Saturday, April 29, 2006

A Musical Weekend

We had our regional Suzuki Celebration Concert today, hosted this year in our own community. I was so proud of all my kids... students and offspring alike.

Each group from a community/studio in the region played 5-15 minutes as an ensemble, and then we finished with a violin playthrough, with kids from throughout the region playing Suzuki repertoire together. (Photo above left: Sophie and Fiona in the front row -- middle and right -- playing the final Twinkles, with Noah in the white shirt almost off the frame on the left)

Erin and the next-most-senior violinist and violist in our program did a lovely rendition of a Tango by Michael McLean. The trio are aged 12 (Erin), almost-12 (girl, J.) and 16 (boy, P.). They are so sweet together, definitely growing into social preteen/teen consciousness. It is fun watching the flavour of their banter and musical communication change as they grow up. The Tango was a great piece to see this in. Sultry it was!

Then Noah and P., the other violist, did the first movement of the Telemann Concerto for 2 violas in G major. P. is about twice as tall as Noah, but they are great friends, almost like revered elder brother and doted-upon little brother. They played beautifully together, really casting a spell. There were a lot of teary eyes ... something about these two boys playing so tenderly together.

Sophie didn't really have any special role at today's concert, but she played really well in the group, with a level of focus that she hasn't been able to muster until recently. She was often the kid who was last to be ready to play and whose bowing would be backwards for most of the piece, and quite oblivious to the fact. No more! She seems to be growing up.

Fiona got to be one of two open string soloists for our little arrangement of "Chicken on a Fencepost", a little fiddle ditty we designed specifically to include the beginningest students. She looked great and she played perfectly in time and right on the correct rhythm. As the littlest performer by almost a head's height, and the youngest by about 2 years, she was a crowd favourite.

What I loved most about the day (besides the viola duet) was how comfortable, happy and gracious all the kids were. They played their hearts out even on the beginner numbers, bowed, smiled, were careful to make sure the less advanced students and those from elsewhere felt comfortable, appreciated and included, and accepted compliments with humility and grace.

Tomorrow Erin will be performing with my quartet for the first time. We're the live soundtrack for a slide show and poetry reading multimedia presentation and "English high tea" which is a fundraiser for the local music summer school. Most of the music is trio or duet stuff, but at the eleventh hour we decided to add a couple of movements from an English string suite by Parry that we'd just acquired, and we roped Erin into doing 2nd violin. We've played the pieces only twice so far, but they're sounding just fine -- Erin is a very quick study and her sight-reading skills which finally blossomed about 3 years ago are holding her in very good stead.

Just wanted to brag. These are not cutting edge performances for any of my kids, but I am having such fun watching them grow up musically ... and personally. Sitting back and watching them in performance is such a fun way to appreciate their growth.

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