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We are remembering moments from the most unusual fall semester in FSTE history and being thankful that music is always available and always a powerful unifying force. Below you will read about highlights from our Suzuki teachers memories and thoughts on this challenging but often rewarding semester. We hope you all enjoyed what we offered and hope to see you again in the spring of 2021.

Registration for spring semester opens on December 31 online. We wish you all the best now and in the New Year!

FSTE Faculty

From Dr. Gail Johansen: 

Dr. Gail Johansen’s violin classes met via Zoom and in person during fall semester. It was interesting to learn about online group lesson teaching and to try out new ideas. I learned a lot! Thanks to Jim Spontak, we were able to alternate weeks with Audra Carlson’s classes at Fairbanks Lutheran Church and safely play together with our trusty pianist. The semester culminated in a video recording of the violin classes playing a polished piece and a Holiday themed song. A fun time was had by all in the production process. Here’s a hearty shout out to Chris Carlson for his expert recording work – Thank you, thank you for posting the recordings on YouTube. You may all check your FSTE emails to see these violin class presentations.

As always, we enjoyed learning new skills, polishing our pieces and playing Zoom duets with student leaders. I appreciate the students’ good efforts to navigate Zoom and their willingness to try new things using the online format. May the new year bring us closer to the day ahead when we’ll meet at UPARK school for in person group lessons. I can’t wait to see everyone there again! In the meantime, we’ll see as many students at the online lessons as can manage to participate. Come join us!

FSTE Book 3 Christmas Recital 2020 and FSTE Book 4 Christmas Recital 2020

Gail Johansen’s Book 3 Group Class
Gail Johansen’s Books 4-6 Group Class

From Audra Carlson: 

Audra Carlson’s Book 1 and Book 2 classes met this fall on Zoom and in person at the Fairbanks Lutheran Church, alternating every other week with Dr. Johansen’s classes. We were able to play together socially distanced in the beautiful church space that our pianist, Jim Spontak, provided for us. It was fun to see each other in person, but even more exciting to be able to play together in person! Our Zoom classes were an excellent testament to the wonderful kids in our program. Everyone was so helpful and polite, each taking turns and being good listeners. We hope to see all of you again next semester!

Audra Carlson’s Book 1 Group Class
Audra Carlson’s Book 2 Group Class

From Nancy Morgan

ZOOM language: “insufficient band width,” unstable connection,” where did you go?”, “I  can’t hear/see you,” “Could you say that again?” 

ZOOM teaching taking us into our students’ homes: dog bounding into the room and  licking student’s feet; dog singing/howling at high notes; showing off new puppies, guinea pigs, Easter  chicks; visiting an out-of-state grandparent and having a lesson there; dealing with bread burning in  oven so lesson moving quickly to another part of the house 

 ZOOM private teaching integrating some fun ideas from reports about group class: 

Etude Tango- finally the student gets it, repeats and all; Martini Gavotte-the rondo form is really  enjoyable; Jingle Bells and Hark How the Bells with harmony! 

From Thom McLean: 

As summer Zoom sessions ran into fall and winter we’ve all learned to adapt. I’ve been so impressed with the resiliency and good nature of students although their lives have been turned upside down with restricted social interaction and virtual schooling. Although I’ve still had the pleasure of seeing some people in person–masked, distanced and with hand sanitizer in reach–I have several students who have been on Zoom for the past nine months. Others resort to Zoom when protocols in their family have changed or out of convenience for that week. One thing I’m always surprised by during Zoom meetings is the novel delight of getting to see ENTIRE faces! I miss seeing those smiles or whatever expression the day brings. I’ve been privileged to be virtually invited into people’s homes and meet other family members and my favorite–family pets. I hope we are all playing together again soon.

From Dorli McWayne:

The flute group class has been meeting via zoom for the entire fall semester, since there is  no getting around the fact that flutes are very windy instruments. Nevertheless, good times were had by  all with monthly recitals, a Halloween program, and culminating in a beautiful Holiday Evening with  decorated Christmas trees, some fancy clothes, and chamber music with other family members. It was  good to exchange verbal and musical pleasantries with each other every week.

Flutists amid the flowers in a light  summer rain

From Jeff Merkel: The guitar group has had a fun semester, meeting at Christ Lutheran Church with social  distancing and masks. We had a Christmas concert to ourselves, and here is one of the pieces the kids  liked the most. It’s called “Ottawa Blues,” composed by Andrea Cannon, who has taught at our Suzuki  Institute for a number of years.