It’s our last day in Argentina! Since it’s our last day, and the students have written so many thoughtful blogs which Dr. Pope-Namaste has kindly posted, I felt it was time for my to my own (non-video) blog. As I consider what to write, I realize that the students have done a great job of describing things from the student perspective, of course. I have enjoyed all the same things as well, the concerts, sight-seeing, fun with friends, etc. But I would like to write about Argentina from the perspective of the Suzuki Teacher.
As we have connected with Suzuki programs in both Cordoba and Buenos Aires, I have been given the extraordinary opportunity to TEACH while in Argentina. As a teacher, this has been one of the most meaningful things that I (and Mrs. Neal) have done on this tour. And we were able to do three kinds of Suzuki teaching: masterclass lessons, group classes, and lectures for teachers. I would like to write about each.
In both cities, I was able to teach masterclass lessons. These are the same kind of lessons we do at Suzuki Institutes throughout the summers in the US, where several students will have short individual lessons, while being observed by a small audience of other children, parents, and teachers. I taught masterclass lessons in both Cordoba and Buenos Aires, teaching violin students ranging from early book 1 through book 5. The children I taught were all so sweet and open to new ideas, and they worked so hard in their lessons. And of course it didn’t matter that I speak no Spanish, and they speak no English. While some of the parents and teachers would translate for us, often it was not necessary, as most teaching concepts can be explained through demonstrations and gestures. As a teacher, it was so meaningful to me to see the children smile as they began to understand a new concept. And as much fun as I had teaching violin, I even got to teach a cello lesson! A little cellist played a most beautiful Go Tell Aunt Rhody for me.
I was also able to teach group lessons, and lead big play-ins with our host teachers and Mrs. Neal. Again, it was not necessary for me to speak Spanish to get my musical points across, I could play the violin, and they knew what to do. And of course one of the hallmarks of Suzuki Method is our common repertoire. All the Suzuki students over the world know the same pieces, so we can play them together wherever we go. And I also loved watching the interactions of the Argentinian students with our Buffalo students as they played together.
Mrs. Neal and I also presented lectures for teachers in both cities. Mrs. Neal talked about Excellence from the Start, and I talked about Group Classes. Of course this was through a translator, which I always find to be an interesting process, as you need to say a short sentence, wait for the translation, and then keep track of your thoughts and be ready for the next sentence. I absolutely loved talking with the Suzuki teachers here and sharing ideas with them. This is another hallmark of Suzuki education, that all the teachers across the world are willing and eager to share ideas so that we can all improve our teaching and best serve our students.
It is time to run now, off to lunch and then the airport. But my final thought it that while this tour has taught me many things, the most important one I have realized (again and again) is that I love being a teacher! Both for our Buffalo students, and for any other children I encounter.