the United States! Some of the advantages of long-term Suzuki teacher training are:

  • To work with one trainer and follow her/his vision for students through the Suzuki repertoire

  • To observe real life private and group lessons throughout the year and follow the development of students over time

  • To get feedback on one’s own teaching over the course of a year.

As a teacher trainer, I must say I truly appreciate the opportunity to work with my course participants in such a deep and meaningful way, and really see first-hand how my instruction impacts their teaching.

The Board of the Suzuki String School of Guelph must be applauded for their visionary work in supporting me in developing this program and including it as part of our school’s curriculum. Let’s hope that this Suzuki Violin Pedagogy Program will continue to grow and become stronger in the years to come!