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Suzuki Violin Lessons Prove Popular at APSU's Community Arts Program

          CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – During the last year, some of Clarksville’s youngest citizens – 3- to 5-year-olds – have picked up violins and are learning to play them competently.

          CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – During the last year, some of Clarksville’s youngest citizens – 3- to 5-year-olds – have picked up violins and are learning to play them competently.

            “I am really impressed by them,” JoAnn McIntosh, coordinator for the Community School of the Arts at Austin Peay State University, said. “They are all playing in tune. We have a fabulous new teacher, and we’d really like to expand this program.”

            Last fall, Robin Eckert, a Nashville musician who studied violin performance at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, joined the CSA staff, bringing Suzuki violin instruction to the Clarksville-area.

            “We’ve had violin lessons in the past, but this is really the official Suzuki methodology,” McIntosh said.

            The teaching philosophy, developed by violinist Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, seeks to teach students at a young age in the same fashion that they learned to speak their native language.

            “They learn to play music before they learn to read it, just like we learn to speak before we learn to read and write,” Eckert said. “It’s just amazing how quick they pick it up and take off.”

            The CSA’s Suzuki classes ended up being so successful last fall that nearly all Eckert’s students returned for the spring session. She has recently started a weekly summer session, working with many of her original students, and the CSA plans to continue the classes this fall.

           “There aren’t really any string programs in public schools,” McIntosh said. “We’re really excited about getting this program up and growing.”

            Students enrolled in the program meet with Eckert twice a week for a private lesson and then a group lesson, and parents are required to attend those sessions. During the rest of the week, the parents are also asked to encourage their children to practice regularly.

            “There’s a lot of parental involvement because the child is at such a young age,” Eckert said. “We stress positive reinforcement. For students that are interested, I always ask their families to come observe some lessons and classes.”

            For more than 20 years, the CSA has provided music, art and dance lessons for children and adults throughout Clarksville. The program, which serves approximately 350 students of all ages and skill levels, was founded in 1990 with the goal of promoting and increasing awareness of the arts throughout the surrounding area. That goal is achieved by offering the community an array of high-quality classes taught by experienced teachers. For more information on the classes, contact the CSA at 931-221-7508 or visit the website www.apsu.edu/csa.