Suzuki Camp Day 3

Today started out much better.  O7 wore her tennis shoes to theater, and Miss Linda complimented her on them when she walked in.  That was the end of that.

In theater, the kids played a few team-building games.  First, she divided them into two groups and asked the groups to line up alphabetically by the first letter of their first name.  That was pretty easy.  Then they had to line up by the first letter of their mom’s first name.  That was much harder.  Then they lined up by the month in which they were born.  Finally, they played a game called Shazam!.  Each group had to quietly discuss amongst themselves whether they wanted to be Knights, Giants or Wizards.  Knights beat Wizards, Wizards beat Giants, and Giants beat Knights.  (Rock, paper, scissors embodied.)  O7’s group chose to be Wizards and were defeated by the other group, who had elected to be  Knights.  The next round, the Knights stayed knights, but the Wizards became Giants and beat them.    Finally, they did a few rounds of Mad Libs.  The game is played the traditional way, with Miss Linda asking the class for adjectives and numbers and interesting places; but then, while she reads the silly story, they have to act it out.  We did this last year and I can’t believe how much fun the kids have with it.  They did the Three Smelly Pigs (who lived in Bejing, Buffalo and Columbus) and the Princess and the Candy.

Next we went to Kodaly.  There was another round of Ida Red and some singing games, trying to match the pitch of a tuning note.

Getting ready for Kodaly

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After Kodaly, we attended the morning recital to hear our friends E9 and L11 play.  E9 played Allegretto and his brother played Hunters Chorus.  It was fun to watch and support someone we knew.  We sat up in the balcony with a girl named Lucy and her family.

Next, we headed back to the dorm for a break before lunch and Fun Day.  At 1, we joined the rest of the campers at Roush Hall for a Grand Concert and playdown. A playdown is when they have all the kids sit together and then everyone who knows the most advanced piece stands up to play it.  The next-most advanced piece is played and anyone who “has” (memorized) that song joins in.  The pieces get successively easier until everyone is standing and playing Twinkle en masse.  There is something unspeakably amazing about hearing Twinkle played by a huge group of Suzuki students.

The afternoon then morphed into Fun Day, with a jazzy jam session, fiddle contest, and outdoor games on the lawn.  O7 enjoyed the sprinkler with some friends, then did some sidewalk chalk and bubbles.

Suzuki Camp Day 2

Today was Day 2 of our Suzuki Violin camp in Columbus.

The first session, at 8AM, was theater.  O7 was very excited to have theater again this year with Miss Linda, but then we had a little shoe snafu.  Miss Linda asked O7 not to wear flip-flops again because they were not safe for the classroom activities.  O7 got very upset (embarrassed, I think) and left the group. She came over to where I was sitting and began to cry.  I took her out of the room for a bit until we were both calm, and then we watched the remainder of the class.  I was very worried that this was going to spell disaster for the rest of the day, but fortunately, that didn’t seem to be the case.

Next we went to Kodaly with Mrs. Molly.  Her class has a very kum-bay-a- feel to it, but the kids liked it a lot.  Kodaly is a method for teaching basic music theory through games, songs and other activities.  We learned “Ida Red, and Ida Blue” and a drumming call-and-response song.  It was a good transition to O7’s recital, which was next.

Here is O7 waiting for her recital to begin:

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She played Go Tell Aunt Rhody. Miss Linda was the accompanyist, which didnt’ seem to pose a problem, so that was good. O7 played well, with one stumble where she seemed to forget which part of the song she was on. That seemed to be a common theme with all of the performers. I imagine it’s very intimidating to go on stage, especially for some of the younger students who maybe have never done that before.

We had a short break, then lunch, and then we rode bikes and climbed trees for a bit with our new friend, L8. L8 lives in our town and goes to the same school as several of our old friends from ballet and Camp Fire.

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O7 has just learned how to ride without training wheels, so this is a very exciting thing.

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Soon, it was time to go in for Technique class. Here they are, waiting for it to start.

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After Technique class, in which they worked on following the tempo set by the teacher (which is much slower than the one they prefer to play at!) we went to Repertoire. I sat in on the class this time.

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Mr. Farrar is the teacher for this class, and he also worked with the kids on their listening and following directions skills. This is super important for a musician, especially once you start playing with a group.

