Southwestern Ontario Suzuki Institute Inc.

Student Institute Aug. 11–16 | Teacher Development Aug. 10–18, 2024 | In Person at WLU & Online


What is a Suzuki Institute?
A Suzuki “Institute” is a summer music camp, usually held at a university, for Suzuki students and their parents. High-quality, experienced instructors are hired as faculty members. Typically an Institute runs for five or six days, with classes during the day and concerts or other special events held in the evenings. Most Institutes also offer accommodation in the university residences at a low rate which makes it a true holiday for the whole family. At SOSI the residences include single rooms and apartments with a kitchenette and a living area.

Students usually have at least three hours of formal instruction each day—an hour-long “master class” lesson with two to three other students studying at the same level, and two hours of group activities designed to extend and enrich students' musical knowledge and abilities. For a more complete program, students in Book 1 and above may enroll in up to two optional courses. Parents may take daily private lessons in violin, cello, bass, or piano as an optional class.

At SOSI, all students perform in a concert at least once during the week. There are solo concerts during the lunchtime breaks, a special Senior Concert on Thursday evening, and Friday Finale Concerts for Strings, Orchestra, and Piano and Percussion.

Does the parent attend the Institute?
Just as in your Suzuki lessons with your regular teacher, the parent attends all sessions with the child, observing attentively and taking notes on the daily assignments. Please do not bring reading materials, crafts, or other activities to the classes, and refrain from using your cell phone. Enjoy watching your child learn!

Attending SOSI each day with your child is a wonderful opportunity to be together, learning and enjoying the many musical activities in our program.

If it is impossible for either parent to arrange for the week off work, sometimes the child will attend with another family from the home studio. This works well when the two children play the same instrument, are at the same level, and take the same optional classes.

Occasionally older teenagers attend SOSI without a parent, provided another responsible adult on campus has been designated as a chaperone.

My child has just begun to study an instrument in the Suzuki Method. Would it be worthwhile to attend the Institute?
SOSI is designed for students of all ages and skills. There are activities suitable for very young children, juniors, pre-teens, and teenagers. A beginner can have a wonderful first-time Institute experience—watching other beginners and hearing more advanced students. If you don't think your child has the stamina for a full-day program, SOSI offers a morning program called the Mini Institute.

What are the specific benefits of an Institute for a teenager?
Because this Institute involves both string and piano students, teenagers can meet others who play different instruments. Teenagers often enjoy being the "leaders" for the younger students attending the Institute.

A special feature of SOSI is our String/Piano Chamber Ensemble program, in which senior string and piano students prepare and perform repertoire written for violin and/or cello and piano or other chamber music. The teenagers enjoy the camaraderie of working together throughout the week.

I like my child's home teacher. What are the benefits of my child having lessons with a different teacher at an Institute?
With an Institute teacher, you have the opportunity to see and hear new ideas, or experience familiar concepts with a new “twist”. Often some small thing an Institute teacher will do or say will suddenly "click" with the child and reinforce what the home teacher or parent has been pursuing all along!

From a parent's perspective, what are the benefits of attending an Institute?
An Institute gives a focus to summer practice and a “jump start” to resuming fall lessons. You will probably find that the transition from summer holidays to school time is eased if you have attended an Institute in August. It's a chance to refuel with new ideas and motivation for the year to come. It’s an opportunity to make new musical friends from all over North America.

This “learning holiday” with your children provides a fresh, inspiring, musical environment for one week. Parents of beginners realize that there is indeed "life beyond the Twinkles" as the camp provides a wonderful opportunity to see and hear many advanced students. Parents of more advanced students can affirm their children's progress through the continuum of study in the Suzuki Method.

One of my children does not study with a Suzuki teacher. Is this still an appropriate summer experience for him?
Depending on the age and skill level of your child, there may be some activities in which he may enroll at SOSI. Please contact the appropriate director for more information.

I have a pre-schooler who has not yet begun studying an instrument. Is there a program at SOSI for this child?
For siblings aged 4 and older who have not yet begun studying an instrument, SOSI offers the Sibling Option, which is a daily one-hour music enrichment class.
My family has several children. How do large families manage the daily schedule?
Over the years, SOSI has had many large families attend. Here are some of their creative approaches:

Bring a grandparent, favourite babysitter, or other interested adult to help. One year a family even brought their home teacher!

Partner with another family who is willing to take one of your children to group or enrichment classes while you attend the private lesson of your other child.

If you have two children in the same book, include a note when you register requesting that they be placed in the same private lesson class.

What do the parent and child do at an Institute when they are not involved in the three or four hours of formal instruction?
During the daily individual or group lesson each student will be given a small assignment on which to work before the next lesson. Many students like to book one of the free practice rooms in the university each day and do their practicing between classes. Practice can also occur outside, or in the dorms during non-quiet hours. Students can also get together to practise any ensemble music on which they might be working.

There are noon and evening concerts to attend, including the very inspirational Faculty Concert and Senior Concert, and several play-ins.

SOSI’s offerings include special activities such as a lecture for parents and a movie for the children during that hour, soccer, a Klezmer Dance, and a craft room. There are other recreational opportunities available close by, along with wonderful city parks within walking distance of the Laurier Campus.

As well, most families find that they enjoy meeting and sharing ideas with other Suzuki families who are also involved in a life of music education.

There will also be rehearsals for an Institute operetta and an opportunity to work on stage set design.

