ICS Member Spotlight: TUTTI CELLI Newsletter March/April 96

My name is Susannah Kelly and I'm thirteen, in the eighth grade. Ever since I was six, I have been taking Suzuki cello, and have been loving it. I started in my elementary school, Oliver Ellsworth School, in Windsor, CT, with a great teacher named Cathy Regis, a violinist who was teaching both cello and violin at that time. I remember in kindergarten she walked around the assembly hall, introducing to us the two choices of instruments we could play. I then decided that I was going to take the cello.

There was one reason why I wanted to play a stringed instrument. If you wanted to be anybody in the first grade, at least in my school, you did one of two things: 1) You could write cursive already or 2) You played an instrument. Because I wasn't extremely talented at cursive writing, I needed that cello or violin. But then I was faced with the problem of which to take. I should thank my older brother for that one. He had played the violin when he was in first grade, for about 6 weeks, and I decided to rebel and choose the other instrument offered to me. Those are really my two reasons. Sometimes I lie to people and tell them that I liked the sound of it or I was subconsciously drawn to it, but I made all that up to just impress people. My classical training started out with the wish to fit in and the sweet thought of defying my brother.

So after a full school year of "Mississippi-Stop-Stop"s, and "Run-Pony-Run-Pony"s, and every other phrase that goes with the Twinkle variations that begins Suzuki training, I was off and running. Then suddenly April came down upon us and my mother was suddenly terrified that my newly acquired knowledge would turn to dust during summer vacation. So, at the advice of Miss Regis, we signed up for summer lessons at Hartt School, part of the University of Hartford in West Hartford. It turned out to be the best decision of my life, because I met Pam Devenport, who is pretty much responsible for my progress on the cello today.

She was great. I, personally, was blown away that she was a cellist, and not a violinist impersonating a cellist (like what I thought all professional cellists were). My mom liked her way of doing things: in a way in which we thought was unorthodox. Soon I learned that being a cellist meant that you were unorthodox. Lessons were 100% laughter and 100% "Song of the Wind" (the fourth song of Book 1 of the Suzuki Method). I know that adds up to 200%, but I thought that would give you a perspective on how enthusiastic she was.

We liked her so much that I started taking lessons with her during the school year, as well as with Miss Regis. This was fine with Miss Regis because she admitted that compared to Pam, she didn't really know that much about the cello.

And so I started my career at Hartt. I continued taking with her until the sixth grade, when she moved to Florida, and was replaced by Vivian Podgainy with whom I study now. The Suzuki cello method combined with the advantage of getting an education at a well-known music school has opened up multitudes of possibilities for me.

As for one, some of my best friends on this planet have befriended me through lessons, group lessons, Suzuki orchestras, chamber groups and institutes across the nation. By institutes I mean times of the year when teachers and students from all over the U.S. come to one place and play together, in lessons, or master classes, groups and orchestras. Through Suzuki, I have met other Suzuki students from all over Connecticut, Chicago, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Virginia, and Iowa, not to mention the many teachers I have learned from.

I have also acquired a huge knowledge of classical literature from my experience in the Suzuki Method. When you are overcome with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and see no possible future just remember that this twinkler played that song for at least 5 months, and is now playing Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms with the rest of them.

I have just begun my eighth year playing Suzuki and this will probably be my last, at least playing from the Suzuki Method, because I am currently in the eighth and last book. That, by no means, hints to that I am quitting now. I am in love with my cello. It has brought me some of the most memorable experiences and people in my life. Above all that, it's really fun. So, if you hear of me someday... like "Susannah Kelly plays at Carnegie" or "Kelly Brilliantly Performs Hadyn C Major" just remember that it is all my older brother's fault. Speaking of which, I should be practicing.

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