Developing the Potential of Young Musicians Since 1991

About STEH

STEH is a non-profit organization of parents, families, violin students and teachers dedicated and committed to promoting the educational philosophy of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki. Dr. Suzuki´s method is based upon the most natural form of learning known to mankind, the way that children effortlessly seem to pick up their native tongue.


Just as native speakers demonstrate fluency, ease, and confidence – Dr. Suzuki believed that with the proper environment and daily practice, every child could be educated.

The late Hiroko Primrose and Helen Higa founded Suzuki Talent Education of Hawaii in 1991 shortly after Mrs. Primrose moved to Hawaii in 1990. It was founded upon Dr. Suzuki´s motto, “When Love is Deep, Much can be Accomplished.”

Although Mrs. Primrose passed away in 1998, when you look at how much she accomplished in eight years, you know that she lived this motto.

We miss her very much. It is thanks to her vision and expertise that Suzuki Talent Education of Hawaii has nurtured so many sensitive, accomplished young musicians. Mrs. Primrose was posthumously honored at the 2006 National Suzuki Association of the Americas Teacher´s Conference in Minneapolis. Her influence continues to shape the lives of many and we honor her legacy and vision.

She was truly a master Suzuki Teacher.
STEH receives no financial support from Punahou Music School. We are an independent organization that provides additional support to students attending violin lessons at Punahou Music school. Participation is voluntary but highly recommended. Our year-round activities include student recitals, monthly group lessons, and community service performances at hospitals, retirement and nursing homes. The highlight of the year is the annual weeklong intensive Spring Break Workshop held at Punahou Music School each March. Several Master Suzuki teachers from various cities from the US mainland and Japan travel here to teach our students. The children learn new skills, get exposure to fiddling and jazz improvisation and learn to refine their daily practice with stimulating new ideas.

Over hundred young musicians ages 4 – 17 years old from nearly 20 schools on Oahu are part of STEH.

Meet the teachers


Helen Higa

Our Suzuki Talent Education of Hawai`i President Helen Higa comes from a family of music teachers and was born and raised in Honolulu. She studied with Dr. Suzuki for two and a half years in Matsumoto, Japan, receiving her Teacher Certification from him in 1973. Her other teachers include William Starr, Louise Behrend, and Gerald Beal. In 1983, Ms. Higa became a Certified Teacher of the Alexander Technique from the American Center for the Alexander Technique in New York City, where she taught in the center's Teacher Training Program until returning to Hawai`i in 1987. Before returning to Hawai`i, Ms. Higa's positions include teaching at the University of Tennessee's Suzuki Program, New York's School for Strings, and the Diller-Quaile School of Music.

In 1990 she began teaching with the late Hiroko Primrose, who founded the Suzuki program at the Punahou Music School. In recent years, Ms. Higa has enjoyed exploring how Alexander Technique principles can offer insights and can complement her students' understanding of Dr. Suzuki's violin pedagogy and philosophy. A former member of the Honolulu Symphony, Ms. Higa is now performing in the Hawai`i Symphony Orchestra.

L Holt headshot

Lauren Holt

Lauren began her Suzuki journey at the age of two and a half. An Iowa native, she is a graduate of the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City, Iowa where she studied under Kimberly Meier-Sims and Christie Felsing. She attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, OH, and graduated magna cum laude with degrees in Music Education and Violin Performance.

Holt earned a Master's Degree in Violin Performance with an emphasis in Suzuki Pedagogy from Southern Illinois University studying under Vera McCoy-Sulentic and Dr. Lenora Anop. She has completed Level 1 Orff-Schulwerk training and has studied Music Mind Games Unit 1 and 2 with founder Michiko Yurko. Lauren teaches Suzuki & traditional violin at Punahou School , is on the coaching faculty of the Punahou Chamber Music Program, is a member of Kai Quartet, and is a substitute with the Hawai`i Symphony Orchestra.

Dr. Neela Kinariwala

Neela Kinariwala began studying the violin at age twelve in her hometown of Honolulu, Hawai`i and later graduated from the University of Hawai`i with a Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance. She then studied at the University of Texas at Austin, completing a Master's and a Ph.D. in Music Theory. While attending UT, she continued her violin studies with Leonard Posner, former Concertmaster of the Austin Symphony Orchestra.

During the 34 years she lived in Austin, Dr. Kinariwala performed for 33 years as a member of the Austin Symphony and for 15 years with the Austin Lyric Opera Orchestra. After graduating from the University of Texas in 1987, Dr. Kinariwala completed Suzuki training classes in order to become a certified Suzuki violin teacher and then taught many students in Austin, including her own daughter, over the next 25 years. Dr. Kinariwala and her husband moved back to Honolulu, where she currently enjoys being a member of the Suzuki team at Punahou Music School.