Saturday, August 15, 2009

VSSM wrap-up

It was a very good week at VSSM. Usually the VSSM (traditional strings & piano camp) feels like a bit of a let-down after the SVI (Suzuki strings) week that precedes it, but this year there was minimal foot-dragging and sighing, and a lot of good things happened.

Fiona did the junior piano class. She had barely touched the piano since her lessons had ended unexpectedly in early June. It was a nice opportunity to re-kindle that interest. She was the youngest in the class by a couple of years but held her own beautifully. She loved the teacher. The 3-hour-long morning class flew by for her with a combination of four-hands duet coaching by a senior student, solo master-class instruction, theory and history games and activities, singing and dancing to learn about baroque dances and inventions. She also did Allison's lovely Family Choir with me in the afternoons.

Sophie was one of the junior-est students in Orchestra 1. On Monday I wondered if we'd made a mistake. Because she'd been in the senior orchestra and ensemble during SVI, and had been placed there in her first string quartet to boot, she hadn't got around to doing any work on the VSSM orchestra music until the day before. The tempos were fast, and the part full of divisi, double-stops and sudden tempo / pizzicato changes. But she's a strong reader for her level and has a good ear, so by Wednesday she was doing just fine. This was certainly the most advanced orchestra experience she'd ever had and she really seemed to enjoy it in the end. Orchestra was scheduled at the same time as Family Choir, and Sophie didn't feel quite old enough or confident enough to join adult choir instead, so that was the extent of her enrollment. She had fairly easy days and lots of down-time.

Noah was also in Orchestra 1. He had played most of the music (Warlock's Capriol Suite) before and so the lack of preparation time was not a big issue for him. He also participated in Adult Choir, which he had done last year. And of course he's sung in the adult Community Choir for a year, so this was a comfortable thing for him. He did really well in the choir, looking confident and blending his voice really nicely. He capped the week off by doing a successful audition for Allison's Corazon youth choir. He's equally thrilled and terrified, I think. He'll be one of three boys with unchanged voices and one of the youngest people in a huge mass of older teens.

Erin was doing the Advanced Piano class in the morning, playing piano in a Mozart violin-cello-piano trio in the early afternoon and doing Adult Choir with Noah in the late afternoon. This is the same kind of roster she's had for the past few years and I expected her to be the sigh-er and foot-dragger, since her piano motivation was at an all-time low. She was certainly not jubilantly enthused by the week, but she got some pretty strong encouragement from the advanced piano teacher, practiced piano for the first time in recent memory, and had a very successful performance of the Mozart as a result of her cramming. She also squeezed in a lesson with one of her Calgary-based violin teachers, a sort of technique-diagnostics lesson, in order to help her teacher begin to formulate a plan for advanced technique development over the next year.

Yesterday began with the junior piano duet and solo recital for Fiona at 9 a.m., continued with Erin's advanced solo piano recital at 10 a.m., broke for lunch and then final rehearsals for chamber groups, orchestra and family choir, continued with an afternoon concert for choir and piano duets in the big hall, then the final adult choir rehearsal and the evening concert featuring Erin's chamber trio, the Adult Choir and Noah's and Sophie's orchestral suite performance. It was nice to sleep in this morning.

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