This Sunday Ms. Cynthia will be participating in the Music Educators Showcase at the NAMM Show in Anaheim and doing a little presentation about one of her projects with the Special Needs students she is working with at OCCTAC. This is a wonderful opportunity to share with other teachers at the convention. More later. See the event
When Dr. Suzuki said “Every Child” he meant it.
He didn’t mean:
Well …”If they don’t have any learning disabilities. or If he has good vision. or If she can hear normally. or If she has fingers. or If he has both arms.”
While I was in Japan one of the students who impressed me most was a teenage girl who played the violin on her right shoulder because she was missing fingers on her left hand. It was not a problem for her to hold a bow with this hand while she played Beethoven’s Spring Sonata for a recital.
More than 15 years later I am teaching violin at a non-profit in Santa Ana which serves special needs and underserved children. My classes at the Orange County Children’s Therapeutic Arts Center are inclusive of children who are sometimes facing challenges. But up to this point none of them were missing any limbs.
When one of my newest students approached me about studying the violin without a right forearm I couldn’t bring myself to say no. The fact that he was missing part of his arm was not the biggest obstacle I expected to be challenged with. I kept him in the PreTwinkle Violin class and started working with him. I thought, If we can put a man on the moon surely there is a way we can give this child full access to a musical instrument like the violin. I was willing to collaborate with any technician would be willing to assist me in adapting any prosthesis he was already using for this problem.
Well, it wasn’t that simple. Expect to make a few mistakes before you find the right device for a child who is growing.
It was up to me to find some way that we could make the violin accessible to this child. So I rolled up my sleeves and went online searching everywhere I could think of. And then I started asking everyone, including my sister the Special Ed teacher. I had to work fast because this student moved through all his PreTwinkle work faster than any other student in the program. I found myself scrolling through the entire FB page of the E-Nable community who are known for creating affordable hands for children with 3D printers.
Finally, I found a technologist I already knew personally as a musician right here in OC. Embarrassed for not thinking of him sooner, I asked Gene if he could help us create a bow arm for my OCCTAC violin student so this child could hold a bow with his left hand instead of his right hand. His immediate response, I quote,
“We’re on it!”
Gene Wie not only mobilized a student team from one of his high school classes of techie students who are inspired to create solutions for children like my violin student, he is assisting me with the problems of reverse engineering a violin so my OCCTAC Suzuki Violin student can play it on his left shoulder comfortably.
To learn more about this ongoing project go the link for:
Source: limbART – Gene Wie
Three of our Book I & IV students will be playing Minuet II for the Musical Moment of the Irvine City Council Meeting this Tue., Oct. 27th. It is fitting that the Irvine City Council begins all of its public meeting with a patriotic selection. This allows the students to share a piece of their own choosing. What a wonderful way to remind council members what their work in the chambers is all about before the begin the serious business of running a city. We commend the City of Irvine for this tradition.
Our high school student will be joined by 3 more of her book IV peers from our Sister program Santa Ana Suzuki Strings/OCCTAC to play the ‘Star Spangled Banner”. You can learn more about www.occtac.org here.
The Irvine City Council Meeting is brought to you live, at 5:00 pm on Irvine TV and if you miss it you can check the Irvine City website for meeting on demand. In addition, we get to add another official photo of the children and the current mayor to our collection.
More details to follow as we are busy practicing. We have only 5 minutes to shine and we want to make you all proud.
Our Sister Suzuki Program in Santa Ana at www.occtac.org needs our help to obtain enough small violins for all of the youngest children in the SASS Program who are ready to start playing Twinkle. We have decided to use our musical gifts during the Holidays to help them put more 1/32, 1/16, 1/10 & 1/8 size violins in the hands of under served children.
Violin Students from Talent Education Center and Santa Ana Suzuki Strings are collaborating together on a community service project that brings Holiday Music to you or your family and friends during the Holiday Season. For a donation of $25-$30 towards the www.occtac.org SASS Violin Fund you can send a personalized “Live Holiday Musical Greeting” of your choice via phone, video or Skype in December 2011.
Please share the link below with groups or organizations you think might find a use for such greetings. I am sure grand parents and other friends and family members would love to receive such a unique and personal greeting. If you own a business you might want to send a musical holiday greeting performed by our talented young Suzuki violinist to customers, clients or special employees. Or thank a special volunteer in your organization.
Do you have a hard to impress person on your Holiday shopping list? This is a Holiday Greeting that will keep them talking about you all week. You can get started by going to the link below on the OCCTAC.org site. Choose a Holiday Carol on our request list which you like and fill in the rest of the form. A Musical team from SASS and TEC will perform the musical greeting for your recipient, live and in person if possible.
If you liked that wait till you hear all of the SASS children play Jingle Bells for the OCCTAC Holiday Celebration, Dec. 18th.
Please help us share.
Please use the social media you have access to, to help us get the word out while people are making their shopping list and checking them twice. Share our Seasonal Event on Facebook
With 10-12 donations we can put a small violin in the hands of an under served child in the Santa Ana Suzuki Strings program at www.occtac.org in 2012.
We can’t wait to recieve a request from you and surprise someone you care about.
