Testimonials about Dr. Barrett

We’ve had the unique and enriching experience of having our daughter attend Dr. Barrett’s Suzuki Music Studio in Reston, VA. Our daughter learned the violin for approximately two and a half years, where she not only learned to appreciate and play the instrument, but also got a well-rounded education around learning, persisting and growing in a challenging area such as music.

Dr. Barrett is an exceptional music teacher for all kinds of string instruments, our experience of course being mostly about the violin. She has an extremely strong command over the violin, based on sound technique. In her teaching, she emphasizes producing good music and using the right technique to produce good music. She has instilled an appreciation of good playing form in our daughter – and this is consistently seen with all the students who are part of the music studio. She also has a knack of knowing when to introduce advanced playing techniques, in line with the development trajectory of her students. She has consistently challenged our daughter towards higher levels of performance and provided the right guidance and support to achieve those standards.

Dr. Barrett has also introduced our daughter to music theory and appreciation of intonation and rhythm within theory. True to the Suzuki philosophy, she has stressed appreciating music through the mind, the body and the senses – and not just playing it off the sheet in a rote manner. She trains her students on achieving perfect pitch and goes over the music scale regularly, to maintain the level of knowledge.

Finally, more than anything else, Dr. Barrett has truly imparted an education – a gift that goes way beyond music. She has a diverse student body and creates a lovely mix of interactions where older students can model the way for younger learners. She has taught our daughter the power of practice, and practicing and playing in a mindful and purpose-driven way. These lessons are invaluable not just to learning the violin, but rather to any field of human endeavor and for this, we are full of gratitude.

As we plan to move across the country and begin a new life on the West Coast, one of the big things we will miss is the Friday evening lessons at the Barrett studio. Our daughter will miss her time with someone who she respects and adores. And I (Krish) – as a parent and a violinist myself – will miss my own interaction, where we discussed music and the philosophy of life in equal parts. Good luck, Dr.Barrett – thank you for everything you’ve taught us and of course, through the wonders of the iPhone, we will absolutely stay in touch!

– Krish Swamy and Anu Krishnan, parents of Nupur


Grand TRC“To Prospective Music Students: I strongly encourage you to entrust your musical instruction or that of your child to the Suzuki method, and if at all possible to one of its leading U.S. practitioners, Dr. Carolyn Barrett. Following is a brief account of my personal experience of the effectiveness of the method and the teacher: I am a fifty-year old engineering professional with no appreciable musical training prior to Dr. Barrett’s instruction (as a third-grader in public school I learned the basics of playing the “recorder” or wooden flute). Five years ago at age forty-five I began studying violin under Dr. Barrett. I studied for two years, and then stopped for three years to pursue professional studies. Approximately six months ago I resumed studying with Dr. Barrett, this time on the viola. My initial two-year period of instruction was very brief relative to my age and near total lack of musical background. Also, my first instrument, the violin, was very challenging. However, despite a break in training longer than my initial instruction, I was amazed to discover that in less than six months I had completely regained skills and the repertoire of songs I had acquired before the break! Although the larger viola is physically easier for me to play than the violin, this difference cannot account for the astounding “musical recall” I have experienced since resuming with Dr. Barrett. I fully credit this amazing retention to the effectiveness of her expert instruction using the Suzuki method. Through Suzuki instruction musical proficiency is acquired “organically” through imitation and immersion. Despite my lack of prior musical training, two years of Suzuki instruction deeply “imprinted” music in me, so that I can’t forget what I’ve learned just as I can’t forget how to ride a bike. I am deeply grateful for the Suzuki method and the tutelage of Dr. Carolyn Barrett, both of which I enthusiastically recommend to you.”

