Thomas Schoen—Edmonton, Alberta

The Suzuki Method is alive and well in Alberta! We have 119 registered Suzuki teachers working all across the province. While many teachers are located in the major urban centres, there are quite a number of very active teachers in smaller centres, as well.

While much of the Suzuki activities are in bowed strings (including viola and bass), guitar and piano, we have a vibrant SECE community, a very active flute and recorder community, and a growing trumpet community. We also have teachers in Suzuki voice and, as of recently, now have a Suzuki harp teacher as well.

I have had the good fortune to travel to many parts of Alberta as a festival adjudicator, and have enjoyed seeing and hearing the wonderful work Suzuki teachers and students are doing all over Alberta.

Some activities of note are:

  • In southern Alberta, Lethbridge holds a Suzuki Festival each spring in cooperation with the Lethbridge and District Festival. This is a non-competitive festival where students perform for an adjudicator and then have the opportunity to have feedback in the form of a mini masterclass lesson following their performance.

  • In central Alberta, Burman University has a multi-level orchestra program which includes many Suzuki students at all levels and ages playing together with adults from the community and university students. Younger students participate in a portion of the rehearsal where they play repertoire appropriate to their level; as their skill level grows, they are invited to stay for more of the rehearsal and participate in more demanding music. This way they grow up as part of the ensemble.

  • Edmonton has a very unique opportunity for its viola community: “Voilà! Viola!” takes place every December at the Alberta Legislature Rotunda in Edmonton, as part of the Legislature’s “Celebrate the Season.” Viola players from all across the city gather together and perform tunes from Books 1-4 as well as festive, seasonal tunes. In 2017, performers’ ages ranged from 8 to 81 years old! With the invitation extended to adult alumni (former Suzuki student) viola players, we had 11 viola studios represented. December 2018 featured violist/ composer/arranger David Mitchell’s two works just for violas entitled “Twinkle, Twinkle, Christmas Star” and”Christmas Lullabies.”

  • Suzuki Charter School in Edmonton is preparing for its 23rd annual spring concert, to be held in the world-class Winspear Centre for Music, on May 9, 2019. All 324 students will be singing and performing Suzuki repertoire, music of the Romantic period, and World Music, on the nine Suzuki instruments that are part of the program: cello, double bass, flute, guitar, piano, recorder, trumpet, viola, and violin. Suzuki Charter School is a public elementary school where all students receive Suzuki group classes as part of the regular school day, and where the academic program is designed to reflect the Suzuki Approach. For more information, please visit or write Tim Eckert, Artistic Director, at [javascript protected email address]