Eighteen violin students aged 9-14 are gearing up for a trip to Italy this month to play a concert, participate in some workshops and look for snow, at the Suzuki Method World Convention in Turin, which hosted the 2006 Winter Olympics earlier this year. The National Music Institute’s Suzuki program was among 12 of 72 schools worldwide that competed for an invitation to the convention.
“The kids are happy. They are hoping that there will still be snow in Turin… but it’s going to be spring when we go, and the weather is already warming up,” said Lidia Blanco, a teacher with the National Music Institute who has been teaching the Suzuki method for 15 years.
The Suzuki method was developed by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998), and centers on the idea that just as all children learn their mother tongue, all children can learn to play music if they are taught in the “right way.”
The important elements included in his theories are hearing the music prior to learning it, learning to play at a young age, and the presence and love of parents through the learning and practicing process. His theory includes the idea that playing beautiful music helps children develop good hearts and become gentle people, according to the Suzuki Association of the Americas.
The convention, which takes place April 12-17,will include a presentation by each participating school, in which students perform a concert from their particular program.
“The concert our students will be performing in Turin will have three parts,” explained Esteban Mata, director of marketing and development for the NationalMusicCenter. “The concert starts with the kids playing parts of a symphony on violin, then the teacher plays the piano and the kids and their parents do rhythmic body expression, and the kids play a selection of Costa Rican pieces.”
Blanco explained that the participation of parents is integral to the Suzuki method – “a triangle of parent, child and teacher” – but that rhythmic body expression is not taught worldwide, and will thus set their presentation apart at the convention.
Mata added, “It’s a method we use for teaching to follow the rhythm, integrating it into the mind and body.”
In addition to the concert presentations and workshops, the convention will feature a grand finale with kids from all over the world playing a concert together in Turin’s Olympic Stadium.
Blanco says she is excited.
“To me it’s impressive that 3,000 kids will be there, and even though they don’t speak the same language, they will all be playing the language of music,” she said. “I’m counting the days.”
The students are studying the Suzuki method under the National Music Institute, which is under the wing of the NationalMusicCenter, also the home base for the National Symphony. However, funding is an issue. Eighteen parents are paying their own way to accompany the 18 students to Italy, and fundraising is still under way to cover the students’ costs.
“The cost for each child is $1,500 for the airfare, room and board and registration fee. Parents pay their own way, but we’re looking for sponsors for each child,”Mata explained.
If you would like to sponsor a child or make a donation toward the trip, call Mata at 240-0333, ext. 205.