Dr. Shinichi Suzuki was a Japanese violinist and humanitarian. Witnessing the destruction of his homeland due to the Second World War, he formed a vision to help nudge the world toward peace through its children. Through music, Dr. Suzuki hoped to build noble hearts in children all around the world.
With this in mind, we produce an event each year that connects our students from Oak Park and the surrounding areas to the larger world they live in. In previous years, our students helped to raise money through their music for the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), the Heartland Alliance’s unaccompanied minor program, Hephzibah Children’s Association., and A House in Austin. Videos of past concerts can be viewed here.
OPSA students and faculty will create a moving concert to include violin students of all ages and levels. In previous years, we performed music from Syria, Lebanon, China, Romania, and more. This year, students will present several of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with a full string ensemble and even a holiday sing-along. Students will join to play music together and hopefully make the world just a little more peaceful and beautiful.
The Early Childhood Collaboration will be the recipient of the funds we raise. In past years, OPSA has raised almost $2,000 for our recipient organizations. We hope to do even better this year! You can make a donation right away!
Kindermusik with Pat at OPSA has classes for infants through age 7 years.
Kindermusik is a great way to start out with music education for your child. As an experienced Suzuki parent and Kindermusik instructor, Pat Larson will guide you and your child through the start of your musical journey.
The first level, Foundations, is for children up to 18 months.
This semester, parents are invited to come to two different infant classes when they register for one class (depending on space availability).
There’s still space in the Saturday class at 11 a.m. for children up to 3 ½ years!
Our esteemed colleague, Laurie Niles, over at Violinist.com has compiled a very helpful list of links to help you find the official Suzuki recordings made by some of the best artists in the world. As a method based on listening, it is IMPERATIVE that you play the Suzuki recordings as often as possible for you and your child. The most successful students are the ones who LISTEN the most!
Join our Summer Small Group Violin/Viola Lessons for Young Musicians!
Is your child currently learning the violin or viola in school and looking to continue improving their skills over the summer?
We have a fantastic opportunity for them! Join our summer small group classes. Classes start next week, June 20th.
Dates: Tuesdays June 20th, June 27, July 11, July 18, July 25, and August 1 (no class July 4th)
Time: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Location: Oak Park String Academy 350 Harrison St. Oak Park, IL 60304
Instrument: Violin or Viola
Age group: 4th and 5th graders
Cost: $185 per student for the entire session
Students should bring their current size instrument. Please DO NOT size up until after the first class if needed.
This small group lesson program has been designed to provide young musicians with a supportive and interactive environment where they can develop their skills, enhance their musical understanding, and have fun playing their chosen instrument. The sessions will be led by our highly experienced and dedicated music instructors, who are well-versed in working with students at this stage of their musical journey.
Here are some key features and benefits of the program:
Small Group Setting: By participating in a small group, your child will have the opportunity to collaborate and learn from their peers while receiving personalized attention from the instructor.
Skill Development: Our lessons will focus on building a solid foundation in technique, note-reading, musical expression, and ensemble playing.
Engaging Activities: The lessons will incorporate various engaging activities, games, and exercises to make the learning experience enjoyable and enriching.
Performance Opportunities: On the last day of the session, we will organize a small recital for the students to showcase their progress and boost their confidence.
By enrolling your child in our summer classes, you’re providing them with the opportunity to continue their musical journey and build a strong foundation on the violin or viola.
To enroll your child in this program, please complete this registration form and submit the payment of $185 by June 18.
If you have any questions, or concerns, or require further information about the program, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to assist you and provide any clarification you may need.
We look forward to helping your child grow as a musician this summer!
This holiday season we have a few suggestions to help parents who are encouraging their children’s musical studies with gifts that support their efforts. Enjoy!
1. Music stand
Having a sturdy music stand available in your child’s practice area is a great way to show support for their music studies. A solid stand will hold all of their music books and because of its solid desk, it will support any writing you or your child might need to do during practice. (And who can resist these fun colors?!).
