I just returned from the 2014 Chicago Suzuki Institute and wow, what an inspiration! I learned so much about myself as a teacher, but I also learned a lot about the other legs of the Suzuki triangle. I could probably write a whole book on this subject, but instead, I’ll just share a little bit about why I think you need to go to an institute, as a teacher, a parent, or a student.
You know what’s so great about attending an institute? How many amazing teachers you can observe doing their amazing teaching thing. So many different personalities and teaching styles, you can surely find someone similar to you in teaching style to inspire how you do things just the way you are. You can also see teachers with very different personalities than yourself and that may give you some ideas for ways you can stretch your current teaching style. Another great thing about going to an institute as a teacher is the great reminders of things you already know. Sometimes it’s easy to forget why things take “so long” to teach and we start lowering our expectations of our students. Here you are reminded why we take the time to set up and maintain good posture, tone, intonation, and musicianship so that our students can move forward well in the repertoire. You are reminded why you became a teacher and what you aspire to when you see such awesome teachers who are more experienced than yourself. You are reminded that review is important and why, and you get some great ideas for how to make review work for your students. And finally, you are reminded that, in fact, every child CAN play. There are so many different personalities and ability levels in the students here, it’s incredible! But we are all here for the same goal, teaching them to make beautiful music so that they become people with beautiful hearts.
We could all use a vacation, am I right? Well, consider a Suzuki institute for your next family trip. There are institutes all over the country, so you could definitely pick one in an awesome location, for example, Colorado. You would have the opportunity to meet new friends that are in the same place as you are as a Suzuki parent. Sure you might have these social opportunities in a group class, but you see those other parents in your studio often and sometimes it’s nice to meet new people who understand what you experience as a Suzuki parent. It is also an amazing bonding experience with your child. I have witnessed stronger relationships form just in the time span of one week as I’ve observed lessons and group classes. It’s incredible the way that working toward and accomplishing something together can be so good for the parent/child relationship. And watching your child play in the final concert, well, there’s nothing like it. It brings tears to my eyes, and I am not yet a parent of an instrument-playing child! I so look forward to the day that I can take my son to an institute and share the experience with him!
You may already see the benefits of your child playing music with others in group class. Children are so inspired by seeing other children do the same things they are doing. They can learn a lot from each other. And the friendships they form with their peers are great. The same thing happens at an institute. They meet kids who are doing the same thing as them, going to lessons and group class and practicing their instrument. They have fun playing with each other outside of these activities. And, I don’t personally have experience of this, but with today’s technology, I’m sure these quickly-made friendships can turn into long-term relationships quite easily. I’m still friends with people whom I played music with as a child and it is quite the enviroment for strong bonds. What a great experience for such young kids!
As you can see, there are so many benefits to attending a Suzuki institute, whether you are a teacher, parent, or student. So I guess the question is, what are you waiting for?