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Posted by Lee Marais Nel, Violin Teacher Trainer on 16 December 2019

My thanks to Dr Suzuki, Christophe Bossuat and Karen Kimmett for sharing their immense knowledge on this amazing philosophy and pedagogy!

Lee Marais Nel 3

There are challenging aspects of living in South Africa with a predominantly African culture where the European culture has been imported but we are geographically and socially very far removed from Europe. However, the rewards are amazing and it has been a journey that I would not have changed for anything else in the world.


We formed an South African Association, affiliated to ESA, in late 1990’s and it feels like just yesterday that I  first met Christophe along with 10 other teachers and students on a Monday morning, in my kitchen, ready to start with our first teacher training course.  The first few years of teacher training took place in my studio as we didn’t have the money to hire a venue and our first exams took place in November 2001.

I graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Music in 1998, whilst freelancing in a number of professional orchestras, and I realised then that I didn’t want to  be an orchestral player for the rest of my life. The ethos of the SUZUKI™ approach appealed to me and  I was so strongly affected that I needed to find out more information about the method. I was very curious about the beautiful tone and high level of attainment which Suzuki students achieved.  Being trained from age 7 in the traditional method of violin teaching, I became passionate about this very different method and approach from the very beginning!  

Over the past 20 years, SASA (South African Suzuki Association) has grown slowly but surely.  The committed teachers are doing amazing work, nurturing the whole child and “creating talent” in a supportive and encouraging way.  We teach students from very different backgrounds and languages (we have eleven official languages in South Africa).  We have students from very varied socio-economic groups, from private schools, government schools, to township schools and orphanages.  At the end of the day our universal language manages to cross all these bridges. This year we are celebrating 20 years of Suzuki in South Africa with our Annual National concert on 26 July and we will have students from Botswana, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria and Johannesburg participating, our goal is to have 250 students on the stage.  

Working with first generation Suzuki families, we focus a lot on parent education and emphasise the importance of the Suzuki triangle in order to make the method work for all students and cultures.  Parents enjoy the quality time with their children and children love the attention and playing beautiful music. The importance of group classes is being emphasised and the students absolutely love the social aspect of the groups!

We are excited to welcome another group of teachers who will qualify in April 2020.

Slowly but surely, the Suzuki family is growing in South Africa with a lovely supportive network, where we encourage, nurture and learn from each other.