Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hump Day

Wednesday is usually Hump Day at Suzuki institutes, the day many people feel a little tired and drawn. Since we had a humongous Family Dance and Ice Cream Social last night which dragged on until dark, there was an extra reason for everyone to be tired. But most of the kids were still riding high today. Mine certainly were energized.

Fiona is loving her master classes. She's working on left hand dexterity and relaxing her left thumb. Her recital performance of "Two Grenadiers" was a huge crowd-pleaser yesterday. She's in just slightly over her head in "Violin Orchestra" where most of the other kids are over 10, many with sight-reading experience on other instruments, but the more beginnerish reading group wouldn't schedule for her because being in Book 3 she has a group class conflict. But she's so quick to pick stuff up by ear that she quickly catches on and she's not feeling unduly frustrated. In group class she's dwarfed by the teens, but she stays pretty well on-task and is enjoying herself.

Sophie did a confident solo at recital yesterday too with big tone and nice open bowing. Her master class has missed the mark a little; she's a bit of a tough nut to crack, this kid, as she gets more and more inhibited in her playing the more she thinks and the more she's talked to. She needs more of a slappin' about kind of encouragement ("sorry, not enough, give me more... no -- more ... no, twice as much ... getting there, now double it again!") rather than the gentle cautious stroking that her size and body language suggest she needs. She's a tough kid and she'll open up but only if she's ordered to, but you'd never guess that to look at her. Anyway, she does seem comfortable and motivated by the week. She's really enjoying orchestra and the Csardas she's doing in violin ensemble and is opening up her playing there.

Noah is riding high in all his classes. He's in the most advanced quartet (with Erin) and is doing fabulously. Master class is going well. Teachers always like working with Noah; he's quiet, sensitive and extremely musical, and responds very well to suggestions. He's enjoying orchestra, quartet and violin/viola ensemble and getting lots of just the right sort of challenge.

Erin is not getting much musical challenge, but is getting a good helping of time with her two closest friends and a fair bit of opportunity for leadership. Together with some of the faculty she a her friends have also engineered a 'special feature' ensemble, working up a rollicking Czech folk song featuring keyboard, percussion, accordion, voice and strings. Six faculty, four senior students, lots of foot-stomping energy!

While our institute is too small to offer lots of added value for advanced kids, we do allow and even encourage this sort of boundary-crossing, with senior students hanging out with and jamming with faculty. Erin and Noah and four of the other senior kids played in the faculty orchestra at tonight's "Tutti Night" event, for instance. They also took on the pseudo-faculty role of leading groups of violinists in some of the concerto movements they played. Good stuff.

So as we slide down the other side of Hump Day there's lots of good stuff happening. We're already dreading the end of the week.

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