The Teacher-Training Seminars at School for Strings offers participants a unique opportunity to witness many important aspects of the Suzuki philosophy and pedagogy in action over an extended period of time by:
- Observing SFS faculty working week to week in their home studio with students and parents, building general string technique and musicality through the repertoire and extended materials, and the systematic instruction for a standard of excellence in the progress of each individual student.
- Observing parents’ and children’s interaction in lessons, and the results and dynamics of home practice.
- Observing group classes and their emphasis on review and reinforcement of basic skills.
- Observing on-going parent education and the building of a supportive musical community within the school environment.
- Attending student solo recitals each semester that promote polished and in-depth study of review pieces.
- Seeing the development of students moving through a full program of musical training including group lessons, graded theory classes, string ensemble, orchestra and chamber music.
Additionally, participants in the 2nd year of the Seminar themselves become an integral part of all these components as instructors in the SFS Start-Up Program. Each week participants have their own students and group class to teach under the guidance of the trainer and the support and observation of their peers. Weekly self-evaluation in the Seminars sessions and team-teaching with other Seminar participants affords a unique freedom plus an informed and colleagial environment to expand one’ s teaching abilities.
- Candidates for The School for Strings’ Teacher Training Program must attend an Orientation Meeting and an interview/audition.
- At the interview/audition, candidates will be asked to perform a piece from the standard literature for their instrument, demonstrating technical and musical competence well beyond the level of the Suzuki materials.
- No previous teaching experience is necessary for admission. Admission to the Second-Year Seminar is based on the consent and approval of the instructor.
Regular attendance is expected of Seminar members in both years of study. The School for Strings recognizes that there can be occasional circumstances that require a Seminar member to miss a class. With that in mind, the School established the policies below clarifying attendance requirements.
The School for Strings limits the number of absences allowed in the Teacher Training Program to two per semester, four per academic year.
Please note: Since the School does not break the year officially into two semesters, the School considers its Mid-Year Festival to be the half point in the school year. The Festival typically takes place in early February.
In case of an absence, the Seminar member is required to notify the School in advance and request for the class to be videotaped. Subsequently, the student will need to contact the office to set up an appointment to watch the video recording and take detailed notes. The notes will need to be submitted to the Teacher Trainer for review.
Please note: When unable to be present physically, a Seminar member may choose to participate in the Seminar via Skype. However, participation via Skype counts as an absence since the student is not physically present and Skype sessions are counted towards the total of allowed absences per semester/year. It is the responsibility of the Seminar member to coordinate setting up the Skype session with a fellow member who is in attendance.
The School for Strings and its Teacher Trainers closely follow the attendance guidelines issued by the Suzuki Association of the Americas. Should the number of absences exceed two in a semester, a Seminar member may submit a request to The School for Strings’ Executive Director and the Teacher Trainer asking for a dispensation. If such a dispensation is granted, the total of permitted absences will increase to five per year. Please note that five is the maximum number of possible absences, regardless of circumstances, and a further absence will result in forfeiting registration of the training received with the Suzuki Association of the Americas.
OBSERVATION: A Seminar member is required to attend sixty-four hours of observation during the first year of study. Meeting the observation requirement is condition for advancement to the second-year Seminar.
ASSIGNMENTS: Completion of reading material assignments, presentations and papers, as determined by the Trainer, is condition for advancement to the second-year Seminar.
Any videotaped material in the Seminar is considered sole property of The School for Strings and is not to be posted, shown or shared in any way or manner without explicit permission by the School. Some videotaping of particular teaching points may take place at the discretion of the Trainer and be kept for private use only by the teacher trainee.
The two year Seminar in Cello examines the philosophical and methodology of the Suzuki Cello School, along with placing a great deal of emphasis on physical motion and balance on the instrument. Participants learn about the anatomy of hands, arms, shoulders and torso to best accommodate a student’s cello set up for varying human proportions.
We spend a great deal of time on the understanding of “far reaching fundamentals” and the challenges of technique in the highest books and their relationship to set up in book one and beginning cello. The course places a strong emphasis on problem solving (physical, emotional, communication techniques) and the breaking down of difficult tasks into a stepwise progression for success in teaching.
- First-year Seminar members explore the concepts and the educational philosophy as developed by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki and make an intensive investigation of teaching techniques applicable to young, beginning violinists; discuss the techniques of working with parent and child at beginning and intermediate levels; explore the adjustments and adaptations necessary when starting an older child in the Suzuki approach; and make a thorough study of Books I-IV in the Suzuki Violin School.
- Students learn the pieces by ear from the recording, as the children do, and perform them in class from memory as they are being discussed.
- In the second year, the study of the Suzuki materials beyond Book IV is continued, and the investigation of teaching procedures is expanded to include more advanced violin techniques: sophisticated bow and left-hand controls, development of vibrato, and the teaching and solidifying of reading skills. Ideas are drawn not only from Suzuki’s approach, but also from the approaches of such great violin teachers of the past and present as, for instance, Carl Flesch, Louis Persinger, and Ivan Galamian.
- The Second-Year Seminar also investigates materials other than the Suzuki Violin School, comparing approaches and searching out technical materials and repertoire that can be combined successfully with the Suzuki materials.
- In the second-year Seminar, as the materials become more advanced and incorporate more of the standard traditional repertoire, class performances and discussion are more likely to be on an individual, master-class basis.
- Members of the Seminar come to each meeting prepared to perform the evening’s repertoire from memory.
- Paralleling the discussions of more advanced techniques and materials, the Seminar also investigates the changing role of the parent as the child becomes more advanced and more mature, including discussion of how to train the child ultimately to study and practice independently.
- The Piano Seminar parallels the instruction given in the Violin and Cello Seminars, investigating the Suzuki philosophy and psychology, and including a thorough study of the materials in the Suzuki Piano School.
- In the second year, the discussions cover investigation of the more advanced Suzuki materials, exploration of advanced piano technique, and exploration of the idea—
Thoughts s of great piano teachers of the past and present.
- Supplementary technical and repertoire materials drawn from the large body of traditional teaching materials and standard repertoire for the piano are investigated, and concepts of teaching and solidifying reading skills are thoroughly discussed.
- As with the string Seminars, members of the Piano Seminar, in both years, perform the materials under discussion in the class, from memory.