Back in 2004, my sister, a Suzuki piano teacher, and I, began a project that changed totally our lives: We formed a small school of music named “Musicalis Ars Suzuki,” which has grown little by little.
There we have individual and group lessons of several instruments (violin, piano, guitar, cello and flute) and since we began, we have always carried out additional activities to the lessons, so that children enjoy their experience with the instrument more deeply. These activities are the contest, the newspaper, parents’ workshops, concerts season, the Halloween party and the orchestra.
This event reunites all the children of the school in the concert hall. The students pass in order of arrival and take the song they must play from a box; meanwhile, the teachers take notes about their performance. When they finish, they bow, their parents and teachers applaud them and they receive a bag full with candies. This way, all the children are winners.
Once, one of the piano students, Juliana Peñalosa, explained a small girl what the contest was about the following way: “You pass in front and take a song, then you play it and later you are given candies.” The main idea of the contest is to review the dominated songs from previous books, as any song may pop up. In addition, the children have fun while making music.
This activity is based on the concerts where Dr. Suzuki took charts with the names of the songs the children were going to play.
Since February 2006, we started publishing a small newspaper called “The Magical Flute.” There, we write articles about Suzuki’s philosophy, advice about the daily practice, classical music reviews, musical book reviews, musical cartoons, etc. Although most of the articles are written by teachers, we have also received articles from the parents and even from the children.
Being aware of how parents are absolutely necessary for the success of the method, we normally schedule parents’ workshops on the last Sunday of every month. In order to motivate parents to attend the workshop, we schedule and play a soccer match with the children, at the same time. While parents share their experiences and deepen in the philosophy of the method, the children play with the teachers who do not participate in the workshop.
One Saturday of every month, we have thematic concerts under the name “ciclo de conciertos” (concert season). Some of the subjects have been my favorite song, dances, my mother’s favorite song, among others. This gives children the opportunity to play as soloists a piece of their choice, and improve their repertoire while developing confidence in the stage throughout the semester.
On October 31st of every year, or on the closer Sunday, we celebrate the “Halloween Party.” Our students and teachers wear a costume, and we have a great celebration with several activities, some of them related to music, for example, to unscramble song puzzles or musical terms puzzles, dominoes with rhythmical figures, among others. This way, we have fun with the children on their day.
Three years ago we created a chamber orchestra that we called “Camerata Iuventutis Ars Suzuki.” In the beginning, we only had violins and cello, but now we have two flutes—a student and a mother of two children of the school. Also, each semester, we choose some children to play as soloists with orchestra accompaniment. We have been invited to several events such as the XI the Suzuki Festival of Colombia Opening Concert and we have played in the Virginia Gutiérrez auditorium in the Graduate Social Studies Building of Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
Through these six years we have enjoyed sharing with our students a lot. In addition to the activities mentioned before, we have shared suppers and birthdays; we have bowled, played soccer and ping pong; we have gone of camping…. . Thanks to Dr. Suzuki we have the opportunity to know our students and their families very deeply. We do not only teach how to play songs, but due to the fact we know the children and parents in different activities, we can also contribute to their whole formation as people. Our school is a great family with whom we work through music in order to develop better human beings and try to turn this world into a better place.
- Pictures taken from Musicalis Ars Suzuki archive (2004-2010).
- Talent Education Institute Concert, Tokio, Japón, 1984.
- Suzuki, Shinichi. Nurtured by Love. Summy Birchard Inc,Miami, 1983.
- Teacher Eider Fabián Sánchez Mejía