Highlights of the First Decade (1965-1975)

Highlights Of the First Decade (1965- 1975)

“Edmonton Alberta Canada and the Western World was a relatively lonely place to be a serious string player. As a violinist, teacher and concert-master I too felt the strong need to be part of a living family of artists – the very young, those in their teens, the university students, professionals, amateurs, moms and dads and grandparents. By an act of now historical coincidence, I discovered Mr. Suzuki in Japan. He had felt this many years before, had already proven the success of working in a total society of children and all their kinfolk. In 1964 after observing for myself his results, I was convinced we could bring all the elements together in a Western Canadian environment to fulfill my original longings for an artistic string community. We were to embark on a gamble unique at this time in Canadian musical education.” – Quoting Dr. Thomas Rolston from the Introduction to the Society for Talent Education’s 20th Anniversary Book.

  • Thomas Rolston founded the Society for Talent Education in Edmonton in 1965. It was the first Suzuki organization in Canada and used the “mother tongue” method of teaching developed by Dr. Shin’ichi Suzuki of Japan. It was launched in July 1965 when Yoko Oike, a student of Dr. Suzuki, presented two one-week sessions at the Banff School of Fine Arts. Twenty-six children and their parents attended. Regular lessons began in the basement of Grace Lutheran Church in Edmonton in September, with Miss Yoko Oike teaching 40 pupils who were three and four years of age. In October, another 40 children began lessons with Miss Joan Lord of Edmonton, who worked closely with Miss Yoko Oike. By Christmas, a “Mama’s” orchestra of 25-30 moms were meeting regularly with Mr. Rolston.
  • In the summer of 1966, when Miss Lord left for Eastern Canada, two more Japanese teachers who had trained with Dr. Suzuki came to Canada. Their names were Yasuko Tanaka and Tomoko Otsuka. They came to teach in Canada through the generosity of a Canada Council grant. They joined Miss Yoko Oike and taught approximately 140 children.
  • In July 1968 Mrs. Waltraud Suzuki visited Edmonton to hear the children and meet the teachers and parents. Mr. Gordon Richardson introduced the cello programme in the fall of 1968. The children were 5 and 6 years of age, due to the unavailability of very small cellos at the time. This very unique and remarkable Talent Education Society was thus established in Edmonton. It was a programme for very young children and its object has been and still is “to develop the means by which children can be educated to a very high degree to make full use of their abilities, with particular emphasis on the encouragement and promotion of music.” (Quoting Dr. Shin’ichi Suzuki)
  • In October 1969, 25 STE children joined with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra under Mr.
  • Lawrence Leonard to play in the “Adventures in Music” presentation for young children.
  • In 1970, chamber music playing began with the introduction of the first orchestra under Mr. Rolston. Classes by this time were held in the basements of St. Joachim and St. Joseph’s Churches.
  • In 1971, John Kim joined STE. By 1972, two more orchestral groups were established under the direction of Mr. Lawrence Fisher and Mr. Michael Bowie.
  • In July 1972, a first Institute (of sorts) was held in Banff. Twenty-three children and their mothers spent a week in concentrated study under Miss. Tanaka and Mr. Kim.
  • In 1973 we had a two-year stay at Alberta College for group activities, with teachers teaching private lessons in their homes. In 1973, advanced students joined together with the Edmonton Youth Orchestra in a Benefit Concert for STE. This was the Society’s first symphonic programme and it was played to a full house in Convocation Hall.
  • In 1974, twenty-four Talent Education students were accepted into the Edmonton Youth Orchestra, a significant contribution by the Society to the wider musical life of the Edmonton community.

In the first seven years, teachers served as Presidents of the STE. Claude Kenneson and Dr. Yasushi Takahashi were the first presidents. In 1973, parents were brought onto the Board. Betty Parker-Jervis first served as treasurer of the newly former Parent Board of the STE.