Monday, January 13, 2014

The 29th Annual International Suzuki Festival / 6th Reunion of Suzuki Teachers of Latin America

January is a pretty important month for Suzuki method music teachers in Latin America. That is because Peru's Suzuki Association hosts an international Suzuki Festival in January. It is the largest festival in Latin America and teachers can take pedagogy courses in violin, cello, guitar, piano, recorder, flute, and occasionally bass. There are also classes for Early Stimulation, Kodaly, teaching music in primary school, and teaching how to read music. While the festival is in large part for instrument teachers to continue their professional development and pedagogical requirements in order to be certified Suzuki teachers, it is also for Suzuki students to take part in master classes and meet other students from all over Latin America. They get to see really advanced students and they get the opportunity to learn from excellent Suzuki teacher trainers. Parents are encouraged to take the philosophy course and they are also present for the concerts and activities for their children. Also, every other year there is a Latin American Suzuki orchestra that is made up of Suzuki students and they play music from all of the countries represented. The students have to be at least in book 4 and audition to get into the orchestra.
This Saturday the 6th annual Suzuki teachers of Latin America meeting started. There were various talks including the opening speech made by Brian Lewis, a well known violinist and teacher in the States. He was wonderfully charismatic and had some great relaxation techniques to share. He shared anecdotes and why he really feels that what we do as music teachers does make the world a better place. He said that Suzuki thought that music would be what brings world peace. We are far from world peace but I believe in Suzuki's idea and that we are not just helping create musicians but good people. Music has the power to do amazing things and teach us how to be excellent people. Music is the universal language and no matter where you go in the world, there is not a single person that would not respond in some way to music. One of the great things about Suzuki as well is that wherever you go the repertoire is the same and because of that you can do play ins with everyone. There is going to be a meeting of teachers in Minneapolis in May and there will be students from Latin America traveling to play. They are planning on having a large play in that will be broadcast live on a webcast so everyone around the world can watch and play along. It is a great idea and I plan on tuning in myself!
The encuentro itself was a mix of panels of people presenting different topics such as using traditional music in addition to the Suzuki repertoire or an introduction to the Kodaly method. We discussed the issues the the Suzuki Association of the Americas has and what we, as teachers from all over Latin America, can do to help solve some of the problems. Teachers from different countries also presented what they are doing in their respective countries. It was very interesting.
Lydia Mills presented some Kodaly and how it could be used in conjunction with Suzuki methodology.

Luciana, Annika, Roberta, and Caroline: the coordinators of the festival

Marilyn O'Boyle directing the brainstorming session.

Something that I really love about the festival is how re-energizing it is. It is exactly what I need after a year of kind of falling off the band wagon a bit. I was more focused on figuring out what it is that I want to be doing with myself than I was on getting students or dedicating myself more to my violin. One of the issues I had was feeling isolated as a musician and as a violin teacher. I missed having Qantu to go to and people there to be my support system on a daily basis. I have realized this year that I don't have to feel bad that I am not at a super high level of playing ability or technical ability but if I am willing to work on it and continue to learn, there is no reason I can't teach others to the best of my ability. I will admit that this encuentro as that call it, is great because we are all coming together for the same purpose, spreading music to children. I love sharing ideas and gaining new ones. I am very excited to start the book one course again with Nancy Lokken. She is a fantastic teacher trainer and violin teacher. I took book 1 with her two years ago and I am taking it again to refresh my mind and pick the minds of my classmates as well. I am going to have a violin workshop this year and I would like to incorporate Suzuki pedagogy in it. I hope everyone has a wonderful and productive week.
Ximena and me a bit tired and warm but happy!

1 comment:

  1. Enjoy your week recharging and reconnecting to the music and the people who share your love of music and children.