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Finally, we went to our second Masterclass. Mrs. Steig asked how we did with the coupon and with practicing Allegro. Then we worked intently on playing some of Andantino. She had O7 play the opening rhythm but with the Twinkle notes:

(on A) That sounds great
(on E) That sounds great
(on F#) That sounds great
(on E) Yeah!
(on D) That sounds great
(on C#) That sounds great
(on B) That sounds great
(on A) Yeah!

Her assignment was to play that 11 times, and then to play the first line of Andantino twice. She had O7 play the twinkle-note version once in class, and told her she only had to do it ten more times tonight. We came back to the room after dinner and did that right away. She balked at the first few repetitions, but then managed to get through the rest without complaint.

Later, we joined some other students outside for some squirt-gun fun and some tag on the lawn.

Suzuki Camp Day 1

Today was the first day of O7’s Suzuki Violin camp in Columbus, OH. I have high hopes for this experience. Since S9 switched to piano, she did not join us for the week (this particular camp is strings only, no piano). So it is a chance for O7 to strike out on her own.  I’m hoping it will bolster her self-esteem to have undivided maternal attention and to get out from Big Sister’s shadow for a few days. I’m also hoping to improve her violin skills, but that’s a pretty secondary goal. 😉

We arrived at Otterbein University this morning, right at the beginning of registration. By 10AM we had checked in to our dorm room and were getting ready to go to the Review Quest game.

Review Quest is a series of stations, manned by Suzuki teachers and teacher trainees, that the kids can visit during the game. For each station that they complete successfully, they receive a ticket. The tickets can be redeemed for prizes after the game ends.  Most of the stations are for the kids to play a particular Suzuki song, typically done in a group.  There is an area for Pre-Twinkle students that includes stations like “bow hold” and “sing the rocket song”. O7’s favorite was “strong eyes”. The student must stand in play position while one teacher plays Twinkle. Another teacher attempts to distract the student, either with words, gestures or even light taps on the arm. If the student maintains her composure for the entire song, she gets a ticket. We did “strong eyes” several times.

One of the teachers, Mrs. Steig, recognized that O7 was a little reticent and took her under her wing. She helped O7 earn several tickets just by observing another student. That helped to break the ice a bit, although the only playing she would do was the rhythms on an open E string. I had hoped she’d try playing some of the Suzuki songs, but she was overwhelmed and not interested in doing that. So we just stayed in her comfort zone for the duration.

Here is one of our many attempts at “strong eyes”. The blurry woman is trying to distract her by dancing in front of her scroll.

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After lunch, we attended the invitational welcome recital. Then we began our classes. Our schedule is afternoon-heavy, so the first day has been full.

We had Mr. Lavine again for Technique. He was our teacher last year, and O7 was excited to be in his class again. She remembered that he was from Buffalo.

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Next, we went to Repertoire with Mr. Farrar. While they were in the class, another parent and I went to a parent class about making practice sessions more successful.

Our final class was Masterclass. Happily, it turned out that Mrs. Steig is our teacher. The Masterclass is basically a private lesson with two other students. It is very intense and the kids get some great one-on-one time. Our class was observed by a number of teacher-trainees, as Mrs. Steig is a veteran Suzuki instructor. She helped O7 work on holding up her violin by moving it back further along her jaw-bone, to the point where it connects by the ear. It was amazing how much that helped.  To reinforce this, Mrs. Steig asked me to write a coupon for something fun (a treat, toy, etc), with the understanding that the coupon would be validated if O7 could play with it stuck between her instrument and cheek/jaw. During practice that evening, I was to try to pull the coupon out while she was playing (gently, of course, but with some effort). If she held on to the coupon the entire time, she could keep it and redeem it whenever she wanted.

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Happily, she was successful- and she has decided to save it for when we are back home so that S9 can join in.

For homework, Mrs. Steig also assigned us to play Allegro twice… in the bathroom. O7 was a little whiny about having to do this after having done the coupon exercise, so I decided to try some of the techniques we discussed in our parent session earlier that day. We happened to have a tub of Trader Joe’s Alphabet Cookies, so I spelled out the name of her piece and told her she could have the cookies once she finished practicing.

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Worked like a charm.

We went outside for a little bit after that and rode our bikes around, then came back to the dorm to get ready for an early day tomorrow.