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#31 of 459 Old 06-12-2008, 02:54 AM
 
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I'm going to take this opportunity to brag about my youngest. She broke her collarbone about 3 1/2 weeks ago and took some time off from violin (and soccer, and aikido, and most of the other things she turns her busy body to) as she recovered. Now that she's back at violin, things are really clicking for her. She's playing with much more ease, and her rudimentary vibrato has now become a decent usable beginner's vibrato -- even on 4th finger! I'm amazed with how she's progressing.

Anyone else find that sometimes a brief break helps consolidate learning and prepare the way for the next leap? I know that as good Suzuki parents we're supposed to make practicing as much a part of daily life as eating ... but this forced break has reminded me that much good can come of a little holiday.

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#32 of 459 Old 06-23-2008, 12:02 PM
 
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Is this thread still active?
Mind if I hang around the edges of your tribe for a while? My 2 year old (nearly 26 months) is currently begging for a violin and we are pondering what to do. We're not quite sure she's ready yet but she's insistent. We are both musos but not string players so she has a keyboard set at the right height for her (weighted keys, after-touch etc), glockenspiels and every percussion instrument imaginable, a fife, tin whistles, recorder, my old "rubbish" clarinet plus a toy violin which has recently lost it's apeal. She wont settle for the fact that the sound is made by pushing a touch pad with the toy bow rather than bowing so she keeps making me get out mine (I can play anything in C, G or D that stays in first position ). Which means either I hold it & she bows or vice versa 'cause she's just too small.
WWYD? She's also asking for a trumpet but accepts the arguement that it's too heavy for her to hold right now so she'll need to wait a few years. A similar arguement doesn't work for violin because she knows they come in small sizes. I sound like I really don't want her to start playing yet, that's not true. I just want to make the "right" decision. YK?

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#33 of 459 Old 06-24-2008, 05:55 PM
 
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Well, she may be too small. Playable violins smaller than 1/16th-size are pretty difficult to find. My dd started on a sorta-playable 1/32nd which we scoured the universe for, and stayed on that until she was almost 4, at which point she was big enough for a 1/16th, the smallest size normally available. So if your instinct is that she's not ready for lessons, you could quite honestly tell her (unless she's some great strapping youngster on the 99th percentile) that it turns out she'll have to be at least 3 to fit the smallest fractional violin.

As for lesson readiness, my own inclination is to wait until kids are 4 - 5. There's so much informal musical learning that can happen before that. Even structured informal learning. (Try looking into Alice Kay Kanack's "Musical Improvisation for Children" book and CD; I think it's fabulous!) Get copies of the Suzuki repertoire CDs, start listening every day, start attending group classes and lessons as observers. My favourite beginners to teach are the ones who have been attending classes as observers for up to a year beforehand. They've already learned so much, and they and their parents thoroughly understand the expectations that take root in a private lesson and group class environment.

That being said, my youngest started at not-quite-three, rather than age 4-5 as I'd intended. And she's done very well. She's incredibly focused and diligent, yet also emotionally resilient; it's a great combination for early formal instruction.

I'm meeting with a mom & daughter tomorrow about starting lessons in the fall -- the child turned four in April and while they've been observing classes on and off for 18 months, the child has only recently been able to understand that Suzuki violin expectations include not interrupting another child's lesson with questions and trying to get physically involved with the lesson, not squirming and chatting or laughing or wandering around. Nothing wrong with that sort of behaviour coming from a 3-year-old -- it's developmentally appropriate, but it's tough to run a goal-oriented private lesson or group class with a noisy preschooler moving around based on her own bio-developmental prerogative.

So you can get the best sense of her readiness by observing lessons. Not only will you be able to see what lessons are all about and develop a gut feeling about whether the structure will suit her, but by bringing her along you'll get a good sense of whether she can adapt to the behavioural expectations of a private lesson studio.

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#34 of 459 Old 06-25-2008, 02:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We just returned from a fabulous week at the Intermountain Suzuki Festival in Salt Lake City. It was such a wonderful experience that I thought I'd give it a plug in case anyone is considering participating in the future.

We personally had classes with four fantastic teachers from across the country - one from Sweden. My daughter was so excited to play for her teachers and with other kids during classes and en masse on stage. It was magical to see so many motivated and enthusiastic people in one place.

