“The Only Constant is Change”…Very Important Email. Read Carefully!

genie-and-me.jpgHello to all, again.

In the picture to the right, are Genevieve and myself, in about 1988.

I have made the decision, for a number of reasons, to cut down my private studio numbers (by about one-third), starting next month, January 2013. I will be involved with, but not teaching, Group Class starting in January and plan to hand it over to Genevieve, who will be in her fifth year with us, in September 2013, all being well.

There are several reasons for this and I will try to be transparent, honest and brief(ish…)

First, know that I am not ill or otherwise in a different state of health than is usual for me.  This is a decision I have been contemplating for a very long time.

I want to spend less time on my wonderful job of 37 years and more time on myself and my husband who has been retired now for 18 months. I am not ready to give up cello teaching entirely, by any means! Before you leap to the conclusion that you had better rush off and find another teacher (pronto!), please read what I have to say with care.

I expect that, while you all know Genevieve and may know that she is my “cello daughter”  (having studied with me from age two until about age 12), you may not be aware of how accomplished and well educated she is, or how very lucky indeed we are to have her.

She will be rejoining Group Class next month, after her months off with her newborn, and will be fully in charge of Group Classes starting next September.

She now has two children and is not planning more in the immediate future. She is ready and eager to do more of what she is so well-equipped to do- teach Suzuki cello, both privately and in Group Class.

I think it is very important that her story be told again, here, so you are all aware of her value and excellence.

Genevieve is the first child of two professional musicians: Ron, (trombone) and Johanne, (bassoon). She began lessons with me in K-W at age 2, still in diapers.  At that time I was teaching a pre-pre-Twinkle class of 2 and 3 year-old’s. (An aside: three of the nine or so kids who took this pre-instrumental class are now thriving professional cellists! Early is indeed better!) At age 10 she announced to me one day in the car that she planned to be a Suzuki cello teacher when she grew up. By age 13, and all through her teen years, Genevieve was an assistant in Group Class in the way Heather now is, and at my in-school summer cello camps. Even then, with no formal teacher training, she was remarkably gifted at taking a diverse group of young cello players and in five short days, turning them into a respectable ensemble. She attended Wilfrid Laurier University and majored in cello performance, studying with Paul Pulford, to whom I moved many of my advanced students, in those days.

She then was accepted at the University of Denver into a two year Master’s Degree in Suzuki Pedagogy. (An aside: when I began teaching in 1977, there were no formal courses in Suzuki teaching. Since that time, week-long courses in how to teach each specific book of a particular instrument have been set up. These take place during the academic year and are also attached to summer Suzuki Institutes.  It has been a matter of individual responsibility for teachers to avail themselves of these.  As a long time teacher from well before these courses were even offered, I have still taken many of them over the years. Experience and education go hand-in-hand, of course.

The two year Master’s Degree program that Genevieve completed at the University of Colorado at Denver, is a very high quality, up-graded way to prepare in depth to be a masterful Suzuki teacher. Her main instructor there was Carol Tarr, a cello teacher of approximately my vintage with more than 40 years’ experience, from beginner to university degree students in cello. In Genevieve’s words:

