Graduation

At Westminster Suzuki Strings we carry on Dr. Suzuki’s Graduation System. We celebrate book completions in addition to the milestone graduation levels outlined by Dr. Suzuki.

Graduations are celebrated in October and April as a Grand Concert (whole studio group concert). Students are required to attend the group class prior to the concert to be eligible to perform and graduate.

History of the Graduation System

Dr. Suzuki would wake up around 5:00am every morning and listen to hundreds of tape recordings sent to him from all over Japan. He incorporated a Suzuki Graduation System, in which students upon reaching certain playing levels; would record several polished review pieces and in return receive his constructive comments about their playing.

This was a celebration of accomplishment. It was never a “pass/fail” system as he trusted that teachers 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 recordings that the real learning and progress took place as students reflect on their own playing.

The purpose of the Graduation Process:

  • To recognize and celebrate students who have achieved high standards of playing
  • To maintain our commitment to mastery and excellence
  • To place a high value on review and the process of polishing
  • To provide a character development journey for students to work toward goals and be recognized for their achievements
  • To educate students in the self evaluation and goal setting process
  • To provide group performance opportunities

Dr. Suzuki’s Graduation Pieces:

  • The Sunflower Song, Pre-Twinkle* (Twinkle Var. C)
  • Twinkle Variations, Book 1* (Go Tell Aunt Rhody)
  • Allegro* ( Andantino)
  • Etude* ( Minuet 3)
  • Gossec Gavotte, Book 1 (LLA bk 2)
  • Minuet in G, Book 2*(Gavotte G minor bk 3)
  • Bach Bourree, Book 3 ( Seitz 5, 3rd Mvt. bk 4)
  • Vivaldi Concerto in G Minor 1st movement, Book 5 ( Fiocco Allegro bk 6)
  • Bach Concerto in A Minor 1st movement, Book 7 ( Tambourin Grétry bk 8)
  • Mozart Concerto in D Major, Book 10 (When ready)

*Dr. Suzuki’s original list did not include pre-twinkle and multiple book 1 levels. They have been added to provide motivation to our beginning students and to introduce them to the graduation process. (Pieces in parenthesis indicate the level at which a student is playing before they may begin the graduation process).


The Graduation Process

The process begins well after a student has completed the level from which they wish to graduate. To graduate a level, students must demonstrate mastery of the teaching points for the for each of the pieces in the level they wish to graduate, in addition to the graduation piece.

As students move through the repertoire, they receive credits towards completion. Pieces are complete when all credits are received. The final credit for each piece is earned following the creation of a successful video recording. The official graduation piece must demonstrate both technical mastery and artistry.

Student and Sensei work together in the lesson to polish the graduation piece to a high standard. When the student feels ready, we make a video of the student performing the piece during the lesson. Sensei and student watch the video and decide together if the recording meets the graduation standards. If not, a plan to further review and polish is put into place and the student may try recoding again at the next lesson.

Once a graduation quality recording has been achieved, the video is uploaded to our studio YouTube and will be shared on the studio Facebook page on Friday (our home concert day). There is no time limit on how long a student has to complete the process once it begins.

Graduation Requirements:

Students must be eligible to begin the process. This is based on two requirements:

  • 1) Student must be well into the next level before they may begin the process. Graduation recordings are not made until the third learning of the piece or until the student has entered the ‘Ri” stage of mastery. Ex. Twinkle graduation begins after beginning to study Go Tell Aunt Rhody.
  • 2) All pieces in the graduating book level must have received all required credits towards completion. Students will need to demonstrate accurate intonation, rhythm, bow directions and dynamics for each piece.

The Group Graduation Concert

The last step of the process is to perform. Students play the graduation piece plus all previous graduation pieces below their level during a graduation concert. Ex. if graduating Allegro, students will play Allegro, Twinkles and Sunflower song in the concert. After the concert performance, a student officially graduates the level.

Students who opt for a solo recital play all of the pieces in the level plus the graduation piece.

Graduation concerts are held in October and April and are group concerts.

Concert Dress

Students wear a specific color during the performance to celebrate their promotion, much like the colors of Karate belts (see below). Concert dress is black bottoms with the colored top representing your graduation level. Pre-Twinklers who have not yet graduated may still participate and may choose to wear whatever they like as long as it’s not white or a black on top.


Our Graduates

The following list recognizes students that demonstrated mastery of Dr. Suzuki’s graduation milestone pieces. This list is by no means comprehensive of all the students I have taught over 19 years. I have done my best to create this list from memory of more recent students. Former students that are not listed below, are welcome to contact me and I will add your name.

It is extremely difficult to achieve graduation of milestone pieces, and the honor increases the closer one gets to the final level of the Mozart Concerto.

Sunflower Song (Pre-Twinkle)*

  • Abram
  • Alexander Le
  • Monroe Smearman
  • Christopher
  • Naomi Webber
  • Morgan Wiles

Twinkles*

  • Aubrey Piazza
  • Grace Frank
  • Ming Huang
  • Mica Webber
  • Lydia Reinhardt
  • Alex Reinhardt
  • Jasmine Kerr
  • Lucie Kelley
  • Alexis
  • Sarah Conway
  • Annabelle S. Lam
  • Ella Jones
  • Susie Gupta
  • Lucia Gupta
  • Landon Brady

Allegro

  • Lily Redman
  • Max Reinhardt
  • Cambria
  • Tori
  • Lucie Kelley
  • Emma Conway
  • Annabelle S. Lam
  • Hannah Caswell
  • Anna Black
  • Michael Cruz
  • Kevin Herrmann
  • Gabby Herrmann
  • Graham Loeffler
  • Callen Fitzroy
  • Sophie Simantel
  • Camden Zepp
  • Patrick McConnel

Etude*

  • Joshua Frank
  • Brigid Barkley
  • CambriaRussell
  • Emma Conway
  • Annabelle S. Lam
  • Michael Cruz
  • Gabby Herrmann
  • Camden Zepp
  • Patrick McConnel

Gossec Gavotte, Book 1

  • Harlee Heaton
  • Kylie Newell
  • Arianna S. Lam
  • Theresa P.
  • Parker O’Neil
  • An Huang
  • Juliana Lopez
  • Dylan Andrews
  • Tori Russell
  • Elena Black
  • Claire Ryland
  • Mollie Branum
  • Maia Weber
  • Elizabeth Pereira
  • Kyle Colquhoun
  • Nathaniel Loeffler
  • Sofia Hermann
  • Lily Simantel

Minuet in G (book 2)*

  • Stephanie Heaton
  • Julia Vesotsky
  • Melissa Krause
  • Sarah Meyers
  • Madi Black
  • Cora Belgrave

Bach Bourree, Book 3*

  • Patricia S.
  • Emily B.
  • Juliana Ritter
  • Emily Wixted
  • Amelia Worsley
  • Jenna Benjamin
  • Sara Colletti
  • Cora Pelletier
  • Brody Fitzroy
  • Rowan Fitzroy

Vivaldi Concerto in G Minor 1st movement, Book 5

  • Grace Boyd

Bach Concerto in A Minor 1st movement, Book 7


Mozart Concerto in D Major, Book 10

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