Sensei said “Every Child” (even if he needs an arm.)

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:

LimbArt

Source: limbART – Gene Wie

 

 

TEC & SASS on YouTube

 

 

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

www.occtac.org

http://www.youtube.com/user/TECstudio

TEC and SASS Violin Students play for Irvine City Council Meeting

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.

http://irvine.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=22&clip_id=2111

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.

SASS and TEC Suzuki Violin with Mayor Kang at Irvine City council Meet

SASS and TEC Suzuki Violin students with Mayor Kang at Irvine City Council Meeting

 Official Photo from Mayor Kang

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.

Ms. Cynthia

TEC students appear on line, in OC Register, with Prelude Strings.

 

On Friday, January 16, 2009

 

It was such a nice surprise to hear that several of our TEC violin students appeared with the Prelude Strings Orchestra and  the Prelude Chambers Strings when they were featured on the Arts section in the Orange County C Register at the beginning of this year.

The Title of the article reads:

They keep time together

MORNING READ: Do Prelude music students believe in practice? Check the contract.

 

By TIMOTHY MANGAN,   714-… or tmangan@ocregister.com  

 

If you get a chance read the article and let Timothy know how much we appreciated seeing one of our favorite musical organizations covered in the press.    The article was exceptionally informative about the life and inner workings of these very special youth orchestras.

I am just as pleased that we always have a hand full of students from TEC particpating in each of the Prelude strings orchestras.   This has been a valuable and inspiring musical experience for each of them.

Yes these kids sign a contract promicing not to miss more than 2 rehearsals per semester.   Several of our TEC students have earned a button that says  ‘I can’t, I have rehearsal.’  by having perfect attendance.    See :

http://tecblog.got2twinkle.com/?page_id=26

 

I have a rehearsal

I have a rehearsal

Several of our students at TEC say they can be recognized in the video.   So far I think I have spotted Kayla and Katherine in the video.   But I am not sure because it is so dark.   I am still looking for Tienrui.   It has wonderful interviews with the director Helen Weed and founder Annette Brower.

 

I have definately spotted Arya with a beautiful bow hold looking up at Ms. Weed with real focus.    MINDY SCHAUER took the very inspiring photos which can be purchaced on line.   I especially enjoyed the one with a sign that says “No note Left behind”    Maybe Suzuki Sensei would say “No Beautiful Tone left behind”

 

I look forward to seeing more articles about the efforts of young strings players in Orange County in the future.    We can use the inspiration these days.

 

Prelude Strings and Prelude Chamber Strings will be having their Spring concert coming up on a Saturday morning April 25th from 10:00 to 10j:45.  in Samsvick Chapel at Calvary Church in Tustin.   Watch for it.   It is just the right length concert for a budding young PreTwinkler to attend.    I hope to see some TEC Pretwinklers there.

 

Remember Prelude Players.  Your task is to keep us inspired.