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Teacher Spotlight on Meret Bitticks, flute

Teacher Spotlight on Meret Bitticks, flute

Interview by Erin Cano, violin

Meret joined MIC in 2004 as a Suzuki flute teacher.

What led you to become a Suzuki teacher?
My brother jokes that teaching is the family business; I knew I wanted to teach before I started my performance degrees. I also knew I had no idea how to start a beginning flute student. Fortunately, I went to undergrad with a former Suzuki flute kid. I then attended grad school at DePaul, which has a strong community school Suzuki program. When I saw how well those kids were set-up, I thought, “I have to check this out!” The Suzuki philosophy’s approach of meeting children at appropriate developmental levels and making sure students can be successful at every step really resonated with me. Also, it’s a great excuse to buy and play with toys.

Which of your teachers inspired you the most? What aspects of their teaching have you integrated into your own style?
My teacher from the Ohio State University, Katherine Borst Jones, has a motherly style and is nurturing and musical. She advised, “Musical solutions to technical problems.” One of my Suzuki mentors, David Gerry, is a renaissance man who is hilarious and presents his astute observations in a fun and engaging way. Lastly, I learned nearly as much in my month in Japan studying with the Suzuki flute founder himself, Mr. Takahashi, as I had in my music degrees. His concept of sound is unparalleled and his standards, even for very young children, are incredibly high. I strive to follow all of their examples with my own students.

What is your favorite piece to teach?
I love to teach Bourrée, which is the last piece in flute book 1. It’s a violin piece, too. Handel “double- dipped” on his own composition! When you start a student, it seems like it would be impossible to get to Bourrée in only 18 pieces. I love to show students how to apply all the techniques we learned throughout the book to master this super fun and impressive piece.

You serve on the board of BLUME Haiti, an organization that promotes leadership through music education. What are some memorable experiences you’ve had while teaching in Haiti?
I could fill a book with answers to this question. Music education generally and Haiti specifically are great passions of mine. However, I will limit myself to my second trip there. It was important for me to return to Haiti to build upon my relationships with the students and what they (and I) had learned the previous year. During the school year my students raised money to buy 13 flutes for the Haitian students, because you can’t troubleshoot your own playing on an instrument that doesn’t work. That would’ve been exciting enough, but I was also joined by one of my graduating seniors. It was incredibly meaningful to see this young woman, who I’ve known since she was in elementary school, utilize the skills she learned from me to help other students meet their musical goals. I got to witness the beautiful heart that her Suzuki education helped to cultivate as she patiently worked with students of all ages and levels. The trip was capped off with a group performance of Noelle Perrin’s arrangement of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” with “Simple Gifts” featuring the beginners and advanced players. The video of that performance still brings tears to my eyes.

Do you play any other instruments besides the flute?
As my students can attest, I am a terrible, terrible pianist. However, I’ve been known to play a mean ukulele if given the opportunity.


Suzuki Education at MIC >>

Joint Graduate Studies Program in Suzuki Pedagogy (Roosevelt University ad the Music Institue of Chicago >>


Meret Bitticks

Flute Faculty (Suzuki), Musikgarten Faculty