by Allie Holden
North Rockford Middle School Orchestras
This past summer, I applied for and received a professional development grant from MASTA. I used the grant to assist with my tuition to Suzuki Violin Unit 1 training with David Strom at PhoenixPhest. The training took place over the course of 8 days on the Eastern Michigan University campus. While classes on the weekends included time spent with the instructor and our intimate class of thirteen, weekdays offered several hours of observation watching private and group lessons with PhoenixPhest Institute students, playing songs from Twinkle to Mozart concerti, under the instruction of experienced Suzuki trained teachers.
I expected to receive training about how to teach songs from Suzuki Violin Book 1 and maybe come to understand why Dr. Suzuki chose to have his students learn May Song before Allegro. During the intensive week, however, I would also gain a deeper understanding of the principles of Dr. Suzuki’s music teaching and the positive relationships he fostered with his students and their parents. During the lessons I had the opportunity to observe, I was able to watch the principles of the Suzuki method come to life in sometimes just 15-minute daily lessons. Whether students were learning how to position the violin on their shoulder or make a phrase more musical, each student, no matter the teacher or ability, left feeling successful, happy, and curious. Throughout the week, I better understood why more than half of the teacher training participants had once been former students of the Suzuki method, like myself.
Strom’s teaching of the Violin Book 1 training was as “revolutionary” as he had promised on the first day. Strom has used the material that Dr. Suzuki has provided us with and discovered the best way to pass this information to his students and provide them with the support and knowledge to achieve great joy and expression in their playing. When it was announced that Strom would be teaching Violin Book 2 training in August 2018, it was an easy decision to register.
I left the training feeling more knowledgeable, excited, and curious to teach beginning string students. As a result, the middle school students I teach each day are receiving higher quality instruction. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have had this training and for the support of MASTA for helping to fund the experience.