Sunday, July 13, 2014

No more musical chairs for shows

February 16. 2013 5:51PM

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PLAINS TWP. -- Have space, will travel – that was the method the Suzuki School for Strings used to employ in order to put on concerts when it was in its former Kingston location. Now that the school is located next to the River Street Jazz CafĂ© , that's no longer the case.

"We have probably twice the room here," Peter Brubaker, cello and piano instructor at the school said. "We have a room that's big enough to hold our concerts in now, so we no longer need to find a place separate from the school to do that."

The Suzuki School, which specializes in instruction for violin, viola, cello, bass and piano, educates around 100 students. Jean Supplee Brubaker, who teaches cello and bass, said that though the school loved the old location, it simply outgrew it and needed more space.

"We're always growing and we want to continue to do so," she said. "We hope to do that here."

The Suzuki School for Strings was started by Jean's mother, Lillian Supplee, in 1985.

"She put her blood, sweat and tears into this place, and among a lot of opposition to the Suzuki method," Jule Supplee, Lillian's daughter and violin teacher at the school, said.

The Suzuki method was conceived by Japanese violinist Shin'ichi Suzuki.

"It's based on the ‘mother tongue' approach," Supplee said, "that the way a child learns to speak its mother tongue is also how they learn to play an instrument. It's all about sound, hearing it. The parent speaks to the child and repeats words over and over; a child listens to a recording and they imitate what they hear."

One major misconception about the Suzuki method, Peter said, is that many believe students don't read music.

"When children learn to speak they don't write the letters first," Jean said. "They hear the sound and write the letter, which becomes a symbol for the words they're speaking. Written music becomes the symbol."

"We introduce reading separately from the playing," Supplee said. "They use flash cards, do work in workbooks, and then they learn to incorporate the two."

In addition to the family of Jean, Jule and Peter, there are two other teachers: violist the Rev. Gerard McGlone and violist and violinist Rachel Galassi, who the other instructors are quick to say are pretty much family despite not sharing the same names. This sentiment runs through the relationships between anyone involved with the school.

"We are very close with everyone who comes here," Jean said. "The parents, the students. We've had some students that come here as children and play until they go off to college. They come back and visit. In fact, we've played two weddings this month that were former students'."

It's important that the arts are so accessible to children. The Suzuki School for strings is the only one of its kind in this area.

"Where would the world be without music?" Jean said. "And actually, this is so much more than music, what we do. It's discipline, perseverance, self-esteem. There are social aspects to it; children get to be with other children, they learn how to follow a leader. In addition to the musical skills, there are life skills being learned."

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