Thursday, August 04, 2005

Institute Vignettes

It's the week of our first-ever local Suzuki Institute. Total enrollment: 42 (about 30% from our region, the remainder from far afield).

Erin and her quartet-mates in flamenco poses, practising hand-spirals, courtesy of their many-talented quartet coach, as part of the quartet's stretching routine mid-rehearsal.

Noah, smiling and self-satisfied after playing through his latest piece with a couple of teen violists in viola group class. He confesses later that he really likes viola group because for a change he's back-row material (not tall enough, really -- actually the shortest in the class -- but as the third most advanced violist, he's in the back row with the big guys).

Sophie, holding hands with Hana, a fellow 6yo, a friend from her master class, all the way through family choir.

The sound of the Bach Double first movement, being played at top speed (and surprisingly competently) by two violinists in a windowless practice room. It turns out the violinists are Erin and her close friend J., who generally retreat to windowless rooms to giggle and goof around -- but here they are practising like maniacs.

Fiona, showing her beautiful bowhold to Sophie's master class, after being offered a special treat -- her own 2-minute 'lesson' at the beginning of the class. She is further-spoiled by being given a colourful "assignment sheet", which she spends much time folding and unfolding and carefully placing in her case beneath her cardboard 'violin'.

Erin's nametag now reads "Erin Burkholder -- the Gypsy", courtesy of her master class teacher. She's working on the Czardas by Monti, a new piece and a real departure for her in terms of the flamboyant assertiveness required. I've been banished from the master class by my independent 11yo, but I'm told by those who are allowed in the room that she has transformed her playing this week. The nametag addendum is the only tangible evidence I've been given so far.

Sophie (6) and B. (12), taking a few spare minutes before class to play through their ensemble music together, side by side, mutually encouraging.

Noah, with his trademark self-conscious almost-smile, acknowledging the applause of his master class after managing to play his minuet with the assigned "fanatical bowing".

It's been a great week so far.

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