The 2014 Summer Studio was a fantastic success with an 80% total enrollment increase compared to the previous year. Forty-four students received six weeks of private lessons and group classes. Group classes were based on age and playing ability. Younger students participated in a rhythm and ensemble class, whereas older students were assigned to a composition class.
Rhythm and Ensemble Class
Younger students focused on things like ensemble techniques: how to play together in a big group, and how to echo rhythmically to ensure correct timing. Students even sang rounds together like “Frère Jacques”, a difficult task as students had to learn to sing their own part while listening to other parts without losing focus. They also worked on fun group coordination exercises.
The composition class covered several topics: cellular composition, which focused on writing music using small rhythmic ideas and repetition; form and structure in music, emphasizing how pieces are written to work together; writing for instruments that aren’t your own; as well as learning about ‘extended techniques’ where students were introduced to unusual but effective playing methods, i.e. playing with wood, playing behind the bridge, ‘bone-snapping’ sounds on the violin. Students also learned recording techniques and as a final assignments were to compose a piece using everything they learned: the structure and cellular building blocks, including extended techniques, and finally, they needed to write and record the piece.
Private Classes and Parents
Parental participation was very high this year, with parents joining their children during private lessons to provide learning support. Instructors take a hands-on approach with parents and teach them how to support their child during at-home practice. Parents not only learn techniques, they also help by taking notes for improvement during the lesson as well as by aiding the student with their take-home assignments.
This Sunday, August 10, thirty-six students from the Summer Studio program performed at the Unitarian Universalist Church. Performers included students of all levels ranging from ages 6 to 15. The afternoon featured everything from first-time solo performers to seasoned SFYSA students who have been involved with the program for over five years. Some students were completely new and performed on their own after only six weeks of work! Also during the concert, a recording was played of the works completed by the composition class. The group of thirteen composed a piece called “Nightmare”. The event was well attended with over 125 friends and family members.
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