Friday, November 30, 2012

Introducing Amy Norton!

The ISSI board is pleased to welcome another new member to its ranks: Amy Norton.

Many of you already know Amy and have had the privilege of working with her.  She has been an ISSI faculty member for many years already, and has lent her enthusiastic, creative teaching to many other Suzuki events around Utah and the Intermountain West.  She was the mastermind behind the recent "Rock with Bach" violin super activity that was a huge success!

She loves teaching and says that one of her fondest memories of being a young Suzuki student was the great time she always had at ISSI every summer.  She says it helped her see her progress from year to year, and really helped her enjoy her instrument!  In fact, she credits ISSI as one of the corner stones that helped her stick with her violin through those busy teenage years.  In her words, "I love ISSI!"

Amy is committed to teacher education and finds ways to constantly reexamine and improve her teaching.  In addition to her Suzuki teacher training, she has also attended the SAA Convention in Minneapolis and recently finished the "Suzuki Principles in Action" course with Pat D'Ercole this past Fall.

We are lucky to have her on our team!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Never, Never, Never, Never Give Up

One of our most beloved faculty members, Gabe Bolkosky, shared these wise words with a few friends the other day:

"This one's for the young jedis: I'm so glad that I didn't quit. I'm glad that I didn't quit when I was 12 and thought that violin was nerdy. I'm glad that I didn't quit when I was 19 or 20 or 21 when I injured my shoulder and didn't know if I'd really play again. I'm glad that I didn't quit at 26 when I didn't understand how I fit into the music world. I'm glad that I didn't quit when I was 30 or 35 because life would be easier without practice. Tonight I felt music in my heart more deeply than ever. Don't quit young jedis. Stay with your practice. It's worth it."

Friday, October 19, 2012

The ISSI Board Welcomes Aisha Johnson!

We at ISSI are pleased to welcome violist Aisha Johnson to our board!  Following is a spotlight about Aisha, so you can get to know her.

Her Background
Aisha started studying with Doralee Madsen when she was 5. She switched to viola, because as her mom says best, she liked to be different, when she was 11.   She studied with Janet Anderson until the Suzuki books ran out about mid high school.   She loved attending ISSI as a violist. There was a fun group of violists. She loved playing in the chamber groups as well because ISSI always brought in really great teachers.

Her Studio
She originally didn't think she would teach...but she always had few students and realized that when she was teaching the time just flew by! Just a couple of years ago she gave up other professional pursuits and turned all efforts to teaching and raising her little growing family. Her number one goal is that the students WANT to come to their lesson. Even if it wasn't a great practice week, even if they are tired, that she creates a fun and productive learning environment. They learn together: the students, parents, and teacher. She also believes that every child can and that every child is different. She caters to the needs of the child, even the adult or teenager that wants to start learning! Plenty of love to go around. She also started teaching because there is such a need for violist to teach viola. She studied viola in college at Brigham Young University, has a degree and still performs today.

Why Suzuki?
Aisha likes the nurturing way you can teach a child with the Suzuki method. She also believes that ear training is at the root of every good musician.

Her Role on the ISSI Board
She was given the opportunity to join the ISSI board as the viola representative and, as she puts it,  she "couldn't say no! There has been a need for some time to get the viola love back at ISSI." She attended when she was a student and loved to see old friend and make new ones. "Being a violist is more than playing the instrument," Aisha says.  "You become part of a small but passionate group of dedicated musicians and good people." She is still friends today with the friends she made at ISSI.  She is still in touch with her teachers from ISSI. When she returned to teaching full time she was sad to see that there weren't very many violists at ISSI. "That is my mission!" she replies.  "We will build the viola program back to what it used to be."

So welcome to Aisha, we are glad to have you on board!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

ISSI 2013...Here We Come!

This past Thursday night, the ISSI board met to review this past summer's institute, and talk about exciting happenings for 2013.

We are especially excited to celebrate the 35th year of ISSI in 2013 with a piece commissioned especially for the occasion.  Written by our own faculty member, Michael McLean, "ISSI Gettin' Down" will be performed by all ISSI students in the final concert Saturday.  What a way to commemorate this milestone!  Music is already posted online; view it and listen to it at this link here and get practicing!

