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Suzuki Institute

17 Jul

Am in the library of Ithaca College.  Isabelle just went to lunch with new friends who last night came to supper at our home.  There has just been a thunderstorm.  The Youth Choral is sounding great.  They are singing “How Can I Keep From Singing?” and “Old Dan Tucker“.  The younger orchestra is also sounding good.  At Friday’s Grend Concert they will play “Sinfonia in G” by Elliot Del Borgo, “King’s Court” by Susan Day and “High Low Fun” by Fred Hubbell.  Isabelle is a second violin; she thought she played well yesterday.  Thirty minutes prior to rehearsal, when I was making her practice, she “hated orchestra”.  Practice is, I think, what she dislikes.

Each morning we arrive and go immediately to Repertory.  13-21 students, all of whom are in Suzuki Violin Book 5, are led through remembering each other’s names, physical warm-up exercises, violin exercises and have been working on details of articulation, dynamics and bowing style in Bach’s Gavotte I and II.  The teacher is from Iowa City, Iowa.

Then on to class with two other girls and a teacher from Pittsburgh, PA.  The Allegro of the Vivaldi Concerto in Gm is the piece on which Isabelle is getting input.  She is, hopefully, sponging up the advice on how to better show the emotional center of the piece and emphasize dynamics throughout without moving her violin or upper body so it interferes with the music.

Then on to choral, then lunch, then orchestra.  A break where we practice and/or go swimming.

Then the day’s recital: a few picked students play one piece superbly from the Suzuki repertoire.  Next, a play-in.  The same students as in Repertory, a different teacher each day, lots of little games which motivate the students to be attentive not only to the teacher but also to the music and each other’s playing.

The teaching is the most fascinating part of this institute.  Many of the little, short fun activities the teachers use are geared toward, above all, increasing the attentiveness of the children.  I think attentiveness is very important in life, so this pleases me greatly to see the teachers giving so much attention towards it without drawing attention to what is going on.  All subtle.  No one talks about attentiveness.

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