CSA plans musical collaborations

CSA plans musical collaborations

Community Foundation awards grant to school, MPO

Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 12:00 am  |  By Jillian Fellows  |  www.chronicle-tribune.com

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1 April 2014 — Instructor Kory Browder, third from left, talks with students during Ballet 3 class at Community School of the Arts on Tuesday. Photo/Jeff Morehead

A new grant from the Community Foundation has opened doors for the Community School of the Arts to  collaborate with other musical groups.

“The grant is from the Community Foundation, which is awesome, and it’s a partnership with the Marion Philharmonic Orchestra,” said Nancy Wood, CSA marketing director. “It is to help combine CSA and the Orchestra for ‘The Nutcracker’ and to begin a new Suzuki program here at the school of the arts. We get to bring in the violins, we have a violin instructor. It’s so exciting; it’s something new and different that you can’t find just anywhere.”

CSA officials said last year’s performance of “The Nutcracker” was the first CSA collaboration with MPO in many years.
“Anything we can do to support other cultural music and arts in the community, whether it’s with the MPO, Civic, universities, anytime we can collaborate with them it’s a win-win for everybody,” Wood said. “This one step with these two groups combined, it’s a no brainer.”

The grant also enables the CSA to develop a Suzuki violin program for Grant County youth musicians.

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1 April 2014 — Students practice their moves during Ballet 3 class at Community School of the Arts on Tuesday. Class instructor is Kory Browder. Photo/Jeff Morehead

Suzuki is a method of teaching music conceived by Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki. The central belief of the method is that all people are capable of learning from their environment and that this positive environment would also help to foster character in students.

“The Suzuki violin is a combination of lessons and group lessons and participation from the parents, teachers and students,” said instructor Christina Brandle. “It is a fantastic method of teaching music to children. It’s world renowned. Music can do so much for children. I’m just really excited because we’re going to be able to expose kids to music, something that affects every aspect of their lives.”

Brandle has been an advocate of the Suzuki method since she began learning the violin at age 11. She has also taught her daughters to play the violin using the Suzuki method. Her oldest daughter now attends the Western Springs School of Talent Education in Chicago.

“I go up every other week or so,” Brandle said. “It’s a lot of miles and it’s a huge a commitment on my daughter’s part and it’s a huge commitment on my part. I think it’s worth it. I want her to have any kind of opportunity that I can feasibly provide.”

Brandle’s daughter, Anna, is a part of the performance group Allegro!!!, an elite string ensemble that combines music, dance and multimedia. Allegro!!! will be visiting Marion as part of the spring tour and to introduce Grant County musicians to the Suzuki style prior to the CSA’s new class starting.

“It’s exciting to bring Allegro!!! in,” Wood said. “They learn their music, they’re not playing it on stands, they are actually playing it and dancing to it, so it’s a real performance. It’s an honor that they’re coming all the way here from Chicago; that we’re on their tour. We’re going to put Marion on the map with the CSA and the arts, that’s our focus, to be more than just Marion and to become more of a regional school and a regional draw. The violins and Suzuki can do that for us as well.”

Allegro!!! will be performing May 2 at the Meshingomesia Country Club. Tickets are $25 and there will be an appetizer buffet from 6 to 7 p.m. with the show starting at 7 p.m. The group will perform again on May 3 at the Herman Becker Recital Hall at Indiana Wesleyan University. Tickets for that event are $5.

“You will be astounded at what 11 to 16 year olds can do,” Brandle said. “But they didn’t start just last year; they started when they were, say, four or five. If we have that sort of thing just beginning at the CSA, it’s going to take a few years to develop. I’m very excited about it, I really, really am.”

Wood said the Community Foundation grant is integral is getting the new Suzuki violin program off and running.

“Initially, the first year of a program can be hard to launch if you don’t have a lot of kids interested so with the funding it makes it easier to bring people in at a reduced rate to help compensate for some of that,” she said. “Then as the program grows it can hold its own. I think that’s what the main thinking is behind trying to get some money to get it started. It’s an unusual program. You just can’t find orchestras anywhere anymore and to be able to start with children young and teach them, it’s exciting for the city and it’s exciting for the orchestra.”

Brandle said the CSA’s Suzuki violin class is expected to debut in the fall and she is ready to get started.

“I’m really excited about it because I really think it’s a great learning opportunity for students,” she said. “When you start a program, sometimes it’s slow but you have to lay the groundwork. I think what’s going to happen is it’s going to grow by word of mouth. I love Suzuki violin and I think it’s a phenomenal way of teaching music that is fun, that is inspiring, that is positive and that works.”

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