You have within you more resources of energy than have ever been tapped, more talent than has ever been exploited, more strength than has ever been tested, more to give than you have ever given.
—John Gardner, former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare

What are your strengths? How can you put those to work for the benefit of your fellow SAA members?

This was a birthday party to rival all others. People came from around the world to celebrate. And they brought with them gifts—immeasurable gifts. The kind that abide within each one of us. The kind that we share freely with our friends, our colleagues, our students, and all of the Suzuki Association of the Americas.

At the 2012 SAA Conference, we celebrated forty years of our success as an organization. It was a joyous occasion. We looked back with appreciation on the important figures in the development of the SAA, the programs that have been created, the growing membership, and the successes of Suzuki student alumni. Our hearts soared with pride as we applauded the accomplishments of the Kaleidoscope Concert performers. We were awed and inspired by the eclectic performance of Time for Three. We were moved by their music video denigrating bullying, a tangible product of the melding of music and noble character. Our minds were overflowing with information, gifts of knowledge and imagination from among our fellow members.

This historic moment provided us with the opportunity not only to take stock of our accomplishments, but also to seriously consider what lies ahead of us, what our goals are, and how we’re going to meet those goals in the next forty years. This is no small matter as it requires some serious introspection on the part of each individual member and the organization as a whole. At the Annual Membership Meeting held earlier in the day, each Board member shared his or her commitment gift to SAA. At the celebration dinner, postcards were distributed on which conference participants were given the opportunity to record their commitments to provide acts of service to SAA as their birthday gift to the organization.

This activity was also a way for the SAA Board to assess what is important to the membership as we move forward toward our next landmark birthday. What the Board learned was that our membership is awesome! It is truly a learning community filled with people who are grateful for what SAA has to offer them. But they are also eager to give back. The resources evident within our membership really could change the world!

Commitments to SAA

Commitment statements took many forms. Several people volunteered for activities that would directly affect the SAA. Several people generously pledged financial support by making a donation to the Annual Fund or a Scholarship Fund, soliciting support from outside the organization, remembering SAA in their wills, organizing benefit concerts, and becoming lifetime members. Many people offered to contribute to our collective wisdom by writing articles for the journal or session proposals for the next conference. One person committed to developing a venue for Suzuki podcasts. Others came up with creative ways to lend their voices to raise community awareness of Suzuki Education and the SAA by speaking to civic groups and college music students, posting Suzuki quotes on Facebook, linking the SAA website to studio and school websites, and organizing community outreach concerts.

Commitments to Our Communities

Our members are also deeply committed to making a difference in their local communities. To this end, declarations were made to mentor other teachers and to invite new teachers to attend Leadership Retreats and Conferences. The desire to belong to a larger community was evident in the number of pledges to foster the collaboration of teachers and programs by forming chapter affiliates, hosting regular teacher get-togethers, organizing regional workshops, and creating a local newsletter. The empathy that fills our hearts was displayed in the promises to teach children with special needs, to reach out to underserved populations, to teach in remote locations, and to make scholarships available to new teachers and students.

Commitments to Studio Families

Our members are particularly dedicated to nurturing the parents of students in their own studios. We are all aware of Dr. Suzuki’s statement that “the fate of a child is in the hands of his parents.” Suzuki teachers are keenly interested in helping parents to be effective home teachers. In order to do that, commitments were made to encourage parents to participate in Parents as Partners Online, to include SAA membership in studio family tuition, to provide Minijournals for studio families, and to share ASJ articles with parents.

Commitments to Ourselves

These postcards indicate that Suzuki teachers love to learn, and they are dedicated to becoming better teachers. Many, many members vowed to take action toward continuing teacher development. Several voiced their intent to take the Suzuki Principles in Action (SPA) course and some even said they would organize one for their community. The future of SAA is secure if everyone who pledged to earn their Certificate of Achievement or to become a Teacher Trainer follows through! Resolutions were also made to play a recital, memorize all the books, write a book, learn more about teaching the very young, be more enthusiastic, and stay healthy. And perhaps the most poignant promise to nurture one’s self—to attend every conference.

None of us will change the world alone. But if all of us contribute our gifts, collectively we will color the future bright for the next generation of Suzuki subscribers.

“I am big on setting goals, so this activity made me really think about how I, personally, could make a difference to the SAA. The activity also inspired me to think about what else I could do to continue to grow as a teacher.”
—Christine Goodner from Hillsboro, OR

“One of the reasons the SAA means so much to me is that we are the northernmost large city in North America, off the beaten track, and SAA programs connect us to a wider community. I never seem to get around to all of the things I know would be worthwhile, but these resolutions renew my commitment to serve my community and give back to the SAA.”
—Tim Eckert from Edmonton, Canada

“The postcard activity at the celebration dinner was a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what being a member of the SAA means to me personally. It is because of my Suzuki background and training that I get to do a job that I love every day. While the majority of my time is spent teaching alone in my studio, it is assuring to know that I am part of a broader Suzuki community that shares my values. I tried to think of goals to write on the postcard that would put my feelings of support for the SAA into action.”
—Corinne Erb White from Lancaster, PA