Practice video: The Importance of Summer Institutes

Why should your summer include a Suzuki institute?

Welcome to Practice Corner! Suzuki summer institutes are around the corner. Why should your child go to one? Today we are discussing how inspirational and fun a Suzuki summer institute can be.

Here in Eugene, we are lucky to have an institute in our own backyard! On the UO campus, the Northwest Suzuki Institute (NSI) is July 30–Aug. 4.

Here is the SAA’s listing of Summer Institutes 2017. Where will you go?

Watch live (and ask questions)! Tune in every other Monday evening at ESMA’s Facebook Page for new Practice Corners. You can also share your own tips and questions.

If you can’t tune in to the broadcast, no worries. You can find our Practice Corner videos on the new ESMA YouTube Channel, and at the Practice Corner section of the ESMA website.

Please share with us your experiences and why you have enjoyed going to summer institute.

Practice video: Appreciate your child’s unique journey

Keep faith in the process

How do you connect with your child’s unique journey? Welcome to Practice Corner!

Today we talk about staying focused on the work we do with our children and how to appreciate the small steps of learning. Your child has their own unique journey that won’t look like anyone else’s. Keep faith in the process, and your child will bloom in their own time. This week we’ll talk about staying engaged in your child’s musical and developmental journey.

BONUS: Get The Carrot Seed

Watch live (and ask questions)! Tune in every other Monday evening at ESMA’s Facebook Page for new Practice Corners. You can also share your own tips and questions.

If you can’t tune in to the broadcast, no worries. You can find our Practice Corner videos on the new ESMA YouTube Channel, and at the Practice Corner section of the ESMA website.

How do you remember to appreciate your child’s unique journey?

We’re hiring a Little Notes Assistant

Are you interested in helping Jodie with Little Notes classes, or do you know someone who would be? ESMA is hiring a part-time assistant for our Little Notes classes.


The Eugene Suzuki Music Academy is a highly regarded music school that features baby and toddler music learning. Founded by Jodie St. Clair in 2009, ESMA has become a music education staple for Oregon’s Eugene/Springfield area. We offer classes centered around Suzuki Early Childhood Education (SECE) as well as Violin, Cello, and Guitar instruction.


Assist in the Little Notes class with instruments, greeting parents, guiding parents through class, singing, and leading. Teaching time will start with 2.5 hours on Wednesday morning and 1 hour on Thursday morning. There will also be occasional subbing opportunities and additional hours for recitals.


  • Experience with Early Childhood Education (ECE)
  • Comfortable leading a class
  • Comfortable singing in front of people
  • No formal music training required
  • Some knowledge of Suzuki philosophy preferred


Hourly rate commensurate with experience.


Please send resume and references to Eugene Suzuki Music Academy at




Welcome Meagan! Meet our new Suzuki Violin Teacher

Suzuki Violin Teacher Meagan RuvoloESMA has been growing and growing lately, and we are so glad that now there’s not just one violin teacher… there are two! Meagan Ruvolo is now accepting students to her Suzuki violin studio.

Meagan’s Teaching Philosophy

Having been a Suzuki student from the age of 4 and then studying the Suzuki philosophy long-term at the University of Denver with Kathleen Spring, I firmly believe that every child can achieve a high level of musical skill through careful instruction and a strong connection between the parent, student, and teacher. I tailor each lesson to the individual student’s goals as each family and situation is unique, and should be treated with the whole student and family in mind.

Since moving to Eugene in the fall of 2016, I have been lucky enough to meet Jodie and experience the wonderful atmosphere of community and support at ESMA. When I was a child I grew up learning violin in a similarly structured studio with the same families year after year, and they have become lifelong friends and colleagues. Most of them have continued their passion for music into a career or a fantastic personal hobby.

I look forward to becoming a part of this studio and getting to know you, as well as sharing my love of music and lifelong learning!

About Meagan

Meagan Ruvolo began studying violin in Canada at the age of 4 with Suzuki Teacher Joanne Martin. She attended private as well as a group lesson every week, and quickly excelled in her studies. At the age of 9 Meagan was performing in the Winnipeg Music Festival, taking first prize in multiple classes. Meagan began studying piano in addition to violin at the age of 5 with her grandmother and lifelong piano teacher/performer Patricia Arnason. Performing in many recitals and events over 15 years of study, Meagan has achieved a high level of sensitivity on the instrument.

Meagan went on to receive the Swedish Musical Club Trophy for violin in 1997 at the age of 12, as well as advancing to nationals on several other occasions. Throughout elementary school and beyond, Meagan competed in many competitions and recitals, taking many 1st and 2nd place awards for playing as well as composing music. Meagan enjoyed a long period of time playing violin for all 3 levels of the Winnipeg Youth Orchestras, from the age of 9 through 17, as well as being asked as an adult to play periodically for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra.

