SAM Graduation Trophies

SAM Graduation Concert Trophies

SAM Piano

Piano Graduation

SAM Guitar

Guitar Graduation

SAM Flutes

Flute Graduation

SAM Harp

Harp Graduation

My name is Sara Stephens Kotrba and I’m the current president of the Suzuki Association of Minnesota. We are delighted that the Suzuki Association of the Americas’ Conference will again be held in Minneapolis in May of 2016. We hope you will all come and be a part of our thriving Suzuki community.

We have had a busy year! Our communications director Mary Jane Glawe has updated our website to be a state of the art tool for Suzuki educators. Check it out at It’s beautiful, and a complete resource for teachers, parents and students across the state.

The Suzuki Association of Minnesota gives two annual scholarships, totaling $800. Every other year they go to teachers or students, to be used at a summer institute. Christopher Becknell is the scholarship director and looks over the applicants each year. Since 2007 sixteen teachers and students have benefited from these scholarships.

Last June, we held a super fun gala fundraiser at the home of our treasurer Ann  Viviano. We held a silent auction with donations from local music stores, upscale restaurants and local artists. Our own Wendy Tangen-Foster provided entertainment with her tango trio, and we raised over $1800 to be used for travel expenses for our fall workshop clinicians. Gathering teachers and community folks together was a highlight of our spring.

One of the primary reasons for the existence of our organization is our annual graduation program. Last March around 400 student violinists, violists, cellists, bassists, flutes, guitars, recorders, pianists and harps graduated from every level and were presented a trophy along with a written critique of their prerecorded graduation piece. We celebrated with a series of recitals at Great Benson Hall at Bethel University and the University Lutheran Church of Hope. It’s huge, and our committee is a wheel in motion, thanks to Andrea French our graduation chair. The pianists share their graduation day with the Twin Cities Suzuki Piano Teachers’ Guild and non-graduate pianists are invited to perform at their multi-recital festival, thereby inspiring them to work toward future graduations—when they see that table of trophies and hear that advanced repertoire. Last year the piano festival had nine recitals and each pianist performed a solo piece.

As I write this blurb, we are deep in the final planning of our biggest Fall Workshop EVER!!!  We have invited nine clinicians, including Mark Bjork, Andrea Cannon, Christopher Fiore, Lisa Hirschmugl, Annette Lee and Wendy Tangen-Foster to give master classes throughout the weekend. Jeremy Dittus is our feature clinician and he will give two teacher classes and eight student classes in Dalcroze Eurhymics. We will have our first annual faculty and student honors recital. Mark Bjork will also be presenting three lectures, one for parents, one for all teachers and one violin specific lecture.  Adrianna O’Brien and Katie Ekberg will also give a demonstration Suzuki Early Childhood Education class for the littlest ones. Hundreds of students and teachers will gather over the weekend of November 13-15, 2015 at the University of Minnesota in Ferguson Hall. Cindy Uhlemann is the workshop chair and she and I have been planning the workshop since January! It’s going to be amazing and I’m so proud of the Suzuki Association of Minnesota for hosting this event!

That’s our story, so, come visit us next May! We would love to see you and hear about what the other chapter affiliates do.


Sara Stephens Kotrba
Eagan, Minnesota