Alice Joy Lewis founded the Ottawa Suzuki Strings in Ottawa, Kansas in 1966! She has been at it since that time. There were about 39 players at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts last Sunday, June 22, 2014. Thirty-nine, except when they performed music that the very youngest ( as young as two) can play, then they brought out three or four more; adorable.
The Suzuki Method, developed by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, has students learning music just as they learn their mother tongue. Instruction is received in the instructor's studio, but practice occurs at home, with their parents. Yes, indeed, Suzuki requires parents to play the instrument with the child, either learning it at the same time, or sharing the skills he or she already has acquired.
So much for a little shopping after dropping the child off for a lesson; parents attend lessons; everyone is thus on the same page. Music is learned at home, from parents, like any other mother language. Theory, group performance opportunities, and intense summer sessions, for which renowned instructors are recruited from near and far, round out the learning opportunities.
Sunday's program included a Festival Overture, a patriotic medley, and "Over the River and Through the Woods," with some very mature sounds coming from the stage.
Thursday, July 3rd at 7:00 p.m. in the Fredrikson Chapel on the campus of Ottawa University, there will be a a final concert featuring a dozen virtuoso violinists who will gather in Ottawa for the Brian Lewis Young Artist Program, a tuition free program. Each of them will play the equivalent of a movement of a violin concerto, accompanied by a professional orchestra. It's a good opportunity to be amazed by today's young talent, and to be reassured that the age of great musicians has not faded into history.