Large Suzuki class

Barbara said: Sep 15, 2010
 Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
4 posts

:D Years ago I was a member of the SAA, took teacher training through Book 4, and taught Suzuki to many students whose parents attended all lessons and worked with their children every day. I kind of raised a group of children from age 3-5 who stayed with me into high school and beyond. It was one of the most satisfying experiences of my life and I was able to see miraculous successes. I now follow many of those same children through Facebook as they raise their own children to become musicians.
One thing always bothered me, however, about that experience. It was only available to children whose parents chose to pay for the lessons, rent or buy the violins, and had the dedication to spend all the hours with their children.

Today I teach music in a high poverty rate public elementary school. I am lucky enough to have a classroom set of violins. After reading about El Sistema over the summer, I decided to take the plunge this fall and run a pre twinkle class during general music for all 4th and 5th graders in the school. So for the last few weeks I have taught a class lesson twice a week to about 350 children who come to me in groups of about 25. Most do not have a hope of parent involvement in their studies. Almost all would never get lessons on anything. About 2/3 don’t speak English at home. We will work our way through the Twinkle Variations and then stop. I will then switch to an after school program for those who wish to continue. They can choose orchestra, band or chorus in Middle School.

Is there anyone else out there who is crazy enough to be doing this?

Irene said: Sep 17, 2010
Irene YeongViolin
160 posts

you are an extraodinary person to take the plunge. good for you. i think you will manage fine if you have no expectation…if you see any results , that’s briliant but if not.. it is okay. perhaps you will help to create beautiful hearts in these children.

Diane said: Sep 17, 2010
Diane AllenViolin
244 posts

You are not alone! Martha Shackford and the Portland Suzuki Project is doing exactly what you are! Here are links to some basic information as well as a concert I recorded that featured Barcel Brioso fundraising for the Portland Suzuki Project.

(Barcel Brioso—kids who’s parents paid for their violin education)
(Portland Suzuki Project—pays for teachers & instruments to go to underprivileged schools)

http://myviolinvideos.com/bloggiftsoftheheart.html
http://myviolinvideos.com/barcelbrioso.html

Diane
http://www.myviolinvideos.com
Videos of student violin recitals and violin tutorials.

Barbara said: Sep 24, 2010
 Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
4 posts

We are underway and it is indeed a hoot. One fifth grade class has made it to “Taka” on E and is so excited about being able to actually make a sound on the violin. Everyone else is lost in the bow hand formation stage. I so love teaching these tough looking gang wanna be’s the “bunny” as a preparation for holding the bow. The looks I get are priceless. Lots of “Ahhh! Now I get it!” moments, and a lot of frustration that I am going so slow and insisting that things be right.

Learning to focus, listen and watch, and all the complex spacial reasoning involved in getting the hands on the instrument correctly is quite a foreign experience for these children. I got acres of “grasshopper mind,” but they are catching on slowly. We listen to the CD during every class and today somebody asked “Are we really going to be able to learn how to play Twinkle like that?” I nodded and said, “Absolutely.” The reaction of the whole class was like I had announced we were going to Disneyland. “Awesome! Thats going to be so cool!”

Barbara said: Dec 16, 2010
 Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
4 posts

Tomorrow, December 17th, we do our Twinkle concert. There will be some bow hands and violin holds I will not wish to claim any responsibility for, but fewer than I would have feared. We will have eight classes of 4th graders and eight classes of fifth graders trading off instruments as each class plays Twinkle for the assembled parents. I wonder what they will think.

I am more than proud of what the children have accomplished, and impressed by their dedication and desire to continue. One of the best parts for me has been the “outlaw” kids who are always in trouble at school who come in asking “Do we get to do violins today?” week after week.

It has been a thrill and I feel I have tossed a stone into a pond and wonder how long the ripples will continue to spread.

Diane said: Dec 17, 2010
Diane AllenViolin
244 posts

Very Cool! Let us know how it went and how you felt about it!

You probably should keep a journal so you can write a book someday!

Diane
http://www.myviolinvideos.com
Videos of student violin recitals and violin tutorials.

Barbara said: Dec 18, 2010
 Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education, Viola
4 posts

I think the parents were thrilled. The kids were very excited. One of my Downs Syndrome students got the whole thing right except for lifting the second finger at the right time and was incredibly proud of himself, as I was of him. A mother told me her daughters had asked for violins for Christmas. The hoodlum who had to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the hall for fighting made it back in time to play with us and his face was radiant when he finished. What can I say? We sounded good, and mostly we looked good and we proved to ourselves that we could even learn something as complicated as the violin.

So now we stop and I start up a much smaller group at the end of January after school.

Diane said: Dec 18, 2010
Diane AllenViolin
244 posts

How totally exciting!

Diane
http://www.myviolinvideos.com
Videos of student violin recitals and violin tutorials.

Janet Melnicoff said: Jan 22, 2011
Janet Melnicoff Brown
Suzuki Association Member
Violin
5 posts

Congratulations on your success with this project! I’m very interested to hear how it develops, as I have recently expanded my teaching beyond the kinds of families who come to our school, and into an inner city setting. It has been challenging, but gratifying and energizing, too. Please post about your smaller classes go!

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