About 140 Fairfax County elementary school students demonstrated their musical talents recently at a Suzuki strings concert at Lake Braddock Secondary School.
Conducted by music teacher Margaret Kim, the concert last week included classical selections, Suzuki originals and popular numbers, such as highlights from Rodgers' and Hammerstein's "Sound of Music."
Kim, who has been with the Fairfax schools for eight years, teaches violin by both Suzuki and traditional methods.
The Suzuki method, named after its Japanese developer, Dr. Schinichi Suzuki, concentrates on developing ear training, finger dexterity and memorization of music.
The method also requires parental involvement, which Kim says "a lot of parents don't like." Kim said Suzuki believed that if parents become involved in their children's learning process, helping them learn the shades of difference between a slightly sharp (or flat) note and one that is on key, students would learn more quickly.
The first half of the concert focused on traditional violin methods and included the popular numbers and a few classical pieces.
The second half was devoted to a deomonstration of Suzuki methods. The students -- fourth, fifth and sixth graders from 10 county schools -- played most of the Suzuki pieces from memory.
The second half started with the most difficult pieces, Grade 6 music in Suzuki, and worked down to the simplest, Grade 1 music. It ended with a full concert adaption of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, and the students demonstrated some of the Suzuki methods, which may have surprised music buffs accustomed to the classical sounds of violinists such as Isaac Stern.
In one demonstration, the students crowded onto the stage in pairs, with one violin for each pair. One student would play a few bars of "Twinkle, Twinkle" by bowing, then another student would take over and pluck the next few bars. By using this method, Kim said, students learn to concentrate on the two major ways of playing stringed instruments.
Upside-down playing was the focus of another demonstration, in which students turned their bows around, holdint the small end and bowing the large end (the frog). Kim said the exercise helps students increase control over their bows, since it is much harder to hold the bow by the smaller, lighter tip.
Among the Suzuki students was Amy Carter who, with 40 of the students in last week's performance, participated in an areawide Suzuki concert at Wolf Trap Farm over the Memorial Day weekend.