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Category : Fine Arts
Artist Spotlight | Laura Syjud, Suzuki Strings Teacher
Tuesday , September 21 , 2021
We met up with Laura Syjud to learn more about her musical passions and the Suzuki Strings program that is offered exclusively at Desert Shadows Elementary School.
Laura, we want to know what drew you to music, and more specifically what inspired you to learn to play string instruments? Our household was very musical, and my mother is a piano teacher. We would even sing instead of talking to communicate at times. When I was younger, I had the opportunity to go to the symphony once or twice per year with my mom. That exposure was so important in my early love of the violin and orchestral music. My mom started teaching me piano at the age of five, and I loved learning new songs. My older brother started taking violin lessons at school when I was four years old, and I was begging my mom to get me lessons also. I was drawn to the strings, the sound, and the elegance of the violin. I would end up having to wait until I was nine years old to start lessons.
Wow, you seemed to have gotten a lot out of your upbringing! Tell us, what do you get out of participating in this art form now? Physically, mentally, spiritually? Playing the violin is a multifaceted experience. Physically, everything must be in balance, meaning the way you hold the instrument and bow, the bowing style, and the endurance of holding the instrument up for long periods of time. Mentally, my whole brain is involved. If I am reading music, such as in an orchestral setting, I am decoding symbols and markings. In addition, the conductor is giving me and all the other musicians signals at the same time to let me know if I am on the right track with volume, phrasing, and timing. Sometimes I have the opportunity to improvise when playing in a band or recording music for artists. This is a whole different experience as I can be creative with adding to the songs. Playing the violin is incredibly enriching to my life because it affords me the opportunity to meet many different kinds of people, be involved in making music from different genres, and being able to express my feelings through music.
We know art encompasses many different forms. From your perspective, what makes music an art form? Music is an art form because there is so much room for interpretation by the artist/musician. Also, when presenting this form of art, the audience all may experience it differently or interpret it in different ways just like looking at a painting. Some may feel joy, sadness, or excitement within a performance while someone else may feel or think something completely different. Even the person presenting the music has their own interpretation.
PVSchools is fortunate to have passionate educators teaching fine and performing arts to students. For you, what are the rewarding aspects of teaching the violin to children? There are so many positive and rewarding parts to teaching music. My goal is not to create professional violinists but to create a space in which the students learn discipline, have a sense of community, are challenged, and grow as a person. When I see a child that has been struggling with playing the violin and then it finally clicks, yes, that is rewarding. When I have students take lessons and really excel at violin playing, that is also rewarding. However, the most rewarding part is seeing children grow their self-esteem. Students showing empathy to one another and encouraging each other in their violin playing or when a child comes to school sad but leaves happy because of my class. It’s all incredibly rewarding.
For readers who may not be familiar with Suzuki Strings, talk about the method. What do you love most about the Suzuki Strings program? Suzuki Strings is connected with the Suzuki violin method. Suzuki in the Schools was created to bring the Suzuki philosophy, developed by Shinichi Suzuki in the 1950s, to the public schools. The philosophy, often referred to as talent education, includes starting at around the age of three, listening, repetition, lots of encouragement, learning with other children, graded repertoire, and delaying reading music. Suzuki Strings, as it is called at Desert Shadows Elementary School, incorporates the idea that every child can learn to play the violin by learning proper technique (before reading notes), reinforcing skills learned through repetition, and teaching in small step instruction. I absolutely love bringing this philosophy to the public school setting. What I like most about this program is that I get to expose hundreds of children each year to the violin. They learn that not only can they succeed at learning the violin, but they can really enjoy the process, as well.