Music professor to teach at Suzuki World Convention

Vera Mcoy-Sulentic teaching at SIUEVera McCoy-Sulentic, director of SIUE’s Suzuki Program, has been teaching the Suzuki Method of learning music around the world for more than 30 years. And in March, she will expand her teaching to Japan.

McCoy-Sulentic was asked to teach the Bach Double Concerto in three classes at the Suzuki World Convention in Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan, that will culminate in a performance at the end of the five-day convention.

McCoy-Sulentic said she ended up teaching the classes “by reputation,” and she was thrilled when asked to teach.

“I was totally excited. It’s such an honor. I remember the first convention I went to in Canada in 1985, and I saw Suzuki there and I saw teachers teaching there… [and] here I am this many years later, and I’m now teaching at a world convention…,” McCoy-Sulentic said.

The Suzuki Method of teaching music was developed by Shinichi Suzuki after Suzuki learned children could learn Japanese easily, according to McCoy-Sulentic, and that children could learn music “just as easily as part of [their] environment.”

Teaching at the convention, McCoy-Sulentic will have a Japanese translator and she said she expects the classes to be “quite large.”

“It will be just like an intense focus on just one piece. Here at SIU, of course, we have a 15-week semester and our goals and strategies are much different and this will be an intense preparation for a final grand concert,” McCoy-Sulentic said.

Music department chair Audrey Tallant said McCoy-Sulentic being selected to teach at the convention is “truly an honor” for the department.

“This is the world convention and so for her to be recognized – Everybody goes there who’s a Suzuki teacher, but not everybody is asked to teach, so this is a great recognition for her,” Tallant said.

Roughly 4,000 people are attending the convention from Japan and roughly 1,200 people are attending from around the world, according to McCoy-Sulentic.

McCoy-Sulentic said the Suzuki method was “very innovative mostly because they taught without reading at the very beginning because they started so young.”

“Our youngest students are sometimes barely 3 years old. They also use group classes. So those are some major innovations…,” McCoy-Sulentic said. “Also the parents are highly involved in those beginning years.”

The method started 60 years ago, according to McCoy-Sulentic, at which time “recordings were easily available, tape recordings, so that children could hear the music they would be playing and it could be part of the home environment.”

McCoy-Sulentic said she became involved with the Suzuki method while living in Eugene, Ore., playing in the Eugene Symphony. A colleague suggested she watch the Suzuki classes and told her she would be a “great Suzuki teacher.”

McCoy-Selentic then participated in a weeklong summer institute held by John Kendall from SIUE, after which she moved to Edwardsville from Oregon and completed a Masters degree in music education in 1988.

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