More thoughts on Ottawa Institute

I’ve been home for 5 days now so my thoughts are starting to come together in some semblance of organization. 

Remember:  I teach children to play the violin using the Suzuki Method, which is a way of teaching that mimics the way children learn language.  They start by hearing the language, and then repeating it early and often.  Once they learn one word, they add onto that.  Throughout the learning process, the parent is loving and supportive.  Most importantly, it is assumed that the child will learn the language.  No one ever asks:  is my child talented enough to learn to speak English?

Suzuki Institute is a place where parents, teachers, students come together to learn in an intense environment for (usually) one week.  I went to the Ottawa Mid-Southwest Suzuki Institute in Ottawa, Kansas.  I took a course for teachers of the method (there are 10 volumes, I took volume 5) that was taught by Susan Kempter, who I greatly admire.  I have already taken all 10 volumes (it’s not a certification process but a registration process) but I really wanted to take another class with Susan.  Last summer I took volume 4 with her, this year she was teaching volume 5.


I learned two main things: 

1)  I already know how to teach well.  I just need to stay focused and organized.  My biggest faults are talking too much and losing track of the goal.  If I stay on top of those things, I will really shine.

2)  I really want to take Teacher training in Volume 1 again next summer.  It’s been too long.

I learned thousands of other tiny things, but those are the biggest things. 

Remember that a child is learning from the second they are born.  What is it you want them to learn? 

If you teach your children, you can change the world.

Okay, so, if you decide to attend Institute, what should you bring?  This is for me, so I remember everything next year, or for you if I’ve inspired you to attend Ottawa!

Hand soap for the bathroom

Trash bags for the room

Travel coffee mug

Water bottle

Twin sheets/blankets/pillow

Towels, including hand towel

Jackets/coverups for the over-air-conditioned rooms

3-hole punch

Healthy snacks that don’t require refrigeration

Binder, notebook, folder, Suzuki books, pencils

An open mind

Humility and kindness


2 thoughts on “More thoughts on Ottawa Institute”

  1. Thanks for this post! You made the Suzuki Institute seem really appealing, lol, that I’m seriously considering it for next summer. I’ll admit, I had not so great experiences with a Suzuki upbringing myself and attributed a shaky start in sight reading to the Suzuki method when I made the switch to a traditional (and really strict, Ukrainian guy!) who blamed all my bad habits to the Suzuki method.
    I consider myself to be a “traditional” teacher, YET…I use mainly the Suzuki books. Figure that one out. I’ve never been certified and I’ll be honest–thought I was “above” that; but your posts have kind of changed my mind about that, and now that I care more about just being a good teacher, I’m pretty open to just learning anything I can grab my hands on to make myself a better teacher and violinist.

    Thanks for shedding more light on a method that I think a lot of musicians add stigma to–perhaps wrongly so.

  2. Glad you enjoyed it! I haven’t always been a Suzuki fan, though I grew up in it, but the more I get into teaching and the more I learn about how to teach, the bigger a fan I am. No matter what approach you use in your teaching though, most importantly is how well you teach and how much of yourself you put into it, not what “method” you use. A good teacher is a good teacher, and a bad teacher is a bad teacher. I was always a really good sight-reader though… đŸ˜‰

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