Summer is the best time to get a Musical Head Start on Fall

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Summer is the best time to get a Musical Head Start on Fall.

Now when you have a few extra hours to spend with children and discover their interest, Summer can be a good time to explore violin lessons.

  1. Children can get a little head start with the basics before they get busy with school again.
  2. New habits are easier to start shaping and forming.
  3. Children have more time for listening to their pieces without the burden of homework.
  4. Parents have more time to help children get the right books, equipment and instruments to do the job with.
  5. You can avoid the rush during the first month of school in Sept.
  6. You can get first pick on the schedule you would like to have for Fall.

Not to mention all the good things music does to help children get ready for school from the inside out of the brain when Fall finally arrives.

See you soon.

 

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.

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

Graduations 09′

International Graduation

Every year in March the SMAC/LA regional teachers send in Graduation recordings of students who have mastered an International Book level of playing.   In order to qualify for IG one must not only complete the Book but also be about half way through the next book while polishing and reviewing the pieces from the last book.    A recording is made of the graduation piece from each book.

At TEC we have started making DVD recordings of the students graduation pieces which they send in to a teacher in the LA Branch who takes the time to review all of the recordings from one book level.    Each graduate will receive feed back from the teacher on another recording.    Much care and preparation must go into recording these DVDs and sending them in with registration and each student’s fees.    Graduates also have the opportunity to hear the Graduates of other book levels, including the advanced Post Graduates who play pieces beyond book 10.

Each student who graduates is invited to an Annual Graduation Concert usually held in the Spring at Zipper Hall in the Colburn School of Music, near Disney Hall.  The concert is admission free and open to the public.   After playing the piece with all of the other Graduates they also receive a pin and certificate along with their reviewers feed back.   This year the Concert will be on  Sunday April 5th.

This year the following TEC students sent in Graduation recording on the following pieces:

  • Arya              Book III Bourree, Bach
  • Kayla             Book III Bourree, Bach
  • Tianrui          Book III Bourree, Bach
  • Katherine     Book I, Gossec Gavotte
  • Marrisa         Book I, Gossec Gavotte
  • Mariana        Twinkle
  • Sydney          Twinkle
  • Sophie           Twinkle

After all that hard work these students sound even better on their pieces than they did when we recorded them.    Anyone want to record their graduation pieces again?

I would love to have our graduates make their graduation recordings available on our YouTube site so that the other students and even prospective students can hear what TEC students are capable of when they really polish their pieces.    Thank you for all of your hard work.   We are all very proud of you.

Weekly Group Lessons at TEC, keep students motivated about practicing for their private lessons.

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.