AC Suzuki Program

There are many components to Suzuki study at AC. Regular attendance and full participation in each of the instructional areas is the key to a rewarding and successful Suzuki experience. Every component enhances an important aspect of each child’s musical growth, and fulfills the high ideals of a true Suzuki method of education.

Weekly Individual Instruction

The individual lesson is the core of Suzuki instruction – the place where basic skills are taught and the (parent teacher child) learning team is developed. You and your private teacher will arrange a mutually convenient time for weekly instruction. The length of your child’s weekly lesson will vary, depending on his/her level and ability (typically 15-30 minutes for beginners). The amount of instruction a student receives is tailored to each child’s rate of growth in the manner of the Suzuki philosophy. The parent observes the teacher’s comments and instruction and uses these guidelines in practice at home. Note taking is encouraged. While the parent is the “teacher at home,” the teacher is the person who leads the studio lesson.


Occurring approximately three times each semester on Saturday mornings, play-ins are family times and provide review for the annual recital. Play-ins feature large group work with a teacher. Family and friends are welcome. Announcements, skits and Wednesday groups are also an important part of play-ins.

Group Lessons

Each Suzuki student is assigned to group classes according to the student’s age and level. Typically 30 to 45 minutes in length, group lessons are scheduled on Wednesday afternoons. Groups for beginning students are set up at the discretion of the private teacher. The group class is an integral part of the Suzuki experience. Skills are reinforced through constant and varied repetition, review of “old” pieces and introduction to new pieces through listening. Group classes provide a fun and social atmosphere for musical peers, often providing that extra motivation each student needs. Even activities that appear to be “games” hold an important instructional purpose. Technical, ensemble and listening skills are developed in the group environment.

Solo Recitals

Held at intervals throughout the year, solo recitals provide a dignified setting to perform individually. The piece selected to perform should be one that the student has polished, thus providing the child with a positive performance experience. The audience includes family and friends of performers.

Orff Classes

Based on the work of Carl Orff, these Wednesday afternoon groups feature rhythmic movement. Especially helpful for younger students and those preparing for violin/viola/cello classes, Orff is open to students of all ages. Prospective students and siblings of Suzuki students may enroll in these classes for a small fee.

Annual Workshop and Recital

This yearly event, usually held mid- to late spring features all students performing pieces selected by the faculty. The Annual Recital is an exciting time for students to collaborate and show off the year’s hard work after a weekend of working with guest clinicians.

Parent Class

A requirement for all families new to the AC program, this academic credit class is offered each semester at a time best for all new parents. The Suzuki philosophy, ways to assist in teaching your child and the basics of playing the instrument are covered. The parent must enroll in the course concurrent or previous to starting his/her child in the Suzuki program.

Orchestra and Ensembles

Enforcing note reading skills, ensemble playing and technique, these Wednesday afternoon groups are open to students at the discretion of the private teacher after note reading skills are initiated.

Secondary Instrument Study

We are excited to have so many instrument offerings for our students and our community!

We encourage study on a secondary instrument with these conditions:

  • -All inquiries MUST got through the program coordinator or program assistant
  • -Students interested in a secondary instrument MUST spend at least 2 years on their primary instrument first. If not, they will be placed on the waiting list for the secondary instrument in priority. I will note on the waiting list when they are eligible to begin secondary instrument study
  • -Secondary instrument spots available ONLY by permission of both teachers involved (program assistant will coordinate), and teacher availability. If a spot on the additional instrument is unavailable, they will be given priority placement on the waiting list for the secondary instrument.