We're hoping to make it again next year and reunite with the friends we made.

This year was the 30th anniversary of the institute, and it seemed very well-run. We didn't experience any scheduling or logistical issues throughout the week, which is quite a lot to say considering the hundreds of participants.

IMO, the institute at SLC is well worth considering if you're in the western US and looking for a festival with a large draw.
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#35 of 459 Old 06-25-2008, 06:24 AM
 
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Thanks for the response. We've been looking out for a 1/32 since she was about 16 months with no luck (really just to have around). I measured her chin to fingers the other day at 36cm, I think a 1/16 is around 35.5 so she's nearly big enough. That doesn't address the problem of whether I think she's ready or not, I'm just glad we wont have to really look for a 1/32 because they seemed to be as rare as hen's teeth.
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My favourite beginners to teach are the ones who have been attending classes as observers for up to a year beforehand. They've already learned so much, and they and their parents thoroughly understand the expectations that take root in a private lesson and group class environment.
She's been observing me teach flute lessons & direct rehearsals since she was 12 weeks old, but that's a good point. I will ring a few Suzuki teachers and see if any would mind us observing (I'm just a bit scared it will make her even more desperate for a violin NOW despite size/maturity factors)

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#36 of 459 Old 06-25-2008, 12:56 PM
 
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We just returned from a fabulous week at the Intermountain Suzuki Festival in Salt Lake City.
I've heard good things about that institute. Thanks for the report. Are the offerings for advanced students as robust as they make them out in the brochure? I'm looking ahead to 2009 for my elder two. They'll be 15 (violin) and well past the end of the Suzuki books and 12 (viola) and nearing the end of the Suzuki books. They live for chamber music, both of them.

Our own little Suzuki institute happens in early August. It's only in its 4th year -- though my mom, the director, started an institute on the other side of the country that's celebrating its 25th year now.

Miranda

(thinking that at SLC for once she wouldn't be the only mom with four children registered)

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#37 of 459 Old 06-25-2008, 01:03 PM
 
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I was at the instistute in SLC last week too, and I've been consistently for the past 9-10 years, sometimes taking teacher training, sometimes working, and for the past two years, taking my kiddos.

There is tons of stuff for advanced players- it really is amazing. They bring in masterclass teachers from everywhere (this year, I got to watch Jenny Oaks Baker) to teach the advanced kids. They have their own activities, and its not uncommon to see 12-13 year olds playing major concertos- Mendelson, Bruch, Lalo etc. They also recently started an intense "chamber days" program that starts a few days before the formal institute where the kids in quartets have 4 rehearsals daily with members of the Fry Street quartet, then they get to perform during insitute. I was super impressed witht he Fry Street this year, and heard a couple of their coached quartets, and for middle/high schoolers, I was impressed. I heard one student quartet do Beethoven Op 18, and one doing Dvorak's American, so the level of music is pretty high.

As far as violas go, we've had the Preucils for the past few years, and everyone has had wonderful things to say about them.

It really is well organzied and well run. There's two concerts every day, and they really are well put together. I haven't had a bad experience with a teacher yet, and I've been observing teachers for years. My dd cried at the end of institute this year, and told me she wished it would last a month!

And Miranda, you definitely wouldn't be the only one with four kids!

Violin teaching, doula-ing Mom to Abby, (8) Ashlynn, (6) : and Max (11/13/08) Diagnosed with Metopic Craniosynostosis. First surgery 5/1/09, Second surgery March 2010.
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#38 of 459 Old 06-25-2008, 02:32 PM
 
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Are the sizes the same for all strings? DD is currently (not) using a 1/2 violin. She's decided that she would rather do cello. This would work well because I have and play cello, so maybe it would go more smoothly than violin as far as practicing goes. So should I be asking around for a 1/2 size cello?

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#39 of 459 Old 06-27-2008, 12:42 AM
 
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No, the sizes are not the same, nor do all teachers 'size' kids the same way. It is my impression that overall cellists don't move up as quickly. So a child who fits a 1/2 size violin may still be too small for a 1/2 size cello.

