When I took over as President of the Suzuki Association of Utah (SAU) in June of 2016, I knew I had a big job ahead of me. Our chapter is large, both in terms of membership and geography. We are fortunate to have ten of the Suzuki instruments represented in our chapter, and have a large and Suzuki teacher and student population all over the state of Utah. One of the things I and the SAU board have been focusing our energy on is building of the Suzuki Community within our state organization.
Because our organization is large and diverse, we have each instrument represented on our governing board. The goal is that each instrument has one SAU sponsored “Super Activity” in addition to their instrument graduation every year. These have been wonderful, well-attended events where students and teachers gather for a day of inspiration and fun. Recently, the Salt Lake and Davis County regions both held “Star Wars” themed violin activities, called “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star Wars.” Students learned pieces from the Star Wars movies, and then gathered to learn a Jedi routine complete with light sabers made from pool noodles! The students then presented a concert for parents, accentuated by narration, costumes, and even swing dancers! The Salt Lake Region cellos gathered a few weeks ago to celebrate Halloween, and enjoyed costumes, spooky stories, Halloween variations of familiar Suzuki tunes, and their cello teachers dressed up as Suzuki Pieces! Southern Utah violins, violas and cellos will soon gather for a weekend workshop featuring guest clinicians and workshops, and in January, Utah piano students will participate in an activity that includes Music Mind Games, Kindermusik, a play-in, and courses for parents. There’s even a Viola and Bass Fest planned for students in November, featuring masterclasses and concerts.
One additional area of focus for us has been using the newsletters we send out to better communicate, inform and educate parents and teachers. The SAU sends out a monthly electronic newsletter to teachers, and a quarterly paper newsletter that is mailed to teachers as well as student families. While the electronic newsletters are a great way to communicate about upcoming events, graduations, trainings such as ECC and SPA, and other items of interests specifically for teachers, the paper newsletter is filled with practical ideas for parents. Our newsletter that will hit mailboxes in November will be entitled “Ideas That Work” and will be filled with short, practical ideas and suggestions that parents can implement immediately to re-energize their practice sessions. Our board members, teachers, and even parents contribute articles that everyone can learn and benefit from.
We are also in the process of organizing a state-wide teacher and parent convention for a weekend in February. We will begin with an ECC class taught by Teri Einfeldt and will come together on Friday and Saturday for workshops on a variety of topics for parents and teachers. There will be a diverse range of topics covered, some instrument specific, some parent centered, and some covering aspects of music that are applicable to all instruments. We are excited to join together and learn from all who attend!
Of course, none of this could happen without a small army of dedicated, passionate and capable volunteers. In the few months I’ve been serving as president, I have had many people call, text, and email me to volunteer their services. Teachers brand new to our organization have been willing to jump in and plan activities, and some members of our board have been donating their time and energy for years on end. I know the things they are doing have a big impact on our teachers, students and families. Being surrounded by so many wonderful teachers who are passionate about the ideas and legacy of Dr. Suzuki is inspiring and motivating for me, and I know it greatly benefits our Suzuki Community. I am grateful to be part of such a dynamic and active organization.