For more information contact Tiffany HERE

The Suzuki Method of Teaching Music

  • Recognized worldwide as a major force in music education
  • Supports learning through a combination of private and group lessons
  • Involves the parent, teacher and child in a supportive learning environment
  • Initiates study at a very young age with emphasis on listening and responding by ear
  • Begins reading at an age-appropriate time after basic playing skills are established
  • Develops the whole child through music study

The Amarillo College Suzuki Program

  • Celebrated 30 years at Amarillo College in 2007
  • Founded by Amarillo music educators Suzanne Grooms and Helen Gerald
  • Offers instruction in violin, viola, cello, flute and guitar as early as age 3
  • Includes a comprehensive curriculum of early childhood music, beginning theory, orchestra and small ensemble classes
  • Maintains a highly-qualified teaching faculty, with credentials registered through theSuzuki Association of the Americas (SAA)
  • Currently enrolls over 100 students, many of whom are leaders in their own school orchestras, participate in All-Region Orchestras and Choirs and also excel in academic and athletic endeavors
  • Actively performs at arts and community events throughout the area
  • Serves as a sanctioned Suzuki Teacher training center with certified SAA teacher trainer Beverly de la Bretonne

History of the AC Suzuki Program

Written by Chip Chandler for the AC Suzuki 30th Anniversary celebration.

Amarillo’s thriving Suzuki program started with one woman’s dream. 

Suzanne Grooms, born in New Orleans and reared in Tennessee, first encountered the Suzuki program in the late 1960s.The Suzuki method was developed by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki in Japan in the 1940s, and Grooms was among the first group of American teachers to travel to Japan and study with Suzuki. The program has since spread worldwide. But before it came to this area, the seeds were sown on the campus of Southern Illinois University.

Grooms and a fellow graduate student, Beverly de la Bretonne, were studying with Suzuki pedagogue John Kendall. Both were great fans of the method, which strives to create high ability and beautiful character in its students through a nurturing environment. “It was Suzanne’s dream that she and I would someday work together,” de la Bretonne said.

Grooms moved to Amarillo in 1972, soon joining the Amarillo Symphony. That’s where she met Helen Gerald, already a well-respected violin performer and teacher. Grooms introduced Gerald to the Suzuki method, and the two began to attract students.

“I am indebted to Suzanne for introducing me to the Suzuki world,” Gerald said. “Her quiet demeanor and genteel manner, as well as her constant striving for the highest possible quality of performance, were an inspiration to students, parents and teachers.”

Soon, recalling their mutual dream, Grooms invited de la Bretonne to come to Amarillo for five years as a clinician for the burgeoning Suzuki program in Amarillo.

As interest further grew, Amarillo College agreed to house the program, which officially opened in 1977 with violin students only. De la Bretonne finally moved to Amarillo in 1979 to become head of AC’s string department and work with the Suzuki program.

AC not only taught students, but it also became a Suzuki Teacher training center for dozens of new string teachers, as well as influencing countless parents.

“Suzanne Grooms changed my life. Through introducing me to the Suzuki philosophy, she added patience and gentleness to the teaching of both my children and my academic students,” said Carol Nicklaus, whose children went through the program. “In addition, she opened up a world of beautiful music for me.”

Now, the Suzuki program offers instruction in violin, viola and cello for kids as young as 3 years old. The lessons include a comprehensive curriculum of early childhood music, beginning theory, orchestra and small ensemble classes along with one-on-one lesson instruction. AC Suzuki teachers are among the most qualified music teachers in the area, with credentials registered through the Suzuki Association of the Americas.

Graduates have distinguished themselves at many leading universities and colleges, including Indiana University, the New England Conservatory of Music, Juilliard School of Music, Harvard University, and many more.

“By encouraging excellence,” de la Bretonne said, “our goal is to enrich students’ lives through music whether they become professional musicians or an appreciative audience.”

Grooms died in 2000, but her dream lives on.

Contact Us

All lessons and group activities are scheduled in the Music Building and Concert Hall at the Amarillo College Washington Street Campus.  The Suzuki Office is located in this building in room 304.

Washington Street Campus

The Music Building of the Washington Street Campus at Amarillo College is located off of 22nd Avenue between South Washington and South Van Buren.


Amarillo College
PO Box 447
Amarillo, TX  79178


Phone:  806/371-5340
Fax:  806/345-5572


Support The Amarillo College Suzuki Program

Perhaps it is music that will save the world.

the great cellist, Pablo Casals,
upon hearing a group of Suzuki
students perform.