-Freddie Stewart, Jr., Reston, VA


“To Prospective Music Students: Our daughter, Lucia, demonstrated a love for music and instruments of all kinds at the young age of two. She sat at the piano with adults for over 30-minutes mesmerized by the melodic sounds it made! Lucia’s pre-school teacher recommended that we consider enrolling her in the Suzuki Music Studio in Reston, Virginia under the instruction of Dr. Carolyn Barrett. Lucia began taking violin lessons with Dr. Barrett at the age of two and a half! Over the past year we have been elated with Lucia’s wonderful transformative musical experience. She has progressed from singing “Do, Re, Me…” while repeatedly watching “The Sound of Music” to learning the following from Dr. Barrett’s instruction: singing a note on command, recognizing the “G clef” on a staff; recognizing over eight songs just by hearing them played on both the violin or piano; and properly holding and playing her first song on the violin! She regularly holds recitals at home, referred to by her as “shows,” in our music room for anyone interested in watching her. During this time, she works her way through a mock session of one of Dr. Barrett’s lessons. In conjunction with and to reinforce Dr. Barrett’s instruction, we have developed and implemented a positive reinforcement system at home! We are convinced that without Dr. Barrett’s musical skills coupled with her patience and supportive nature, Lucia would not be where she is today – an emerging young musician! Dr. Barrett offers redirection with gentle support for young learners! She ensures a non-competitive environment during lessons. Dr. Barrett methodically moves her students through the steps of learning proper techniques using positive reinforcement strategies. She groups students together for lessons, so that modeling can occur to encourage the budding learner! We highly recommend Dr. Carolyn Barrett as an instructor – She has a true gift to connect with and instruct the youngest learners!”

-Aldo and Lisa Noto, Parents of Lucia, Age 3, Great Falls, VA


“I hope you are doing well. I just finished high school last June and I’m enjoying a gap year at Plum Village, a Buddhist monastery in southern France, before attending George Mason University. I will be majoring in Medical Technology. I’m looking forward to my future studies in science and medicine. Senior year was both exciting and overwhelming. AP Calculus was among the toughest courses I took last year. During the previous school year, I have explored a new interest: music composition. Some time ago, I started hearing original melodies in my head and had a need to write the music down. I soon discovered that the simplest method for me to write music was with the piano so I began to take piano lessons at my local Music & Arts. Of course the lessons started after I completed the college applications! After learning to read bass clef and playing with proper fingering, I began to realize that music just flowed out of my mind and onto the piano. Sometimes on the weekends, I would play the piano for many hours. It feels so great to be able to play on the piano the unending melodies from inside. I’m also finding that translating visual images, especially things found in nature, into music are personally satisfying. Looking back, it’s very clear that I would not have experienced this wonder if it wasn’t for my dearest violin teacher who has taught me all the formulas that were necessary for this “musical awakening.” I’m quite sure the scales exercises and pitch work were crucial components that triggered these musical bursts of ideas. I am still practicing the violin, guitar, and piano. However, when I compose and arrange music, I use my keyboards and my computer. Attached are two of my most recent, complete compositions. The first is an adagio I wrote for my high school orchestra (flute, violins, viola, cello, and contrabass). I used a music notation software to convert my MIDI note inputs into proper music notation for members of the orchestra. We actually did not have a chance to perform the piece for the public but we did play it for the school last April. I opted to accompany the orchestra on the piano rather than being conductor. The second piece, written last May, is entitled “Dance of the Sea Stars.” The instruments in these two pieces are all keyboard/software-based voices. I do hope you enjoy them.”

-Bao-Tich Nguyen


“Thank you all for coming today! For those of you who don’t know me, my name’s Julianne Agudo and I’ve been with Dr. Barrett for more than 13 years. I know what you’re thinking, that’s a very long time! I’m very thankful for Dr. Barrett because she has taught me so many things including playing the violin, but also personal traits such as patience. I’m a senior at Paul VI Catholic High School and it’s coming to the time where I have to close a chapter and start another one. I treat all you as my family, and I would invite all of you to my graduation at the Patriot Center at George Mason University on June 1st, but sadly, the summer recital is the same day as my graduation. This means, that after playing the e string song over 100 times, and playing at countless recitals over the years, that this is my last recital here today. Even though this is my last recital here, it doesn’t mean I’ll stop playing the violin. Yes, I do intend to keep playing in college. I feel like it’s something I can’t give up for good just yet. As for where I’m going to college, that’s a very good question because I don’t even know myself. I did make plans, but as of right now my plan isn’t really going the way I’d like it too. But I know I’ll work something out and I appreciate all the support from Dr. Barrett and also my family. Thank you all for being a part of my life, especially Abi who has been my partner in crime the past few years. I’d also like to thank the members of the Loudoun Symphony for always coming back and playing with us and also the Suzuki families who have seen me grow up over the years. And last, I’d like to thank Dr. Barrett for being the best teacher ever and for helping me through family issues, and also through my musical journey. I wish you all the best, and if you would like to add me on Facebook, follow me on twitter and Instagram, or even send me an email, that’s fine with me -thank you!”

