Wednesday, April 2, 2014

May 3rd String Playing Tests- reminders

We will once again be conducting playing tests for all string students (Twinkle or above) on May 3rd. Students will play for their group class instructors during regularly scheduled group classes on May 3rd.  I will assist where necessary to make sure that the tests run on time and that students can arrive to their next class on time. Parents will be notified of results, after the tests are completed that day.

The goal of these assessments are to ensure that students review and prepare for this upcoming performance appropriately. It is never fair for one student to work very hard to prepare say "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" for the performance, while the student next to them barely remembers how to get through the piece. Last December, I was incredibly impressed with the high performance caliber of our Department recital. As a Suzuki faculty we agreed that these playing tests offer a good tool for performance preparation. Please place extra emphasis on the Dept. Recital Review list, and make sure that your child is prepared to play all of the pieces (up to their current level) for their group class instructor.
We will use a score sheet to evaluate each piece. Students much achieve at minimum a 7/10 on any given piece in order for them to perform it at the Dept. Recital with the group.

Violin Repertoire:

  • Twinkle Var. C & Theme 
  • Lightly Row
  • Go Tell Aunt Rhody
  • Minuet 1
  • Happy Farmer
  • Long, Long Ago Book2
  • Boccherini Minuet
  • Martini Gavotte
  • Humoresque
  • Vivaldi a minor concerto Mvt. 1
  • Puppet Dance
Cello Repertoire: TBD

May 10th Dress Rehearsals for our Spring Suzuki Dept. Recital

Here is the adjusted class schedule for the day, in order to accommodate the dress rehearsals. These rehearsals are mandatory. Any students who do not attend, will not be able to perform on the May 17th Suzuki Dept. Recital. 

May 10th Class & Rehearsal Schedule:

  • Dalcroze Eurythmics classes run as regularly scheduled, from 9am-10:30am
  • Violin Pre-Twinkle & Book 4 group classes run as regularly scheduled.
    • Students from the Monday Pre-Twinkle Violin class should attend this Saturday class
  • Violin Twinkler & Book 1a classes are combined from 9:30-10am in room 100A with Christine Knodle
  • Orchestra run-through from 9:45-10:15 in the recital hall
  • Violin group 1B from 10-10:30am in room 100A with Emilia Blaszak
  • 10:45-11:30- Pre-Twinkle through Book 1 Dress Rehearsal on the Recital Hall stage
  • Combined Book 2 & 3 class from 10:45-11:15 in room 202 with Emilia B and Bridget C
  • 11:30-12:15- Book 2 & above Dress Rehearsal on the Recital Hall stage

Spring Suzuki Department Recital- May 17th

Hello parents, I will be updating this post as details arise. Here is what we have so far:

Location: Old St. Mary's Church- 1474 S. Michigan Ave.

Parking- There is a small lot adjacent to the church, and additional meter spots available along Michigan Ave. The church is only a block south of our school, so you can park where you normally do and walk to the church if you like.

Call time: All students should arrive promptly at 12:30. There will be signs directing performers to the staging area, where teachers and parent volunteers will tune instruments and form them into groups. The performers will be supervised by the teachers and volunteers for the duration of the performance.

Performance Time: The concert will start at 1pm and should last approximately 1 hour.

Seating: The first few rows of the church will be reserved for the performers. Parent will have plenty of room to sit inside the sanctuary, so please invite family and friends.

Class Schedule for the day: Dalcroze Eurythmics classes will run as usually scheduled. There will be no regularly scheduled Suzuki  String Group or Prep String classes. This includes Suzuki group classes ranging from Pre-Twinkle through Book 4, note readers classes, chamber music and orchestra.
** We will have a final dress rehearsal at 10:45am on the Recital Hall stage, for all string performers. The rehearsal will last approximately 30-40 minutes.

Pre-Twinkle Violin Repertoire:

  • Standing in Perfect Posture while the Teacher and Piano play Twinkle Var. A
  • Pop goes the weasel
  • Wheels on the bus with bow holds
  • Flower Song


Violin Repertoire (in reverse performance order):

  • Twinkle Var. C & Theme
  • Lightly Row
  • Go Tell Aunt Rhody
  • Minuet 1
  • Happy Farmer
  • Long Long Ago Book 2 
  • Boccherini Minuet
  • Martini Gavotte
  • Humoresque
  • Vivaldi A minor concerto Mvt. 1
  • Puppet Dance
Cello Repertoire: TBD

More program information to follow.

*** Please remember that students will need to pass their playing test during group class on May 3rd in order to play on the recital. Pre-Twinkle students are exempt from the playing tests. 


Friday, March 28, 2014

Parent Classes on April 12th

There is no parent class on April 5th.

April 12th:

  • New/ Recent Suzuki parent class will meet in the Conference Room with Aubrey
  • Parent talk with Martine Benmann
    • This is for all parents who are currently in our orchestra class, and for those who plan on joining that class next year.

Yang Liu Master Class on April 5th

On April 5th we will have our annual masterclass with Yang Liu. As usual, it will happen during our regular Performance Class times. All students/parents should attend and learn from those who perform for him. 
In order to select participants, we first omitted those who participants from last year and then drew a lottery. If we needed another participant, then a name was selected from the list of students who played last year. Participants should perform their pieces from the March recital.
Here are the participants:


Level 1-2: 
  • Claire Li
  • Matthew Kim
  • Abigail Zhao
  • Sofia Caceido
  • Sava Kosanovich
  • Andrew Williams
  • Caitlin Ng
Level 3-5:
  • Samantha Williams
  • Rami Alkadri
  • Kai Dizon
  • Zoe Lesak
  • Trayi Sharma
  • Beck Edwards
  • Sterling Kennedy

Friday, January 31, 2014

So I committed to the 100 day practice challenge, now what?

