In the Fall of 2005 Ms. Cynthia approached Dr. Ana Jimenez, the Executive director and founder of OCCTAC with the idea of starting a Suzuki program at the Center in Santa Ana. During the Spring of 2006 they began writing grants and searching for ways to fund the program. It was not easy to find funding for such an idea. Very few people understand why you would want to start a string program for children as young as preschool in an urban at risk community. But Ms. Cynthia wanted to start her Suzuki program so that it could reach children before the age when other more negative elements in their environment influenced the children and their families.
Even though they did not receive any funds for instrument or equipment they decided to start the first classes that summer for the beggining students. They had 3 classes for children from ages 3-4 and 5-7 with their parents. One class was also provided for students who had come from other violin classes.
That summer Ms. Cynthia met some of the first families that would make a commitment to practice at home with their children and stay in the program. There was so much for both parents and children to learn. Envolving parents in the process of learning at home is very different that traditional forms of music study. Ms. Cynthia began to realize that she needed to find translations of Suzuki Materials in Spanish and spend more time with the students.
Parents also began to plan how they would raise funds together to get the instruments that where needed so that every child could have a good quality instrument to study on as they progressed. In addition we were able to find an intern with a background in the Suzuki Method to help with the program. Kelly helped a great deal with creating a video record of those first classes.
We were not able to find grant money for all of the violins we were going to need but one organization provided us with a small seed grant which we were able to double. The parents held raffles and other activities to match those funds. When we approached the violin maker we had choosen they helped extend those funds a little farther with a very nice discount. I will tell you more about these sponsors in the next blog.
By Fall 06 we continued with more PreTwinkle Violin classes. With the help of Kelly Wright we started a few more classes for older students. She was teaching a full evening of classes after school on another night as well as working with special needs students. Having open house and demonstration recitals slowly became more routine as the year progressed.
By the end of the year Ms. Cynthia was able to convince everyone that meeting only one day a week was not enough to make effective progress. She was finally able to start adding Group Lessons on Saturdays so that the younger children could see what the more advanced students were doing. In addition she was also able to combine the students from her TEC studio in Irvine so all of the children could learn from each other. This is making things much easier for everyone.
In 2007-08 more and more families have heard about the program. Little by little we are finding better materials in Spanish for parents including a copy of the video Nurtured by Love in with captions Spanish. Ms. Cynthia was able to contact a collegue of hers from Chile whom she met in Matsumoto while they both studied with Dr. Suzuki. He was able to send her another volume of Suzuki publication that has been translated into Spanish. This will help untill more items become available in Spanish.
We are also looking for experienced young string players and students who would like to mentor students under the direction of Ms Cynthia. Already several of her students have volunteered to help with the classes.