Also at the meeting, we were introduced to two new board members: Amy Norton (violin) and Aisha Johnson (viola). We are thrilled to have their enthusiasm, support, and energy to add to our efforts!  Individual spotlights on them both are soon to come.

As we wrapped up Thursday's meeting, Ramona Stirling made an off-hand comment about how "It's amazing what one person can do."  This comment resonated deeply with me, as I sat there surrounded by such talented, capable, committed teachers and parents; all adding to this extraordinary effort to create positive, nurturing experiences for our young people.

And if it's true that it's amazing what one person can do, think of all we can do when we unite together behind such a worthy cause: the education and betterment of our children through music.

So here's to ISSI 2013: Can't wait to see you there!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why Do We Teach Music?

NOT because I expect you to major in music.
NOT because I expect you to play or sing all your life.
NOT so you can relax or have fun.
BUT- So you will be human
So you will recognize beauty
So you will be sensitive
So you will be closer to an infinite beyond this world
So you will have something to cling to
So you will have more love, more compassion, more
gentleness, more
good…in short, more life.
Of what value will it be to make a prosperous living unless you know how to live?
Author Unknown

Sunday, July 1, 2012

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things...

Music and laughter and great lunchtime concerts.
Rockstops and pencils and awesome conductors
 Outdoor performances played on tuned strings...
These are a few of my favorite things

Memories and friendships to last for a lifetime
Inspiring teachers whose wisdom's like sunshine
Showing us how to make all our notes sing
These are a few of my favorite things
When the string breaks, when the bow's loose, or intonation's bad
I simply remember my favorite things

Can't wait to see you all next year! 
June 17-22, 2013

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Wall

Did you hit it today?  The "Thursday Wall"?  That point at ISSI where you feel like you've been in your classes for your whole life, and that you will remain in them for another lifetime?

Sometimes mid-week can be tough, as we come to terms with the amount of energy we've spent, and amount of work and learning ahead of us.

So, kick back, relax, and allow a few of these scenes to pick you up and get you through the home stretch!

 For $5 you can buy a star to honor your favorite teacher, at Institute or at home!  Proceeds raised from this go towards the general ISSI funds, which helps to keep tuition low.  I love seeing how much students and families love their teachers!

ISSI has some great merchandise for sale...bags, shirts, bag tags...Stop by the front desk to pick up yours before they're all gone!  (Didn't you love seeing everyone in their matching shirts today???)

 Donuts, anyone?

I loved sitting in on Carey Cheney's technique class during the last hour of the day.  Among the topics discussed were "how many bow bounces can you do?" and "Thumbderwear."  (Just don't ask; it's a cello thing.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

And...We're Off!

ISSI started with a bang this week!  We've already had three concerts, ten class periods, scores of parent lectures...and we've only just begun!

Three of my favorite moments so far include...

This violin group class balancing gummy bears on the tops of their violins as they walk around the room, practicing good balance

This quintessential scene from ISSI: a mother listening to her child practice outside on the lawn during lunch.

And (this has to be my favorite) this little guy snuggling into his brother's cello case during the brother's masterclass.  Yes folks, you read this correctly: this little brother was wrapped in the cello case as if it were a sleeping bag. !

What were some of your favorite moments so far?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Tomorrow, Tomorrow!

Tomorrow is the day!  Student classes begin in just over twelve hours!

Music has been copied, pieces practiced, instruments tuned and polished.  Faculty have arrived, schedules printed, t-shirts folded.  Packets are stuffed, day care forms filled out, bags packed.

Tomorrow, hundreds of wonderful students will arrive with their families to participate in ISSI 2012!

I'm looking forward to the energy, inspiration, and the cello concert on Friday at 1 pm!

What are you looking forward to this year?

Friday, June 1, 2012

ISSI and M&M's

The first year I attended Institute (it was just ISI back then) was in 1989.  I can remember so many things about that first Institute experience: all the kids running around from class to class, the energy and music everywhere, that one crazy cello teacher who was so much fun, and the blue Institute sweatshirt with heart-shaped notes my mom bought for me because it was so cold that week (Institute was in Logan that year and we had neglected to pack any warm clothes).

