MA Suzuki Festival 2020


The Massachusetts Suzuki Festival is a two-day annual event for Suzuki students, parents, and teachers from across the state.  Participants enjoy masterclasses, group classes, chamber music, workshops, performances, early childhood education, and much more for Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass, Guitar, Flute, and Piano.  Our 2021 MA Suzuki Festival will take place the weekend of March 6-7, 2021 held online via Zoom.


Basic Information

Location: New England Conservatory

(30 Gainsborough Street, Boston 02115)


The festival will take place in 3 different buildings:


The Jordan Hall Building (30 Gainsborough Street) 


The Student Life & Performing Center (255 St. Botolph Street)

*Please Check-In here when you arrive!*  


The St. Botolph Building (241 St. Botolph Street)

 (Enter through The Student Life & Performing Center.  No entrance on St. Botolph Street)

The Student Life Building and the St. Botolph Building are connected, you will need to go outside to get to the Jordan Hall Building.


There will be a 15 minute passing time between each class.   

What to bring: Bring what you normally bring to a lesson. Parents are expected to stay with their children for the entirety of the festival.



What to wear: Dress in layers! The rooms can be cold to hot.



Food: On Sunday, please plan to bring water and lunch/snacks, or grab a quick bite nearby at Whole Foods, Subway, or Panera Bread. Lunch will be an hour on Sunday from 12-1pm. 

Parking: Validated parking is not available through New England Conservatory.  Please try to carpool or take public transportation to cut down on parking costs.  The garage on Gainsborough Street, steps from NEC, charges $36 for 4+ hours. See parking and directions links above for more information.


Scholarships:  Are available! Please go to the Student Information page to apply.   

Questions?  Contact us at

General Schedule


*All information subject to change--please check the website regularly for up-to-date information!

Saturday, March 6 (12:00pm - 6:00pm)

Student Masterclasses: 12:00 - 6:00pm

Please note that all Masterclasses are scheduled on Saturday only.  No Masterclasses will take place on Sunday.  

Period Instrument Workshop: Baroque Violin “How did the Bow Grow?”  2:00 - 6:00pm (students will be placed first-come, first-serve into one of two workshops) 


Festival Chamber Orchestra Rehearsal (optional): 3:45 - 4:45pm (String players Book 4+)

Teacher Workshops:

12:00-1:50pm: "Empowering Ability Development"  (open to teachers of any instrument) --Jane Reed 

2:00-3:50pm: "The Pre-Piano Student" --Blancamaria

2:00-3:50pm: "Body Balance for Violin and Viola Students" --Ann Montzka-Smelser

2:00-3:50pm: "Attention to Tension: Helping Cello Students Play with Ease" –David Holmes

4:00-5:50pm: "Improvisation for the Suzuki Student" (open to teachers of any instrument) --Alice Kanack

Sunday, March 15 (9:00am - 4:00pm)

Early Childhood Education: Students ages 0-4 are scheduled for 2 hours of classes between 10am-12pm including the Early Childhood Education Class and watching the performing ensemble concert.


Pre-Twinkle: Students are scheduled for 3 hours of classes between 9am-12pm including group class, Eurhythmics, and watching the performing ensemble concert.  


Full-Day Sunday Festival: (Books 1 and higher) The schedule varies slightly depending on your instrument.  It consists of group classes, enrichment classes, a concert by a performing ensemble, and much more. Class assignments are based on age and level. Students are scheduled for 5 hours of classes from 9am - 3pm with a break for lunch from 12:00-1:00 pm.


Parents also have two opportunities to attend Parent Sessions titled, “Nurturing Reflection Rather Than Contradiction” (Jane Reed), and “Games in Practice” (Sharon Kuhn). 


The festival culminates with Piano Recitals, The Chamber Orchestra Performance, and a String "Play-In" at the end of the day between 3:00-4:00pm.


String students in Books 4 and higher will be invited to participate in a chamber orchestra as part of their festival music experience. Rehearsals will take place on Saturday (3:45-4:45pm *optional*) and Sunday (11am-noon *mandatory*).

Class Descriptions


Improvisation Workshop for Guitarists

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What do peanut butter, alligator clips, and improvisation all have in common? You'll have to come to Nathan Kolosko's workshop on improvisation to find out. In this fun whirlwind session, we will cover topics from structured Blues improvisation to totally free exploratory sound experimentation. Utilizing Nathan's very own musical card game and handouts, students will leave with their creative and musical brain cells all firing at once. If that's not enough, you'll also get a free alligator clip!


