Louisa Biteler to Join SFLS Team as Suzuki Violin Instructor and Orchestra Director
Returning us to our inspirational roots, while elevating our Suzuki string music program to the next level, Sioux Falls Lutheran School is pleased to announce that Mrs. Louisa Biteler will serve as the Suzuki violin instructor and orchestra director for grades K-8 beginning in the fall of 2019.
Historically, Mrs. Biteler helped SFLS launch its Suzuki-based violin program in 2011, while supervising string instructors and developing violin curriculum for the Avera Family Wellness program. Since that beginning, we have been blessed with the professional string instruction and directing talents of Wendy Dane, Tom Burrish, Christian Zamora, Julia Marble, Karen Dooley and Thomas Fortner.
Mrs. Biteler's service will allow Mrs. Dooley more time for instrumental music instruction and directing. Mr. Fortner, who will continue his work with the South Dakota Symphony Youth Orchestra, is grateful to hand off his SFLS baton to a gifted Suzuki instructor and orchestra director, who will devote significant time to expanding and enhancing our Suzuki string program. We thank all of these talented, devoted instructors for their faithful service.
“I first met Mrs. Biteler about 15 years ago when I was searching for a violin teacher for my daughter,” Mrs. Dooley shared. “After a few lessons, it was clear that Mrs. Biteler exceeded all my expectations from a musical standpoint, and her vivacious personality, her love of Jesus, and her care and concern for all of her students inspired us at every lesson. I know first-hand that Mrs. Biteler has made lasting impressions and connections with her past students and their families, and I am thrilled to welcome her to our SFLS family! Her experience in the classroom teaching individuals and groups from beginner to advanced will undoubtedly help us to take our own program to the next level as we continue to grow.”
Mrs. Biteler holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in K-12 music education from Luther College and is a Suzuki-trained violin instructor. Over the course of more than 20 years, she has gained valuable experience across the city of Sioux Falls by teaching a variety of K-12 classes including 4th and 5th grade orchestra, high school orchestra, and high school special education classroom music.
Outside of the classroom, Mrs. Biteler has been playing with the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and teaching private violin lessons since 1995. Mrs. Biteler shares that her career goal is “to inspire young people to see beauty, goodness and truth in their everyday lives through the medium of music.”
Learn more about Mrs. Biteler’s approach to music education below.
How did you learn about the Suzuki method and what inspired you to become a Suzuki-trained instructor?
When I was three years old, my mom enrolled me in Suzuki violin lessons. She and my grandma learned to play the Twinkle Variations with me and, eventually, with my younger sister. I have fond memories of lessons and “play days” where Suzuki students from all around the area met once a month for a large group lesson and playing of the Suzuki repertoire. When I was 12, we moved to Sioux Falls. Although there was not a Suzuki instructor in town at the time, my strong foundation from the method helped me blossom and develop as a musician and violinist.
Since the age of 14, I have taught private lessons and always used the Suzuki repertoire. After obtaining my music education degree in college, I wanted to learn more about the pedagogy of the Suzuki method and enrolled in my first Suzuki Institute. The pedagogy and philosophy of educating the whole child combined with the idea that EVERY child is able to learn an instrument, regardless of developmental level, spoke to me in a profound way. Working not only with the child, but also collaboratively with their family to form a teacher/student/caregiver team is an aspect of teaching that I value and find important for overall success.
What is your favorite part of being a music educator?
My favorite part of being an educator is witnessing the moment when students realize their hard work and perseverance has paid off in some way. Many life skills are taught through the learning of an instrument and music! When a student faces a difficult challenge and is diligent in overcoming the adversity one step at a time, the moment they have satisfaction or peace is truly a joy to observe and celebrate. Walking side by side with a student during the process is priceless. As a music educator, I am blessed to witness growth in students over an extended period of time. It is an honor to come alongside my students and their families during their life’s journey.
On your resume, you share that your career goal is “to inspire young people to see beauty, goodness and truth in their everyday lives through the medium of music.” How do you hope to make progress toward that goal during your time at SFLS?
Children of all ages are able to do amazing things because God created them to do so, for His glory. Music and the arts have a unique and profound way of teaching students about who God is and how he reveals himself in everyday life. As students study and refine small details in their musical journey, they eventually see how those small details contribute to a larger portrait or symphony. They learn how to build upon a foundation of basic skills and techniques to develop into something more complex and intricate. This can be related to our Christian walk and purpose. We all have a role to play in God’s divine and greater plan.
My role as an educator is to help provide a firm foundation of musical skills that will serve students as they progress and mature as musicians. Throughout the learning process, teacher and student must collaborate and struggle together in order to experience triumph together. This process allows us to not only study music, but also to exercise the ways in which God would want His followers to work together towards an eternal goal. We will work together on the minute, and sometimes mundane, tasks in order to contribute to the greater good and the creation of something beautiful.
As we come together each week, my goal is to use the gift of music to help students become more aware of the world in which they live, look back at the rich history from which they came and nurture their vision on how they can play an active role in their future. Most importantly, I hope to teach them to honor the Lord in all that they say and do, and to have a positive impact on those they come into contact with each day.