Just as an aside, the largest double bass normally played is actually called a 3/4 bass. Violas are normally described according to their string length, although in the smaller sizes some makers use the violin sizes, except that after a 3/4, the child would then move to a 14" (the same size as a full-size violin, but not a full-size viola).

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#40 of 459 Old 07-07-2008, 03:47 AM
 
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Just thought I'd update. We gave in and bought her a 1/16 violin and I've emailed a local teacher about observing group lessons. Actually it turns out there is a Suzuki festival on here right now (so I'm not expecting an immediate response to my email ) so I'm taking her to watch the finale concert on Wednesday.
IMO the 1/16 is too big as she can just grasp the scroll but can't cup it with her hand. I don't think we'll start lessons until she "fits" it properly but then again I'll see how she goes observing lessons. I'm hoping to talk to a few other teachers at the festival so we can hopefully observe more than one in the next six months or so and find someone who is a good fit for our family.
She's been so cute though, wanting to "Practice violin practice" constantly. Carefully opening the case, doing everything slowly and with great precision, then saying "Good night violin, have a nice sleep." when she puts it away again. Her practice last for about 30 seconds and consists of mainly getting it out and putting it away. If only more of my eight year old flute beginners had practised like that I wouldn't have been sending their instruments to the repair shop so often : in their first weeks.
My violin's also been restrung so I've been twinkling away

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#41 of 459 Old 07-09-2008, 07:06 PM
 
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As for lesson readiness, my own inclination is to wait until kids are 4 - 5. There's so much informal musical learning that can happen before that. Even structured informal learning. (Try looking into Alice Kay Kanack's "Musical Improvisation for Children" book and CD; I think it's fabulous!) Get copies of the Suzuki repertoire CDs, start listening every day, start attending group classes and lessons as observers. My favourite beginners to teach are the ones who have been attending classes as observers for up to a year beforehand. They've already learned so much, and they and their parents thoroughly understand the expectations that take root in a private lesson and group class environment.


I'm meeting with a mom & daughter tomorrow about starting lessons in the fall -- the child turned four in April and while they've been observing classes on and off for 18 months, the child has only recently been able to understand that Suzuki violin expectations include not interrupting another child's lesson with questions and trying to get physically involved with the lesson, not squirming and chatting or laughing or wandering around. Nothing wrong with that sort of behaviour coming from a 3-year-old -- it's developmentally appropriate, but it's tough to run a goal-oriented private lesson or group class with a noisy preschooler moving around based on her own bio-developmental prerogative.

So you can get the best sense of her readiness by observing lessons. Not only will you be able to see what lessons are all about and develop a gut feeling about whether the structure will suit her, but by bringing her along you'll get a good sense of whether she can adapt to the behavioural expectations of a private lesson studio.

Miranda
This is great advice. Thanks.

Where would one find the Suzuki CD's you recommended?

Lola , loving my DH, Mama to & we &
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#42 of 459 Old 07-10-2008, 12:16 PM
 
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This is great advice. Thanks.

Where would one find the Suzuki CD's you recommended?
Try Young Musicians.

Miranda

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#43 of 459 Old 07-10-2008, 01:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Gossec Gavotte question -

For the plucking at the end, what is normally taught? When I think back to my playing days, I just did whatever felt right. If the passage involved lots of fast plucking, I'd probably end up with the bow/frog in my fist and have a good grip and have my thumb on the corner of the fingerboard. If it wasn't a fast passage, I might keep the hold intact and just stick out a finger and float. But for DD, whose hand is so small and I'm kind of stumped. Her teacher is wanting her to keep her hand hold and just stick her index finger out, but that's frustrating for DD whose index finger is just not very long. (Fractional bows are much shorter, but not much *smaller*.) Also, finding the right string to pluck seems to take an eternity. We should probably do some plucking exercises...?

Ideas?
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#44 of 459 Old 07-10-2008, 04:56 PM
 
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Try Young Musicians.

Miranda

Thanks Miranda.

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#45 of 459 Old 07-11-2008, 11:08 PM
 
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Gossec Gavotte question - For the plucking at the end, what is normally taught?
I teach keepin the bowhold intact, extending the index finger. It's tough for kids to get at first, but there are lots of fun ways to practice. Play Twinkle Rhythm A on open E, then touch nose with only tip of index finger, then play on open E as fast as you can. Do the same exercise but touching the top of the bridge instead of the nose, then again touching the G-string, etc. etc..

