Suzuki Talent Education of Appalachia (STEA) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1967. Proponents of the Suzuki Method believe that, with a nurturing environment, all children can experience success and joy in learning music. The program offers Suzuki instruction in violin, viola, and piano to students ages three to adult.
STEA faculty include Rachael Emery (violin), Jane MacMorran (violin and fiddle), Catherine McGlasson (violin, viola, and piano), and Jerilyn Paolini (piano).
"We encourage our students to play in orchestras. That is a very important part of being a well-rounded, well-trained string player," says MacMorran. "Over the years many STEA students have played in the Symphony of the Mountains Youth Orchestra and the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra, and later in the SOTM, the Johnson City Orchestra, and the Milligan College Orchestra. We currently have students in Kingsport's city school orchestras as well. Many STEA students have attended summer Suzuki Institutes or the more advanced camps such as Brevard Music Center, Sewannee Summer Music Center, or Governor's School for the Arts.
"STEA is parent-run and administered. While we do not provide instruments, new and used instruments are available at a reasonable cost to families whether they decide to rent or purchase," explains MacMorran. "Students pay tuition fees to study with STEA teachers who are highly trained professional music educators who make their living as violin teachers. Currently, STEA offers one full-tuition scholarship."
MacMorran notes, "The arts have certainly been affected by budget cuts. It is very worrisome on many levels, primarily that children aren't being exposed to the joy and fabulous benefits of music. Music enriches lives in so many ways! The reduction of school music classes make you wonder if there will even be appreciative audiences for music in the future. So far - in this area - we continue to be lucky that orchestra and band programs are still important in our schools."
In addition to teaching the Suzuki method, MacMorran teaches violin in the Department of Music at East Tennessee State University and a String Methods class to Music Education majors. She says, "Some of the first words out of my mouth in the very first class are 'encourage - require, if possible - your orchestra students to take individual lessons with a qualified teacher.' These are words I repeat every class of the semester. It is the simple fact that the students begin orchestra on a much, much higher level than if their first introduction to the instrument is in a group setting in fifth or sixth grade."
When MacMorran began taking violin lessons herself, she was a student at the University School in Johnson City. "We were very fortunate to have a violin teacher, Emily Boyd, who was trained in Suzuki pedagogy by William Starr, who directed the Suzuki program at the University of Tennessee and was a leading authority on the Suzuki approach. Emily was inspiring because of her approach, her personality, and the fact that she was a fine player," MacMorran recalls.
"The University School program was based on the Suzuki philosophy and repertoire, but it was offered in a school setting. We were required to take those all-important individual lessons after school. During school we had group lessons and orchestra - once we could actually play something!"
Later, MacMorran studied in the Kingsport Suzuki Program with Willem Bertsch, and played in the Kingsport Youth Orchestra, and later the Kingsport Symphony during high school. Her senior year she studied with Peter Horodysky at the University of Tennessee. Middle and high school summers were spent at summer camps, including Sewanee Summer Music Center.
For more information about STEA, call 423-246-1367 or visit www.STEAmusic.org.
- Academy of Strings