Fall semester of 2021, students, teachers and parents were all excited to get back to in-person Suzuki group lessons at our home of more than 20 years, University Park Elementary School. We all followed masking protocols set up by the school district in order to stay safe. It was an awesome year of the Fairbanks School of Talent Education group lessons.
Some highlights include the International Friendship Day concert at Pioneer Park Civic Center in October. Violin, cello and flute students joined to dazzle the audience with our beautiful playing. As always, Jim Spontak was our trusty pianist who set the beat and pulled everyone together. Just a few weeks after that event, we held the annual Halloween recital in the UPARK gym. It was so much fun to perform in costumes and also to hear the creative Halloween special effects from each class.
In December, we gathered again in the gym for the Holiday concert. A wide range of pieces were performed, from the youngest Book 1 students to the advanced violin class, which played a popular Mexican carol, accompanied by our own guitar teacher, Jeff Merkel. The spring semester saw an increased student enrollment, perhaps after families realized that we could meet safely and were pulled back by the FUN of playing music together. In early April we performed at the Mush 4 Kids annual event. Lots of students arrived early to tune, and then played from their hearts. The audience was enthusiastic and many parents commented on how good it was to play publicly again. Afterwards, Audra and I walked across a thick sheet of ice to our cars, grateful that we stayed upright on that walk.
The final concert was the grand finale finish to our group lessons. Everyone wore the official FSTE red T-shirt. All the classes performed alone and then we ended with everyone playing the Twinkle variations together. The audience was thrilled with the recital, from start to finish and gave us a standing ovation. The excitement from both students and parents was gratifying for the teachers. We all went home, eager to practice well and prepare for the upcoming Fairbanks Suzuki Institute.
In early June, we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Fairbanks Suzuki Institute. After 2 canceled years, we were finally back together for this event. It was a wonderful week of learning together, culminating in the final concert. We all took the Davis Concert Hall stage for the world premiere of Michael McLean’s piece written for the anniversary, ‘A River Runs Through It’. The institute was a highlight of the year and inspired the students to practice well over the summer. Many people viewed the live-streamed performance and the composer received congratulations from friends all over the world. Three cheers for the Suzuki Institute!