The hills are alive |

The hills are alive

Laura A. Ball
Special to the Daily The Colorado Suzuki Institute, a music camp famed for its revolutionary teaching method, will take residence in Beaver Creek this summer for two weeks in June.

BEAVER CREEK – A flutist playing scales; a guitarist strumming chords; a violinist perfecting a solo. Beaver Creek comes alive with the sound of music for two weeks this summer as the village welcomes hundreds of young aspiring musicians and their families for what’s expected to be an inaugural visit. The Colorado Suzuki Institute, a music camp famed for its revolutionary teaching method, is now calling Beaver Creek Resort home after recently finding itself without facilities.”It’s an incredible music program that local families can take advantage of without having to travel,” says Brian Nolan, a Beaver Creek restaurateur whose 10-year-old son, Wil, attends the institute every year. “And it’s an incredible place to visit for families that are traveling to the camp.”Nolan introduced Gail Seay, the institute’s director, to Tony O’Rourke, executive director of the Beaver Creek Resort Company, and the two orchestrated a partnership that neither could refuse. The resort company has agreed to a one-year contract, with prospects of a five-year renewal, that provides the institute with necessary space for classrooms and performance facilities – including the Vilar Center for the Arts – for two weeks in June.

“It’s really a win-win for us,” says O’Rourke. “The institute brings kids from 50 states and 10 countries, which is reflective of the type of clientele Beaver Creek attracts. And we’re hoping the residual impact of that is future customers in the summer and winter.”We’re testing the waters,” O’Rourke adds. “This first year everything we know, based upon our dealings with Gail, has been successful, and that in turn will trigger a multi-year partnership.”The Colorado Suzuki Institute, which in the past few years has drawn as many as 1,500 people per session to its former home in Snowmass – was held for 17 years in Denver. Under Seay’s direction, the institute moved to the mountains in 1994, offering the students a true summer camp experience – as well as a place their families would want to visit. When the conference center in Snowmass failed to renew the institute’s contract, Seay says, she sought another High Country locale.”I realized that the whole world wants to come to the Colorado Rockies in the summertime,” she says.

And Beaver Creek, a one-stop summertime destination for the entire family, seemed the perfect choice for a new home. Everything from horseback riding to hiking to golf, mountain-biking, swimming and ice-skating is offered within walking distance of the village. And just a short drive away, whitewater rafting and kayaking, jeep tours, fly-fishing and a whole lot more await those seeking outdoor adventures.”Not only will the children come to the school but it’s a great place where parents can take their own vacation time,” Seay says. “They might want to bring the grandparents. There’s so much for the whole family to do. That was attractive for me.”Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14641, or

Do you remember speaking your first words? Chances are, you don’t even remember a time when you couldn’t speak. The acquisition of language is a learning process that begins long before humans are aware of it. A person begins speaking when he or she is born – listening to others, imitating sounds and simple phrases – which leads to a fluency of speech and, eventually, reading and writing.”The Suzuki Method is a way of learning music where children learn from a very young age the exact same way they learn their native language,” says Gail Seay, director of the Colorado Suzuki Institute. “They hear teachers playing and listen to good recordings and then learn to imitate.”It’s perhaps the most natural, hands-on way of learning anything, a method that encourages success in small steps, which makes attaining a larger goal more manageable, Seay adds. Following World War II, Japanese violinist Dr. Shin’ichi Suzuki wanted to give joy to children who may have struggled during the war. Suzuki believed that every child, if properly taught, is capable of a high level of musical achievement, which would help build self-esteem. Seay agrees, stating the method is key in developing a confidence that stays with the child for life. A mother of two, Seay decided to work for the institute after witnessing the invaluable skills her own children acquired through the Suzuki Method.

“If children develop skills to perform somewhere like the Vilar Center, whether they are a senator giving a speech or the CEO of a major corporation, that comfort level with being in front of people will always carry over,” she says.Instructing children in piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute and guitar, the institute is not just for children with dreams of becoming the world’s next Lang Lang or Olga Kern. From newborns to kids as old as 7, children who may have never picked up a musical instrument may enroll in the camp’s Music Readiness program. A parent may hold a newborn in their arms and move to the music so that the child can feel the rhythm; a 2-year-old might play “Ring-Around-the-Rosie” while a parent holds their hand; an older child may begin by picking up an instrument for the first time, learning how to hold it, learning how to produce a sound. According to the Suzuki Method, as a child learns an instrument, parents are strongly encouraged to learn the basics of the instrument as well, so they become better helpers at home.”The other big difference is that our students perform from the very beginning,” Seay says. “At the very early stages, they might walk in the stage and bow. If they do it from the very beginning in simple steps, there’s not a fear of performing. There’s a pleasure.”

Colorado Suzuki InstituteSession I June 12-17; Violin, viola, cello, bass, piano, guitarSession IIJune 19-24; Violin, viola, cello, bass, piano, fluteFor more information, call (303) 399-5764 or visit Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14641, or, Colorado

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