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Comments from Saito Workshop participants and other students

Scrapbooks of previous workshops
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Edmonton 2018
Saskatoon 2020
Saskatoon 2021 Saskatoon 2022 Saskatoon 2023

Many participants have returned multiple times to this workshop for several reasons. First, it is taught by a master teacher who has studied and worked with the Saito method for decades, understanding it both at a theoretical level and also its practical application. Second, the environment of the workshop is structured around camaraderie and support rather than competition. Third, the method itself emphasizes clarity and is valuable to conductors of any type of ensemble.  Justine Koontz 

Having attended numerous Saito conducting workshops over the years, this is where I learned the freedom to conduct and see music in such a holistic way. Once the gestures are internalized, one then has the technique to apply them to every musical situation. A truly life-changing musical experience. - Dr. Brian Kilian

I spent 10 days in Saskatoon recently. July 16-23 were spent in an excellent conducting course focusing on the Saito Method led by Wayne Toews, a most wonderful instructor and expert conductor.
I highly recommend this course to anyone who wants to improve their skills in conducting - orchestra, band, choir - in a very supportive atmosphere.
I met lovely musicians from various places in Canada and the US and learned so much
Saskatoon is a beautiful city.  Marg Stubington

I met Maestro Wayne Toews at his summer workshop, The Saskatchewan Orchestral Association International Saito Conducting Course in 2021.  I found his approach relaxed and friendly and I began online private lessons with him.  Saito founded a children’s academy which my teacher Syoko Aki attended as a child. The Saito method as taught by Mr. Toews organically combines interpretation, critical listening and clear hand gestures. Wayne’s teaching requires a student to plan and slow down down all motions, paring down musical gestures, phrasing and nuance  using the simplest and clearest technique. Practicing slowly to play fast.
Mr. Toews has never sought to impose his own musical ethos on my technique. Only to bring clarity and flexibility to my own work so that I can communicate better from the podium.  My first few outings back on the podium after a pandemic hiatus reflected back to me the fruits of our labors with a new found confidence, control and connection to the players I have long sought.
I cannot recommend Mr. Toews highly enough as a teacher.      Kenneth Freed, violist in the Minnesota Orchestra for 23 years and before that 2nd violin with the Manhattan String Quartet; conductor of the Mankato Symphony for 12 years.

I attended the 2019 Saito workshop and found the skill set that I came away with to be absolute conducting gold. Wayne is a fantastic teacher and a great guy to work with.  Justine Koontz

Thank you again for all your time and support.  You remind me every time we meet what it means to be a gifted educator, and how privileged and transformative an experience it is when you get to work with one.  I have a deep appreciation for your skill and years of experience, and the concise, practical feedback you give as a result. More than that however, I am so glad for your  perceptiveness of recognizing and supporting people where they are at, and knowing how to leave them feeling positive and confident in what they are doing.  You never forget you are working with human beings first and musicians second, and that makes all the difference.  Keitha Clark (composer, arranger, performer, teacher)

Thanks for such a well organized, thorough, thoughtful, exciting and accessible (yes, even on Zoom) workshop. The whole program was geared toward sharing Saito's magnificent gift with musicians. Very liberating! I might also add that YOU are also a gift to musicians, for continuing the legacy and making it easy for us to understand.  Today's band gig went well. I felt confident and relaxed. My husband (who plays in the group), noticed the clarity and expressive gestures right away.  Dr. Deborah Rebeck Ash (online 2021)

Thank you greatly for sharing your time and expertise with me. I must admit the discussion was thrilling!
It is obvious to me that I can continue to grow as I continue to explore the Saito method. Furthermore, I really enjoy your teaching and communication style.  RT-Q Military Bandmaster

Discovering the Saito method has been life-changing for me as a conductor.  I've found it much easier to shape/change things without having to stop & talk, and on 2 separate occasions a player or singer has come up to me after rehearsal thanking me for "being so clear"! 
I love how systematic it is about describing the anatomy of a gesture - it's possible to call or email another conductor who knows the method & discuss strategies about how to conduct something, and both of us know exactly what it looks like & how to do it!  With most other approaches, that would probably be impossible. 
Wayne is an amazing teacher.  Warm, generous with his time, an absolute wealth of knowledge, and has an incredibly keen eye for technique, even over Skype!  I would make a very slight change to a gesture and he would point out how - and why - it would affect the sound the orchestra makes.  And of course, has has some great stories!
I strongly recommend studying the Saito method with Wayne and can't wait to discover what else I learn as I continue! - Erik Ibsen-Nowak

Wayne teaches with passion and clarity.  He candidly opens himself up to share his vast experience in Saito's conducting method and in life as well.  His ability to detect, isolate, assess, and correct technical aspects of conducting technique is fantastic.  He has a plethora of handouts, worksheets, videos, and other teaching materials that are extremely valuable in studying this beautiful conducting method.  Wayne has helped me tremendously in my growth and development as a conductor.  Thank you sir!  - Ryan Knight, Warrant Officer 1, Military Bandmaster

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your teaching and mentorship over the past nine years. You have truly been the guiding force in my development as a conductor, and an inspiration as an educator.

