Director's Covid Announcement

Dear Suzuki Family,

I hope you are having a pleasant and healthful summer so far. I am writing today with a variety of news items. 

First, as some of you may already know, we are saying farewell to our amazing long-time violin teacher, Mary Bellone. Mary is moving to Fort Collins, CO to be nearer to her family. We will miss Mary tremendously here at UNI Suzuki, but we wish her all the best, and she has promised to come back to visit us soon! 

On the flip side, we are thrilled to be able to announce that Bethany Washington will be joining our violin/viola faculty! You may already know Bethany as she has been working with the Suzuki School for the past 2 years in a graduate assistant/student teacher capacity. Bethany graduated with her Master of Music degree from UNI this spring, has considerable training and teaching experience in the Suzuki method, and is an extraordinary performer on both violin and viola! We are so excited to have her join us! 

The past several months have certainly been a tumultuous time for all of us. Here at the Suzuki School, we have been doing a lot of research, having many discussions, and giving an immeasurable amount of thought about how we will operate safely this fall. Unfortunately, it looks like things are simply not going to be able to go “back to normal” for some time. For a multitude of reasons and out of an abundance of caution to keep all of our faculty, students, and their families safe, we have determined that we will be keeping an online format this fall. The article linked here  https://www.violinist.com/blog/laurie/20206/28337/  may provide some additional insights about our decisions. One big hurdle is simply having adequate space in which to teach and learn safely, and with UNI planning to return to at least some in-person instruction, larger spaces such as classrooms and performance spaces will be at a premium, and the university classes will take precedence. However, in addition to our online format, teachers may elect to teach some in-person lessons and/or group classes provided we can find a space where they can be held outdoors, use proper physical distancing, and conducted with masks for students, parents, and teachers alike, when weather conditions permit. More information will be shared about these plans as they are solidified. 

Some good news, we hope, is that we are planning to offer a more interactive group experience online than what was provided this spring. We have had a few months to figure things out, and I’m confident we can have successful group classes via Zoom. It will obviously not be like attending in person in the classroom, but we are committed to providing our students with the high quality, engaging classes we hope you’ve come to expect from UNI Suzuki. We hope you will continue to be enthusiastic, patient, and open minded about our offerings even as we settle into what is our temporary new normal. 

One other event that we want very much to be able to offer this fall, despite having to do so in a very different format than usual, is our recital weekend. Plans are in the works but it looks likely that teachers will be hosting online recitals for their individual studios via Zoom this fall. More details will follow at a later date.

Ensembles including NIJO, NIYO, CFCO, and Verismo will not be offered in the fall. We are hopeful that we will have orchestra auditions at a later date and possibly be able to have a shortened spring season for these groups, but those plans are subject to change based on the fluid situation regarding public health. If you have interest in any of these activities, please note that on your registration form and we will make sure you are on the appropriate mailing lists so we can send you updates as they become available. 

One additional point I would like families to take note of is that we will not be increasing any instructional fees this year. This is possible due to the fact that none of the Suzuki teachers or administrative staff will be receiving any wage increases as are usually mandated. We are glad to be able to keep things affordable for our families as best we can during this uncertain time. We will also not be charging our $20 per student/$25 per family General Activity Fee, which goes directly to the UNI Suzuki Association (Parent Advisory Board), BUT will be more than happy to take that fee as a donation to the school if you are in a financial position to help us out in that way. These funds go toward a variety of expenses that are not typically covered by our operating budget. If you would like to make a contribution you can send a check made out to the “UNI Suzuki Association” and mail to: UNI Suzuki School, ATTN: UNISA, University of Northern Iowa, Russell 115, Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0246. Donations of any size are appreciated.

If you are in need of scholarship assistance this year, we do have funds available and we encourage you to apply. The application deadline is July 15. The form is on our website and needs to be filled out offline and either mailed in or emailed back. Here is the link to that page: https://music.uni.edu/suzuki/sites/default/files/Financial%20Assistance%20Req%20rev%202015.pdf

We realize the shift to online learning has been a huge adjustment for everyone. We would like nothing more than to be able to offer you the in-person lesson and musical experiences you’ve become accustomed to, and we hope that the day will come much sooner than later when we are able to do just that. For now, we will hold one another up in hope, knowing that not even a global pandemic will keep us apart forever! We also realize that music and arts education are more important now than ever, as we cling to those things that hold us together as a society. I began this letter with the salutation “Dear Suzuki Family” for a reason- we care about you all and you are a part of our musical family. We will be here for one another through these trying times, and we will come out stronger in the end.

If you have any concerns or questions about fall plans at the Suzuki School please do not hesitate to contact us. Your teachers, Cathy, and I are all here to help. Please reach out if we can be of any assistance. Be safe and well. Wear your mask, and wash your hands!

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Suzanne Bullard

Director & Cello Faculty, UNI Suzuki School

Pronouns: she/her/hers