-Julianne Agudo


Testimonials about Dr. Barrett’s Book

The following are excerpts from a letter written by a Suzuki parent in California who read Dr. Barrett’s book The Magic of Matsumoto: The Suzuki Method of Education.

admagic copy“It is with delight that I am able to share with you just how much I appreciated reading The Magic of Matsumoto; You are correct in that Matsumoto and Dr. Suzuki are indeed, magical…. While I will never have the opportunity of meeting him in person, thanks to you and your book, I was able to sit and observe Dr. Suzuki teaching lessons. I also want to thank you for some of the perhaps ancillary topics but ones that I felt were very helpful in demonstrating how much Dr. Suzuki was interested in continuously improving the method. The technology chapter was fantastic. I thought your description of how you used the mother tongue method in your college writing class as well as in teaching yourself Spanish was invaluable in demonstrating that when you truly understand the Dr. Suzuki method your understand that while it has everything to do with the violin, it actually isn’t really about the violin at all. I think you captured that sentiment beautifully in discussing how most westerners would have difficulty understanding how one could train to develop high abilities on the violin – without having the goal of playing the violin as a major goal. I find this to be a common misunderstanding of individuals who practice yoga in the west. … through my practice of the art of yoga, I learn to better understand the art of life. It is my greatest hope that my son will also learn the art of life through his Suzuki violin experience. Thank you so very much for sharing your experiences and your perspectives of Dr. Suzuki with me. I feel I was drawn to your book for a reason and it certainly showed me that there are amazing teachers in the United States who truly do understand Dr. Suzuki and are carrying forward his wonderful dream of helping humans to develop to their highest potential. …”

-C. Stangl


Here is another letter from a Suzuki parent at Dr. Barrett’s Studio who found The Magic of Matsumoto: The Suzuki Method of Education  extremely helpful.

“Your book has been an extremely valuable tool to our family. We initially bought your book to understand the Suzuki method and to assist in the instruction of our children with the violin. However, there was more information on what works for behavior and teaching than we had imagined. Our son was having problems in school and we applied Suzuki’s positive rewards system. In less than a week my son’s teacher phoned me to tell me she saw a difference in his attention and willingness to learn. We broke down the time interval for tracking his good behavior and learning objectives to one week. Our son gets a reward every Friday for a week of good behavior. (This can be picking out a movie for “fun Friday,” or choosing a place to eat.) Here is a quote from his last grading period… “He has shown progress in all subject areas this grading period. I feel that much of this is due to the improvement in his behavior. It has been evident to other teachers who come into my room as well as to the instructional assistants who work with us… He appears to be more willing to begin assignments and work harder at completing them. He is more enthusiastic during circle discussions and activities.” We are thrilled at the complete turn around and immediate success. We had tried what we thought was everything. We were frustrated that he was misbehaving in school and getting low grades as early as kindergarten. Your book helped us to turn around the situation before it was too late. The information and methods are so simple and easy that I am now embarrassed that I didn’t think of it myself. Thank you for providing the tools to open up a new world to our child. He is flourishing and enjoying the rewards of his own success. He also loves taking his violin lessons, which we feel very lucky to have you as our instructor.”

-Liz Devany

Contact us today and join the growing number of students and parents satisfied with the instruction at our music school. We teach the Suzuki Method to future musicians from all over Reston, Vienna, Fairfax, Springfield, Great Falls, and Fair Oaks, Virginia.