Violin group class in Costa Rica with Carmen Wise

Violin group class in Costa Rica with Carmen Wise

“Where love is deep, much can be accomplished.” —Shinichi Suzuki

More than 110 students, representing the whole spectrum of Suzuki string playing from Twinkles to Book Ten and beyond, enjoyed a week of music, learning and fun at the Fifth Annual SuzukiFest in San Jose, Costa Rica. On February 5, 2012, Lidia Blanco, President of the Asociación Costarricense del Método Suzuki, with the help of her assistant and friend Carla Loiaza, brought together students from several conservatories and schools in the San Jose area, their families and a teaching faculty from the US, Canada and Peru.

By the end of the week, we became a family.

Lidia teaches Suzuki Violin at the Lincoln School. The School’s spacious facilities housed the event and had recently completed its Fine Arts Center. SuzukiFest’s students were the very first to perform in its well-appointed auditorium. The school cafeteria staff served up delicious typical Costa Rican lunches every day. This gave teachers and families the opportunity to get to know each other.

A great support to Lidia and participants was a team of volunteers ready to feed, water, and assist anyone with any concerns. They also took turns manning a stand selling musical souvenirs, hand-made music themed cushion covers, Suzuki books, and many other items.

Brian Lewis, professor at the University of Texas and renowned virtuoso violinist, headlined a faculty of Suzuki Method teachers and Teacher Trainers. They were Caroline Fraser of Peru, Barbara Balatero of Seattle, Washington, Nicolette Solomon-Van Wyk of Dallas, Texas, Ann Montzka-Smelser from Chicago, Illinois, and myself from Canada.

Brian and Ann come from respected Suzuki dynasties. We so enjoyed listening to their childhood experiences in Matsumoto with Dr. Suzuki and his school.

Barbara did double duty at the event, primarily as a Teacher Trainer for Book Three Cello, and spontaneously as accompanist for both the Honor Student Recital and the final concert. We were all in awe at her prowess on the piano, much of which was sight reading.

The faculty was comfortably housed at the Hotel Villa Zurqui, owned by Yanina Castro. The hotel is located in the hills above San Jose, on a lovely flower-bedecked acreage just a short drive from the Lincoln School. Yanina was the perfect hostess, even arranging a karaoke night for the faculty where teachers took turns singing their favorite songs. The biggest surprise was listening to Nicolette sing one song in perfect Chinese!

We affectionately renamed the hotel “Villa Suzurqui.”

The week was filled with master classes, group lessons, orchestra sessions and informal opportunities to make new friends. Orchestra students, conducted by Nicolette, particularly enjoyed mastering an arrangement of Harry Potter music.

In a much anticipated recital, Brian Lewis, accompanied by Manuel Matarita, performed several beautiful pieces. Among them was his rendition of some early Suzuki pieces. We were enthralled by them. But Brian really brought the house down with The Hot Canary. We all whistled like birds as we left the Hall and the “tweeting” continued over the next few days on our instruments.

Lidia wants to extend a special thanks to the administration of the Lincoln School, to Yanina Castro for lending SuzukiFest her lovely Yamaha piano for Brian’s recital, to Dona Hannah Mendiola, who has been a loyal and generous supporter of the Asociación Metodo Suzuki’s events and activities, and the Herreras who invited the faculty to the venerable El Club for a sumptuous dinner.

The clinicians thank the families for making our stay so enjoyable. We felt well cared for and very welcome and appreciated.

While waiting for my flight home, I read a poster with the following message:

“Tell me and I will forget
Teach me and I will remember
Involve me and I will learn.”
—Benjamin Franklin

What better way to learn than through such dynamic workshops as SuzukiFest and their lively and loving group classes. It is the ultimate form of participation in one’s own learning.

Many thanks to Lidia and her team for an exciting and educational event that we will always treasure and remember. And what fun it was!

Congratulations! The week’s success brought honor to Dr. Suzuki and definitely showed that we are helping to have a better world through music.
—Nury Barahona

Our family is still savoring a fantastic week full of music, talent and passion! Thank you very much for everything. —Marlon Barrios Ramirez

Suzuki philosophy—Suzuki way of life! thanks Asociación Costarricense del Método Suzuki and all the GREAT teachers for an amazing week of learning!
—Mei Mei Segura

You can find the Asociación on Facebook for more updates on events.