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Beatrice Blanc Studios

Suzuki Violin, MacPhail Center for Music

​                                     photo: Dan Gunderson


 Beatrice Blanc, Suzuki violin instructor, joined the MacPhail faculty in 1996. Raised a Suzuki kid in Iowa City, Beatrice first studied with Sonja Zeithamel, and then with American Suzuki method pioneer Doris Preucil. Grounded in the direct relationship between her primary mentors and Shinichi Suzuki, Beatrice’s Suzuki training reflects the strengths of the method’s development in this country. 

Beatrice’s pedagogy training is from The American Suzuki Institute, the Preucil School of Music, and the University of Minnesota. Her studies as a young student included 10 summers in Stevens Point WI, one summer in Bloomington IN, and 3 summers in Interlochen MI. Beatrice holds a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from the University of Iowa and a Master of Music in Violin Performance and Suzuki Pedagogy from the University of Minnesota. It has been her privilege to be trained by several of the American Suzuki pioneers—Doris Preucil, while growing up; Mark Bjork, founder of MacPhail’s Suzuki Program, for her Masters’ Degree at the University of Minnesota; Kay Slone MacLaughlin and Allen Lieb at the American Suzuki Institute; and several others at various workshops, conferences and institutes.

Favorite past performances include: soloing with local community orchestras playing the Barber Violin Concerto and the Mozart G Major Concerto; touring the Mediterranean coast of Spain as a ringer for a former professor’s alma mater orchestra; performing solo Bach in Antonello Hall at MacPhail; and performing Bach’s Double Violin Concerto with her husband, a MacPhail Suzuki alumnus and a member of the Minnesota Orchestra. 

One of the greatest pleasures of her job is watching students grow from age 3-18, through different ages and stages, musically and personally. She maintains connections with many of her former students, including those who have become Suzuki teachers themselves, those who join audiences around town, and those who invite her to coffee or to their gigs!

Beatrice has served on the faculties of the Brandon Summer Suzuki Institute, the Greater Washington Suzuki Institute, the Colorado Suzuki Institute, the Los Angeles Suzuki Institute, and the American Suzuki Institute. In administrative roles she has been coordinator of Groups and Orchestras at MacPhail, membership director and advertising coordinator in 10 years of service to the Suzuki Association of Minnesota, Coordinator of Chamber Music of the Rockies and Assistant Director of the Colorado Suzuki Institute, and coordinator of the Chamber Music Workshop at the Los Angeles Suzuki Institute.

Gavotte Faculty Profile

The Gavotte: MacPhail Suzuki News

Suzuki Faculty Profile -Beatrice Blanc, Violin

This piece was originally written for our departmental newsletter; the audience--students and parents in the program; the focus--reminiscences of being a Suzuki student.

I started playing the violin when I was three years old because my three older brothers played the violin; my parents were displaced East Coasters who found themselves in the cornfields of Iowa, and my mother was determined that we’d have a little culture, even if we were not ‘just outside of The City’ anymore. With three older brothers already playing, I had hand-me-down jeans and hand-me-down violins: easy!! Of course, with that setting, I thought everyone played the violin. I didn’t realize until I was in kindergarten that not everyone played an instrument. How strange not to!! 

Also, because my brothers already did, I went to Stevens Point in the summers, to the American Suzuki Institute started by the inimitable Marjory Aber. She always kept her canoe on top of her car, so that she could find it (there’s an app for that now), so we could always find her car too, and would get delighted just knowing she was nearby. I went to Stevens Point for ten years as a student and realized with tremendous pride at age 13 that having A, B, and C classes all those years meant I’d had 30 teachers. The depth of my exposure to Suzuki’s ideas and joy was something I came to value as life changing. I had heard of MacPhail and Mark Bjork by the time I was 5, and at the age of 12 met some rock star student from Minneapolis who studied with Mark Bjork, named Michael Sutton.