What is a “play-in”?
Because Suzuki students studying an instrument play a common repertoire, they are able to enjoy and benefit from playing together. A play-in provides this opportunity. Our Tutti play-in on Sunday features the opportunity for violinists, violists, cellists, and bassists to play Suzuki repertoire accompanied by our faculty orchestra.

Also on Sunday, in Two Pianos, Four Hands at SOSI, piano students try out their ensemble skills by playing a Suzuki piece accompanied by a faculty member in a two-piano arrangement.

The Sonatina Jamboree for pianists is an informal event during which the students play a polished, memorized movement from a sonatina (or the Beethoven sonata in Book 4) in the Suzuki repertoire, accompanied by a faculty string quartet.

My family will be commuting to SOSI each day. How should I plan my days for that week?
Just as in your regular Suzuki lessons with your home teacher, parents attend their children's lessons, observing and learning from each other. The regular daily schedule of classes begins at 8:30 am and ends at 4 pm. However, each day there are special events beginning at 4:15 pm for about an hour, and some events take place after supper. On Friday, all students perform in the Piano Finale or String Finale.

So that you and your family may take full advantage of the exciting opportunities offered at the Institute, plan on attending the entire program, even if you are commuting each day to the campus. SOSI Week is a time when you and your family can enjoy total immersion in music!

When will I find out my child's daily schedule and the schedule of Special Events?
Registration for students is on the first Sunday of the Institute between 11 am and 3 pm, in Room 208 of the Bricker Academic Building, situated on Bricker Avenue. At registration, you will receive a packet containing your child's daily schedule and a link to the online InfoPak with all details of all activities during the week. As well, the InfoPak will be updated and corrected as needed so check it daily, and remember to refresh your browser so you don’t see the previous version.

What else besides registration happens on SOSI's Opening Day?
Once you receive your packet at registration, we suggest you and your child find each room for the classes and activities listed on your schedule. When regular classes begin on Monday, you both will already be familiar with the routes to get to each location.

For those students who have enrolled in the Operetta program, there will be a video audition ahead of time. The first rehearsal is on Sunday from 1:30–3 pm, and there is another rehearsal on Sunday at 6 pm. You will receive more detailed information from our Office prior to SOSI Week.

At 3:15 pm on Sunday in the Bricker Academic Building Room 201, there is an Orientation Meeting for all students, families, and teachers. Come and find out everything you need to know about the exciting week ahead and meet our fantastic Faculty.

At 4:15 pm on Sunday all Junior and Intermediate violin, viola, and piano students participate in the first of SOSI's Play-ins. Let the music begin!

Young Artist Program and Senior students will start some of their classes on Sunday morning or afternoon. Information about these classes will be sent via email before SOSI begins.

Where do I park on campus?
On Sunday’s Registration Day, we suggest you park on one of the side streets (check the signs closely) close to Bricker Academic, pick up your registration package, and re-park in one of the lots designated for SOSI. Please note that the university charges for parking during weekdays. The parking fee for families staying in residence is included in your accommodation fee. A nominal fee is charged for daily commuters, payable by cash, debit, or credit card at the machine in each lot. Our Office will also mail you detailed information on parking, and it may also be found in the InfoPak.

I am taking a Teacher Development course at SOSI. When and where should I arrive?
On our website you will find the beginning and ending dates in the description of your course. On the first day of your course, you will need to come by the SOSI Office in Bricker Academic Building Room 208 to pick up your registration package and any printed course materials you have requested, sign in, and pay any outstanding balance in your account. If you are not a local resident you should plan on checking in to your campus residence the night before your course begins.

Remember that 100% attendance is required for all TD courses in order to receive a course credit with the SAA.

There will be an Orientation meeting for all TD participants right before the first class begins. Please check the description of your desired course for exact times.

Upon receipt of your course registration our Office will also send you a letter detailing when and where participants in your course should arrive. The information will also be posted on our website in the InfoPak in early August.

What things should my family take to SOSI?
Portable metronome or metronome app on your phone.

Pencil and notebook in which to record assignments and observations.

Your Suzuki music book and other music you will need, such as solo recital music, if outside the Suzuki repertoire (and piano accompaniment part), and any music you have received from SOSI this summer.

All string students must bring a portable music stand and their own instruments.

Cellists should bring an end-pin holder (e.g., floor strap or puck).

Young cellists should bring their cello stools.

Concert attire for performances: all black for Senior and YAP students, and black bottom and white top for Junior and Intermediate students.

Bathing suit: The WLU Pool is often available for swimming, as are area recreational centres.

Operetta participants—the costume/accessories for the final performance on Thursday as specified by the operetta Director

Also, if you are staying on campus:
  • Your Suzuki recording and player
  • Air mattress, if required
  • Extra blanket. Pillows and bedding are provided
  • Facecloth (towels are provided)

For Bricker Residence: Bring a dishcloth, tea towel, dish detergent, dish rack, toaster, kettle, cutlery, dishes, coffee maker, pots and pans, and any other cooking equipment you might need. There is a stove and refrigerator but no microwave in the apartments. As these are student residences, the kitchens are completely empty during the summer.

For King Street Residence: If you plan to cook in the shared common lounge, bring dishes, pots and pans, kitchen utensils, and dishwashing equipment.

Wireless internet is available in all residences and throughout the campus. You might also like to bring your own ethernet network cable, which may be more consistent than the Wi-Fi in some areas.

If you have questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

For cello or bass: Genevieve Schirm-Joyce, cello & bass director 519-572-6155

For violin, viola or piano: Elayne Ras, director, violin & viola director 519-605-0145

For accommodation or general questions: Tracy Jewell, our Administrator 519-240-6995