SAO Conference 2023: Good Vibrations Reflections

Liz Biswas

First of all, I want to thank Genevieve, Debbie, Lauren, and Rebecca for the tremendous amount of work you did to make this weekend such a success. Coming out of lockdowns I know that there has been a ton of rebuilding and re-visioning that has needed to happen and that you’ve worked tirelessly with all your heart and soul to keep the SAO moving forward. I am so appreciative of this and know the hours that it takes behind closed doors.

I sat down this morning and wrote some reflections that I had over this weekend. I reflected over the positives in our community – and then also some of the things I want to work on “tone-wise” in my own school/my own personhood. One thing I know we are capable of is developing beautiful tone. :) I wanted to share and perhaps continue the conversation and ideas as we go back to our lives and home programs.

SAO Conference reflections:

Our job is to help produce light for our community: our students, our families, and our colleagues. We need to recognize this light in ourselves and support what gives us light so we can continue to pass it on to others.

Each individual gets light in different ways.

We need more of our core Suzuki beliefs within our partnership with one another as colleagues to continue the light:

Every Child Can Learn = Every teacher and member of our organization can learn (growth mindset)

Success Breeds Success = Celebrate growth and shifts. Focus on the positive growth and build on success within our own homes, studios, and larger community. These can be small shifts instead of huge changes. 1% shifts make big change over time.

Environment Nurtures Growth = Demonstrate to your colleagues the environment you want to have as a colleague. If you create a supportive and nurturing environment with an open heart, that supportive and nurturing environment will grow.

Parent Involvement is Critical = Mentorship is critical.

Encouragement is Essential = Battle imposter syndrome; help colleagues develop growth mindset and a capacity for lifelong learning. Encouragement is needed to battle the dark times.

Children Learn from One Another = We learn from one another as colleagues and need to create opportunities for this and recognize when it happens. Opportunities include conferences, teacher training, and collaborations.

Ability Develops Early = Young/New teachers may not have as much experience, but they will be the future leaders and the future of our community. We need to nurture them and give them an opportunity to try things out, make mistakes, and get messy just as we would our students. This is a part of our light. We can recognize where we were when we were at that stage. How were we nurtured and what opportunities did we have? How would we have liked to have been treated and what opportunities would have been beneficial? We can use these reflections as a guide when working with our younger or newer colleagues and nurture that growth. It can be hard to have trust and faith in this process because it may not look like our preconceived notions (that’s on us not on them), but it will eventually help to lighten the workload. That is our job as teachers. It may look different from our current personal vision, BUT this will maintain a legacy that is larger than any one of us individually. This is a large responsibility.

The things that I see that can deplete energy and blow out our lights in the Suzuki community (that we often avoid talking about):

  • Comparison: both self-inflicted and colleague-inflicted.
  • Shame: both self-inflicted and from the “what you should be” mentality (as a teacher/performer/parent/administrator etc.) in the community.
  • Guilt: both self-inflicted and colleague-inflicted.
  • Lack of resources: human hours, money, spaces for gathering, geographical distance, etc.
  • Resentment: particularly when comparing volunteerism/amount of work being done; the struggle bewteen “it’s not enough” and “but I’m doing so much”.
  • Blame: particularly when things do not go as planned or as envisioned, instead of problem-solving and finding growth opportunities for next time.
  • Lack of face to face time (especially when we are isolated).
  • Too many tasks at once dividing our attention/resources/energy.

I want to start looking at these challenges the same way I would look at technical aspects of a student’s playing. We have the opportunity for change. We can also have a “one point lesson” approach and focus on one thing at a time and still make significant change. The first step is recognition.

In the Suzuki community we can battle the above challenges and find energy in the following ways:

  • Making music together
  • Eating together
  • Sharing ideas
  • Seeing ideas come to a fruition
  • Amazing concerts
  • Exchanges with people from different geographical areas
  • Sharing resources
  • Supporting one another to make things happen
  • Learning from one another
  • Listening to one another
  • Coming in with an open mind and an open heart
  • Resilience through creativity
  • Mastery and excellence
  • Seeing children grow as musicians and humans
  • Being in a creative environment
  • Bringing light into each other’s darkness
  • Having an opportunity to share what you are good at with others and have others share what they are good at with you
  • Creating space for rest and encouraging one another to rest when it is needed
  • Showing up for one another when we need help
  • Being okay with asking questions and seeing asking for help and mentorship (regardless of age) as a strength
  • Recognizing areas of weakness and seeking knowledge/training, and having that built in to our community
  • Embracing what people of all ages have to offer
  • Encouraging one another to say no when we are at capacity; you can do it all, just not all at once. I really think if we can create this environment it will actually lead to amazing things because it nurtures rest and wellness.
  • Being able to recognize each other and the cool things we are doing in our home studios or on our adventures
  • Creating a safe space for the children and one another
  • Being able to show up as who you are and be respected and celebrated for who you are and what you bring to the table
  • Creating safe space for vulnerability which leads to growth
  • Shared goals
  • Carving out time where we can be present, physically and mentally