At the age of 16, Meagan began studies with Karl Stobbe, Associate Concertmaster for the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. Meagan then studied with world famous violinist Oleg Pokhanovski during her studies at the University of Manitoba faculty of music, where she achieved mention on the Dean’s Honor Roll. Meagan began playing professionally at the age of 13 with many quartets and groups for weddings, conventions, banquets, and other chamber music settings. Meagan began teaching professionally at the age of 16, and has enjoyed enriching the lives of others through music. Meagan has also studied the long-term philosophy of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, creator and founder of the Suzuki Method, at the University of Denver under the instruction of Professor Kathleen Spring.

Meagan has completed SAA-registered training in Core Units, Every Child Can!, and Violin Units 1–4.

About Suzuki Violin Method

Meagan with studentsAs a mom and a teacher, Meagan believes that teaching is not just about the music, it is about the person. We strive to teach the whole student, not just the musician, and to create a community of music through ESMA.

At ESMA we guide parents and students with these 7 basic Suzuki principles:

  1. Every Child Can Learn
  2. Ability Develops Early
  3. Environment Nurtures Growth
  4. Children Learn from One Another
  5. Success Breeds Success
  6. Parent Involvement is Critical
  7. Encouragement is Essential

In addition to your weekly private lesson, students can also attend weekly group classes and be part of graduation and studio recitals. There is also parent support and resources to help you wherever you are on your music journey.

Want to learn Suzuki violin?

Meagan is building her local studio, and registration is open. If you have questions, please get in touch with Meagan at or 720-785-0930.

Register for Violin Lessons

Practice video: Review Games

How can you keep music practice interesting

Welcome to Practice Corner! We’ve talked all about why review is so important to build our repertoire… but how do you keep it fun and engaging? This week we’ll go over some creative ways to use review games to keep practice interesting.

Watch live (and ask questions)! Tune in every other Monday evening at ESMA’s Facebook Page for new Practice Corners. You can also share your own tips and questions.

If you can’t tune in to the broadcast, no worries. You can find our Practice Corner videos on the new ESMA YouTube Channel, and at the Practice Corner section of the ESMA website.

How do you keep review interesting and engaging?

Practice video: The importance of review

Why are review songs important?

Join Jodie for a discussion of the importance of review. Review is such a large part of the Suzuki philosophy, and it can make a difference in the success of the child.

Watch live (and ask questions)! Tune in every other Monday evening at ESMA’s Facebook Page for new Practice Corners. You can also share your own tips and questions.

If you can’t tune in to the broadcast, no worries. You can find our Practice Corner videos on the new ESMA YouTube Channel, and at the Practice Corner section of the ESMA website.

What are your tips and tricks for review songs?

Practice video: The Odd and Even Game

How can you work on endings or tricky spots in a practice piece? Are you looking for a way to diffuse conflicts or add some fun? Get out your dice and play the Odd and Even Game with Jodie!

This video is our first foray into doing practice videos on Facebook (we’ll also be rolling these out to YouTube in the coming weeks).

Watch live (and ask questions)! Tune in every other Monday evening at ESMA’s Facebook Page for new Practice Corners. You can also share your own tips and questions.

If you can’t tune in to the broadcast, no worries. You can find our Practice Corner videos on the new ESMA YouTube Channel, and at the Practice Corner section of the ESMA website.

How are you using dice in your practice?

Pick a practice word

Image: Jeff Djevdet

A challenge of ongoing practice is keeping everyone focused and motivated. Kids and circumstances change. With so much happening, it can be hard to keep your practice focused and relevant to your child’s skills and development, while also setting up your child for further learning, growth, and success.

A word of the year

For one of our ESMA families, Amber Riggs picks a “word of the year.” Amber uses this word to guide her 4 children in practice, education, and other parts of their lives. Here’s what Amber has to say about how having a word of the year has helped her family:

“As a homeschool mom, I’m always looking for ways to keep my kids (ages 8, 6, 4, and 1) motivated. Last year they said that they really wanted a trophy. I liked the idea of being able to earn a trophy for something other than athletic accomplishments, but I really liked the idea of making it something meaningful that they had to work hard for. Therefore, a Diligence Trophy was promised to kids who demonstrated that they could “start fast, work hard, and finish strong,” and “Diligence” became our word of the year. That word helped us all through a lot of frustrating situations.

“This year’s word is “Perseverance”, and it is music to my ears to hear the chanting of ‘I am perseverant! I can do it—even when it’s tough!” Small rewards keep them saying it, but they know that if they can live it out this year then another trophy is coming. We sometimes reach points where we just don’t feel like pushing ourselves. It can be tough to finish that page of math! It can be hard work to get your fingers to go where they need to go on the violin! Not to mention being the parent trying to facilitate these activities! But that’s where all of that chanting pays off: “You are perseverant!” I tell them. “Yes”, they reply, “I can do it—even when it’s tough!”

How to pick a practice word

You can put this to work in your family too:

  1. Either you can pick a word, or you can make it something you choose together as a family.
  2. What is a challenge, skill, or value that you are working on with your kids?
  3. How does the word relate to you practice?

Your word doesn’t have to be for a whole year, either. Maybe it’s something you do for a month or a few months, depending on its effectiveness.

