So what do you actually DO at Suzuki Institute?
The plan worked, I got through my day today without ending up in a soggy puddle of tears. Well, the day isn’t exactly over yet, two boys are still in the hotel pool with Uncle Mike and one boy is still back at the college at a pizza party and astronomy lecture… and Dixon is driving back to Charlotte to go back to work tomorrow.
I would love to take photos of all my kids in each of their classes and coaching sessions and break times all day… but that would involve running all over this beautiful hilly campus, and remember, the plan was that I spend my time in ONE place today. Which was hard, but the right choice. Plus, I’ve been trying hard this week to live in the moment, to enjoy each hour with my children and their music, and not just see it all from behind my camera. That balance is one that does not come easily to me.
So what we have here are just a few snapshots of a wonderful day with friends that I’ll try to use to explain how it all works.
So I have five children here, each with their own schedule of classes and rehearsals. Obviously I can’t be in five classes at the same time, or even two. It was hard when the big ones were little, because they needed an adult one-on-one in each class to participate and take careful notes. Now Emily and Sam are totally independent, but the problem is George, who only has one class (a beginning music theory class) but can’t really go along to most of the other kids classes because he really can be truly awful when he’s feeling contrary. So he has to have his own grown up.
The photo above was from Brian’s master class. This is a class for three or four students, usually all boys or all girls, at about the same level, taught by a master teacher – usually a Suzuki teacher trainer, who is also teaching Suzuki violin teachers how to teach, so the teacher trainer uses these classes to show all the teachers who have come here to learn and get their certification how to best guide each level. So it’s pretty intense for the kid. Parents are expected to be there and take notes. The kids have their lesson but also carefully attend to the other kids’ lessons because the tricky parts are generally universal.
But I was able to go to Brian’s master class only because another mom helped Danny get from his orchestra class to his fiddle class. Remember just a month or two ago when i was still knitting socks to auction on ebay for the Archers? My Suzuki friend Kelly won a pair, which she still hasn’t worn yet. We had a little chat about that yesterday. But anyway, one thing that happens at a Suzuki institute is that you make friends with the parents of the kids at your children’s levels, and you renew those friendships year after year. It’s an amazing bond and a source of great joy. So Kelly knew that as much as I wanted to get Danny settled in Fiddle class, I NEEDED to be at Brian’s master class, so she talked to Danny ahead of time to reassure him that she would be there, no problem.
And it worked. When Brian’s master class portion was done, I went to the end of Danny’s fiddle class. There he was, chair just right, everything fine. This is the first year that Danny’s been advanced enough to take this class,and I was worried about how it would go. See the notation on the board? Not typical music reading, and sometimes Danny likes familiar things better than totally new systems. However, he has fallen in love with the whole thing and fiddle is his favorite class this week. So I’m glad I was able to watch for a bit. Plus, this is a parent dependent system, you have to write it all down and learn it yourself so that you can help with practice.
So anyway, after four straight hours of violin classes (with help from four different mamas it was time for lunch. The cafeteria is wonderful, but we economize a bit by bringing lunch to have a picnic (but then buying dinner at the cafeteria for special….)
Most families who picnic spread out blankets by the duck pond, and combine a leisurely lunch with getting some of their practicing out of the way. We all know that by the end of the day, the children are way too tired to even think about their music, but each teacher assigns homework…. just a few little details to master or small errors to correct by the next day. Or sometimes different kids get out their instruments to compare new music, or because they’ve been in the same class for years and all of a sudden one child zoomed ahead into a more advanced group and there’s a little bit of competitiveness…. But the photo above is Danielle, George’s godmother, with Danny sitting on the blanket, and Jonathan, her youngest son, showing us what he was working on in one of his classes. This is their first year at Institute, and it’s so much fun seeing the wonder of this experience through their eyes.
Then the afternoon classes tend to be a little sillier. This is Catie Jackson, another friend from back home, but also a Suzuki teacher herself…. who somehow got stuck in the middle of a crazy group of students playing a memory game. Oh how we all laughed and laughed!!!
There’s so much more that goes on…. but like I said, today I stayed in one place (other than the picnic lunch) and tried to live in the moment, not just watch through the camera. So just a few glimpses will have to do. Sam and Emily spend their days with their string quartets, and I’ve not yet figured out how to capture them… might have to ask Aunt Mary to do some stealth photography tomorrow…. and tomorrow I need to be especially vigilant about energy preservation because we’ve been skipping the evening events and things, but tomorrow we have to stay late because Emily and Sam are playing in the advanced students concert, and that’s always really really good. And it’s great motivation for the younger ones…” if you keep working hard, you’ll be able to play like that some day soon ” (which of course actually is somewhat discouraging for some of my bigger kids when there are very small children WAY ahead of them at events like this…. good teachable moments about the rewards of diligence….)
Good night friends. I typed much later than I had intended… the plan was to write a sentence about each of my four little pictures. Oh well…. 1147 words later it’s time for bed. Love, esd