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

 

 

Suzuki Violin’s bookshelf: for-new-students

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If you are thinking about getting your child started with violin classes here is a list of the most important books you will need to begin with.

 Suzuki Violin’s bookshelf: for new Students on Goodreads

The most important of them is the Suzuki Violin Book, Volume 1, Revised Edition with the CD.  The CD is especially  important so that you can get a head start listening to the Twinkle Variations softly in the background with the single repeat button.   Your goal is to start memorizing the rhythms of the first 5 variations.
Ability Development from Age Zero As a  Parent, you are encouraged to learn as much as possible about the Suzuki Method. We know that parents are busy and don’t have time for more than a few minutes of reading between all the events in their day.  Start with an introduction to the Suzuki Method that has short chapters explaining a few of the basic concepts.

This little gem of a book by Dr. Suzuki is filled with his insights about how children learn from their environment at an early age.

If you are starting a child who is between 3-6 years of age you will want to have lots of ideas for practicing at home to make it enjoyable and help you remember some of the games you played in class. The Pre Twinkle Book: Poems For The Youngest Suzuki Children will give you lots of ideas to encourage the repetitions you need to develop mastery of new skills from your lesson in a playful manner. In the back of the book are more silly words and poems for learning and singing the songs from book I that you are listening to on the CD. You will get lots of mileage from this little book.

There are a few more books on the list you may find helpful depending on what kind of learner you are. A new version of
which provides a biography of Dr. Suzuki’s story.

If you have difficulty remembering details from your lessons one good souse used by many new teachers is

The easiest Suzuki oriented catalogue to use is:
http://www.young-musicians.com/product-p/mn11x.htm It is small and user friendly.

But if you can’t find it there a larger catalogue you can try is:
http://www.sharmusic.com/Accessories/Books-DVDs/New-Pre-Twinkle-Book-by-Merrill-and-Brandt.axd#sthash.oDAnKHI0.dpbs Shar may still have better stock and prices than Amazon most days.

You will be plenty busy listening to the CD and reading the first book in the list but if you have more questions go to my main website at www.got2twinkle.com and give me a call.

Spring is the Best Time to sign up for summer Violin classes

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Now is the best time to get an early start on violin classes for the summer. Give your older beginner ages 7-12 a head start before they enter the school music program in the coming Fall.  Violin classes in the public schools are often large and it will be very difficult for your beginner to get the attention they need for a good start.  Now is the time to set them up for success.

Older beginners

Older beginners

 

 

Start with 30 min. weekly lessons.

 Give new students an opportunity to focus on good position and basic tone.  There is not enough time to develop listening and memory skills once school starts.  These students are much more successful if they are not faced with multi-tasking or learning to play the violin while reading music at the same time.  Internalizing good instrumental skills and connecting the fingers to their ears gives them a better foundation.

 

Older students who receive personal attention and a careful start are more likely to develop the musical habits they need to keep up with their peers in their local school music program.  Current research shows that Suzuki style students develop the listening and language processing skills needed for better study skills in school generally.  Check videos of TEC students on our main website to discover how far TEC violin students can progress if they begin study before most school programs finally start instrumental programs.

 

It’s much more difficult to change bad habits after they have formed.  Taking the time to get the right technique before students feel pressure to keep up with a large class is a much more successful experience.  Good position and technique on their instruments gives the student more endurance for enjoyable and rewarding practice.   Make the process less stressful and more musical by providing them with careful  instruction before they enter the school music program.

 

See www.got2twinkle.com for more details about entry level beginners starting at 30min. private instruction after school scheduled as early as 2:00pm on weekdays, Tue.-Thur.   Check our website and call to schedule an observation of TEC students close to your child’s age.

 

PreTwinkle classes for ages 3-4 are also available on Saturday mornings at 9:00 and 9:30.

PreTwinkle

PreTwinkler with box violin

Round up for Fall PreTwinkle Violin Classes

PreTwinkle Violin classes are specially designed for Preschoolers ages 3-4 and their parents.   These classes are scheduled on Saturday mornings every 30 minutes  from 9:00-11:00 depending on enrollment.   Each classes size is for 2-4 children with at least one parent.  

We welcome you to come and observe or even participate in a sample PreTwinkle class in September.    Please contact Ms. Cynthia about scheduling a 30min session on an up coming Saturday when you can stay for a full class.

For the next two weeks we have the 19th and 26th of September available  in the TEC Studio for demonstration classes and observations where classes are usually held.     Please call to schedule for:   9:00am, 9:30am, 10:00 or 10:30.

 On Saturday, Oct. 3 we will have PreTwinkle demonstrations at the Irvine Global Village Festival.   TEC  students will be doing demonstrations at our booth in the Kids Village from 10:00pm-6:00pm.    PreTwinkle Demonstratons will be at 10:00 and 1:00.   If you come by at 4:00pm our older students will  be performing for 20min. over at the Cultural Pavilion.    Please check Current Events on this blog for links to more information.

Dress comfortably for sitting on the floor and moving about with your preschooler.   The very first classes start with large motor activities, labeling body parts and moving to music with manipulatives.

Fall is the best time to start in order to make the most steady progress through out the year for most families.     Students can be introduced later in the year as they become at least 3 years of age.   It is not recommended to start a child younger than age 3 in PreTwinkle Violin classes.   Very important kinds of development need to occur so that children can fully participate in the experience.

Children at this age are just beginning to get control of their fingers and are able to stop and start activities.   A good indicator is that they are beginning to manage potty training easily and are becoming verbally expressive.   They are becoming socially brave enough to make friends in a small group if given enough time to become comfortable with their surroundings.

Parents are encouraged to participate more in the beginning classes while children need a little leadership.   If your child is shy give them several weeks to really settle in and make friends with the teacher and the other children.

If you decide to enroll your child be sure to read the “Ready  Go” pages on the www.got2twinkle.com site and make plans to get a copy of the Suzuki Violin CD Vol. 1.     Initial Registration is $50.    Tuition is $200. every 12 week season based on year round participation.    See TEC Calendar.

Give Ms. Cynthia a call if you are interested in the classes in the studio.   We look forward to meeting you.