SuzNews Vol. 11.1 | October 15th, 2020
Our Suzuki community offers an encouraging atmosphere to 
nurture every child's full potential and love for music.
News from your National Capital Suzuki School of Music
Welcome to our 2020-2021 SuzukiMusic School Year!
Hello Dear Suzuki Family!

I hope everything is going well with you.
I am here today to talk very briefly about our programming this year. As we know, our world has changed a lot since we saw each other. The school is doing its best to keep working within our beliefs and values - quality music education, community sense, friendship, collaboration, respect, and much more.

Our winter will be full of practice, hard work, concentration, and preparation for warmer months - when I expect to be able to work together in different environments. As the year progresses, we will reevaluate our conditions and see what changes we can embrace.

Group classes are a vital part of our philosophy and extremely important to all students, in music or other areas. With that said, we start our group classes this coming Saturday. We had to do many adaptations to the circumstances that we are living in. Unfortunately, our classes will be starting all online - at least until winter break. 

We will be constantly trying to create more possibilities for special events, but we must always keep safety as our priority. Difficulties and critical moments always will exist - it is part of life. However, I believe that we face these moments stronger together.

Our school is a beautiful community working for a better future and I strongly believe that is the time for everyone to support each other. So, our time together is not just "one more screen thing"...but a time for us to work and grow together.

I am looking forward to seeing everyone together (even a little apart for now) in our groups. We can do it! 

Keite Gularte
Artistic Director

“What is man's ultimate direction in life?
It is to look for love, truth, virtue, and beauty.” 
― Shinichi Suzuki
Welcome from our Board of Directors
Welcome back!

As both the leaves and the mercury begin to drop, we fall back into our routines and are warmed by the music that surrounds us. Even as our current realities force us to remain physically apart, we come together online to make beautiful music, to form personal connections and to enrich the lives of our children. Private lessons are in full swing and I am excited about the resumption of our group classes. It’s amazing what adding just these two things to the weekly calendar has done to uplift our spirits.

I want to thank each of you for your continued commitment to SuzukiMusic and for prioritizing your child’s ongoing musical journey throughout this challenging year. 

I also want to thank our incredible faculty. Having been forced to teach online and to adapt some of their practices, I continue to wonder at their creativity and dedication. They are dedicated not only to keeping our young musicians challenged and engaged, but also to keeping them safe and supported.

The calendar is still full of exciting SuzukiMusic events and I am really looking forward to the creative and interesting ways that our school responds, musically, to the ongoing hurdles we face. I think our faculty and our students proved last Spring that they are up to the challenge! 

Finally, in the shorter term, I look forward to seeing you next Monday evening at our (virtual) Annual General Meeting.

Happy autumn!

Graydon Miles
President of the Board
National Capital Suzuki School of Music
Faculty Benefit Concert 2020
Sunday October 25, 10:30 AM
Faculty Benefit Concert

Every year our Faculty and Liko volunteer their time to rehearse and perform a special concert for us and this year, despite the challenges of Covid, they will continue this tradition.

This year's concert will take place virtually. Keep an eye on our Facebook page or our Website as we get closer to the date for a special Facebook event with the link to attend. Attendees are asked to donate to our Bursary fund through this online link:

This concert is the only fundraiser for our Bursary program and our Faculty and students in need thank you for your generosity in supporting this event by attending and by donating.
Studio Play Ins
Due to Covid our school will not be able to gather in person for our annual Play In this November. Instead, some studios had outdoor, physically distanced mini-Play Ins earlier in September while the weather was still pleasant to give students a chance to play together, see each other and their teachers and enjoy the social connection of music making. Here are a few photos from those outdoor Play Ins.
It's a Small World!
One of our Guitar Faculty, Chela Escudero, is now teaching from her studio in Argentina! She continues to teach our SuzukiMusic students and remains involved with the school. Technology is amazing at connecting us from across the city or across the world.

Upcoming Events
Annual General Meeting
Monday, October 19th, 8pm, online.

Annual Faculty Benefit Concert
Sunday October 25th, 10:30 AM, online
please watch the website and our Facebook page for the link to access the Concert as we get closer to the date.

For updated details,
Parent Education Corner
What Your Teacher Is Doing In Your Music Lesson, and How to Adapt Online
by Claire Allen

In order to see the learning potential in online lessons, it helps for us to take the long view and think, "What is happening in weekly music lessons?" I tell my violin students that the goal is for them to learn something about the violin, and something about themselves. Any lesson where we learn something is a worthwhile lesson. This article will examine the many things music teachers do during private music instruction, in order to open the door for everyone to think creatively about how to connect online and continue to accomplish these goals, without the teacher’s physical presence in a room.

