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Violin Think Tank

Amy Beth Horman

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Published: August 12, 2014 at 3:12 AM [UTC]

The Power of Workshops

A think tank (or policy institute, research institute, etc.) - an organization that performs research and advocacy concerning topics such as social policy, political strategy, economics, military, technology, and culture.

A violin think tank – a group of violinists eager to improve and fascinated by how their talents can be harnessed, accelerated, and realized.

A lot of us went to Suzuki festivals. We looked forward to them every year. Then there was that period where we were too young for 6 week festivals out of town but really in need of a challenge. I started finding this more and more in my studio with the 10-13 year old crowd so we began workshops years ago to tap into their potential, allow them to socialize, and feel some intellectual power in numbers. Again this year, I am surprised by how effective it is in motivating the kids here. Best of all, I feel invigorated by them too. Turns out there is power in numbers for feeling appreciated too!

In workshop we create a “Violin Think Tank”. These aren’t ordinary young people. They are eager, bright eyed and ready for work. Not only are they passionate about the violin, they are passionate about discovering how to communicate more freely through music and achieve a perfect technique. There is an energy they carry with them through the front door. Seeing them converge into one place is really a beautiful thing especially when they don’t know each other. You can see them bonding in real time and the power they have in numbers for problem solving is palpable. Whatever nerves they have entering a room of all new people dissolves in minutes as they realize they are not alone in their passion for their instrument. Is anything more poignant than this from their teacher’s perspective? I have seen them individually for months once a week but generally not all together in one place. I can imagine it in my head a dozen times but it is always way more exciting to watch than I thought.

We commenced a new workshop this week in our studio entitled VIOLIN YOGA. It focuses on balancing the hands, breathing, and relieving the body of hidden tensions to promote complete freedom of expression. I wondered if anyone would sign up when I first announced it. It would be a mystery to them by the title alone and the other workshops sounded so much more catchy. But I announced it anyway because I believe in it and it is so much a part of my own work. To my surprise, people started signing up right away. So I found myself blissfully in a room this past week with eight very talented ten to thirteen year olds. They had no idea what to expect and came in with open minds and ready to explore. Most were slightly too young for long festivals but in some cases, just as advanced as their older classmates. They were also curiously more vocal and articulate about ideas and questions. They needed an advanced thinking opportunity with peers and here we all were. Sure enough they came up with ideas and questions I had never thought of myself and we explored how our hands react to one another, where tensions lie, and how to breathe more effectively. By the end, we were all centered and calm and able to play so beautifully. It truly did feel like I had been to a yoga class. They left thankful and with new ideas about how to heighten their awareness in practice and performance and I am so grateful for having had this time with them…..Away from the concerti and caprices. No deadlines or goal tempi. Maybe we shouldn’t be just doing this in the summer...

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