As we move into our second month of the 100 day practice challenge, I am sure many parents are asking themselves "what did I get myself in for?"
Here are some practice tips that might help you stay on track and reduce frustration during each session:

  • Get yourself into a routine. Have a set time of day and set days that you practice. Suzuki used to say "only practice the days that you eat" (as in practice everyday). That might not work for your family dynamic, but perhaps committing to 4 or 5 days a week is a "doable" commitment. If your child is always cranky after dinner, then make sure to squeeze in your 15 minutes beforehand. Is your child an angel in the morning? Then maybe waking up 20 minutes earlier and fitting practice into your morning routine is the key to success. Try out various options and stick to what works for you.
  • Stick to One Focal Point at a time. As soon as your child sits at the piano they are slouching, their wrists are too low and they keep forgetting the correct fingering in measure two. Or perhaps you take out their cello and their bow hold is off, their cello is crooked and they are playing out of tune. Sound familiar? Take a deep breath and reset. Try to mimic language that your teacher uses when your child gets themselves into "Perfect Posture" and just stick to one thing at a time. If your instructor really wants you to work on rounded fingers, then tackle that and don't stress out about the rest. Build your child's confidence as they steadily improve in this one area of their technique or musicality and you will see that they will immediately enjoy practice more (and so will you because you're not trying to make everything "perfect" all at once. The more they improve in one area, the more they feel that they are  "good" at their instrument. Who doesn't like doing something that they're "good" at? You can then transfer this positive energy to tackling the next aspect of their playing that needs work. 
  • Watch the language and keep the mood light. If the first words out of your mouth after your child has labored through a piece are "fix this" or "you didn't do that", then your child will likely become discouraged. Wouldn't you? Always look for something positive about their playing. Trust me, no matter how "bad" it sounded, there is a well deserved compliment to be paid in there somewhere. At minimum, you can say "Thanks! You really tried that time." Always give your child specific positive praise before you give them the constructive feedback. "Your bow hold was so round that time! Let's try it again and see if we can get the left hand to work as hard as your bow hand just did" or something along those lines. How you say something is almost more important than what you say in maintaining a constructive practice environment.
  • Play a game when you need to. Be creative. Come up with new ways to tally repetitions. Roll dice, pick cards out of a deck, move to a different spot in the house after each correct repetition, count pennies, anything! Break up the blah of playing something over and over again and not only will your child enjoy the practice session more but so will you. Get them involved with coming up with new games to play as they polish up that piece.
  • Anatomy of a practice session:
    • Warm-up/Tone work- this can be a tonalization, a scale or a review piece with that specific focus in mind. 
    • Ear training- interacting with the CD by clapping, singing or moving along to a piece, identifying pitches or rhythms or any other activity that your instructor recommends.
    • Review- remember that Suzuki students learn technique and musicality as they learn each piece, so reviewing a piece is reviewing an essential skill that will come in handy as they learn the next piece. If you want to pick your child's pace in mooing ahead, review more! Trust me.
    • New Song/ Working Piece/ Preview- alternate between playing through sections and drilling through tricky spots. Always follow your instructors instructions and don't learn ahead unless they give you the thumbs up. You may learn a mistake and that will take longer to correct.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Summer Suzuki String Camp Registration is OPEN!



AGES 4 - 12
June 16 - 20, 2014
9:00 am - 3:30 pm
The Suzuki Summer String Camp, now in its fifth year, is proud to offer fun and innovative classes that will keep your child motivated and engaged in summer study. Our course offerings are built around the Suzuki method, and will offer your child the opportunity to broaden and deepen their musical knowledge. Students must have at least 6 months of previous study on their instrument. 
Classes will include:
  • Semi-private lesson: Students will be grouped by age and level into a small group of 3 - 4 participants. Each student will get a mini-lesson with our experienced instructors, and have the opportunity to work on their solo repertoire. This is a great opportunity for students to learn from one another. Some students may be selected to perform a solo at our end-of-camp recital.
  • Large group lesson: Students will be grouped together by repertoire and work on pre-determined Suzuki pieces to perform at our end-of-camp recital.
  • Eurythmics: A fun and active class that teaches an understanding of music's fundamental concepts, expressive meanings, and deep connections to other arts and activities. Students benefit from this approach which incorporates rhythmic movement, aural training and improvisation.
  • Orchestra: Intermediate level students will improve sight reading and ensemble skills in this fun group setting.
  • Violin fiddlers: Intermediate violin students will broaden their musical horizons and experiment with music from other genres.
  • Chamber Music: Beginner and Intermediate students will benefit from this more intimate music making experience and improve their note reading and ensemble skills.
  • Note reading: Beginner students will have an opportunity to sharpen their sight reading and musicianship skills.
*Class availability will depend on camp enrollment. Semi-private, Large group & Eurythmics classes will run regardless of enrollment.

Tuition and Registration*Tuition is $500 for the week.
*A $250 non-refundable deposit is required to reserve a spot in the camp.