Scholarships send seven Suzuki students to camp

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT

Seven young violinists and their families from the DeKalb area traveled to Stevens Point, Wis., in August for a memorable experience, thanks to the generosity of a Sycamore family. They all attended the American Suzuki Institute, a camp for students studying violin using the Suzuki approach. John and Vivian Spinoso awarded scholarships to the students because they wanted to give them a fun week and a musical boost.

All seven students are enrolled in lessons with the Suzuki violin program through the Northern Illinois University Community School of the Arts. They are Sophie Kennedy of Somonauk, Ella Uplegger of Elburn, Shiloh Smith and Erin Templin of Sycamore, and Miriam Rodriguez, Jordan Weiss and Miranda Zhang of DeKalb.

Vivian Spinoso recalled that attendance at this same camp each summer was a high point for her three daughters, Julie, Lisa and Gina, during their many years of violin lessons with Suzuki violin director and teacher Ann Montzka-Smelser. The decision to bring that same joy to others was easy for her and John to make: “We like handing out fun.”

“Our girls found playing the violin a challenge. The camp not only made them better musicians, it gave us all great connections with other families in our program and provided the girls with a fun week,” she said in a news release.

Kristal Templin, mother of one of this year’s campers, was very impressed with the camp.

“It was Erin’s first year going to the camp. She loved it and is already talking about wanting to go again,” Templin said in the release. “The whole experience brought insight, ideas and motivation that have carried into our practices and lessons at home. We are still amazed at the growth that she showed during this week and how she continues to apply things she learned.”

Ann Montzka-Smelser said the Suzuki camp is a great boost for the students and their families. “Children can play up to six hours a day at the camp without even realizing it since the material is presented enthusiastically by skilled teachers. Many parents come away with a better understanding and appreciation of how their child learns after a week at this camp.”

All students enrolled in the Suzuki violin program are encouraged to apply for the camp scholarships in spring.

“The girls value all that their violin lessons gave them in ear training and listening skills, discipline, responsibility, memorization and math,” Vivian Spinoso said in the release. Although Julie, Lisa, and Gina have gone into professions other than music, Vivian Spinoso credits their musical training for their success in the fields they chose. Julie, 31 is an events planner for Price Waterhouse Cooper, Lisa, 27, is a systems engineer in the aerospace field, and Gina, 23, is a speech language pathology graduate student at the University of Nebraska.

The NIU Community School of the Arts offers lessons (Suzuki and traditional), ensembles and classes in music, art, and theatre for children and adults. For more information about the community school, call 815-753-1450 or visit www.csa.niu.edu.

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