The attached photo is from 2007, taken with my oldest daughter's lesson group (now 20, she was eleven at the time), my youngest daughter joining in (she's now a 14-year-old in Cellissimo!), and Rob Richardson, well-liked wonderful Suzuki violin instructor.
Being a musician since age 5 and dedicating my life's work to music education, I was thrilled when my oldest daughter proclaimed at the age of 4 that she wanted to play the violin. We were blessed to find WSSTE and Janis Wittrig, who provided my daughter with 14 years of lessons, taking her all the way from practicing foot positions on a pizza box to preparing her for college conservatory auditions.
Not long after we began lessons with Janis, she told me about Chicago Suzuki Institute. "You should consider it," she encouraged me. "It's like getting months of violin study all in just one week." Reading the brochure that she handed me, I became convinced that the institute experience would be beneficial and decided to give it a shot with my daughter. Not only was I not disappointed, I was hooked.
That week in the summer of 2001 started a tradition that has spanned over 15 years and two daughters' music studies. Spending five days in a row focused on nothing but music is a dream come true for any parent desiring comprehensive music education for their child. Watching students from all over the country (and sometimes overseas) come together with a common goal, all speaking the same "language" is so fulfilling. We love Janis dearly (my daughter thinks of her as a second mother), and yet have been additionally blessed to come in contact with so many gifted teachers from around the globe at institute each summer who offer all the best that we have experienced at WSSTE, but bring their own perspective and technique to concepts. These concepts and techniques support their home teachers completely. Each summer that my youngest has attended institute, her home teacher, Alex Revoal, has been able to take the time to attend at least one of her lessons at CSI, and has referred back to and supported work done in those lessons (likewise, the institute teacher has supported Alex's teaching!).
Additionally, we were told that a circle of "music friends" would develop...and it has: a circle of kids who share that unique Suzuki experience with my daughters. I've watched them reunite on the CSI campus each summer, thrilled to see each other once again, picking up right where they left off with their friendships, but opening their circle to welcome those new to institute. My youngest daughter, we joke, has been attending institute her whole life...literally! During my oldest daughter's second institute, I was pregnant with my youngest, who then accompanied us to institute the following year nursing, napping, and crawling around during class times. it was at Institute that my youngest (age 3 that summer) was tagging along, saw a little girl playing cello, pointed to her, and said to me, "I want to do that..." and the rest is history. I have gone from being a violin parent (she's in college now) to being a cello parent, and have gotten to know a whole new side of the institute experience with equally gifted teachers who, like the violin faculty, welcome my daughter back each summer with smiles. Oh, and those institute friends?
My youngest regularly texts her friends many states away!
Do they love institute? Well, consider 2011 when our church youth retreat fell the same week as Chicago Suzuki Institute. My daughter exclaimed, "but I can't miss Institute!"