Favorites from 2017


It’s that time of year again – time to make plans for a new year ahead, and reflect on the year that is coming to a close.

Part of the process for me is coming up with list of favorites for the year, related to teaching. There is even a favorite from The Suzuki Triangle Community included as well. I hope you’ll share one of your 2017 favorite resources or memories in the comments below!

Some of the links below are affiliate links which means I receive a small commission if you buy through my link. I promise to never recommend anything I don’t already love myself!


Favorite Books


My Favorite books this year are actually related more to creativity than to specifically teaching and the Suzuki Method. They are books I read that inspired my teaching, my writing and how I think about both parts of my professional life. I think they are valuable to read and consider whether we are creative people ourselves or are raising them.


The CrossRoads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

This was a beautiful book by artist Elle Luna that grapples with the issue of what every says we “should” do vs what we are made to do. I think it’s a must read for any creative person and I found it very inspiring and thought provoking.

Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age  by Jeff Goins

Great research and stories about what it takes for those in creative fields to thrive and not fall into the category of “starving artist.” Great chapters on collaboration and practicing your craft in public, it’s a book I know inspired many people in creative fields this year.

Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done  by Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff is a great writer and I think this is my favorite of his books so far. He shares great research and stories (including a study he had commissioned by a college professor on the topic of finishing and meeting goals) about what it really takes to meet our goals. It would be a great read for any Suzuki parent or teacher.

Bonus Recommendation: If you haven’t yet read Beyond the Music Lesson: Habits of Successful Suzuki Families, you can pick up your copy of the Kindle or Print book today! This was definitely my favorite project to finish and share with the Suzuki community this year. I have heard from many readers how much it helped them (Suzuki and non-Suzuki alike). Pick up your copy too! 




My favorite concert this year has to be seeing Nadja Solerno-Sonnenberg  when she came to Portland this year. She played the Four Seasons with the Oregon Symphony and I loved every minute of her playing. I would recommend finding some of her recordings to listen to, especially if you’ve never heard her before!


Professional Development


I’m a bit of a professional development junkie, I have to admit! There were three professional development experiences this year that I couldn’t choose between. I would highly recommend them all if you ever get a chance to attend!

Practicum: I had the opportunity to take violin practicum this summer with Sue Baer at the American Suzuki Institute this past summer. Four teachers brought in videos of their teaching (as well as teaching a short lesson in front of each other) and we were able to have fantastic discussions about what we are each doing well and what we could do next to take our teaching to the next level. I was pretty nervous going into the class but it was so great for me!

SAA Leadership Retreat: This retreat is held every other year & I would recommend teacher attend if you can find a way to go. We are all leaders, even if it’s just within our own studios, and this retreat will help you strengthen those skills and build connections with other leaders in the Suzuki community. I am already looking forward to the next one!

This year I also attended my first writer’s conference in Nashville. Tribe Conference was a great experience and it was very motivating to meet other writers of all different kinds and think about writing goals for the future.



As a teacher I am always looking for ways to inspire my students to practice and be self motivated with their own goals. Even if your teacher doesn’t organize activities like this you, as a parent, can take the initiative to do so if you think it might inspire your child!

Public Performances: Some favorites in my studio this past year are playing the lobby before an Oregon Symphony Concert and playing carols at our local grocery store while ringing the Salvation Army bell. We’ve also had fun performances at local farmer’s markets and nursing homes in the past.

Develop Your Own Arrangement: My friend and colleague, Dr. Rebekah Hanson, share this idea and my students loved it! In group class I passed out a fairly simple duet and divided up the group into two groups in two rooms. I provided some rhythm instruments and about 10 minutes for each group to come up with their own arrangement of the song to perform for each other. It was great fun to see what each group came up with and great sight reading practice as well.

Winter Break Bingo:  This always motivates students to get instruments out over winter break with some fun, unconventional activities for practice. You can read more about it in this article: 3 Winter Break Practice Ideas


Community Favorites


I asked the 700+ members of the Suzuki Triangle Community what their favorite resources were this year and we have a clear winner!

Helping Parents Practice by Edmund Sprunger

I agree, this is a fantastic resource for parents and teachers and helps us all understand how to practice more effectively and with more attention to what makes practice between a parent and child more effective.

Honorable mentions go to: The Parents as Partners parent education series put on by the SAA (registration should open again in January) and The Teach Suzuki Podcast!

What were your favorites this year?

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