SUZUKI ACCORDION PROJECT
Interview with Elena Enrico by Giorgio Dellarole
Some years ago I had the opportunity to work with the Suzuki School of Aosta, performing, with four accordions and the string orchestra of the school itself, the concert of J.S. Bach for four harpsichords and orchestra BWV1065. In that occasion I discovered an extraordinary reality made up of competent and enthusiastic teachers and a bevy of children and execution of boys trained together and very ready to grasp the ideas that the soloists and the director offered them. To begin our chat, can we talk about the history and general characteristics of the Suzuki method?
The method is aimed at preschoolers. During the first period the children learn through imitation and listening as they learn their language. Parents are present during the lessons and become the masters of their children every day, creating a family teaching made up of small and great achievements. The instrument becomes an integral part of everyday life and it is a way of education; through it, the parent will develop in their child’s memory, rhythmic sense, attention, affection, self-control, intonation, ability to be with others, feelings, attitudes, specific skills … Another important feature of the method is the common repertoire that allows them to play immediately and together with other instruments. Typically you start at three years the CML in group lessons and continuing alongside the study that will be instrumental in the subsequent years full of musical events: the lesson CML and individual instrument, the rehearsal of orchestra with many different instruments, lessons group divided for instrument.
Tell us about your meeting with the Suzuki Method. What contribution did you offer to the teaching method?
The meeting with the Suzuki method, also named the native language, was enlightening in many points of view, and since 1984 I have developed a training program called Children’s Music Laboratory (now known throughout Europe and translated into five languages) anticipates the instrumental approach and then joins all the way in children developing the necessary skills and inner discipline and teaching family because music becomes an integral part in the lives and education of the family.
You have an important piano training: when have you met the accordion … why do you have remained fascinated?
I don’t remember a week, during my childhood, which were not at home acquaintances of my father, amateur musicians, to spend the night on songs and sounds. I don’t remember a dinner with relatives or friends which ddin’t end up singing mountain songs, romances, folk songs, opera arias …
And of course, as tradition, since I was a child I have started studying piano, considered by my father essential training for human and cultural growth of girls (my sister and I).
I always found fascinating the accordion, (perhaps mindful of the evenings family) and I started to study it for pure mature adult first self-taught, then with Maestro of jazz, the musician Walter Porro and finally in the Conservatory.
Why include the accordion in the Suzuki world?
Why? Because it is excellently suited for the methodology, you can zoom out (the children play instruments of their extent), you can bring along, hugging, breathe, you’re playing by yourself or in many, playing with others, playing, singing, requires attention to detail, discipline, creates a wonderful relationship with the parent.
In the path of recovery and development of potential I found extraordinary results even in children with mental and neurological difficulties.
The Piano is already for many years an instrument recognized in the Suzuki method and probably would have been natural for me to take the necessary training (the Suzuki method provides training for teachers and in the last years the exams are very strong and made by the European committee). Instead, it was the accordion to make me fall madly in love and push me to start the long process of study, research, planning (not counting the thousands of bureaucratic steps necessary!) to recognized it in the “Suzuki family”.
What were the main steps of the Suzuki Accordion Project?
In 2011 I started the research, experimentation and adaptation of the method to the Accordion, which led, in 2012, the publication of “BimboFisa” (Ed. MusicaPractica), a first notebook, the first witness of experience with very young pupil.
I had the opportunity to introduce the project to some meetings organized by Suzuki Italia, in Torino in 2011 and 2012 and at the Workshop for the 20 years Suzuki school of Valle d’Aosta, where I met a young teacher graduated from the conservatory of the Region who has been shown immediately great interest in the project.
My work has been presented to the European Suzuki Association in 2012 receiving a first acknowledgment and permission to use the words “SUZUKI ACCORDION PROJECT”.
In 2013, the second step was the presentation of the first volume I prepared according to the methodological principles of Suzuki supported by video material and comment letters of musicians and teachers.
Now I was required to continue and promote experimentation possibly even outside of Italy by colleagues from the dissemination of teaching children applied to the accordion.
Who are your current students and what are you planning for the future?
Today Thomas 4 years and Giulio Lucille 5 years (first course), Richard 5 years (Second course), Matthew 7 years and Francis 8 years (Third course) are the students of the Suzuki Accordion Project at the Cultural Association Suzuki Asti.
In the month of May on 9th and 10th, in Asti will take place two days of concerts with the children of CML, SAP and ISI: 650 young musicians with all instruments of the Italian Suzuki School (for information www.musicalgarden.it).
The year 2016 will see two very important events to which our “Suzuki Accordion Project” are invited to participate: in March will play at Suzuki Gala Concert at the Albert Hall in London and in July will take place the Italian Suzuki Convention in Cuneo.
Are you already forming new teachers?
Andrea Costamagna of Aosta and Bruna Patera of Vicenza, both teachers in music schools, attended training CML and SAP meetings this year and begin experimenting with some small pupils.
What do you think of the future prospects of the accordion? I ask you both about your experience in the Suzuki method, both in general.
