Director of NVSMS
Teacher Trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA)
I am a graduate of the Eastman School of Music having majored in Violin and Pedagogy. I ﬁrst met Dr. Shinichi Suzuki while in undergraduate school. While in high school my passion was music and my love was with the many children I babysat. As a teenager I had appreciated that children were ﬂexible learners and were still “real”. Passion and love combined pointed to a teaching career. I was not sure what form my teaching would take until I attended a concert given in the Eastman Theater by the Suzuki Tour Group from Japan. The quality and spirit of performance by these young children was thrilling, unprecedented in the US at that time. I decided during the concert that whatever this was, I wanted to become a catalyst in the lives of children that could contribute to the extraordinary development I witnessed. At the time, I did not understand that the value of this and Suzuki’s intention was far more than simply the music.
When I came to the Washington, DC, area in 1970, parents had not even heard of the Suzuki approach. There were three interested teachers in the area. We felt like pioneers. Teaching has been a fulﬁlling experience for me. Not many people can say that after 43 years of doing the same work, they still love it.
I believe in stimulating the development of expressive talent and artistry right from the beginning lessons. Technique should be made easy using balance and release as key components, so that the player can have their heart invested in musical expression rather than on technique. Musical literacy can be fostered from the start, even in the Suzuki format.
When Suzuki was alive, I went to be with him almost yearly. I participate annually in conferences: American String Teachers, Suzuki Association of the Americas Conferences and Retreats, The New Approach with Kato Havas and the semi-annual Starling DeLay Symposium at Juilliard.
Experience and Service
In the 1970 and 80’s, I was involved in bringing the ﬁrst Suzuki Tour Group from Japan to the DC area. This necessitated forming a non-proﬁt organization called Suzuki Association of the Greater Washington Area (SAGWA). I have served on that Board of Directors (BOD) several times, a few times as president and managed the newsletter for several years. When the BOD decided to begin an institute, I was appointed Musical Director.
I have presented and taught at many Suzuki and non-Suzuki events. I have presented at the International Workshops and other conferences in Austria, Switzerland, France, Australia, Scotland, Norway, Canada, Peru, Panama, Costa Rico, Bolivia, and Haiti. I have also presented at multiple Suzuki Institutes and workshops where led sessions and have given the keynote addresses at several Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) conferences, Australian String Teachers Assoication in Cambura, Australia and Australian Suzuki Association in Melbourne, Australia. I have led as the violin coordinator for the SAA conference in Chicago. I was formerly violin faculty for 12 years at the University of Maryland and Director of Master Degree program in Performance with Specialization in Suzuki Pedagogy. Currently I am the Director of the Northern Virginia Suzuki Music School and Co-director of the Greater Washington Suzuki Institute.
I was awarded the “Leadership and Excellence” award at the American String Teachers Association (ATSA) Conference in 2004, the ASTA 2008 Virginia Teacher of the Year, and an Outstanding Teacher award from the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. I have also received a leadership award from SAGWA.
I am a Teacher Trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA), licensed to train Suzuki teachers and licensed to teach the “Every Child Can” course for the SAA. At one time I was certiﬁed to teach instrumental music in public schools in New York State.
I have written for the Violin Column in the American Suzuki Journal over several years. A few of the articles I have written for the American Suzuki Journal may be found at https://suzukiassociation.org/news/author/ronda-cole.
“May I Help You Tune?” DVD
The DVD I made with Phyllis Freeman, “May I Help You Tune?”, was made to help parents and students with learning to tune a violin, viola or cello. It contains a lengthy tuning tone for each string while displaying the note written on a staff. There is coaching for tuning by plucking the string (pizzicato) with the violin and viola in the lap. The next level is to bow the string while matching the sounding pitch. The next level is to tune playing two strings at once in ﬁfths.
Cellists especially, will learn to check tuning using harmonics. Children and non-musician parents learning to tune are included in the demonstrations. Finally, there are demonstrations of perfect pitch training and beginning note reading.
Please click here to purchase the “May I Help You Tune?” DVD through our partner The Potter Violin Company.