Ideas for potential practice words

Trying to think of what your practice word might be? Talk it over with your kids, and here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • Diligence
  • Perseverance
  • Try
  • Capable
  • Confident
  • Success
  • Strive
  • Nurture
  • Learning
  • Intuition
  • Cooperation
  • Inspire

What will be your family’s word?

An attainable New Year’s resolution

I resolve to [fill in the blank] for the new yar.

by Elizabeth Gergel

“To make a resolution and act accordingly is to live with hope. There may be difficulties and hardships, but not disappointment or despair if you follow the path steadily. Do not hurry. This is a fundamental rule. If you hurry and collapse or tumble down, nothing is achieved. Do not rest in your efforts; this is another fundamental rule. Without stopping, without haste, carefully taking a step at a time forward will surely get you there.” – Dr. Suzuki

The dawn of 2017 offers us the opportunity to have a fresh start and make resolutions that we hope to follow in the new year. Many of us will boldly make statements such as “I’m going to help my child to practice one hour every single day,” or “I vow to write in a journal every day of 2017.”

I encourage you to take a step back from such lofty goals. Let us take this opportunity to set attainable goals instead.

Perhaps the most important aspect of providing your child with music lessons is the gift of the playing of beautiful music. Remember to congratulate yourself each day for this—no matter whether you practiced for the intended 60 minutes… or the unintended zero minutes of practice.

An attainable goal for this year could be to listen to the Suzuki book recording more frequently.

Find ways to incorporate listening into your daily routine, whether it be while making dinner, bathtime, running errands, etc. There have been countless times in my teaching experience when I ask a student how many times she listened to the recording of her current book in the week leading up to the lesson, and I receive a less than desirable response. None. Once or twice.

Listening is perhaps the easiest and the best way for your child to learn their music.

As Dr. Suzuki emphasized in the quotation at the top of this Practice Corner, make a small, reasonable—and most importantly—attainable goal. This will do much more to further growth than far-reaching unrealistic goals. I also have to commit to listening to my repertoire more. It is easy to overlook creating the time and the space for listening. In our ever more hectic lives it becomes increasingly important to carve out a place for the activities that are more “quiet” and peaceful.

So this year, step back from the lofty and focus on the attainable. It’s a New Year’s resolution you can keep.

Image: BazaarBizarreSF

4 Holiday Tips for Guilt-Free Practice

It’s no secret that the holidays can be a challenging time for regular practice. School is out. Holiday activities pack the schedule. You might be traveling, or family and friends might be visiting from out of town. With so much happening during the holidays, how do you manage to fit in practice?

But there’s a crucial component that we need to address first: avoid guilt.

Sometimes a practice might get missed, or stress from the holidays might bleed over into practice. If this happens, forgive your child and forgive yourself. Above all, avoid guilt in both you and your child. Guilt saps motivation. Planning for practice and for practice breaks will help you avoid guilt and set you and your child up for success.

Practice is a meaningful quality time for parent and child. During the holidays, this can make practice a break from the hustle and bustle of the season. Not only will this help motivate your child, it will reinforce your motivation too.

Here are our 4 holidays tips to help you guilt-free practice:

1. Practice early in the day.

It can be harder to have a later practice than one earlier in the day. Usually,the further your day progresses, the more your practice time will have to compete with other activities. Try having practice closer to the start of the day, such as after breakfast. Then practice is done and you don’t have to worry about it slipping through the cracks. You and your child can also start the day with a feeling of success and accomplishment.

2. Set a minimum daily practice.

Just because the holidays are challenging, you can still set a good baseline. Set a minimum practice for your child (if they’re old enough, maybe they can negotiate this with you). A good minimum could be a current song plus one review song. Aim for more, of course, but on those days where time is tight and everyone feels rushed or squeezed, a simple minimum can still help make the difference between some practice and no practice. That regular practice will also set up your child for success and can make practice easier when that routine is maintained.

3. Make your Suzuki listening part of your day’s soundtrack.

In our house, we put on our Suzuki listening during breakfast. Incorporate your listening into a time that works well for you. It could be during a meal, as part of bedtime, or while traveling for an event, shopping, or a family visit. Having listening as a regular part of the day builds consistency, which can ease the rush of the holidays.

4. Agree in advance any practice breaks—and agree when practice will resume.

Yes, we aim to practice every day. But during the holidays, we also know we need some leeway.

If you’re traveling, agree in advance whether or not you’re taking your instrument. If you need to leave the instrument at home and take a practice break, accept that and don’t feel guilty. Also set when you will resume practice, so you and your child know in advance and can get back in to practice after your trip.

If you want to have Christmas or another time during the holidays be a practice break, discuss it with your child so everyone is on the same page. That will also make it easier to resume practice once the practice break is done.

There is so much happening during the holidays, but the joy of music and learning are another fun time that can be part anyone’s busy season. Use these tips to help you and your child work together on practice and listening, and that can help put more joy and less stress into your holidays.

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