We completed our annual (local) Suzuki instititute a week and a half ago. It was odd not having my eldest around being part of it -- she was off doing non-Suzuki musical things this summer. And several other members of her cohort of advanced students had also moved on, so the next bunch of kids became more senior and thrived in their new roles.
Dd8 moved up to the advanced orchestra and the advanced group/technique class this year. Ours is a small institute, and she only barely made the cut for the advanced level groups (Books 6-10+). The kids were mostly a fair bit older but she's a focused, mature thing, so I figured she'd be fine. She did some good preparatory work for the orchestra and coped well with the demanding repertoire. Group class ended up focusing a lot on advanced bowing techniques like spiccato, sautillé and ricochet. She had just moved up to a nice hand-me-down quarter-sized violin about three weeks before and I hadn't really appreciated how cheap the bow was until I tried to use it myself to figure out how to advise her about the bowing exercises. It was a fibreglass clunker completely incapable of bouncing -- maybe a $40 bow. Totally useless, and she was really floundering in the class as a result. Fortunately the luthier in residence had a much better bow in stock. A couple of hundred dollars later she was doing and pretty passable quadruple ricochet and getting the hang of sautillé.
Dd12 played second violin opposite her brother in a two-viola quintet (the Mozart g minor), as part of the Advanced Chamber Music program. She was socially very much like a teenager amongst that group of awesome young musicians, fitting in beautifully and enjoying the mileu. She was in the advanced orchestra and group technique class and had a very productive master class with a teacher she got along well with. She performed the Monti Csardas on recital and did a great job. She loved being out and about during the days and the evenings, having a full social life and a busy musical schedule.
Ds14 was also in the thick of things socially as part of the Advanced Chamber Music program and although he would have loved to have his elder sister around to be part of the whole thing, in some ways it was fabulous for him to be able to shine a little brighter as a musician and as a smart, funny, compassionate and increasingly adult-like young person. He is playing just beautifully and actually worked hard on his solo viola repertoire during the week, with motivation left over to carry him forward. He has really struggled with motivation for the past couple of years, so this was nice to see. He had a wonderful affinity for his master class teacher and made some really great strides with his Schubert Arpeggione Sonata.
Now we're planning for fall. Dd17 is moving away to study music and has things pretty well organized. Unfortunately she is not happy with her violin. We bought it four years ago for a little under $3k. It has some set-up issues that are very finicky and none of the luthiers who have looked at it have been able to permanently solve them. I have a feeling that within a year we'll have to take the plunge for a new and much more expensive instrument. She's at a totally different level now. Coincidentally she will be studying with the wife of a very fine violin maker ... who crafts the kind of instrument that would make a good "forever violin" for my girl. But ouch, the cost! We'll see.
Ds14 outrgrew the region's viola teaching some time ago (slim pickings!), so we're faced with driving 7-8 hours for his lessons once a month or so. We used to take him along with his highly committed, hard-working older sister, but now that she's moving away, it will be just for him. Currently he's practicing very hard, easily enough to justify all the driving. We'll have to see if it lasts. He and I will be playing in a small-town symphony four hours from home again this year -- four programs over four different weekends, with a bunch of second-string professionals brought in and or two student musicians (i.e. ds). It'll be good for him to get the reading and orchestral experience.
Edited by moominmamma - 8/16/11 at 11:44am