About Sensei & The Program


About Sensei

Glenda Walsh Crouse

I created Westminster Suzuki Strings in 2003 to build a Suzuki Community in Carroll County, Maryland. My goal is to provide high quality violin instruction that’s comprehensive, nurturing, fun and offers a space for our community to practice kindness.

I began my own violin journey as a suzuki kid in the early 1990’s and have entered my 19th year of educating young artists! I reside in Westminster, MD with my husband Greg and our cats. I have studied Violin Performance, Suzuki violin pedagogy, Music Education, Therapeutic Music as well as hospice and palliative care at Carroll Community College, Towson University, The Greater Washington Suzuki Institute and the Larner College of Medicine (University of Vermont). I currently perform with the Hanover Symphony Orchestra. In addition to teaching music, I also work as a Clinical Musician (therapeutic music) and Death Doula (End of Life care, Hospice/Palliative care). I provide care in the ICU, NICU, PICU and other medical settings. I’m a practitioner of Sōtō Zen Buddhism and Veganism.

How do families address you?

We use a lot of Japanese customs and etiquette in the studio. We use the international bow as a greeting and Japanese honorifics. Dr. Suzuki was from Japan and asked his teachers to instruct students with these customs. Much of the Suzuki philosophy stems from Japanese culture and is the basis for how/what/what we do. Parents may address me by first name or the same manner as their child. Students will address me as:

  • Sensei (pronounced “sen-say”, Japanese)
    • Sensei (先生) meaning “teacher” or literally translated, “born first” or “one who has gone before”. A Sensei is a person who has knowledge and is willing to give that knowledge to another. This honorific is not gender specific, it’s applied to people of all genders and identities.
  • My Pronouns: She/her/hers

Program Basics

Everyone is welcome and nurtured in the Suzuki violin community. Ideology that aims to dehumanize is not compatible with Suzuki Philosophy and is not welcome in our studio. 
Suzuki Method

The Suzuki Philosophy is a method that educates children in the same way they learn to speak their native language. Through immersion, listening, observation, repetition, and positive encouragement—all within a nurturing community environment.

Age Requirements

Children are aged 2.5 years before they are invited for private lesson study. The average age of our beginning suzuki students falls between 3 and 6 years. Older children are also welcome to enroll. Families with children under 2.5 are welcome to observe group classes until children become of age. This is a great option for families who know they want to purse Suzuki education in the future and want to immerse their families in the community from birth!

Adult Participation

Adults attend and participate in classes with the children. Adults serve as practice partners at home. Adults will learn to play the Twinkle variations before the child learns to play—this is vital! If you don’t know how to help your child at home because you’re not familiar with foundational skills, the path towards success will be difficult. Watching adults play provides motivation. Adults will need a full size violin. Children will begin on box violins until they can demonstrate readiness for a real instrument.

Box Violins

Children will begin on a box violin. They remain on the box until behavior expectations are met (following directions) and they can demonstrate care for an instrument. During the box violin stage children will prepare for holding the instrument, learn basic rhythmic patterns to be used in future songs and listen to the songs we will learn on the real violin.

The Orientation Process


All families begin with the Orientation Process, sometimes called “Ready, Set, VIOLIN! There are no fees collected until families are invited to participate in group class. The process includes visiting the studio, meeting with Sensei, group class observations, and learning about Suzuki the philosophy of education. Families are welcome to spend as much time observing as they like before officially enrolling.


Orientation ensures that families are ready to begin formal lessons. The process helps to grow trust between family, Sensei and the studio community—an essential component to a nurturing environment. This process ensures that adults are well informed in program expectations and the Suzuki Philosophy of Education before making a commitment.

You will not fully grasp how the program works until you immerse your family, fully. Orientation provides the environment and opportunity to explore before committing to the Suzuki Violin Community.

Sometimes, prospective families just might not be ready. Occasionally, a family might decide that this method or the level of commitment required is not something they are ready for right now—and that’s okay! Taking time to explore before making a commitment helps young children to understand that they are not being “thrown out” or “rejected” if the adults decide it’s not a good fit. In this case, families are welcome to return in the future to explore again when ready.

Downloadable Orientation & Enrollment Guide:


Recommended Videos


Scheduling

Regular participation in all group classes, lessons & concerts are required to hold your place in the program. Families unable to maintain this commitment are invited to enroll in a different program.


Classes are offered year round, enrollment is open all year. Families attend group class every Wednesday. The exact group class time depends on child’s playing ability—-but families can expect to reserve 4 to 6pm in the family schedule for group. A weekly private lesson is held on the same day and at the time each week. Private lesson slots are offered Monday, Tuesday and Friday between 10:30am and 7:30pm. Private lessons range from 30 minutes for beginners to 60 minutes for advanced students. Graduation Concerts are held every October & April. Formal Solo Recitals are encouraged but optional. They are not included in your tuition, rather they are organized & funded by families. Alternatively you can participate in a solo recital sponsored by SAGWA.


Materials

Materials required for lessons are included in tuition fees, except violin purchase/rental.

Do not get a violin before you enroll.

I will determine the size violin needed and provide guidance. Violin rentals run from $10-$40 per month through local and online music stores. Rentals are not included in tuition. Families may purchase or rent an instrument based on preference. All instruments purchased outside of a Music store must be approved by Sensei (Amazon, ebay, Facebook etc).

Many of the violins for sale, under $300 are toys—they are not real instruments and are not suitable for lessons.


Practice Expectations

Practice means to make easy. Families are never dismissed from the program due to lack of practice. However, rate of progress is directly related to the effort put in. Practice materials, recordings and videos are provided to aid in home practice.

4-6 days per week

Group class and the lesson count towards practice days. Outside of classes with me, you’ll need 2-4 days per week to practice at home if you want to maintain steady progress.

Total time per day:

  • Pre-Twinkle: 5 minutes working up to 15.
  • Twinkles: 15-30 minutes.
  • Books 1-3: 30-45 minutes.
  • Books 4+: 1-2 hours.
  • Auditioning for Music major program: 3 hours.


Tuition

Every child can, also means breaking down socio-economic barriers.

All children should have access to high quality education regardless of income and social status. Therefore, I aim to make tuition fees affordable and equitable. Let’s have a conversation that can lead us to making sure lessons are affordable for your family. If you are not able to afford tuition as quoted, or if your circumstances change, please reach out to complete an application for reduced tuition fees. Household income and number of family members considered. Credit score is not a factor.

Visit the policies page to learn when payment is due and what forms of payment are accepted.

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