Allen Lieb gives a session on the revised violin books at the 2012 conference

Allen Lieb gives a session on the revised violin books at the 2012 conference

I am a goal setting type of person—perhaps it’s a result of being a Suzuki violin student since the age of three. I love making goals, working to meet them, and sometimes, revising them along the way. Looking forward to plan what I can do next has been a weekly part of life for me for as long as I can remember, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

In 2012, after thinking about it for many years, I made the goal to attend my first SAA Conference. I am involved in my state’s Suzuki association and have attended many institutes and workshops, but every time I thought seriously about attending an SAA conference, I would get sidetracked with all the other things going on in my life and put it off one more time.

Last year, I knew it was time to attend. I was finishing a ten-year teaching position at a great music school to go out on my own and start my own Suzuki studio full time. I was both very excited and full of questions about how to handle all the details. The 2012 SAA Conference was scheduled just a few days after my final teaching day at the school; the timing pushed me to finally attend for the first time.

I was so inspired by the sessions I attended, the student concerts I watched, and the wonderful teachers I met. It was just what I needed to fine tune my plans for my new teaching adventure. I soaked up all the sessions and came home with pages and pages of notes full of possibilities for my students and I found new areas that I would like study to further develop my teaching. Information about the Suzuki Early Childhood Education classes stood out as an exciting new possibility for me.

During the conference, at a celebration dinner for the SAA’s fortieth “birthday,” attendees were asked to fill out a postcard saying how we personally plan help to take the SAA into the future. On the postcard we were given, I made three specific goals: 1. Write an article for the American Suzuki Journal. 2. Provide Minijournals to families in my studio, and 3. Plan a workshop for students in my program and open it up to other teachers.

Since I am big on setting goals, this activity made me really think about how I could personally make a difference. The activity also inspired me to think about what else I could do to continue to grow as a teacher. I left the conference with the additional goals of taking another teacher training course this summer and attending a Suzuki Principles in Action workshop in the next year.

Growing up a Suzuki student taught me not only how to play the violin but how to break huge achievements in little manageable chunks. It also taught me to always set goals for myself and to believe I could achieve them if I kept working at it a little bit each day, and it taught me to see music as a way of experiencing life, not just a skill to be learned. My Suzuki experiences helped my parents to learn to work with me at a very young age and to understand how all four of the kids in my family learned, were motivated differently, and how to help us succeed. I think of being involved as a member of the SAA as a way of giving back.

As I work with the students and parents in my studio, it is my hope to help develop excellent musicians and pass on the life lessons I have learned through my own Suzuki upbringing. Attending my first SAA Conference gave me renewed energy and ideas about how to accomplish that, and I can’t wait to attend in 2014!