Around age 13 my parents divorced, and the disruption we all felt leading up to it was very hard. I rebelled the only way I could, through violin, and ‘slacked off’ for a good couple years. I’m amazed my teacher didn’t kick me out, and I keep that in mind when considering my students’ progress or lack thereof. One thing that made a huge impact upon my sense of direction with the violin was going away for a month to chamber music camp in Indiana when I was 14. I was good and glad to strike out on my own, and while there I learned how to revamp my vibrato. To this day I approach teaching vibrato according to the work that I did that summer.

Around the age of 18 I realized that playing the violin was like breathing to me, and that I loved helping younger students practice, so it hit me one day that of course I was going to be a Suzuki violin teacher. It was the most obvious thing in the world, as soon as it occurred to me, and I was very lucky to have such a strong sense of direction…I knew in college; I know what I’m going to do!!

By the way, even before I rebelled I didn’t necessarily LOVE to practice, but I was so inspired by the big kids and by examples all around me. My Suzuki mom took me to every performance she could; student recitals at my music school, orchestra concerts and faculty recitals at the local university, and all of the wonderful professionals who came though Hancher Auditorium…Horowitz, Kronos Quartet, Moscow Virtuosi, Itzak Perlman, YoYo Ma, Emanuel Ax, the Joffrey Ballet, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Libby Larson…the events on campus were free, which mattered to our budget. 

If the Hancher events were too expensive she’d buy one ticket and have me sit on her lap through the whole thing!!  Then we’d go out afterward, even at 10 pm, to have dessert and cocoa somewhere and talk about how wonderful the performance was. I think those mother-daughter outings really helped me fully absorb the experiences; to talk about them afterward that way meant that they didn’t escape getting truly digested. She was pretty amazing at educating me. I didn’t figure out to say ‘thank you’ to her, really, ‘till I was a teacher myself; so Suzuki parents, hang in there—they’ll say thank you in 20 years!!

This Suzuki life is rich beyond measure. I have friends all over the country and world who share a fundamental belief about children’s abilities, a common language of repertoire which needs no words, and a universal joy in cultivating the positive. I have friends and students from throughout my Suzuki life who will be with me forever. Some of my students, now grown, still call for coffee or lunch, or for me to come hear their performances! And some of my former studio parents are friends for life, even if they’ve moved away or moved on from violin lessons.

Attending institutes, conferences and workshops keeps me connected to my colleagues from all over and I'm friends on Facebook with former students who are now adults. I ran into a former student at the Mall of America once who hugged me until my stepson said, “Can I have her back?” That’s rich!!

Trip to Japan

Shin'ichi & Waltraud's grave              photo: Beatrice Blanc

From MPR 10.6.2009

"Taking stock of life at the age of 18, Beatrice Blanc realized that her most constant companion had been her violin. She decided right then to follow a career path as a teacher, a Suzuki teacher.

Blanc, an instructor at the MacPhail Music School in Minneapolis, is married to Michael Sutton, violinist with the Minnesota Orchestra, who was also trained using the Suzuki method. 

At its simplest, the Suzuki method's purpose is to inculcate musical excellence while developing beautiful human beings.

Blanc and Sutton describe themselves as "a couple of Suzuki kids." They found themselves in Japan this summer. Their purpose was to visit, make a  pilgrimage really, to Matsumoto, Japan, where Dr. Suzuki lived and taught.

Beatrice Blanc describes her trip in a conversation with Classical Minnesota Public Radio's Steve Staruch."

Listen here: 7:34

Eagle soaring over cemetery in Masamoto, Japan.A hawk soaring over the Suzukis' grave     photo: Beatrice Blanc

Dr. Suzuki's desk                        photo: Beatrice Blanc

^The Jade Mountain

The Jade Mountain at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts is one of my favorite sources of serenity. I am immediately transported by its paths, temples, and scenes of meditation and study. Standing near it I can almost feel the thin breezes and smell the clear air.


Beatrice's Whimsy on Etsy!

As a teenager I started gifting handmade earrings. Eventually I was encouraged to try selling, and was invited to sell in a St. Paul gallery. I fell into owning a small business that way, and did well at several shows. Now I'm thrilled to join the Etsy community, though just a little at a time, in my spare time! Hahahaha!

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photo: Michael Sutton