CURRICULUM & OFFERINGs
Core Curriculum: The Suzuki Repertory
The Suzuki repertory offers a comprehensive collection of technical development for violin, viola, and cello. Under the guidance of a skilled and dedicated teacher, a student can use the Suzuki repertory all the way from "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" to the college level. As such, the Suzuki repertory is the center of technical development, but supplementary materials such as Barbara Barber's Solos for Young Violinists series or Samuel Applebaum's Beautiful music for Two Instruments are also used for diversion or extra support.
Scales & Arpeggios
Scales are an essential component of technical development and part of the student's weekly lesson assignment. The length and difficulty of scales changes with the student's progress. Arpeggios are added later in the same spirit.
Students are introduced to note-reading very early in their instruction, by learning to identify parts of the staff, quarter- and half-notes, and to clap and count rhythms on the page. Reading note-names on the page comes after a student is comfortable identifying the notes on his or her own instrument. Once a student has a strong command of basic technical skills, can clap and count rhythms on the page, can identify note-names on the page, and is able to correctly play in-tune, the student is permitted to read from the page and play at the same time. The primary text used for this development is Joanne Martin's I Can Read Music. Versions are available for violin, viola, and cello. Beyond I Can Read Music, students continue in their note-reading development through participation in orchestras.
Certain basics of music theory are implicitly taught as part of the private lesson experience, in the student's development of scales and arpeggios, but also in the structural, metric, and tonic analysis of the particular piece under study. For a more thorough and detailed development of music theory, once they are ready, students work from Essentials of Music Theory, roughly one unit per week.
Composition is offered to all interested students upon request. Building upon their Suzuki repertory, orchestral repertory, instrumental technique, and developing music theory knowledge, students are introduced to the basics of writing music, including improvisation, pentatonic scales, motive and theme creation, and structural analysis. Students are also introduced to the formalities of composing, including proper score preparation and writing with the needs of the performers in mind. Composing both on paper and with Finale software is developed. The arts of transcription, arranging, and orchestration are offered for advancing students.
Along with daily practice and listening, private lessons are at the core of ability development. Private lessons are weekly, with the length determined by the age and level of the student. Students may take more than one lesson a week.
Once a student has developed a solid technical foundation and strong note-reading skills, he or she is expected to audition for the appropriate ensemble in the Santa Fe Youth Symphony Association. Preparation for these auditions is covered in private lessons.
In the spirit of 19th-century France, a salon is a small, informal concert. We'll have these about once a month. There are no programs; you just get up and play. We'll have food and drink and a supportive audience. Depending on the space and number of people signed up, we may expand these to include any performing art, since music evolved parallel with these other disciplines.
We'll have one or two formal recitals each season, off-site in a fancy performance venue. Each recital will feature solo and group performances, and possibly collaboration with other instruments or dancers. There will be a fee to help cover the cost of the space, marketing, insurance, and a little reception afterward.
Masterclasses are held once each semester, possibly in conjunction with a guest teacher's visit. Masterclasses contain between three and five students, and they replace the private lesson for that week. Students are placed according to level and age. Each student gets 10 to 20 minutes of the hour for a private lesson, while the other students observe. This is a good way to learn from other students in your same ability or age range.
Depending on availability, we'll have a guest teacher visit for a few days. Having a guest teacher allows your regular teacher to observe you in order to refine his or her own teaching skills. More importantly, however, you will gain fresh insights from a fresh perspective. Maybe you'll learn something new, something your regular teacher missed, or something old that makes more sense to you. The guest will play a recital, we'll have a reception so you can meet him or her, and the guest will teach the masterclasses that week, and also give a parent talk.
Once a semester we'll take a trip as a studio to see a professional concert. The point, of course, is to see what studying the performing arts is ultimately all about: sharing it with others. The concert in question will likely be a musical performance, but could also be dance or theatre, or some combination. The fee will cover cost of tickets and transportation.