 In Denver I taught 17 students aged 4-80, from beginner up to beyond book 8. One of my students then went to university for music!  I also taught Carol’s students on numerous occasions.
The training I have is all the way to Book 10. I also took a reading course and was in the pilot program for SPA: (Suzuki Principles in Action) even though I don’t officially have it. My teacher trainer is one of the best out there.
For groups, I taught every week and was the teacher for PPT (pre-pre-Twinkle, a pre-instrumental course) and I trained the teacher that took over for me when I left.
In other words, her formal qualifications are a lot more in depth than mine!
This Fall, she approached me about doing more teaching in Oakville. She has ten or so students in Waterloo at the moment at STEW (Suzuki Talent Education Waterloo) She is impatient to return to teaching and to put her marvelous training to use. She has already put child care in place. Genevieve has never, and this is her fourth season with OSA (since 2009), missed a Group Class or been late for one, despite being pregnant for fully 50% of that time.  During the winter of 2011 when I was so ill, suddenly and unexpectedly, with a serious blood disorder, (now in complete remission, by the way), she taught my whole studio for four months, coming several days each week, while nursing a very young baby who was under a year old at the time. It was a huge blessing to us all. She has tremendous energy and dedication!
At the same time, I have been struggling with the issue of what to do with respect to reducing my teaching load to some degree.  I feel that since I will be collecting Old Age Security in a year-and-a-half, perhaps it is time to consider an orderly downsize. I also have fairly severe fibromyalgia and while I do not consider it a disability  it does make the physical part of my job a challenge! That is why my seemingly long-suffering husband apparently waits on me hand and foot, and is seen packing, fetching and carrying so often. I simply cannot do these sorts of things for myself, anymore. At the same time, I feel a huge commitment to my students. Once I begin with a student, I feel it is both my pleasure and my responsibility to take that student as far as I can. However, sick this week, listening to the cello lessons happening below me, I have wondered how I regularly manage to teach such long, long hours, extending late into four of seven weekday evenings. The answer is, incidentally, by doing pretty much nothing else. This amount of teaching: 20 private students, for 45 minutes (or an hour) each, plus 3 1/2 hours of Group Class, weekly, not to mention concerts, meetings and considerable preparation time,  gives me little energy during my off-time to do much of anything besides physically recover.
Please note: NO-ONE will be forced to do anything! This will be a truly democratic three-way decision. There are some kids that I feel should stay with me at this time, and if you feel strongly this way that is also fine! We will discuss, think, and collaborate. If you feel a switch would be beneficial, that is also perfectly fine! TELL ME! This is one of the huge advantages of Suzuki education. Switching teachers can be easy and relatively seamless due to the common repertoire, the consistency of philosophy and similarity of overall approach. It is my expectation that, come January, we will all be in a win-win-win situation.
Genevieve will teach at my home studio each Friday, for the rest of this year starting in January. She likely will move her private studio to QEPCCC next September. She is prepared to teach from five to eight or nine students.
I will be approaching some of you about the possibility of switching to her as your teacher. You will remain within the OSA and continue exactly as before, with Genevieve teaching your child his/her private lessons instead of me.
I would prefer to cease Friday teaching altogether, but may continue doing so on a limited basis, upstairs in my living room if necessary, concurrent with Genevieve, just for the rest of this year,(but not next Fall), to expedite the schedule. Again, if you are currently a Friday student and strongly wish to stay with me, we can work around the scheduling issues.
Please be open-minded about this development! It does not mean, at all, that the present Friday students will switch teachers. It will likely involve a fair amount of schedule adjustment. I have several students in mind for this and they are a complete mix of age, gender and level. Suzuki education is a wonderful, world-wide movement. A student can easily transition from one good Suzuki teacher to another, anywhere. We are incredibly fortunate to have Genevieve, ready and willing to take this next exciting step with us!
If you are interested, on your own, in this idea, please feel free to get in touch with me. Otherwise, I may be approaching you over the next while to sound you out.
Thank you so much for your loyalty and support!me gen Gabby
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2 thoughts on ““The Only Constant is Change”…Very Important Email. Read Carefully!

  1. Jo-Anne, what a touching note. Best of luck to you as you transition to your new work-life balance schedule. You leave a huge legacy with Oakville Suzuki and so many students! And its very touching that Genvieve is a part of that legacy.

    Best wishes,
    Luke and the Ivan family

  2. HI Jo-Anne, I hope you are feeling better. I just checked both the blog and the Oakville Suzuki website for the order of the music for the concert on Sunday as Luke was not in group class and so doesnt have the cello version of the concert list. Would like to make sure I have his music in order for the concert.

    Do you have a list that you can send? Or, do you suggest I just work off the violin list on the website?

    Just want to be sure that we are calibrated with your cello repertoire.

    Thanks very much! Kristi

    On 07/12/12 6:40 PM, “GRAMMACELLO’S STUDIO” wrote:

    > grammacello posted: “Hello to all, again. In the picture to the right, are > Genevieve and myself, in about 1988. I have made the decision, for a number of > reasons, to cut down my private studio numbers (by about one-third), starting > next month, January 2013. I will be in” >

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