But the thing I remember the most about my first Institute is that every day for lunch, my mom would buy me a small box of plain M&M's.  I wouldn't eat them right away, but saved them for the afternoon, when we would go watch other classes.  As a beginner, my schedule wasn't all that full, so my mom and I were free to do as we wished in the afternoons.  To be honest, that extra time with my mom was my favorite part about the whole week.  And it's something I remember with fondness and gratitude every single time I enjoy a plain M&M.

There are so may wonderful reasons to attend Institute: the motivation it brings to students, the chance to learn new and exciting pieces for chamber groups and performance classes, the opportunity to work with amazing and inspiring teachers.  But for me that first year, the most wonderful thing about Institute was that time I had with my mom, and the way that experience bound us together with a closeness that was as sweet as the chocolate that melted in my mouth (not in my hand).

I look forward to sharing many memories and M&M's with my own daughters as we begin our own Institute attendance.

So, what are some of your favorite ISSI memories?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Helpful Hints For Attending Institute!

Going to a summer institute for the first time can be intimidating for both parents and students. Have you ever wondered what makes institute so special and important? Are you nervous about where to go and what to do? Will your child have a good time and be motivated? Will the money and time you have already invested be worthwhile?

As a violin teacher and a veteran institute mom, I can promise you that going to Institute is one of the most valuable things you can do for your budding musician. Spending a week focusing on the technical and musical aspects of their instrument will provide invaluable musical growth for your child. But more than that, being immersed in music-making and surrounded by like-minded peers, as well as a world-renowned faculty will provides motivation and excitement that can’t be replicated.

So are you looking for some insider “tips and tricks” to make your experience great? Are you wondering how to get the most out of Institute?

First, approach the Institute week with an open mind and encourage your student to be flexible and willing to try things that are new and different. Institute is a great opportunity to make new friends and have new experiences! You will have the privilege to work with many teachers, and one of the most valuable parts of institute is being able to learn from great teachers from all over the world. It’s very likely that they will have ideas that are different from your teacher at home does. Be flexible and open to trying things different ways all week long. Don’t automatically dismiss an idea just because it’s unlike anything you’ve ever done before. Go for it! Experiment, have fun with new ideas, approaches and perspectives. Often, a technique exercise or game introduced at Institute will help your child understand an idea or concept that they’ve been struggling with, just because it was presented in a new or unique way.

Second, do your best to commit to really being at Institute all day, every day. While it is difficult to drop everything and focus on music for an entire week, think of how that shows your child that their study of music is a priority! There are so many new things to learn and experience: this may be the first time your child plays in an orchestra or chamber group, the first time they have ever played their cello this much in a single day, the first time they’ve performed on a concert stage for hundreds of people, or the first time they’ve realized how exciting music can be. Soak it up, take lots of notes and lots of pictures. There are wonderful concerts at lunch time and every night. Attend as many of these as you can, not only are they geared towards our younger audience, but they are a polished, inspiring example of what we are all striving towards. There are parent seminars held throughout the day as well, check your concert guide for a schedule and take advantage of those classes to get some new ideas for you! My daughter and I look forward to Institute every year because of all the concentrated time we get to spend one on one with each other, and what a gift that is in our busy society!

Third, be willing to make new friends. Institute can be a wonderful time to connect with parents and students from many varied places, all of whom are working on the same goals, and experiencing the same joys and frustrations you do. Be willing to strike up a conversation, sit with someone new at lunch, or help a mom with a stroller up or down the stairs. We have so much in common, especially at Institute, and there is something so refreshing and enriching that comes when we share the joys and the

frustrations with people who are in the trenches with us. Also rewarding is watching your child make fast friends with other kids in their masterclass, chamber group, or enrichment class, and then seeing them squeal with delight when they get to renew that friendship year after year.

Finally, here are some practical tips. Bring a backpack to carry all your supplies in and stock it with healthy snacks and a water bottle or two. Kids work hard at Institute, and I’ve found that some simple, healthy snacks like grapes, string cheese or crackers go a long way towards keeping their energy and their attitude up. If your child is younger, you might want to consider a coloring book and crayons or some kind of quiet activity to keep their hands busy during the concerts. You might also want a book or some knitting for you while your child is busily occupied in a group class. Take advantage of the beautiful school grounds and go outside during a break or lunchtime to get some fresh air and burn off some energy. And finally, make sure both you and your student get plenty of sleep during the week. You are going to want to be well rested and fresh for a fantastic week of music making!