I firmly believe that thanks the methodological concept of Suzuki which wants educate through the music, you will reach many results in the spread and knowledge of the accordion, often the victim of clichés that they want to fit into a folk music for entertainment. The accordion has extraordinary potential and the opportunity to make it known since early childhood, combined with the comparison with the other instruments of the Suzuki family, will also help to erase the clichés and beliefs of many on his role merely “popular”. This is not to absolutely define popular music less important, so much so that from this starts the whole repertoire of each instrument in the Suzuki method. The important thing is, as always, not what you do but “how” it is done and care technique, sound, phrasing, exercise, discipline inherent in the method provide the best development of the skills and potential of each child.
The start to embrace the instrument and breathe with the accordion since childhood means get in tune with the language of music, each one with its own voice and his own sensibility. Families who share this journey, the public attending this new birth instrumental teachers who increasingly are approaching with curiosity and respect to the accordion I make each day more convinced of this choice. As I said, the instrument of my training was the piano that remains the support of all the lessons CML in which developing the skills and talents of children through the body, the voice, the whole person.
Thanks to the accordion but I still found something more: a world of sounds and expression that allows me to experiment an instrumental bond with my young students.
I am convinced that this instrument which will have a huge following of families passionate. Already in this early period of work I have noticed a significant decrease in prejudices and clichés associated with the accordion.
Often it is the children, attracted by seeing other children play, they choose the accordion as their life partner.
Elena Enrico was born in Torino February 25, 1954. At the age of six she has started studying music graduating very young in piano. Already in the Conservatory approaches the theatrical world attending courses in singing and acting and, in 1976, along with Giorgio Faletti and Fulvio Accornero participates in the cabaret group called “Topi hotel” working in Italy and abroad until the following year. In 1977 she won the competition as assistant director at the RAI Torino, working with writers and directors such as Primo Levi, Anton Giulio Majano, Edmo Fenoglio, Massimo Scaglione, Tonino Accolla, Paolo Conte and actors such as Alberto Lupo, Arnoldo Foa, Aurora Cancian, Toni Bertorelli, Paul Giuranna, Mario Brusa, Milva and many others.
She run parallel theatrical activity both as an actress and singer and she composed songs for background music and recorded an LP for Fonit Cetra Recording for the radio, one of which signaled the “Prix Italy”. From 1980 to 1992 by the preparation and directs popular choirs of equal voices (male) and choirs childhood. From 2007 to 2011 she directed the Coro Polifonico Astense developing a repertoire mainly of opera.
Interested in the didactic and educational aspects of the music, in 1981 she left employment on the radio to deepen its research and develop methodologies for early teaching, development and upgrading of skills in children from birth. Since 1982 he has worked for 19 years in public schools making plays, concerts, interdisciplinary projects and events in collaboration with agencies, theatres and towns.
As a pianist, he has to his credit a hundred concerts in duos, trios and orchestras and she played in ensemble for a long time.
Together with her son Francesco, musician, composer and filmmaker founded in 2004 the independent production company “Fregoli Dreams Factory” curing mainly screenwriting and directing. The productions range from educational films to documentaries, short films and commercials, earning interest and international awards such as the award for best film and best editing at the “Pumelo Film Festival 2007″ in Bombay, the selection to “New York Film Festival 2007″ and “Gold Kahuna Award for the Excellence in Filmmaking the” the Honolulu Film Festival 2009.
He founded in 2012 the popular group “Navira” (vocals, drums and accordion) with which it is constantly developing an interpretive research through choreography, arrangements and transcriptions of popular songs from all over the world.
She is President of the Cultural Association Suzuki of Asti where she holds training courses for teachers and courses for children.
She likes accordion so much, therefore she starts playing it by herself and continues her studies with the jazz musician Walter Porro then, to complete the classical training , she attended the Conservatory A. Boito in Parma with Maestro Cesare Chiacchiaretta and later in the class of Maestro Giorgio Dellarole, where she still continues his preparation.
Since 1984 she has begun teaching experimentation to “Suzuki Talent Center” in Turin and establishing courses “Children’s Music Laboratory” (CML) that anticipate and alongside the study of a musical instrument (preferably with the use of the Suzuki method).
In 1994 he was among the founding members of the ”Italian Suzuki Institute.”
Since the establishment in 2007, is president of the “Musical Garden” which collects his experiences and his methodological and educational and contributes to teacher training through internships, conferences, meetings, courses in Italy and abroad. The repertoire and the methodological CML are popular in Europe and translated into six languages: Italian, French, English, German, Dutch and Polish (www.musicalgarden.it).
In recent years he has developed a path instrumental for preschoolers inspired by the Suzuki method and has published a book dedicated to teaching the accordion to children (“BimboFisa” ed. MusicaPractica).
The experimental teaching was later approved by the European Suzuki Association, getting the brand SAP (Suzuki Accordion Project) and it is in the process of recognition for the coveted goal of becoming “Suzuki Accordion School”.
“Notebook Operating” – editions MusicaPractica
“Sound like talking” – editions MusicaPractica (also in French and edited. Conroy)
“BimboFisa 1″ – editions MusicaPractica
“Lorenzo Perosi – The new troubadour (Screenplay film) editions SpettattoreLibri
This article is available also in: Italian