This was our first day at Suzuki Violin camp, held at Otterbein University near Columbus.
We found Roush Hall and checked in. The girls got a schedule for each day and a list of other concerts and activities that would be going on during the week. We also got our dorm keys, but opted to move in after lunch when we had a little break.
Our first activity was a Review Quest, in which the kids went to different “stations” to review everything from basic bow holds and posture to elementary songs. They got a ticket for each station they performed, and turned those in for prizes later in the afternoon.
Next, we went to the dorm and carried our stuff up to our room. We had a typical dorm room, with two desks, two beds, a sink, and a set of cupboards/closets.
Then we walked across the lawn to the dining hall for lunch. The kids were amazed that they could get ice cream any time of the day, and that there were fountain drinks. Since this was a special week, I told them they could have half a glass of whatever they wanted to drink at lunch and dinner.
After lunch, we attended a concert at Riley Hall and heard several student solos. These kids auditioned to perform and were all very talented.
Next, the kids went to their Technique classes. This was the only class where the girls had different teachers. Fortunately, they were in adjacent rooms, so I didn’t have to worry about the logistics of getting them to two different places at the same time. O6 had Mr. David Lavine for her class. He had about 12 students in the room, and spent a lot of time going over the proper playing techniques of rest position, holding your bow, and – most importantly- paying attention quietly, so that you knew when to play what! Some of the kids had a little trouble with this part. They talked about leaning their heads back over the violin, to keep it aligned properly; also, the zip and step to put one’s feet in the proper position. It was all very serious but he was very kind and patient with them. They played a game called One Behind, where he would do patterns of four beats by tapping the floor, or clapping, or snapping, etc. The first round the kids had to do it with him. The next round, he did the first four-count pattern, then the kids repeated it while he did the second pattern simultaneously. They had to repeat the second pattern while he did the third. They were always One Behind. It was tricky but taught them to concentrate and focus. Within one or two games they were all doing it. THen they played a few songs, including Lightly Row (O6’s request), O Come Little Children, the Strawberry Twinkle variation, etc. Those who didn’t know the piece could air bow along.
Our second (and final) afternoon class was Repetoire with Jim Van Reeth. He was excellent. He emphasized no playing or talking while he was playing or talking, but really kept the kids involved by having the ones who had already been tuned help him tune the rest of the class.
Once everyone had been tuned, he played and had them copy his bow speed. He moved around the room a lot, and wanted the kids to “Find him” with their eyes while they were playing. This really kept their attention. Next, Mr. Jim lined everyone up by making eye contact. No sounds- them or him. Then he had everyone make a loud roar. Then they made a calm performance face. Then a scary face with no sound. Then a calm performance face. Then they played a quiet game: who could sit down more quietly, boys or girls? (Boys won by a mile!)
Finally, he air bowed some of the Suzuki songs and the kids had to guess which song it was. And the last activity was to play Allegretto, but on the D&A strings instead of A&E.