What the SAO Means to Me
Reprinted with permission from Suzuki Association of Ontario Summer 2016 Newsletter (Volume 27, No. 2)

Suzuki Association of Ontario

Each November as I attend the annual Suzuki Association of Ontario (SAO) conference, I stop and reflect on the uniqueness and the incredible value of Suzuki Community. Having been on the SAO board as well as several years of the conference committee, I appreciate greatly the huge number of volunteer hours that go into planning such an event. Why do Suzuki teachers commit so much time and energy towards our provincial Suzuki chapter; organizing conferences, writing articles for and editing newsletters, attending meetings, reaching out to other local teachers, and so on?

Shinichi Suzuki, through his actions and words, encouraged us all to conscientiously pursue personal and professional growth through life-long learning. The Suzuki Association of Ontario has helped to facilitate my growth over many years through newsletters, workshops and contact with colleagues .

In those years when my young children and our financial resources made it difficult for me to attend the biennial SAA conferences in the USA, I was able to attend the annual SAO conferences conveniently held in various Southern Ontario locations. Now that I always attend both conferences, I find the pick up and inspiration I receive in both November and in May helps sustain my energy throughout the year. It is so wonderful to build friendships and collegiality amongst Suzuki teachers from the eastern provinces. Mentoring and advice is given, new ideas are shared, and community is built. Even if we only see each other a few times a year, our colleagues offer support and encouragement on our journeys.

Over many years the SAO as an organization has offered support to so many teachers in a number of ways. Teacher scholarships help fund training and SAA conference attendance. The SAO also funds special student events. The SAO website is a great way to keep everyone informed of Suzuki activities in the province and also helps with promotion. Every year I receive phone calls from families looking for a Suzuki teacher. These people found my name on the SAO teacher listing. From early on, I was given many leadership opportunities within the SAO.

From writing articles for the newsletter, to organizing conferences, to being a member of the board, I learned much about working with others towards a common vision. This training prepared me well for my job as assistant and then violin coordinator of the 2008 and 2010 SAA conferences. That led to a term on the SAA board and also to my successful teacher trainer application. I have been stretched and challenged in ways I had not imagined.

Thank you to all my mentors , especially Daphne Hughes, and Gail Lange, and to all my wonderful SAO friends. The SAO has provided me with inspiration, surrounded me with community, given me leadership opportunities and also facilitated the growth of my studio. SAO membership was a great investment in my future!