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

 

 

Send A Musical Holiday Greeting To Your Friends And Put A Violin in the Hands of A Child

Suzuki Violin Students playing in front of a Christmas Card

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

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.

Child trying a violin

SASS student with a 1/32 size violin

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.

Link to Live Musical Hoiday Greetings Request page

Live Musical Holiday Greetings Request page

Send A Musical Holiday Greeting To Your Friends And Help Our Violin Program.



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.

Ms. Cynthia

Director of Talent Education Center: Suzuki Violin, Irvine

and Santa Ana Suzuki Strings at www.OCCTAC.org in Santa Ana, CA

http://sasuzukistrings.wordpress.com

Suzuki Violin Students performing at OCCTAC

Link to SASS YouTube

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Who stands behind every Volunteer

Featured

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.

 

Spirit of Volunteersim Awards, Certificute

Spirit of Volunteerism Awards, Certificate