Executive Board of Directors

Statewide Graduation Committee

Annual Workshop Committee

Gala Committee

​Graduation strengthens our program collectively and individually. It raises standards for students and teachers, provides incentive for polish and review of literature and provides a means of recognition for students who have achieved certain goals. Every child succeeds.
One of the primary purposes for the existence of the Suzuki Association of Minnesota is a graduation process for students. The development of accuracy in rhythm, pitch, articulation, and musicality are goals of every fine music teacher. With nurture, review and maturation of playing skills, students develop technique and musicianship in pieces they know. This program involves careful preparation and joint cooperation on the part of students, parents, and teachers.

Certain pieces in the Suzuki repertoire are designated as Graduation Levels. When students have studied beyond the piece for each level, they may graduate – that is, they prepare a polished performance of the set piece. They then receive a written report on their playing, and are presented with an award at the Graduation Recital.

Graduation is not an examination, and every child succeeds. Teachers present students only when they are certain that the performances are secure and musical and that the student is studying well beyond that particular level. To graduate is to achieve recognition for having reached a certain milestone in the ongoing process of musical education. Graduation is not compulsory, however to graduate at any level beyond Level 1, a student must have graduated at all previous levels. More than one level may be presented on one occasion.

The process involves SAM teachers sending all recordings to state coordinators who redistribute them to different teachers who listen, evaluate, and make constructive comments. Instruments currently represented are: Violin, Viola, Cello, Bass, Piano, Harp, Flute, Recorder, and Guitar. This program is open to all students of SAM members.

Students of string and wind instruments perform in groups until reaching highest playing levels. Soloists are chosen to demonstrate highly developed skills and repertoire. Piano students perform solos in recitals. All the many efforts that make up the graduation process culminate in the recitals at Benson Great Hall at Bethel University in St. Paul for Strings and Winds and at Sundin Music Hall at Hamline University in St. Paul for Piano. Graduates receive certificates and trophies to celebrate their achievements.

Board Retreat

The History of Suzuki Graduation

​Dr. Suzuki would wake up around 5:00 AM every morning and listen to hundreds of tape recordings sent to him from all over Japan. He incorporated a Suzuki Graduation System where students, when they reached certain playing levels, would record several polished review pieces and in return receive Dr. Suzuki’s constructive comments about their playing.

This was a celebration of accomplishment. It was never a ‘pass or fail’ situation since Dr. Suzuki trusted that a teacher would only have a student prepare and submit a recording when they were musically ready. Dr. Suzuki also knew it was the process of preparing these recordings where the real learning and progress took place.

Sara Stevens Kotrba
Sara Stevens KotrbaPresident
Julia Bartsch
Julia BartschVice President
Meredith Vaughan
Meredith VaughanSecretary
Carolyn Borgen
Carolyn BorgenTreasurer
Rebeccah Parker-Downs
Rebeccah Parker-DownsEducation Director