By: Tze-ying Wu
August 2, 2016
Hello, my name is Tze-ying Wu and I am the director of the ASO’s newly founded education program—the Sturgis Music Academy. First of all, I would like to thank the ASO for offering me this wonderful opportunity to create this program for them. Building this program is meaningful to me considering my passion for teaching and working with younger students, but I also believe deeply in this program’s future as a positive and inspiring music-learning environment for the children in Little Rock and its surrounding communities.
For the past four years I have had the privilege of teaching as a violin and viola instructor at the Indiana University String Academy, a pre-college string program associated with the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. As a student who grew up in Taiwan and came from a music education system that is very different from the states, what I saw and experienced from the IU String Academy completely changed my approach to teaching. The program is well organized with the teachers all teaching in a unified method based on the methods and philosophies of the program’s director Mimi Zweig, as well as those of the renowned Shinichi Suzuki and Paul Rolland. The students are offered an abundance of activities during the week and throughout the semester. Each week they receive a one-on-one private lesson with their teacher and one group lesson, where their learning can be reinforced by playing together and interacting with their peers. Once a semester they have a group presentation concert as well as solo recitals. IU String Academy shows how important of a role music plays in the students’ lives. With the emphasis of establishing a “non-judgmental” environment, the students get to experience the joy of learning new pieces, develop their mental strength through conquering the difficulties and frustrations of learning the instrument, and are eventually awarded with a sense of accomplishment from their performances. The confidence they gain from learning the instrument is precious, and I can never forget the sparkles I saw in my students’ eyes when they knew they were succeeding.
None of this can be achieved without parental involvement, and this is a crucial key to the students’ success. The parents participate in every single one of the activities in their children’s learning. It is very important that they demonstrate good teamwork with the teacher by attending the private lessons and group lessons so they can practice with their children at home. They come to all of their children’s performances, allowing them to share the sense of accomplishment and be proud of their children. The students from IU String Academy are never alone because they always have somebody to watch over them for every single step forward. It is also amazing to see how a community starts growing when all the parents come together to support their children.
The reason why I am describing the IU String Academy in such detail is because I hope to build the Sturgis Music Academy in a similar way. My goal with the Academy is to provide the students a comprehensive music education through learning string instruments, a non-judgmental environment to help the students build their confidence and mental strength, an enjoyable experience playing music, and most importantly a community where the students can share their feelings that they experience in their journey. I believe if children can succeed in music, they can succeed in other areas as well.
The Academy is scheduled to begin on August 29th, for now focusing on violin, and we also offer a free camp on August 11th and 12th to showcase the Academy’s teaching method and group lesson format. So take advantage of that free and fun opportunity, and I hope on August 29th you will consider joining me in witnessing the beginning of a new journey starting in Little Rock!
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