2. Practice Space makeover
If you already have a stand like the one above, try adding a few inspirational messages or images for your child in or around their practice space. You could consider framing images of famous violinists such as Joshua Bell, Hilary Hahn or Sarah Chang and/or printing some nice quotes about practice such as,
“Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good, it is the thing that makes you good.”—Malcolm Gladwell
“Only practice on the days that you eat.” -Shinichi Suzuki
“The slower you go, the faster you get there.” -John Link
Metronome.Every music student needs a metronome. While there are many metronome apps available, I am a fan of the ‘old school’ metronome placed on a stand or shelf nearby for several reasons. First, it is loud. And second, there are no distractions from other apps or excuses to wander into social media during practice. 😉
A great way to bring some humor and play into a hard working practice session is to use little trinkets and games to keep things light and the corrections impersonal.Can you balance a friend on your violin while you play your review piece? Can you move a bead for every “keeper” achievedin a phrase? Along the same lines, try adding a fun music game to your practice or for a family game night. Michiko Yurko, a Suzuki piano teacher in Washington D.C, developed these fantastic materials. Many of our students order the puppy pack. Try playing traditional card games like War, Solitaire, or Go Fish with these music note cards.
We are so fortunate to live in an area where there is an abundance of live music ready to be heard almost anytime. OPSA teachers perform in a many different places around the Chicago area. You can hear them in a chamber concert, downtown in an orchestra performance, in River Forest in a Bach cantata, and more. The Chicago Symphony has lovely children’s concerts like these. You can also find inspiration together by attending a Chicago Youth Symphony concert.
Here is a concert opportunity with OPSA violin faculty, founder & director, Meg Lanfear, and cellist and chamber music coach, Jean Hatmaker, performing at Grace Lutheran in River Forest. They will perform as part of the excellent Bach Cantata Series offered here every year.
7. Subscription to Spotify
Having access to music anywhere, anytime as well as the ability to share songs between devices and people (such as your teacher!) makes a Spotify subscription a great choice for music students. And, as you may know, the Suzuki albums are all available here. We prefer the Suzuki Evergreens playlist as this offers the Suzuki version of the violin pieces as well as the original version (e.g. a German children’s choir singing O Come Little Children).
8.A personal musical history file
I recently saw a great idea a parent had to collect their child’s funny sayings, some photos, messages from family, childhood artwork, etc. and emailed it to an email address in their child’s name. They turned over the account to their child when they graduated high school. I thought that a similar idea would be lovely for a child growing up playing an instrument. Keep a Dropbox folder of their images from concerts, a few videos, and a list of the repertoire studied and accomplishments achieved through the years. I also love the idea of briefly viewing this folder together in a time of low motivation to show your child how far they have come with their skill development.
9. Support building a routine
Students enjoy playing their instruments, but sometimes struggle to find a practice rhythm to their day. Sitting with your child at a time other than practice time and helping them sort through some of the obstacles to practicing can be time well spent. Are there a few moments before school that have previously gone unproductive that could be used to work through an etude or review pieces? When can listening happen? On the way to school? During dinner? Help to navigate these opportunities with your child. This support to develop and maintain a routine can make the difference between a frustrated student and one who feels they have strategies to help them conquer their day.
Some of my most vivid memories of my own young violin studying years involve my childhood home in Virginia. I recall being in our living room, practicing with my Suzuki Dad. He is sitting right in front of me perched on the edge of the wooden rocking chair, holding his notes from that weeks lesson in his lap. He watches me do an exercise several times in a row while checking to make sure that my repetitions meet the criteria set out in the assignment notebook. He is tired, having worked all day. He has an older daughter who wants to tell him about her day at school and a young son begging him to come and play catch with him outside. He also has a wife in the midst of starting a business, tired herself this evening and cooking dinner for our family in the kitchen across from the living room. And yet my Dad is there—giving it his all as a Suzuki Dad. I am forever grateful, both for the memories as well as the skill those moments helped develop.