During a 55-minute masterclass, students take turns performing for a master teacher and receive feedback in front of their peers.  Masterclasses will take place hourly on Saturday between 12pm-6pm.  Sunday schedules will not include a masterclass.  Therefore, if you want a masterclass, please sign up for one on Saturday.   Book 1-students are assigned to groups of 4 and receive 13-14 minutes of instruction, Book 2-3 students are assigned to groups of 3 and receive 18-19 minutes of instruction, and Book 4 and older students are scheduled with 2 students per class and receive 27-28 minutes of instruction.  Students and parents are expected to stay for the entire masterclass. 

Group Class

In Suzuki group classes, students review common repertoire by joining in fun activities with their peers.


This class is an ensemble preparatory class for pianists based upon our common Suzuki repertoire; providing a chamber music experience for pianists Book 3 and higher.

*NEW* Instrument Workshop

The workshop class is intended for interactive engagement on specific common repertoire.  Students will brainstorm how to make each Suzuki piece more musical by adding elements such as phrasing, dynamics, articulation, storytelling and vibrato.  

*NEW* Period Instrument Workshop: Baroque Violin

“How Did the Bow Grow?" 

All curious students and families are invited to discover how bows have evolved over the past four hundred years, in a demonstration/masterclass with Suzuki violin teacher and historical performance specialist Emily Hale. Violin students in Book 4+ will use familiar Suzuki repertoire to explore in a hands-on way how Baroque, transitional and Classical bows are different from those we use today.  (This workshop is for violin students Book 4 and higher, and both 1.5 hour workshops will be filled on a first come first serve basis.  Students must prepare a Suzuki piece composed between 1600-1800.)

String Improvisation Classes For Violinists/Violists

Suzuki students will explore ways to implement improvisation into their daily practice and performance technique.  This year's classes include folk/traditional fiddle improvisation for string players with Jessie Boardman (violin/viola), and jazz improvisation with Susan Reed (advanced violin).  Jessie will be focusing on traditional fiddling techniques and fostering improvisation skills during a group class for students as early as book 1+. Susan will introduce violinists in books 4+ to jazz improvisation. 

Suzuki Early Childhood Education

This class is for children ages 0-4 and an accompanying adult. The ECE class uses song and movement as a beautiful introduction to the Suzuki method for babies and toddlers. The class will take place on Sunday 10-10:45am.  ECE participants will also watch the Susan Reed Concert at 11am.


Based on the pedagogy of Emile Dalcroze, this class explores music through movement, ensemble, singing, and improvisation.

Alexander Technique

Three Spheres, an Octagon and a Canoe: Freeing up your joints and your playing at the same time!

Angela Leidig will lead a contemporary Alexander Technique approach workshop to freedom, which will allow students to explore new ways to think about posture.  Working in partnership with parents in an upbeat environment, students will come away with new techniques they can put to use immediately in their home practice and beyond.


*NEW* Marimba Magic

Students play marimbas, drums, and percussion, conduct, sing, move and make up their own music.  In this musicianship training students develop rhythmic, ensemble, improvisational and ear-training skills. 

*NEW* Rhythm Workshop

Join Domenick Fiore in this upbeat class focused on rhythmic reading, keeping your part amongst others, and exploring different time signatures and rhythmic patterns.  

Chamber Orchestra

An ensemble for Book 4+ String students who will be attending the festival both Saturday and Sunday, or Sunday only.  Students will explore the art of chamber music and collaboration while making new friends. Chamber Orchestra will meet for two rehearsals: Saturday, March 14th (3:45-4:45pm), and Sunday, March 15th (11:00am-noon).  The orchestra will perform at 3:00pm on Sunday, prior to the String Play-in at 3:30pm.  Participating students should plan to arrive to the rehearsal with the music well-learned and polished as much as possible.

Guest Artist Performance: Susan Reed Storytime

  Join in on a family style concert, storytime, dance and sing-along with Susan Reed.  Susan’s audiences—children and adults alike—sing along to the bright and varied accompaniment of her violin, guitar, mountain dulcimer and banjo. At verse’s end, she pauses to tell a story or recite a poem. With subjects as diverse as safeguarding our planet, learning math facts and revering elders, Susan’s performances engage and enchant. Susan also offers folk dances, creating healthy fun for all ages.  Check her out on: 

NEC Performing Group: Trio Gaia

Older students will have the opportunity to watch the NEC Performing Group Trio Gaia (piano, violin, cello) perform classical repertoire.  

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