Suzuki Valhalla Institute, a family-based week-long music workshop for Suzuki violinists, violists and cellists in our little town. Last year the program attracted 41 students, this year 69 with a waitlist, so things were busy! Erin had 5 hours, Noah and Sophie 4 and Fiona 3. Each student had (a) a master class where individual instruction was shared between three or four students in turn (b) a group class of 10-18 students playing common repertoire together (c) an Orff / movement / singing / improv class of 10-18 agemates with a wonderful energetic leader and (d) a chamber music ensemble (this last hour omitted for Fiona and the very youngest beginningest kids). In addition each student had a rehearsal and recital performance, two or three group performances and a variety of social and musical evening events. And of course, time for individual practicing. Add in all the organizational stuff and loose ends like faculty social events, custodial work, and hospitality-type tasks for all the out-of-towners and it was an incredibly full week.
Noah's first string quartet experience thrilled him. I think he is in love with his coach, a young, creative, fun and very talented cellist of Chinese-Canadian descent who grew up a Suzuki student and also happens to be an accomplished Flamenco dancer.
Erin became a real leader-by-example this week, as the most advanced student. She did a super job of her Beethoven String Quartet 1st violin part, exuding personality and joy in her playing and never ceasing to smile and chatter (this? my kid who would once have met the criteria for Selective Mutism?).
Sophie had to join the older two in being an independent student for most of the week and did a great job of keeping track of the time and her schedule and getting herself to her various classes, to the lunchroom and rehearsals promptly and correctly.
Fiona was stretched in ways I didn't anticipate; for at least a year she's been eagerly joining in on her siblings' lessons and group classes, but I didn't realize how much it was their presence that drew her in. In her own class of 3-to-6-year-olds, without her siblings there, she was much more reticent. She was the youngest but almost the most advanced in her group class, but struggled to leave my lap at times. Still, by the end of the week she had made big gains in group participation, and of course had eagerly performed solos and in larger groups (where her siblings were playing also) as always. She soaked up lots by observing and was cheerful throughout.
Tellingly, the kids spent yesterday checking their watches at intervals and commenting wistfully "I'd be finishing up in Joanne's class right now," or "my quartet would just be starting," and demanding that we make the institute 2 or 3 weeks long next year (ain't gonna happen in my lifetime!). How amazing to come through an exhausting week like that dying for more of the same!