I received, what I consider to be, high praise today at the doctoral conducting masterclass. [Context: I'm the only non DMA in the room, and the DMAs were very clear that our prof simply does not give compliments; no comment or praise means good]. After watching my rehearsal video, my prof remarked on how exceptionally clear and precise my right hand was, that my stick technique was incredible, and "some of the best he's ever seen." ... the baton is so expressive and clear ..." - Taina Lorenz

I thank you for creating, sustaining, and running the workshop. It was everything I hoped it would be (though not what I expected it to be -- didn't really know what to expect!) and more. Your commitment to Saito and its clarity, flexibility, musicality, and replicability make clear the value of the approach. And your teaching is, without fail, thoughtful, passionate, engaging, and clear -- I learned a great deal from your example. - Dr. David Rentz, Chaffey College

This summer I participated in a workshop that I have been wanting to do for years and I am so glad that I finally took the opportunity to do so. It was the Saskatchewan Orchestral Association's 2015 10th Anniversary Saito Conducting Workshop taught by Wayne Toews and a team effort with George Charpentier, Bonnie Nicholson, Diane Gyrba, and an excellent team of musicians in the orchestra. It was absolutely worth the effort. My conducting technique has grown both in making more meaningful musical gestures and with being able to show more clearly how the gestures define the music. It was really difficult to develop a 'new' technique of gestures after 30 some years of the 'old' way. It was stressful and tearful to not be able to do what I wanted immediately-I will continue to work on this. But after countless hours on the podium over the 8 days and many more practicing, I feel that I bring to the table an improved set of tools to achieve my musical goals. Thanks to Wayne, George, Bonnie, Diane,and all orchestra folks. My hats off to all of your hard work and relentless work. It was tough. Also congratulations to my classmates who I got to know and saw them grow along with myself. May we never forget to WATT-Wait at the top!

I had the most amazing time this week at the International Saito Orchestra Conducting Workshop! I learned SO much that I will continue to use everyday in my conducting life. I will also be including Saito techniques in my conducting classes and recommending that my students attend this workshop! I'm so grateful to Wayne Toews Sensei for his high degree of expertise and warm supportive approach to teaching. He is a true Maestro!  - Dr. Dominic Gregorio (Saskatoon, 2013)

Thanks to what I learned with you, I could show all the accelerandos and ralentandos, ritenutos and incalzandos I wanted! And the best, the orchestra could understand them!   Eduardo Torres (Brazil, 2012)

The 2007 workshop is still one of the greatest life changing moments in my career!  - Dr. Scott MacLennan (Saskatoon, 2007)

I cannot express enough my gratitude towards you for allowing this life changing experience of mine to happen! Thank you for being such a wonderful conducting mentor to all of us, and, also for making the time and effort to keep this course going. I dare say that all of us had a very intense yet musically (and physically) stimulating experience and I just can't wait to show off my 'new moves' to my choir in the fall!   -- Livia Gho, SOA 2012 workshop

(At the workshop) I can work with music, musicians, and mentors that simply are not possible or available in my current job and daily environment. This is about being more than I am and putting myself into a situation where I am challenged to push my own boundaries and be supported throughout. It is beyond a workshop; it is a musical renewal and revitalization, and an immersion into pure authenticity." -- Taina Lorenz, SOA 2012 workshop

I would like to thank Maestro Wayne Toews for his wonderfull teaching! I had the great experience to study the Saito Conducting Method in Saskatoon for 10 days (October 2011) under his orientation and then to have him four months later in Salvador, Brazil to teach orchestral musicians and my conducting students at NEOJIBA using the same method, for 10 days in February 2012. I can tell that this made a big difference. Conducting is now much easier for my students and for me, and the orchestras of the program respond to the beat because of the Saito Method. This allows music-making with even more fun and discipline. Maestro Wayne Toews is a master of this art and a great teacher! -- Eduardo Torres, Pedagogic Coordinator and Conducting Instructor at NEOJIBA