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#46 of 459 Old 07-11-2008, 11:19 PM
 
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#47 of 459 Old 07-11-2008, 11:19 PM
 
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Hi! I hope you don't mind if I join. We have been considering Suzuki violin lessons for my 4.5 year old ds. So, I'm just kind of soaking up the language here. I have to admit that as a parent with limited musical skills, it is a lot intimidating... I played the flute in hs, and while I enjoyed it, I was always last chair, and not the best musician. I love the whole philosophy of Suzuki, but I'm a little nervous about actually trying to learn to play a little violin myself so I can teach ds.

We have been taking our boys to Music Together classes semi-regularly, and they both love music. Ds1 loves to sing and listen to music and he seems interested in the violin. We know a great teacher (she taught one of our MT classes). I wanted to start ds1 this summer, but I'm due w/ #3 in September, so out teacher recommended waiting until January so we wouldn't get interrupted right after starting. Ds will be 5 at that point. So, I hope this thread is still going strong in January when I'll really need the help!

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#48 of 459 Old 07-12-2008, 02:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I teach keepin the bowhold intact, extending the index finger. It's tough for kids to get at first, but there are lots of fun ways to practice. Play Twinkle Rhythm A on open E, then touch nose with only tip of index finger, then play on open E as fast as you can. Do the same exercise but touching the top of the bridge instead of the nose, then again touching the G-string, etc. etc..

Miranda
Thanks for the input and the ideas. We'll give that a try. It seems to always boil down to breaking it down to little steps. Oh, and keeping it fun helps, too!


Melissa-
We loved the Music Together program when we did it. I particularly appreciated the freedom our guide gave the class - to move pretty much however we felt at the time. It was very open and loosely structured. What a great place for little ones to feel free to express themselves! I thought it was a wonderful intro to what music can bring to our lives. To be honest, the transition to Suzuki felt a bit harsh after the freedom of that program. Yin Yang, I suppose. I'm bicultural asian-american and the differences between eastern and western approaches always seem quite striking to me.
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#49 of 459 Old 07-22-2008, 09:15 PM
 
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Great thread. We've been discussing starting dd soon and the comments on preparing to start (for example: sitting in on lessons and attending a concert) were so helpful. thanks.
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#50 of 459 Old 07-24-2008, 03:12 PM
 
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I'm happy to hear about the inter-mountain institute success. Our (Swedish) Suzuki teacher has taught there for several years, as does his wife, and they love it. We went to our little local workshop this year and last, but are considering adding the I-M institute next year.

Insahmniak, did your little one learn Zorro's Mark?
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#51 of 459 Old 07-24-2008, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm happy to hear about the inter-mountain institute success. Our (Swedish) Suzuki teacher has taught there for several years, as does his wife, and they love it. We went to our little local workshop this year and last, but are considering adding the I-M institute next year.

Insahmniak, did your little one learn Zorro's Mark?
No -we didn't learn Zorro's Mark. But we did learn a Swedish folk song from Sven, our techniques instructor. Spot-a-Snyoos it the phonetic way I'd spell it. Something about spitting the tobacco juice? Anyhow, we had great fun with Sven every morning. He got us warmed up with physical and brain-teasing exercises and he was full of high energy.

So, now I'm wondering what Zorro's Mark is!
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#52 of 459 Old 07-24-2008, 05:33 PM
 
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It's a fiddle piece. Our violin teacher, Goran, taught all of his fiddle students that piece at the institute. (Or most of them--I didn't give him the third degree about how many students he taught that particular piece. )

We had Sven at our workshop last year--he's incredibly fun and SO high energy! My DD still talks about him.
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#53 of 459 Old 07-25-2008, 02:52 PM
 
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You are getting me all excited about our own upcoming Suzuki Institute. It starts on the 3rd and is small by most standards (84 students) but huge by the standards of our little town of 600 in the middle of nowhere ... the population of the town increases by 25% that week with the music students and their families.

