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Julie Bamberger Roubik

Suzuki World Convention - Day 5

March 31, 2013 at 2:02 PM

Sayonara Matsumoto

Today was the final day of the Suzuki World Convention in Matsomoto, Japan. I feel like I'm going home infused with the knowledge and the spirit of Dr. Suzuki. I can't wait to share with my students and colleagues all that I learned here this week.

In the morning I observed the Bach Double class. Normally, the two violin parts were separated into their own repertoire groups, but today they were together in the main hall of Agata-no-Mori Cultural Hall, an old, historic wooden building at the far end of the city.

Bach Double

I snuck up to the balcony and watched with fascination a group of over 100 kids playing the duet together.

There were twice as many second violins as firsts, so they divide the seconds into two groups and had the, each play with the firsts. The teacher spent most of his time with the seconds working on the large register/string changes, explaining that the lower of the two notes should be the most important, whether in the solos, or at the end of a phrase. They ended by having all the students play together, but the teacher would have the two groups of seconds switch back and forth every time he clapped his hands. There was never a gap in sound, so you'd never knew what was happening if you didn't watch.

For the second part of the morning, I observed a Vivaldi Concerto in g class. The teacher paired up the students and had them watch each other while playing Allegro to match bow style. Then he had one of the pair start up bow, and the other down bow at the same time. They did rock, paper, scissors to decide who was which bowing.

After a lunch break, the final concert was held back in the Matsumoto City Gym.

Kids waiting

Final concert

The first half of the concert was:

Cellos - The Swan, Tarantella by Squire
Flute - Concerto by Cimarosa, Carnival of Venice
Violin - Tchaikovsky Concerto, 3rd MTV, led by Nicholas Kendall
Piano duet by Rachmaninov
String ensemble - Serenade for Strings by Tchaikovsky
Time for Three - Nicholas Kendall's trio

Below, Nick Kendall leads a group of students in the last movement of the Tchaikovsky Concerto:

Nick's group, Time for Three, was amazing. They played an original piece by the bassist, that really captured the American folk sound, and an arrangement of Brahms' Hungarian Dance #5, which morphed into Twinkle, then a jazzy version of the Bach Double with some serious violin pyrotechnics, before returning to the original melody. They were very popular with the crowd.

Following that was Intermission.

Then the final play down: Eccles sonata, Fiocco Allegro, Vivaldi a minor, Hunters Chorus, Minuet 2, Perpetual Motion, Allegro, Twinkle.

There is no way to describe the sound of over 1,000 kids, of all ages, from 34 countries, playing together. The sound penetrates your very soul, and you understand why Pablo Casals was so moved when he first heard Suzuki's students. I think Dr. Suzuki's vision is something we still need in this world. I wonder if, instead of a weapon, everyone was given a musical instrument instead. Once you see and hear something like this, you are truly changed forever.

From Korinthia Klein
Posted on April 1, 2013 at 10:50 PM
Thank you so much for sharing your experiences in Japan! The whole event seems so inspiring.
From Lauren Canitia
Posted on April 2, 2013 at 3:42 AM
Wow! Thank you for sharing your experience (and for the videos, too!). It makes me feel like I was there myself.
From Stephen McGrath
Posted on April 4, 2013 at 3:21 PM
I'll add my thanks, Julie, for your fascinating series on the Suzuki Convention. I plan to travel to Japan for the first time next year. Now I'll be adding Matsomoto & the Suzuki Museum to my list of must visits.

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