Why Suzuki institutes matter

It’s August and institute season is winding down. We just returned from another great week at the American Suzuki Institute where we’ve attended for the last five years. I’ve come to think of summer institutes as an essential part of the Suzuki experience. Here’s why:

Institutes boost waning motivation

During the summer academic break, it’s easy to become less focused and disciplined. There are few, if any, concerts and recitals to prepare for. Vacations mean fewer lessons. In short, it’s a time when it’s easy to slack off. But Suzuki said: “Never hurry, never rest.” So institutes can provide the needed shot in the arm to bolster a sensation of excitement and motivation.

Institutes provide a sense of community

Most students already belong to a smaller local musical community. But institutes can give students and families a sense of belonging to an even wider community of peers. There’s nothing like seeing dozens or scores of students who play your same instrument all joining together to make music. It’s truly remarkable to see children from all over the world come together and just start playing. The shared experience of the Suzuki repertoire is such an asset!

Institutes offer an important “second opinion”

A fresh set of eyes and ears from teachers who don’t already know your child can be enormously helpful. Even if an institute teacher simply affirms the issues that your studio teacher is already working on, the consultation can be the necessary push to work on it with greater dedication or with a different range of techniques. For example, my daughter’s master class teacher this year worked with her on relaxing the right shoulder, learning to breathe with the phrases, and overall relaxation while playing. Although these were issues we were already aware of, hearing this again and going over new approaches to the problem were invaluable to us.

Written by:

Alan is the main practice partner and accompanist for a young violinist.