On Friday, December 16, Nora Hamerman, SAGWA Piano Forum Member, took 14 teachers and their friends on a guided tour of musical instruments at the National Gallery of Art in DC. She led us through the galleries sharing paintings that have musicians and musical instruments in them, from a band of six musician angels in 1390, to an 1881 American painting that beautifully depicts that uniquely American instrument: the banjo. We saw vielles, lutes, the viola da brachia, the early violins and bows in all sizes, valveless trumpets, pipe organs, rebecs, and bits of musical scores. The group met in the festive rotunda decorated with beautiful poinsettias and orchids and traveled in and out of the various gallery rooms stopping to hear Nora’s expert commentary on the various paintings. After the 90 minute tour, we ended the tour in the NGA cafeteria for lunch and final fellowship.
Nora is a Suzuki piano teacher in VA, but has also been a professor of art history specializing in Renaissance Art. She continues to lecture in art history at the Osher Lifelong Learning program of Johns Hopkins University in Rockville, MD.
2015 All-Instrument Fall Recitals which were held October 18 at The Falls Church Episcopal. Participating teachers included: Julianna Chitwood, Chloe Choi, Monika Dorosheff, Danielle Dotson, Nora Hamerman, John Kaboff, Naomi Kusano, Barbara Stahl, and Roger Taylor.
by Jean Carlson - "They look so poised, well into the music," comments one parent during the latest studio recital with piano teacher, Naomi Kusano. Suzuki students are indeed poised at their recitals, it is an integral part of the learning process. But this is a special event for the young pianists. The students, aged 5 to 17 (and two adults), are playing in a chamber recital with two, and in some cases four, string players.
Kudos to the 2013 SAGWA Flute Institute students, parents and teachers on a successful event held June 30-July 5 at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House in Alexandria, VA. Students studied with Suzuki Guest Faculty Deborah Kemper, Laura Larson, and Takeaki Miyamae, and teachers from around the country attended Books 3 and 5 teacher training. Special guest recording artist Ali Ryerson taught a Jazz flute seminar and presented a recital with acclaimed jazz artists bassist Amy Shook and pianist Wade Beach to a very enthusiastic audience! The program featured jazz standards and selections from Ali Ryerson’s recordings.
Students participated in daily recitals and a group concert at the end of the week highlighted the Suzuki repertoire polished in group rehearsals and the daily masterclasses. Pianist Rosalind Kerns accompanied the performers throughout the week. Flute Institute board members are Joyce Bennett, Charlotte Day, Marge Smith, Anne Smith, Rebecca Turchi Collaros and Betsy Trimber. For more about the SAGWA Suzuki Flute Institute visit www.sagwa.org and select the Divisions menu option and the link for the Flute Division. We are hoping to welcome Toshio Takahashi back as our special guest next summer (June 29-July 4, 2014).
The initial email went out for the first meeting in March:
“Come with questions and ideas to share and to spend time getting better acquainted with fellow Suzuki teachers!”
The first teacher gathering was a success and super fun! Ten local Suzuki teachers met at a great pizzeria in Takoma Park. The core group was together almost 3 hours, but it was informal and people could easily arrive late or leave as needed. More than a dozen other teachers have expressed an interest in being involved in the future. Some good ideas were passed around.
This then led to the most recent informal get-together on June 9, which brought plenty more teachers to the group. The group included piano teachers, violin teachers, a viola teacher, cello teacher, and even a Suzuki voice teacher came along.
For the participants, the meet-up was a great chance to get out and meet with people who do similar things as teachers. Teaching can be quite lonely and different from the days of graduate school where there can be large programs and weekly discussions with the other teachers about students and group classes, and the direction our program should go. Talking to other Suzuki teachers can be an enjoyable source of inspiration, new ideas and new activities.
The plan is to meet-up again in September, 2013.
From Keri Tomenko, event organizer: Even if you can't come this time, please let me know if this is something you would like to do in the future. Also, if you are interested in hosting a teacher get together in your area please let me know! RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org please.
By Jean Carlson
"They look so poised, well into the music," commented one parent during the latest studio recital with piano teacher, Naomi Kusano. Suzuki students are indeed poised at their recitals; it is an integral part of the learning process. But this is a special event for the young pianists. The students, ages 5 to 17 (plus two adults), perform in a chamber recital with two, and in some cases four, string players. The Suzuki repertoire pieces have various accompaniments written for them. Those used for this occasion are by Catherine McMichael, Joseph McSpadden and David See. While playing together is part of the experience for other Suzuki instruments, it is less practical for pianists. The chamber recital is an opportunity for these young musicians to experience playing with, and listening to, others. And when the others are professional musicians, it is a chance to feel very special.
The students practice for many weeks with Naomi playing the string parts on the piano. Depending on the age of the student, additional preparation includes: looking at the score of the whole ensemble while Naomi plays; following one string player’s part while Naomi and another student play; and even practicing looking to the string players—represented by stuffed animals. Just before the recital, the string players make themselves available for a day for practice. They play the parts without the pianist, giving parents the opportunity to record for later listening. They run through each student’s piece a couple times, giving him or her the opportunity to really have a feel for the music, timing, cueing, etc.
The students are well prepared for the recital. When the time comes, they look at Marie Cole, cellist; they signal to Julianna Chitwood, violinist, that they are ready. They either sniff to lead the trio or quintet (with violinist Kat Whitesides and violist Annelisa Guries) or wait for the introduction, ready to come in at just the right moment. They play beautifully. The venue, the sanctuary of the North Chevy Chase Christian Church, creates a lovely environment. Piano Craft, in Gaithersburg, MD, generously provided and delivered the Feurich grand piano, enriching the sound of the students’ playing.
The students’ experience as audience members listening to their fellow musicians is equally valuable. After listening to the piano play the string parts during lessons, it is exciting to hear the different tones created by the violin, cello and viola. One young musician, Nate (age seven), had an interesting observation: "I can't believe how much the strings sounded like the piano to me. They sounded just like when Naomi played their parts during lessons," as if the piano had the whole orchestra in it. Several parents expressed how their young rambunctious children were moved by the music and how they noticed different moods expressed in different pieces. Teddy, age eight, commented to his parents how many different kinds of music there were. “It was nice.” And his brother said of Chopin’s Waltz in a minor "that song is so sad!" Overall, it was a great experience on so many levels. Victor, age 17, who played Mozart’s Piano Trio in B flat, summed it all up: “The concert was fun.” That really says it all.