On behalf of our Young Volunteers, Thank you for making a contribution to the SASS Violin Fund at OCCTAC. We want to wish you a wonderful Holiday Season.
Director of Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin, Irvine
and Santa Ana Suzuki Strings at www.OCCTAC.org in Santa Ana, CA
Suzuki violin students play for Irvine City Council and Mayor Kang
The video we took from the back of the room. It is not as in focus as the TV version but the sound is better. Wish I could mash them together. Let me know if you got any better photos or video. We would love to see it.
See also on http://sasuzukistrings.wordpresss.com
For most students it was the first day of school but for TEC Suzuki Students and their friends from SASS at OCCTAC, it was the day they played together for Mayor Kang and his City Council Meeting at the Irvine Civic Center.
My biggest worry was whether everyone would make it there on time with the extra craziness of the first week of school. But everybody was there ready and tuned for the sound check. I want to thank all of the parents that got them there calm and ready to play.
Even Dr. Jimenez made it back from her office at OCCTAC to see us play. She was very pleased to see all of the children and parents working together for such a great purpose.
We got an applause from members of the audience just for doing a sound check. There’s nothing like a little applause to calm down the butterflies in our stomachs. Then they put us back in the green room for the longest 10 min. we ever had to sit through, while they started the meeting. Everyone was so quiet with anticipation. Finally we were led back into the hall with all of the students from age 4 and up.
It was our first time letting someone else run the volume controls on the sound system. I don’t think they realized how big our tone was going to be so we restarted the Humoresque after they adjusted the sound levels. When my students could hear the piano part they quickly regained their confidence and opened up their tone again. The ensemble playing on the video is best after the first few lines of music when we finally all begin to synchronize, including the sound guy. Its not every day that he gets practice adjusting the sound for violins at a City Council Meeting. Not to worry. He picked up the violin sound with microphones so he could ballance it later.
The audience was very appreciative. We got a wonderful applause. The Mayor was really great with the children.
Look for the Jump To. . . . drop down box below the screen and go to the line where it says:
Musical Presentation just above .2 and just below
Moment of Silence in the jump to menu
The meeting was broadcast live within the city of Irvine on Cox Communications Channel 30. And will continue to be available on demand using the ICTV menu: http://cityofirvine.org/cityhall/citymanager/pio/ictv/city_council_meetings.asp
We played :
America the Beautiful, Humoresque – by Dvorak and Twinkle A
We finished Twinnkle with our traditional game of ‘Up like a Rocket’ with our Gummy Life Savers on the tip of our bows. It was one more chance to make the Mayor laugh. Then we all took some pictures with Mayor Kang. With all of those parents in the auditorium taking pictures this took almost as long as the music.
Councilmember BETH KROM was right. It would be really cool if Mayor Kang picked up his bow again to play Twinkle with us. Maybe next time he’ll remember to bring his violin. He has a standing invitation to join us for any of our sessions. Group Lesson is every Saturday at 3pm @ OCCTAC and our next joint public performance with the TEC students is going to be at the Irvine Global Village Festival on Sat. Oct. 3rd.
It all went by very fast. And the children had such a wonderful experience. They were so excited when we got back to the green room to put everything away. What a wonderful story they have to tell their friends and family members. It was even more wonderful to see children from both the Irvine Suzuki program and the Santa Ana Suzuki program playing together for such an audience. I think they are fired up to do it again some time.
You may wonder how did we get an invitation to play for such an auspicious occasion as the first meeting of the school year.
Last April our Suzuki Studio participated Irvine’s Day In the Park. It was early in the morning and it wasn’t very crowded yet. Only two Twinklers, Jacob and Sophie were there to help me with our booth which we moved under a tree. That was because my advanced students were all at orchestra rehearsal and some students were on Spring Break.
Mayor Kang was expected to open the event and afterward he always circles the booths and visits with everyone. When he got to our tree he saw the children playing their violins and asked if he could play on my violin. How could I couldn’t resist? Before you know it he and the kids were playing all the Suzuki songs that they knew.
My students discovered that this Mayor was not only an education mayor and a culture mayor. He was also a Suzuki Violin kid at heart. We are very lucky to have a Mayor of Irvine who grew up playing the violin.
I want to thank Mayor Kang for inviting us, as well as the City Council Members and everyone that came to hear the children play. You were a wonderful audience. Thank you for giving our students so much encouragement and allowing them to share their abilities and enthusiasm with the local community at your meeting and on your media service. It was a privilege.
Mayor Kang is always welcome to come by and borrow my violin anytime he needs a break from the office. We are just down the block from the Civic Center between the District and the Diamond Malls.
Just as their video with Mayor Kang and the City Council meeting was being made other organizations in Orange County were making plans to invite Suzuki Violin Students from TEC and SASS to play for their events.
They are planning to have a booth in the Irvine Global Village Festival on Saturday, Oct. 3 from 10:00 to 4:00 in the Kids Village. But now they have been invited to play for the Cultural Demonstration Pavilion at 4:00that day for 20 minutes. This will be located near the Cultural Exhibits in the front of the Park. Now we can play all of the other Twinkles and Book One pieces that we didn’t have enough time to play for Mayor Kang. There will be a sound system so we can play our accompaniments and talk about the Suzuki Method with the audience. See Calendar Events for details.
