The Edmonton Suzuki Piano School provides musical development to students, parents and teachers, following the Suzuki Method. We seek to create a learning community, which embraces excellence and nurtures the human spirit.
Our ESPS History
In 1975, Clarice Moellering began teaching the first Suzuki piano lessons in Edmonton. She had recently arrived from California, having encountered the Suzuki method and done some initial training there. Clarice had a nurturing and gregarious personality which led her to recruit and train more teachers in the Suzuki method here in Edmonton. She did not come to establish a music school, but in the process of working with new teachers and the parents of their students, the idea evolved and our history began. The Edmonton Suzuki Piano School was established in 1977 as a non-profit society, with a Board of Directors, a constitution, and bylaws, which still govern our organization today.
Many ESPS programs that are offered today have their roots in those early days with Clarice: teacher training workshops, parent orientation for new families, formal recitals, monthly group lessons, graduation recitals and regular newsletters. In 1980 we had our first Fall Institute, a 2-day weekend event.
Clarice Moellering moved back to California in 1982, leaving five teachers (three of whom are still with ESPS – Tess Brown, Ruth Johnson, and Nancy Thornhill) and a strong Parent Board. During the 1980’s we were very fortunate to have Dr. Kataoka in Edmonton for a number of Summer Institutes. Kataoka Sensei worked closely with Dr. Suzuki at his Talent Education Institute in Matsumoto and she was the founder of the Suzuki piano method, repertoire and technique. These institutes had a great impact on the continuance and success of ESPS.
Also in the 80’s the 7th Annual Suzuki International Conference was held here in Edmonton in 1985 with Dr. Kataoka, Dr. Suzuki, and many notable string, piano, and flute teachers from around the world in attendance – a memorable highlight of Suzuki method here in Edmonton.
Other highlights for ESPS have been the timely arrival of Dr. Merlin Thompson in Calgary in the late 1980’s. He had spent 3 years in Japan, studying with Dr. Suzuki and Dr. Kataoka, and was the first Canadian piano teacher to graduate from the Matsumoto Institute as a Teacher Trainer.
A development in the early 1990’s that greatly impacted how ESPS operated was being able to receive funding by working casinos. It was a great relief after spending more than a decade raising money through benefit concerts, cookbook sales, and bottle drives. This money has been used to subsidize the purchase of pianos, the Fall Workshop, Spring Festival, teacher training, and group classes.
In 1995 Suzuki Charter School was established as an elementary school and ESPS was approached about working with their piano students. Charlene Astrom became the group piano teacher at SCS. She also worked with SCS to provide students with high-quality instruments. Many of the pianos in use at SCS today were bought by ESPS. With the new association with the Suzuki Charter School, ESPS gained access to a friendly and flexible venue for events like the Fall Workshop, the Spring Festival, and group lessons.
2005 was a special year for Suzuki in Edmonton. ESPS celebrated its 30th anniversary while the Society for Talent Education was celebrating 40 years, and Suzuki Charter School 10 years. These three organizations commemorated the milestone with a day of concerts at the Winspear Centre on May 22, 2005. The students of ESPS performed the first and only highly successful Five-Piano Concert on the Winspear stage.
This last decade has seen more developments for ESPS. After years of discussion between the Board and teachers, our first administrator was hired in 2007 to take over many of the administrative duties the teachers had been doing on a volunteer basis. In 2008, our current administrator, Kim Green, was hired and quickly became indispensable.
Much has changed in the world and in our city since 1975. Edmonton has doubled its size. Much of what we take for granted here in Edmonton did not exist forty years ago. In 1975, we couldn’t have imagined the way technology has changed our modes of communication, travel and entertainment. For ESPS families, technology has had a significant impact. Now we use iTunes, iPhones, iPods, rather than playing an LP on a turntable. We communicate through the ESPS website, email and texting rather than solely by phone.
But for all the changes ESPS has seen, some things are the same – even timeless. Throughout our history, listening daily to the Suzuki recordings is still, and always has been the heart, the essential core, of the Suzuki method. Daily practice is still necessary for progress and developing pianistic skill. Music still has and always has had the power to enrich our lives. Children still need nurturing, educating and loving. Children still have amazing potential. It is still true, as Dr. Suzuki learned and shared with us, that the study and practice of music will develop sensitivity, discipline, and endurance. It will create within the child a beautiful heart. What a wonderful mission we have as Suzuki parents and teachers.