Taunton Suzuki Group was founded by Mary Trewin in 1975 and was one of the first in this country. Mary was already teaching the violin but was intrigued to find out more about the Suzuki method after seeing a group of young Japanese Suzuki students touring in this country and being amazed at their progress and level of ability. She went on to train with the British Suzuki Institute and three times visited Japan in the 1980s to learn directly from Dr Suzuki himself.


Through her enthusiasm and hard work the group here grew and grew – at its peak it had over 100 students and Mary had to recruit another teacher, Diane Rivaud. Over a period of 40 years Mary and Diane taught literally hundreds of young students to play the violin and viola, with several going on to play professionally and many more continuing to play in adulthood in various orchestras and other amateur groups. Many of them later brought their own children back to learn with the group.


Mary finally retired in 2016, but the parents of the remaining students were determined that Suzuki should be kept alive in Taunton and we were extremely fortunate to be put in touch with a Suzuki teacher from Bristol, Jenny Glester.


Jenny learned violin from the age of 3 with the London Suzuki Group and later went on to play professionally with The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. She commuted from Bristol for a period of 18 months to teach our students, during which time she also introduced us to the wider Suzuki family by inviting us to take part in the regional Suzuki events and Bristol group sessions. One of our students was lucky enough to play in the spectacular international gala concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 2016, which involved 1300 participants from 27 different countries. Without Jenny’s dedication TSG would almost certainly have ceased, but her growing commitments in Bristol meant that she could not continue with us. So again the group set about finding a new teacher but this time, at Jenny’s suggestion, we also decided to try to widen our scope by looking for teachers in some of the other Suzuki instruments (the method is now used on 12 different instruments).


In February 2017 we put out an appeal for teachers of violin, piano, flute and cello to get involved with the Taunton Suzuki Group. Amazingly, for the second time we were able to link up with a Suzuki violin teacher who had recently moved to the area and was willing to take on our students.


Alison Sutton, who became our violin teacher in August 2017, relocated to Somerset from Nottingham. She has degrees in both music and computing, and has many years of teaching experience on both violin and viola, becoming a Suzuki teacher in 2004. She is keen to again build up our group here in Taunton and beyond and has also started working in some local schools. We have enjoyed getting to know her and the rest of her very musical family.


At the same time we were extremely pleased to welcome our first piano teacher, Jean Broadbent. Jean attended Heathfield Community School near Taunton, followed by two years at the specialist music school, Chetham’s, in Manchester. She was already teaching piano traditionally but, as a previous Suzuki parent, had always been interested in training as a Suzuki teacher – she answered our call and joined us in August 2017, qualifying as a Level 1 Suzuki piano teacher in Summer 2018 and now embarking on the Level 2 training.