Connect and Build Relationships
One of the main things a teacher is doing during a lesson is building a relationship and establishing a connection through which learning can happen. This might be something simple, like asking how the student's day is going, what discoveries he or she made during practice this week, or sharing a story about the teacher's own experiences. Those conversations can still happen over a virtual connection, whether through a video call or even just through emails. Parents of younger children may have to read emails out loud to them. Parents can also encourage their children to write a note to their teachers themselves, either through email or on paper. Or, just take a picture of the paper and email or text it to the teacher. 

Teach New Skills
In lessons, teachers often teach new skills, such as a new bow stroke, a new finger pattern, shifting, etc. This involves the following: what it sounds like, what it looks like when you do it, what it feels like inside the body to do it, and how to help each student be able to find that sound and feeling for themselves. Over an online connection the teacher will need to use very body-specific language to make sure the child is feeling it for themselves.

Teach New Material (Scales, Etudes, Pieces)
Unfortunately, some people think this is the only reason to go to lessons - to pass off their old material and be assigned new material. Teachers are truly doing so much more, but if this is what one is most afraid of losing over a virtual connection, there are ways to teach this as well. 
What is involved in teaching new material? Here's a list: 
  • Identifying the notes and the rhythms
  • Explaining what the musical directions on the page mean
  • Explaining how to physically create those sounds on the instrument
  • Identifying techniques the student already knows that are needed to play the material
  • Showing what new techniques the student can use to play the material
  • Demonstrating the material on the teacher’s own instrument
  • Discovering the right feeling, character, and expression of the piece
  • Discussing the musical structure and historical/cultural context of the piece
Whew! That’s a lot. But most of this can be done over a video call, or a pre-recorded video. A teacher can also write step-by-step instructions and give the student a challenge of learning independently. 

Assess Short- and Long-Term Progress
Teachers are assessing a student's progress every week: if they’ve completed the assignments accurately, if their physical ease with the instrument is allowing them to make the best sound possible, if each element of their musicality is in balance (for example, do they play with a beautiful sound but struggle to keep a steady pulse? Are they wonderfully expressive but fail to play in tune?)
Teachers are also assessing the student’s progress with their longer-term goals in mind. Are they learning the techniques they need to successfully audition for their high school orchestra? If they want to be a music major in college, are they playing the pieces and building the technique they need to be on track to take auditions? How does music fit into the big picture of their life, and what materials and activities are needed to ensure their continued enjoyment and also their success?
Taking some regular lesson time for a detailed assessment can be incredibly valuable in helping students understand where they are in their musical journey: what their current skill sets are, what they need to develop next, and where they are mentally and emotionally with their music. Asking a teacher for this written assessment in lieu of a lesson can give a student (and their parents) tremendous insight.

Setting Goals
Teachers are also working with students to set short, medium, and long-term goals. Whether it’s practicing a tricky passage a certain number of times, planning when to have a piece memorized for a concert, or developing a game plan to audition for music school, teachers are constantly jumping back and forth from their student’s current reality to their hopeful future. 
A good idea for this period of online lessons would be to strategize goals with your teacher for the next couple weeks of playing - and maybe set a challenge! Can a student play all the scales they know each day with really free and balanced posture? Can they read all the notes in each of their etudes as well as playing them? Can they practice a set amount of time each day? All of this can be done over a video call. 

Answering Questions
Teachers answer lots of questions during lessons, like "How should I practice this? Can I take this audition? When can I play this piece? What can I listen to this week?"
These questions can be answered in writing, or via a video call. There are very few questions that require the teacher’s physical presence to answer.

Reminding Students Of What They Already Know
Music teachers spend a good amount of lesson time reminding students of things they already know, such as appropriate posture, reading the notes accurately, keeping a steady beat...the list goes on and on.
Online lessons can be great for keeping students aware of those details that elude their awareness on a regular basis. Students get a little reminder, and this continues to improve their musicianship overall. If students came back from this period of online lessons having fully integrated all their teacher’s regular instructions, that would be a huge leap forward in progress for most students. 

Teachers make decisions about what materials to assign, how much to assign, and how to assign practice.

Cultivating Independence
The ultimate goal of every teacher is to help contribute a thoughtful, artistic, independently-operating musician who feels empowered to learn, create, and share music on their own. For small children, this could be as simple as carrying their own instrument, learning to care for their instrument, and checking items off on a practice list (even if the parent has to read the list to them). For older children, this might be making a list of practice strategies they know from their teacher and trying them. For teens, this might be learning a piece independently, or preparing a special recording or concert project by themselves. Switching to online video lessons will require more independence, since there will be some things the teacher simply can’t do for them. And, having students develop more independence is actually part of the master plan - so we are really still on track!
Claire Allen
Teaching Artist at Mason Community Arts Academy in Fairfax, Virginia. Learn more on my website at
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