About our 2017-18 MNjcc Suzuki Program
The MNjcc Suzuki Program (formerly the Bloor jcc Suzuki Program) was started in 1992 by May Ing-Ruehle and Louise Hanly. During 2017-18 we will proudly celebrate our 26th season! Gretchen Paxson-Abberger has been the artistic director of 90 plus students since 1999. For the past 8 years we have also offered a 5-day summer music and arts day camp in July, boasting a roster of well-known guest artists, and our talented MNjcc Suzuki teachers. Along with our regular roster classes, we will continue to offer Adult String Ensemble Classes: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced levels, and a Tuesday morning Suzuki Pre-School Music class (for 6 months – 3.5 years) to be taught by Alison Porter.
Tuesdays, March 27 - June 5, 2018 (no classes on April 17)
(Ages 6 months-3.5 years) 10:30 - 11:00 am
No prior musical experience necessary. Must be accompanied by a parent and/or caregiver. Children will experience some of the fundamental Suzuki concepts, while learning some of the string repertoire tunes and rhythms, through movement, singing and games. A wonderful foundation before starting on an instrument. Classes are taught by Certified Suzuki Early Childhood Education instructors (SECE).
When I started at the MNjcc Suzuki program as a child, I could not have imagined the lifelong impact it would have. I’ve been fortunate to have many opportunities in recent years that would not have been possible without those early experiences. Although I was a reluctant violinist, Gretchen nurtured my developing musicianship with endless patience. I am also grateful to my mother, Nancy Lokan, for persevering through my difficult moments.
Since graduating from the MNjcc program, I have had opportunities to explore a range of new interests. I switched my primary instrument to voice and considered a performance career. From there, I continued my schooling at George Brown College and became a Registered Early Childhood Educator, pursuing related research studies along the way. But somehow all roads lead back to music. I spent the last two summers as an intern and early years’ music coordinator at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, where I also studied Orff and Kodály methods. As I now work toward my Masters of Early Childhood Studies degree at Ryerson University, I am discovering so many possibilities for nurturing musical learning in early childhood. I’m thrilled to be sharing what I have learned as I return to the MNjcc Suzuki program as a musicianship teacher this year. I look forward to getting to know everyone at the program as we learn and work together in our musical community!
I started playing the violin when I was five years old, and studied at the JCC for the formative years of my musical education, under the instruction of Katrina, Maya, Nancy, Gretchen, Gary, Kerri, Rona, and others. Since then, I have moved on to study mandolin, guitar, and voice with a focus on folk music and improvisation. I am now a third year student of philosophy and psychology at the University of Toronto, working part time as a teaching assistant in philosophy, and playing and coaching hockey on the side. Most recently, I have been interested in the neuroscience of things like empathy, morality, and theory of mind; the ways we model and think about mental disorders; and ethics in animal research. But music always stays at the core of who I am. I recently founded an indie folk band called Sheepishly Yours, playing gigs at events for the university and performing at small shows. I have also been working on a solo songwriting project, and working as a studio and performance violinist, spanning genres from classical to folk to hip hop. As I mature, I realize that music is one of the biggest sources of meaning in my life. Living a musical life is delightfully unpredictable and diverse, and it is a thrill to continue with it alongside my other pursuits.
Reflecting back to my time in Suzuki, what really sticks out to me is the social experience of playing music. Getting to really inhabit these pieces with others really stuck with me, especially as I got older and started playing duets and chamber music. I have strong memories of how exciting it was to first learn the Bach Double, and having some of my first experiences playing viola (now my primary instrument) getting the chance to play in a supportive role. I think the sense of music as a collaborative activity has stuck with me since then. In high school I began writing little scores for the movies my friends made. This quickly became somewhat lucrative (in the experiential sense) and I ended up scoring around 10 films a year. This was collaborative music in a new sense, with the director and me approaching a problem from two completely different directions and sources of training. It was exciting and frustrating, having to explain why my decisions are right to a director with little musical literacy, and also knowing when to let them make decisions about what I do. In some ways it's not unlike those first few lessons playing second violin on the Bach double concerto, learning where to play my part out and where my job is to make the other violinist sound as great as they possibly can.
I'm now entering my final year at Wilfrid Laurier University as a Music Composition major. I've had some incredible opportunities over the past few years including interning with Jumblies Theatre in Toronto, facilitating music for diverse communities, and trying to learn to write music that is accessible for anyone to inhabit the way I first experienced as a kid. I was asked to write a score for an old high school friend’s film that won a SOCAN young composers award, and I'm lucky enough to keep being asked to make music in collaborative spaces like this. One of the big highlights of the past few years, however, has been being invited back to teach at the MNjcc Suzuki Music Camp and being able to share the things I've learned.
I couldn't really tell you what kind of music I make, or even what kind of music I'd like to be making, but I think I already learned back in group class that the important part is how I can share music with the people around me.