Going to a summer institute is one of the best things you can do for your young string player. You will experience amazing musical growth and new motivation in your child, and walk away with some new tools, tricks, and motivation for you as well. Enjoy the experience- it will change your life!

submitted by Stacy Smith

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Top Ten Reasons You Should Go To ISSI

10. You feel like you have practiced the Twinkle Variations over 1000 times with your child (and you're probably right)
9. Some people listen to the radio in their cars; you listen to your child's Suzuki CD
8. You find inspiration and validation spending time with other parents who value music education
7. Your child finds inspiration and validation spending time with other children who study music
6. The chance to study orchestra (Enrichment 1 orchestra) with that crazy German faculty member...what's the deal with her teeth, anyway?
5. Every picture your child draws shows them holding a string instrument
4. The Aaron Ashton Band. 'Nuff said.
3. Instead of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Row Your Boat", your child hums tunes such as "Lightly Row" and "Minuet 1"
2. Every toy your child plays with somehow turns into an "instrument"
1. You know that the inspiration and motivation of this one week in June carries over to the rest of the year!

So, what's one of your top reasons for attending ISSI this year?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Faculty Spotlight

ISSI boasts a world-class faculty from around the world! Read about one of our excellent faculty members, Brant Bayless, in this article here from the Salt Lake Tribune.

I love the way Brant mixes his easy-going, relaxed approach with careful, thoughtful instruction for students at Institute.

Leave us a comment if you've ever had the chance to work with or observe Brant at Institute!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Early Bird Registration is Open

Visit our website here to get started on your registration.

Don't forget that you can add extras, like additional t-shirts and meal tickets when you register.

Early-bird Registration ends March 1, so act fast!

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Early Bird Registration...

....will open shortly!

For now, visit our website at to read up on the exciting tidbits about this year's Institute.

Remember: Early Bird discount closes March 1!

Monday, January 2, 2012

On Listening...

One of the things I love most about the Suzuki philosophy is when we as a community can share ideas with each other! Thanks to Ramona Stirling for sending along some tips from a studio parent, Tabitha Ricks.

Tips from Tabitha:

This month's newsletter is on the three types of listening. Edward Kreitman says there are three types of listening: passive, parallel, and active listening.

Passive Listening
This is the type of listening done in the car or at home...or anywhere where it's not the primary activity going on.

This is the way the student learns melodies, quality of tone, and intonation.

Another good idea for this type of listening comes from Michele Horner. She calls it "listening like a maniac." Each day, you listen to the song you're on at least 10 times in a row, then switch to the next song 10 times in a row, and finally the song after that 10 times in a row. Michele Horner did this with her own daughter and was able to learn faster. I have been doing this with Seth, and it has been much easier to for him to learn the next song. One thing to mention is that it's important to listen to the rest of the CD and the other CD's also.

Parallel Listening
This type of listening is listening to the higher books while you are in a lower book. For example, listen to book 4 while you're in book 1. You should listen to all books as early as possible.

This listening builds great vision for the parent and the student (and they will know the pieces much better). It is also good to hear other classical music as much as possible.

Active/Targeted Listening
This is where you have the student listen specifically to one part of the music during practicing and hear specific detail to learn from listening.

This has been helpful to us for a couple of reasons. It has helped Seth learn the song easier, it gives him a break of playing during practicing, and it is training his mind to listen to the details of the piece. When he was learning Humoresque, I had him listen specifically to the order of the piece with the music in front of him. Since he is learning to read music, having him look at the music and identify the sections gave him confidence in reading music and added visual input to help him learn the piece. He played it in the right order a lot easier than some of the pieces before that.

Here are some examples of other questions you could ask:
"How many slurs do you hear in each line?"
"Do you hear the 1st or 2nd ending here?"
"Does this section repeat?"
"Where does the first part end?"
"Do you hear legato or staccato bowing?"
"Are the notes on or off the string?"

You can even point to the music to show how the slurs are or the staccato bowing is written...where the repeat is, or where the 1st or 2nd ending is.

All in all...KEEP might save you from going crazy!!!