This Festival will be lots of Fun for the Whole Family, with Exhibits, Entertainment, International Marketplace, Children’s Activities and International Cuisine. Admission is Free. Food tasting tickets will be available for purchase at the event. See the link above for parking and shuttle information or bike parking.
We also plan to make an appearance for a Hoag Hospital Foundation fundraiser at a private party on Balboa Island in November. We are going to bring some special guests from SASS to help us. More details later.
We will also be signing up Violin Students in Sept. for Suzuki Festival which will occur on November 7th.
Stay tuned. This is going to be a busy year.
TEC and SASS can be engaged to do community service activities for occasional non profit events. Please contact Ms. Cynthia at TEC or OCCTAC.
Recently I was invited by Dr. Jimenez, the Executive Director of OCCTAC to attend a banquette called the ‘Spirit of Volunteerism’ held at the Disney Land Hotel to honor volunteers in the OC area. It was sponsored by the OC Register and the Volunteer Center of Orange County, organizations I often drive by on the way to OCCTAC on Fridays to teach the Santa Ana Suzuki Strings. I got to meet and have lunch at one of many tables with about 7 other volunteers at OCCTAC which Dr. Jimenez wanted to recognize that day. We were treated to entertainment by dancers from the OC High School of the Arts and a slide show of all of the 250 volunteers who were being honored that day.
The people being recognized had many different kinds of motivations and resources for their desire to volunteer. Many of them expressed an interest and value they already had in animals, culture or the environment. Some had gifts financial or spiritual and had time on their hands to go out into the community and work with other people. Some like Ms. Cynthia were blessed by a sense of gratitude for opportunities they received in life and felt driven by an obligation to make the world a better place for future generations.
I couldn’t help but wonder who supported these volunteers when they were out there burning the candle at both ends? Who was there waiting patiently in the wings for them to come home to do family things? Who believed in them and appreciated the value of the gift that they insisted on pursuing? Who was willing to share the indulgences that these generous volunteers had for the need to share with strangers in their community that they might not ever meet?
If they could all fit on the back of the certificate, there would be quite an extensive list of family, friends and students who put up with this Suzuki teacher and tolerated her audacious and outrageous vision that all of our children have access to the best possible education that music can provide. I appreciate both the financial and emotional support that all of you have provided over the years.
Every Suzuki program should offer group lessons each week as a supplement to their weekly lesson. All students taking a full 30 min. weekly private lesson at TEC is encouraged to participate in the group so that they can continue mastering and reviewing the violin skills that they are acquiring in from their personal instruction.
TEC Group lessons are on Saturdays at OCCTAC and share with the SASS program where we have more classroom space for children to move around in. It is wise to check the schedule on the www.got2twinkle.com as there are sometimes adjustments in the schedule. We have it linked on our Google Calendar on the the TEC ED Center pages at the top.
Group lessons are an opportunity for all of the Suzuki Violin children to meet and play together. In order to stay motivated about practicing at home young violinist need to be making friends and relationships with other musicians. It is an opportunity to review pieces and skills everyone knows and it is an opportunity to hear more advanced students who play pieces that younger students aspire to play in the future.
All Suzuki Students in our program from Pretwinkler to Advanced students are encouraged to participate. New students and shy students are encouraged to come and observe. Younger children are invited to watch more advanced group students for short periods at a time depending on their attention span. Parents can learn more about the breadth of the program by observing students at different levels and skills.
The PreTwinkle group is an opportunity for our youngest children to bond and become comfortable with the teacher and new Suzuki friends they will be studying with in the future. Through games and play they prepare their ears and their bodies for holding and playing the violin. In a social group setting we can build up their endurance to hold thier instruments with good posture for longer periods at a time
In the Fall older students are busy reviewing the pieces that they will need for Festival and auditioning for orchestra. We would also like to have informal recitals at this time, at least 4 times a year where the children have the opportunity to play their pieces for others. Please watch for these in the Calendar.
Most importantly group lessons is a place where children can experience more of the fun of playing with friends and develop confidence in themselves. Children who have ample opportunities to review pieces they know and can play them easily begin to relax and enjoy their playing more. See advice from thie award winning Suzuki student.
Ray Chen: I started playing the violin at the age of four. I’m not quite sure where I got the idea; however, I do know that it was my idea, as I picked up the toy guitar, put it under my chin and played it with a chopstick… the lessons then followed. I started with Suzuki Method, which was fun and made me want to play. Every Saturday there would be a “group lesson” where all of my teacher’s students would gather and have a lot of fun. At the time, there were two things that were important to me about those group lessons: the part where I played in front of everybody, and the break where we would snack on cookies and cordial.
My teachers back in Australia have included the Hawkins Family. I studied with them for five years. They were very involved with Suzuki and emphasized the “having fun” part of playing music. It seems like a lot of players these days are forgetting this important aspect, especially as they get older and become more self-conscious.
–1st prize winner Ray Chen about group lessons in his Australian Suzuki childhood.