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The Suzuki Program

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About our 2017-18 MNjcc Suzuki Program
The MNjcc Suzuki Program (formerly the Bloor jcc Suzuki Program) was started in 1992 by May Ing-Ruehle and Louise Hanly. During 2017-18 we will proudly celebrate our 26th season! Gretchen Paxson-Abberger has been the artistic director of 90 plus students since 1999. For the past 8 years we have also offered a 5-day summer music and arts day camp in July, boasting a roster of well-known guest artists, and our talented MNjcc Suzuki teachers. Along with our regular roster classes, we will continue to offer Adult String Ensemble Classes: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced levels, and a Tuesday morning Suzuki Pre-School Music class (for 6 months – 3.5 years) to be taught by Alison Porter.

Read more: The Suzuki Program

Suzuki Pre-School Music classes

A baby sits on her caregiver's lap, he helps her hold xylophone sticksTuesdays, October 3 - December 5, 2017
(Ages 6 months-3.5 years) 10:30 - 11:15 am

No prior musical experience necessary. Must be accompanied by a parent and/or caregiver. Children will experience some of the fundamental Suzuki concepts, while learning some of the string repertoire tunes and rhythms, through movement, singing and games. A wonderful foundation before starting on an instrument. Classes are taught by Certified Suzuki Early Childhood Education instructors (SECE).

Read more: Suzuki Pre-School Music classes

An inspired week at the 8th MNjcc Suzuki Music and Arts Camp

MNjcc Suzuki Program staff and guest teachers spent an extraordinary week together with 55 children, ages 3.5 – 14 years, from varied Toronto Suzuki Schools at our 8th Music and Arts summer camp week from July 3 to 7. The older children started each morning listening to Clayton Scott’s “Music Through the Ages,” while the younger children took “Musicianship” class with Tova Rosenberg. The remainder of the morning hours included semi-private instrumental lessons (in violin, viola, cello, and piano), and Suzuki group classes, Twinkle through Book 5. Afternoons were devoted to a variety of “enrichment” class choices, pottery, swimming, ukulele, drumming, chamber music, Klezmer, composition, improvisation, fiddling, art class, and musical theatre.

Read more: An inspired week at the 8th MNjcc Suzuki Music and Arts Camp

Suzuki Graduates

Sam Clark plays a small guitar-like instrument behind a micSam Clark
Suzuki Program Graduate

I started playing the violin when I was five years old, and studied at the JCC for the formative years of my musical education, under the instruction of Katrina, Maya, Nancy, Gretchen, Gary, Kerri, Rona, and others. Since then, I have moved on to study mandolin, guitar, and voice with a focus on folk music and improvisation. I am now a third year student of philosophy and psychology at the University of Toronto, working part time as a teaching assistant in philosophy, and playing and coaching hockey on the side. Most recently, I have been interested in the neuroscience of things like empathy, morality, and theory of mind; the ways we model and think about mental disorders; and ethics in animal research. But music always stays at the core of who I am. I recently founded an indie folk band called Sheepishly Yours, playing gigs at events for the university and performing at small shows. I have also been working on a solo songwriting project, and working as a studio and performance violinist, spanning genres from classical to folk to hip hop. As I mature, I realize that music is one of the biggest sources of meaning in my life. Living a musical life is delightfully unpredictable and diverse, and it is a thrill to continue with it alongside my other pursuits.


A man plays violen with two young childrenArie Van de Ven
Suzuki Program Graduate

Reflecting back to my time in Suzuki, what really sticks out to me is the social experience of playing music. Getting to really inhabit these pieces with others really stuck with me, especially as I got older and started playing duets and chamber music. I have strong memories of how exciting it was to first learn the Bach Double, and having some of my first experiences playing viola (now my primary instrument) getting the chance to play in a supportive role. I think the sense of music as a collaborative activity has stuck with me since then. In high school I began writing little scores for the movies my friends made. This quickly became somewhat lucrative (in the experiential sense) and I ended up scoring around 10 films a year. This was collaborative music in a new sense, with the director and me approaching a problem from two completely different directions and sources of training. It was exciting and frustrating, having to explain why my decisions are right to a director with little musical literacy, and also knowing when to let them make decisions about what I do. In some ways it's not unlike those first few lessons playing second violin on the Bach double concerto, learning where to play my part out and where my job is to make the other violinist sound as great as they possibly can.

I'm now entering my final year at Wilfrid Laurier University as a Music Composition major. I've had some incredible opportunities over the past few years including interning with Jumblies Theatre in Toronto, facilitating music for diverse communities, and trying to learn to write music that is accessible for anyone to inhabit the way I first experienced as a kid. I was asked to write a score for an old high school friend’s film that won a SOCAN young composers award, and I'm lucky enough to keep being asked to make music in collaborative spaces like this. One of the big highlights of the past few years, however, has been being invited back to teach at the MNjcc Suzuki Music Camp and being able to share the things I've learned.

I couldn't really tell you what kind of music I make, or even what kind of music I'd like to be making, but I think I already learned back in group class that the important part is how I can share music with the people around me.



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