I visited Wayne for an intensive series of private conducting lessons in December 2011. I first worked with him four years prior. The lessons were videoed and have given me continued reminder of the wonderful lessons. Wayne was able to use a number of different approaches to help me experience the gesture being studied. He taught me by offering different ways of conducting the same music - different gestures which have widened my range of conducting gestures and hence enabling clearer interpretation in performance. At the same time, he taught me to remove unnecessary loops and make each Saito gesture effective and clear. Half of the sessions were with a pianist. The 'live' pianist provided me with immediate feedback.
When going through immigration the officer said "It is a long way to come for conducting lessons." in their usual gruff tone!"  I explained that there was no-one in my part of the world who could teach me the Japanese conducting method in English. What I learned was well worth the effort to travel from Australia. -- Roland Yeung, Music Director Carey Baptist Grammar School and The Grainger Wind Symphony, Melbourne, Australia

I have spent countless hours telling musicians what I want, then hoping they will remember when we perform.  The beauty of the Saito technique is that it gives me the skills to show exactly the form and line of the music.  This equals less talk, more music and greater musicality - Allison Titus (Saskatoon 2011)

I believe the Saito Technique is a powerful process for learning how to control one's movements and achieve greater musical control of one's ensemble. Mr. Toews is clearly a master of the Saito system, and his explanations of the guiding principles behind it are revelatory.   Dr. Robert G. Patterson  (Memphis 2010)

This workshop was a lifechanging experience.  The combination of a clear, concise methodology and sequential pedagogy coupled with a vocabulary of gestures make the Saito method superior.  Mr. Toews is a gifted musician and teacher and the entire experience was incredible.  -- Philip Baldwin (Saskatoon 2009)

Wayne Toews is a brilliant and dynamic pedagogue, who has studied and taught the teachings of Hideo Saito for more than thirty years. - WO Shawna L. Mochnacz

I have to thank you again, a million times, for your work with me this past week. I have improved so much! I'm so excited to share some of the feedback from my players. Last night the U of A summer band played a concert in Red Deer for Music Camp. I conducted one piece: Cajun Folk Songs by Frank Ticheli. I haven't been in front of the group since before I went to Saskatoon. But, I remembered all of the things we had worked on, went to my zen place, and conducted. It rocked! Some of the comments after the show included: "What happened to you at conductor school? You are a different person! I knew exactly what you wanted, where we were and where we were going every time I looked up! I didn't have to think so I was freed up to play. Night and day, night and day!" (from a trombone player who studied in McGill then came here); "This is the best you've ever conducted" (from a trumpet graduate that I conducted in SWE last year), and " yours was the best piece of the night," (from the head conductor! )  Wayne, you have given me a gift! Thanks so much! I can't wait to study with you some more.- - Taina Lorenz Turner

I just put on the Faure Requiem with a choir and an orchestra at the church where I work - the first time I have conducted and organized a project like that. It was a pretty fantastic experience and the Saito technique was there for me every step of the way. It's the best. - Laura Hawley, Saskatoon 2007

Without a doubt, that experience was life-changing for me. In effect it synthesized and summed up all that I had learned over the years, and in addition took me to a new place musically and personally. I was amazed at the team work between the whole lot of you. Each of you brought such a wealth of gifts and skills to the workshop members, and we ALL benefitted. I did not fill out an evaluation at the time, but I've been processing and reliving all that happened that week, not only for me but for the other participants. It really was a process of opening up each individual so that we could get to a place in order to make true progres. Holy, did we fall on our egos, fears, over/underconfidence, and then gradually each of us submitted to the process of rigorous training and discipline required.

Yay. I just loved it. Man, it was a great time. Tough but amazing. You did a great thing for all of us by letting us in on this great secret. Thank you. -- Jen Williams

I learned a lot about clarity in conducting, and this was reflected back to me in the response of the C&E Band upon my return.  I found the band to be more responsive to my direction, and the feedback from band members confirmed that. -- Sgt. J.A. Paas

For those of you who are conducting enthusiasts I have studied with this man at a similar workshop (many years ago). It was the experience of a lifetime!! If you love conducting and want to learn more don't miss this workshop!! -- Barb Hopkin

The course was thorough and well prepared, Wayne's instruction was very clear, and the collaborative pianists were wonderful. Professor Okabe was an added bonus. I would definitely recommend the course to those interested in the Saito method -- Stephen Johnson

On Sunday, July 30, 2006 Kemuel Wong wrote in his blog - "OMG....2006 International Saito Conducting Workshop goes down as the most important, memorable, monumental event of my life up to this point. Hands down, from now on life will be different."

Click here to read Jim Tempest's article about the 2006 workshop for the BC Band Association Newsletter.







2009Thankyou card



2010 ThankYouCard


© 2005 Wayne Toews. All rights reserved.



Page revised  25 July, 2021