The Royal Conservatory put together a Music Development Program which is followed by music teachers all over the world. Many famous American music schools are proud to call themselves “founding schools” of this program which began twenty years ago.
Our children’s violin teacher recommended that we take the assessments this year, in Level 1 and Level 3 respectively. It is a different curriculum than the Suzuki books and it was fun to step outside of those books and into a different repertoire.
So we had to invest in a new curriculum. The kids got challenged but we made sure that we stayed at a comfortable pace. The toughest part by far was to learn scales and arpeggios.
In all honesty, my children were missing some foundational blocks in their techniques. For the past year, since we started Skype lessons with the wonderful Mary-Beth Brown, they have made tremendous progress.
Please do not think that my children are little prodigies. They play as children do. I have uploaded some of their videos to YouTube and you can hear it for yourself. The thing is, it’s a work in progress. And we started with a bit of a handicap, as their previous teachers allowed them to develop some bad habits. No disrespect, as they worked hard with our kids, but that is just the truth.
As such, our last year has been stressful on the violin. But we persevered. It has truly tested me to the max. The violin is an emotional subject for me, as it was my main instrument growing up and I really want the kids to excel. It turns out, they like it. But somehow they sense my strong feelings about it and practice time gets tricky.
Overall, we have made tremendous progress and I can only attribute it to this new teacher, who has told me which books to read to get my mind in the right place. Also, she has worked with the kids’ skills and their frustrations. There is no replacement for a great teacher.
The assessments happened in Elizabethton, on the campus of Milligan College, about two hours from where we live. It was a fun trip and we celebrated with a nice meal at Cracker Barrel afterwards. We will receive the results within 2-4 weeks.