My eldest has been away at two Suzuki institutes on her own (she'll be back Tuesday) and yesterday had the thrill of playing a full concert at the Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal with the senior string orchestra. She'll be doing our institute and then two further weeks of (traditional, non-Suzuki) music camp after that. She lives for summer institutes, this kid. Actually, all my kids do. My 5yo has a count-down calendar on the wall that she made. It's down to 9 days today, she excitedly told me. Can't wait!

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#54 of 459 Old 07-25-2008, 06:39 PM
 
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Are the sizes the same for all strings? DD is currently (not) using a 1/2 violin. She's decided that she would rather do cello. This would work well because I have and play cello, so maybe it would go more smoothly than violin as far as practicing goes. So should I be asking around for a 1/2 size cello?
It depends on her size. My DS (newly 7, but BIG for his age) just moved to a Japanese 1/2, the German 1/2s are still too big for him.

If she is average for a 7yo she will probably still be on a 1/4. Again, the German 1/4s are bigger than the Japanese 1/4s, so maybe look for one of those...

The cello size definitely differ though from the violin, so make sure you do size her properly.

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#55 of 459 Old 07-25-2008, 06:46 PM
 
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We just got back from a week at institute, and had a great time! We are doing another one in a couple of weeks also.

My 3.5yo DD tried violin and did shockingly well. We observed some lessons this spring and she was really not ready at all to start, so I had decided to wait until she is 4, but then she demanded to play violin, she already has a box and we have been playing feet position, bowhold and holding the box games, so I let her. We got a 1/16th, which fits her perfectly, and she loved the lessons!

When she decides to she can focus like nobody's business, so she did alternately wonderfully and then had tantrums when she didn't want to, sigh. She is more motivated to start than my DS was because he already plays (cello), so I am going to keep playing games and start her in the fall. She already has a great bowhold.

"MY best interest?...How can YOU say what MY best interest is?...When I went to YOUR schools, I went to YOUR churches, I went to YOUR institutional learning facilities."-ST
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#56 of 459 Old 07-26-2008, 01:25 AM
 
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Miranda, what fabulous experiences for your daughter! It's so great to be able to travel, and when you travel as a musician, you're traveling with a purpose, so you can avoid that traveler's angst that sometimes hits me when I'm just off on a vacation.

Our own workshop is small too--about 40 kids, I think--but each size has it's own best capacities.
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#57 of 459 Old 08-10-2008, 11:29 AM
 
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My son started violin the month before he turned five. He's seven now, in Suzuki Book 4. Our program isn't "pure Suzuki" as it isn't available in our area, but I do all I can at home to adhere to the tenets of the Suzuki method, and in sensing my desire to stick to Suzuki, his teacher seems to be doing the same thing. He's currently on a 1/2 size Carlo Lamberti LV11, which is a lovely instrument, and one I don't see him outgrowing any time soon. (Fingers crossed!)
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#58 of 459 Old 08-10-2008, 04:18 PM
 
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I just found this thread by wondering around on MDC. This thread is great since our school doesn't have a parent support group. Currently, my DD6 is finishing up the book I, and DS4 is on Lightly Row. We are planning to have a private concert to celebrate the book I completion and Twinkle graduation in November. We'll have a piano accompanist. It seems my DD is more worried about how she wants her hair done, and what to wear!? I hope all will go well.
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#59 of 459 Old 08-10-2008, 07:16 PM
 
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Hi all. We've just wrapped our Suzuki institute and are all flying high. All four of my kids were well-placed and enjoyed themselves immensely. What a lot of fun! And what a great bunch of people. Suzuki families are just such amazing human beings.

We figure ours may be the only Suzuki Institute that has ever had a black bear hanging out for an afternoon within view of the classrooms. That was rather exciting for a lot of the families!

Miranda

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#60 of 459 Old 08-11-2008, 03:35 AM
 
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Originally Posted by greencat View Post
We are planning to have a private concert to celebrate the book I completion and Twinkle graduation in November. We'll have a piano accompanist.
You just reminded me that we never did this. My youngest had wanted to do something similar ... but somehow we forgot all about it once she was far enough beyond Gossec Gavotte for a graduation recital to be comfortable and easy for her. Oh well... I guess if it was still important to her she would have mentioned it again. I do think it can be a nice tradition if it's handled well.

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