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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

ISTEX 8th Annual Conference in Remscheid, Germany!

Remscheid, Germany, ISTEX
A Walk Through the Woods
What do foot charts, floating feathers, Kreutzer etudes, the Bell Tone Song, and the Hot Canary have to do with each other? Normally, not much, but in Remscheid, Germany the last weekend of October 2016, quite a lot!

The 8th Annual Conference of the International Suzuki Teacher Exchange met in Remscheid, Germany. Participants from 14 countries joined together for a memorable weekend of information, entertainment, and teacher training. There were 130 teachers who took the introductory course.
violin bow demonstration
Kerstin Wartburg

130 teachers from 14 countries traveled to Remscheid to stay in a small retreat center. We ate meals in a small dining area that encouraged pockets of conversation. Whether we spoke German or English or a combination of both, there were opportunities to sit down and share thoughts. I made it a practice to sit down with anyone sitting alone. "Deutsch oder Englisch?" I would ask, and depending on the answer, we would continue our conversation -- at times stilted and halting. If all else failed, I would pull out the pictures on my phone and share a laugh or two about my silly animals at home (Dachshunds and donkeys).
ISTEX Germany conference
Remscheid Beauty

One particularly amusing exchange occurred when I explained to a German teacher that I had 9 very lovely dogs, but one of them was very, um, I could not remember the German word for "stubborn" (stur?), and the lady helped me out: "Dummkopf!" (fool!). Well, OK, that worked too, and we shared a good laugh. The conversation went on to other questions about student problems, and we shared many photos and advice. I treasure that memory!

It was not only that we shared ideas, we shared the important knowledge that we all believed in a common mission and philosophy, begun so many years ago by Dr. Suzuki. This common goal was perhaps the most important part of my trip. When times are difficult in my teaching studio -- as things have been recently during the troublesome election cycle in the US -- I cling to the hope that the Suzuki philosophy offers and I go to bed at night with the calm assurance that the world will indeed be a better place because so many of us teachers believe in the same overall mission: that we are helping to create good citizens for tomorrow, shaping a better future by nurturing families and students, and providing a sense of belonging to a movement that is so much more than one individual can create.
Unique Mushroom Beauty

This is the beautiful knowledge and assurance that I came away with from the conference, that the work we do as teachers does matter, is important, and will have a lasting impact of the highest kind on the rest of the world. Perhaps it will be one student or one child at a time, but that impact will spread out in ripples to touch many others -- families, classrooms, other teachers, communities, and the rest of the world eventually.

Just think! Teachers from 14 countries shared this time together! How wonderful this is!

I gave two presentations during the conference along with so many other wonderful presentations, classes, workshops, and performances. I learned something from every presentation I attended. I thoroughly enjoyed the recital that Brian Lewis gave. As always, his performances are exemplary and exciting! We were treated to a special encore as well.

I made expanded podcast episodes of the two presentation topics I gave, and if you are interested in listening to those episodes, here are the links:

Episode 032 Common Student Problems

Episode 033 How Big is Your Why

I also recorded an expanded discussion about my Remscheid conference experience, and that episode will air on Sunday, November 20, 2016. You can catch up on the podcast episodes at www.teachsuzuki.com.

I want to publicly thank Kerstin Wartberg, David Andruss, Brian Lewis, Heidi Curatolo, and Charles Krigbaum, and all the fantastic teachers and workshop presenters for all that they did to make this conference so informative, friendly, and memorable. The event was well organized and a wonderful experience.

The 9th International Suzuki Teachers Exchange Conference will take place on October 27-30, 2017. Consider being a part of this inspirational event!

Knowledge is Not Skill
Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----

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