When I heard that my long term teacher trainer, Marilyn O’Boyle, had returned to the United States from South America. I was eager to speak with her and invite her to teach at our institute in Austin. I was proud to “show off” our program, knowing how greatly she had influenced my teaching and, in effect, the entire Austin program. Little did I know that our conversations that summer would eventually result in the Texas Suzuki Tour Group International Student Development Program.
In the course of our discussions Marilyn mentioned a young Peruvian student whom she held in high regard and for whom she had great expectations. She hoped that he could somehow study in the U.S. and possibly strive for a career in music.
As it happened, immediately following the institute that summer our Texas Suzuki Tour Group embarked on a concert tour of Colorado. Among our number was a German exchange student, a Suzuki violist. The procedures we developed to make it possible for him to participate in this tour encouraged us to develop a structure in which any international student could participate in out’ Suzuki program on a long-term basis. Marilyn’s interest in our hosting her former student coincided nicely with our enthusiasm and willingness to incorporate international students in our tour group. Local parent organization members generously contributed time and talents to help us achieve this goal. Roberta Centurion in Lima was exceptionally helpful in securing a visa.
After obtaining a tuition waiver from the Austin Public Schools, a student exit visa from Peru, international student health insurance, a host family, a violin, instrument insurance, and an airplane ticket. Manuel Bravo arrived in Austin on March 19, 1992!
Manuel is team-taught by Bill Dick and myself. Each week Bill coaches him in technique, and I train him in the repertoire. The first few weeks were interesting, since Manuel spoke no English, and we spoke no Spanish. In group lessons, however, our common knowledge of the repertoire made our musical communication immediate and our rapport all the more powerful.
Manuel is currently enrolled as a junior at Austin High School. His curriculum includes orchestra and 2 hours of English. At the end of the school year Manuel was named “Best of Class” violinist in the Austin Schools’ Orchestra program. His plans for the coming year include investigating scholarship possibilities and preparing auditions for undergraduate study.
As our plans for the 1992 summer tour were being formulated, Pedro Gomez from Bogota, Colombia, called to inquire about joining our Tour Group for summer study. The confidence we gained by including Manuel in our program made our response to Pedro a resounding “Yes!”
We teachers feel enriched through our association with these young people, and as we watch our students interact with them, our belief in the value of the Suzuki program throughout the world is strengthened and inspired.