Saturday, October 4, 2014

ISSI: A Day in the Life

All year long you hear the buzz about Institute.  Teachers, friends, fellow students talk about it and remember the fun times they had.

But for the family new to the Institute experience, it can be a bit overwhelming!  We get so many questions about what a day at Institute is like, that we thought we'd share one with you here.

Institute runs for an entire week, Monday-Saturday.  Monday has a slightly different schedule, to allow for registration and orientation, and Saturday's schedule is slightly different because of final concerts.  We can look at those special days at another time, but for today, I thought it would be nice to give you a glimpse of what a usual day was like for myself and my child at ISSI.

Please keep in mind that the following is a SAMPLE SCHEDULE and is not a guarantee that your child's schedule will be exactly the same.

830 am Arrive at Juan Diego high school
We like to get there early to make sure we find a good parking spot, and so that we don't feel hurried or rushed to get to class.  Starting the day off with a relaxed pace goes a long way in making sure your child enjoys the rest of their day!

9 am Repertoire Class
During this class, my child works in a large group of students to prepare a piece or two for a performance at the final concert on Saturday.  The teacher may go over other principles of string-playing through the week, but the main focus of this class is to prepare for that final performance.  I love seeing the growth during the week, as well as the polish that comes from really digging into the details of a piece.  And nothing beats the sound of a group of students playing a polished performance together; it is so exciting!

10 am Technique class
In this class, my child works in a large group of students who all play the same instrument and are at the same level.  The teacher guides the class in studying and growing different techniques needed to play their instrument well.  These classes can be quite a lot of fun, as many teachers bring games and different approaches to technique.

11 am Orchestra
Depending on what level your student is registered for, they may be placed in an orchestra class.  This class is fun because it combines different instruments together (violin, viola, cello, bass) and focuses on note-reading.  Students do not receive music ahead-of time, so it is a true sight-reading experience!  ISSI has some incredible orchestra conductors, and orchestra is often students' favorite class. Students give a performance of their work at the final class of the week.

12 pm Lunch
This is one of our favorite times of the day!  We get to connect with our friends and family, and see how their day is going.  We get to talk about all the things they've learned and how things are going.
You can pack your own lunch, buy individual items from the school cafeteria, or buy lunch at one of the many different restaurants close to campus.  We like to eat out at least once during the week, just because it's a fun way to make the week feel special.

1 pm Lunch time concert
Every day (except for Monday and Saturday....remember those days have special schedules) there is a lunch time concert.  And every one is always a treat!  These concerts feature ISSI students as soloists, or in chamber groups.  And sometimes the concerts even feature our own faculty.  Whatever is on the program, you will be inspired!  You do not want to miss these.

2 pm Enrichment Class
ISSI offers some extra classes, which you can sign up for if you like.  If you don't sign up for an enrichment class, you'd just have a free hour during that time.  There have been classes such as art, story-telling, Zumba for kids, juggling, Kodaly, fiddling, etc.  You'll want to check this year's registration flyer to see what will be offered.  These non-music classes can sometimes be the pick-me-up you need during a day full of concentrated music instruction!

3 pm Chamber
When I attended ISSI as a young student, this was always my favorite class!  Chamber groups are small groups of students playing together; usually comprised of 3-4 students.  Each student receives their music a few weeks before ISSI, and is expected to come with their music already learned and prepared (not memorized).  In this class, one teacher (a chamber coach) works with the group to help them polish their piece, which they play at a final concert on Saturday afternoon.  This performance is without a teacher leading them, so the students really grow in taking responsibility and ownership of the music they are creating.

4 pm Master Class
This class is comprised of a small group of 3 to 4 students, each playing the same instrument.  Every day in this class, each student gets a mini-lesson from the instructor, while the other students watch.  So much learning can take place when a child observes the learning of their peers!  It is also a special treat for students to get one-on-one time with their master teacher every single day.  I love the way the teacher can zero in on one or two particular concepts, and nurture the growth of those throughout the week.

515 pm Concert
Most days, there is a concert after classes end.  These are always such a treat, and a great way to unwind and relax from a long day of working.  In the past, these concerts have highlighted the week's Guest Artist, the fiddling classes, the Advanced Camp Students (ISSI students in the upper Suzuki books and beyond), etc.  You'll want to check the ISSI schedule you receive in your registration materials at the beginning of the week so you know what is happening each night.

Well, there you have it: A day in the life of ISSI!
We can't wait for you to join us in 2015

Monday, September 1, 2014

Staying Inspired

ISSI wrapped up just a short two and a half months ago, but it does seem like it's been forever sometimes!  Here are some tips to keep that motivation going:

  1. Write down some of the important points you learned while at ISSI and keep them with your child's practice materials or on the wall in your practice area.
  2. Post pictures of ISSI in your practice room or in your case
  3. Wear your ISSI t-shirt often
  4. Stay connected with your friends from ISSI via email and social media
  5. Check out ISSI's Facebook page; there are always tips, photos, etc being posted
  6. Start planning and saving now for ISSI next year (June 15-20, 2015).  Talk with your child often about it to get them excited.
  7. Talk with your teacher and other students in your studio about next year's ISSI; see who is planning to come, and invite friends to come with you (especially those who may not have participated this year)
We look forward to seeing you in 2015!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Institute has started...what do I need to bring?

With classes going from 9 am till 5 pm, and concerts and events after that, Institute brings with it some very long days!

Arriving prepared with the essentials (and with a few little extras!) can make all the difference in keeping your energy and enthusiasm up during the week.

Here's what we recommend:


  • instrument and bow in a case labeled clearly with your name and phone number
  • music stand
  • rosin
  • for cellos: small chair (if needed) and endpin strap
  • notebook and pen (to record all the great things you learn this week!)
  • Lunch (whether you pack your lunch, plan to purchase individual items from the school cafeteria, or plan to eat out at a nearby restaurant, know what your noon time plans are!)
  • schedule (which you'll pick up at registration)
  • name badge (which you'll pick up at registration)


  • water bottle
  • light sweater (rooms can get cold)
  • $1 bills to buy treats at the scholarship table
  • a snack or two to get you through that mid-day slump 
  • coloring books, magnet doodle boards, etc for children who have breaks
  • camera (to record all the fun you have this week!)

What about you?  What things will you be bringing with you to ISSI this year?

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things...

ISSI 2014 is just around the corner!

We've taken an informal poll to find out what people love most about ISSI.  Here are some of the results:

  • The Cello Concert
  • Incredible faculty
  • the energy of the week
  • meeting (and learning from) other parents
  • reuniting with friends from all over
  • fresh perspectives and ideas

So, what is it you can't wait for at ISSI?  Leave your answer in the comments section!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

ISSI 2014

Dear Friends

Registrations are coming in, music is being learned, excitement is in the air about ISSI 2014!

We are looking forward to welcoming old friends and making new ones; to learning new music and polishing familiar tunes; to fiddling, Zumba, the Fry Street, story telling, and lunch time concerts.

It promises to be one of our best summers yet!

Visit our website to register.