Why I Love Summer Lessons

During the summer, I used to travel all over creation, teaching summer Institutes, reuniting with colleagues, meeting fantastic Suzuki families, reinforcing the ‘big picture’ of the national and international presence of Suzuki Method.  One major downside was being away from my own family.  Another big problem for me was losing so much valuable teaching time with my own private students.

The students who fared the best had attended Institutes themselves and were coming back recharged.  Of the ones who had not gone to an Institute, the very young students nearly had to begin all over again in the fall — lots of tears and loss of confidence.  The older students had lost focus and required a lot of remedial work, both in violin/viola technique and in reestablishing the momentum of regular lesson assignments.

But, skip to the new plan: offering lessons during the summer to families who are rested, unhurried and presenting an overall sense of calm.  There is also a less hectic schedule for myself to give me a sense of spaciousness and clarity that I often lose during the academic year.

I’ve gotten fairly adept at estimating how long a student will require to accomplish an assignment and have discovered that students who are having regular summer lessons can move approximately three times as fast through my typical practice chart.  Summer lessons feel like ‘light speed’ compared to the usual pace of life during the school year.

Maybe it’s the addition of warmer weather, more exercise, pool hair and flip-flops.  But besides all the best parts of summer, these lessons seem to share another aspect of Ideal Conditions for Learning, which is living exactly in the moment.  We are less pressured by what has preceded the lesson (being tired or wound up) and less concerned with future events (dashing off to the next activity, racing home to start homework).  What a wonderful state of mind!

Now my challenge to myself is to create the feel of summer lessons year-round.

About the Author:

Catherine McGlasson, originally from Kentucky, began teaching for Lexington Talent Education Association in 1972. She travelled to Matsumoto, Japan to study violin and teacher-training with Dr Shinichi Suzuki and has further studied Suzuki Method with many of the first Suzuki teachers in the United States, including William Starr, Margery Aber, John Kendall, Louise Behrend and Kay Collier McLaughlin. She served as Co-Director of the Central Kentucky Suzuki Strings Association and as Artistic Director of the St. Petersburg Suzuki Strings. Ms. McGlasson completed Bachelor and Master of Music Performance Degrees at the University of Kentucky in Lexington and did post-graduate study in violin pedagogy with Paul Rolland at the University of Illinois. She divides time between teaching and performing, including local symphonies and chamber groups such as the Johnson City Symphony, Symphony of the Mountains, Paramount Chamber Players, East Tennessee Baroque Ensemble, Shelbridge Players and the McGlasson-MacMillan Duo. She was founder of the Midway College Suzuki Program, instructor of violin and orchestra conductor at Berea College and was a member of the LaMay String Quartet, which toured Kentucky and surrounding states. She is active as a clinician/lecturer at various institutes, workshops and seminars throughout the United States, Canada and France.

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