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In Tune With Your Child: Learning Together In the Youth Strings Program

Like most young children, Aiden liked to sing and dance but to his mom Min Seok’s dismay, he didn’t want to play an instrument. “I love playing piano as a hobby and tried to encourage him but it wasn’t until he was turning six that he suddenly wanted to learn how to play the piano. But, of course, he didn’t want to learn it from me,” laughs Seok.


Min and Aiden practicing violin

She talked to friends and asked for recommendations on where she could find lessons for Aiden. “They told me that if you want to find the greatest teachers in Regina you have to go to the Conservatory of Performing Arts at the University of Regina. So that’s where we went!”


The experience was not only a positive one for both mother and child but served as a launch pad into another program. “His teachers have been amazing,” says Seok, “and after just one year, Aiden decided he wanted to learn the violin so we enrolled him in the Youth Strings Program."


“There is a lot of laughter in these classes. You want the kids to be relaxed and enjoy learning about the instrument so having a sense of fun is important.” - Min Seok

For younger students like Aiden, aged four to eight, they start learning as a group. Classes are 30-45 minutes and class size is kept small so students get the one-on-one attention they need.


Erika Folnovic´, Program Coordinator, at the Conservatory of Performing Arts, says that what makes this program truly unique is that parents are actively involved with their children in the program. “We use the Suzuki method of teaching which values parents being involved in the process of teaching the child. The parent is the primary teacher for their child when they get home. Even if you’re not musically inclined, you’re also learning what your child is learning. The benefit is the parent knows what practice looks like and what the song should sound like. They are learning at the same time as their child and it’s an experience they can share together.”


Seok agrees. “When Aiden’s practicing at home I can help him recognize where he’s at. Being present in the class means I can also share information with the other parents. If the songs are too easy or too hard, we can compare notes and talk about it.”


Aiden playing the violin

“We’ve had a great experience with the Conservatory and he wants to continue.” - Min Seok

As some of the youngest students are learning to play before they’ve learned how to read, the entire program is created in a child-friendly way. “At that age, a child’s engagement only lasts a certain amount of time. Learning with other kids their own age means they’re also building friendships and it helps to keep them motivated,” says Folnovic´. “The way our teachers work with our students is fun. For instance, when they’re learning to hold the bow, the instructor might talk about how their fingers should look like a rabbit or they’ll tell a story about Mr. Mouse.”


“There is a lot of laughter in these classes,” adds Seok. “You want the kids to be relaxed and enjoy learning about the instrument so having a sense of fun is important.”


The skills students gain extend beyond learning to play an instrument. “Over time, I can see Aiden is now listening to and watching other people to see how his part fits in with theirs,” observes Seok. “In the beginning he felt like he was ‘good enough’ but when he sees other kids doing well it makes him try harder. I also feel like he’s calmer and more patient and he’s learning that from the other students.”


Folnovic´ says she loves seeing students find a community through music. “There is such camaraderie and they work together and bond as a team. Ultimately, they take pride in achieving but also in knowing they can keep learning and it’s ok to make mistakes.”


Participating in recitals is also part of the program, providing an experience that helps boost students’ confidence. “The Conservatory organizes recitals and Christmas concerts and these events help focus Aiden’s efforts,” notes Seok. “When we’re preparing for a recital, I can see that he practices more.”


As Aiden turns nine years old, he shows no sign of losing interest. “We’ve had a great experience with the Conservatory and he wants to continue,” says Seok. “This past year, he was given a trophy to acknowledge his achievements playing violin. He’s pretty proud of that trophy and of himself. I love to see that.”


 

Join us at our monthly Introduction to Strings Workshop to find out if this program is right for your family!


Learn more about the Conservatory of Performing Arts

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