Children from The Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston

Children from The Conservatory Lab Charter School in Boston

Monday, October 3, 2011


ES@Rainey Conductor and Violist Darnell Weaver teaches orchestra today.


3 short weeks ago, we started daily classes at Rainey Institute in the Hough neighborhood of Cleveland with 30 very excited children that we teach 90 minutes per day on violin. Progress is quick and the energy high when you teach every single school day!! The staff of 5 wonderful teachers are so dedicated and willing to go millions of extra miles to make this program the best it can be for the kids we have. Highlights of these past 3 weeks have been our many mini-graduations, at which students try to reach the next harder level by performing a skill, whether a beautiful bow-hold bunny, or a perfectly bowed V-I-O-L-A (adaptation of BINGO song to teach bowing with a wooden stick in a dowel tube).

The difference of teaching exclusively in groups, without most any family involvement (we briefly see them at pick-up) is HUGE, for we have to create engagement directly in the children themselves. This happens when everything is a game and the children want to come back the next day to achieve the next little level. A constant feeling of success and joy must be present in the room.

I have never been this tired and at the same time, each day, I cannot wait to see the kids and try the next ideas we have. I love teaching EVERY DAY! There is no time to get bad habits!

We are SOOOO excited to graduate next week to REAL WOODEN violins, donated to our program by The Cleveland Orchestra and its partner ConnSelmer Inc, the official providers of Sherl and Roth violins to El Sistema@Rainey.

Student holds her dowel "bow" equipped with a wonderful "BowMate" (generously donated to many El Sistema programs in the US by the inventor himself!),a pencil holder with hole punched for pinkie nest, plus a thumbnail shaped groove in the stick, in which to place the tip of their (bent!) thumbs (my idea). Kids are liking these Beginner bows and are mostly boasting really relaxed bow positions.

Here is a class we had today, in which students learned GDG on their paper violins, led by the wonderful ochestra director, Darnell Weaver.

Our other teachers are: Brittany Kubiak, amazing educator, Courtney Bonifant with her huge heart for kids, Titus Golden, who wants to work every minute of the day, and Marque Davis, who has the gift of getting any group of kids from here to there in no time flat! I feel so lucky that we have this VERY committed team.