Suzuki Workshop and Play-In

The official slogan for the City of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is “City of Arts and Innovation.” State residents saw this concept come to life at the North Carolina Suzuki Workshop and Play-In presented by the North Carolina Suzuki Association. The event was held at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts on Saturday, October 29, 2022.

University of North Carolina School of the Arts Campus
(Photo/Pam Richards)
NCSA is located at
1533 S Main St, Winston-Salem, NC 27127

Approximately 200 residents from around the state spent a day immersed in musical collaboration, learning, and performance on the campus. Joshua Weesner ofWinston-Salem is a local North Carolina Suzuki Association representative and an alumnus of UNCSA. Weesner planned and coordinated the event with the assistance of his wife Amelia, also an alumnus. The Workshop and Play-In was the first event of its kind in the city. 

The diverse group consisted of students from age three to adult studying stringed instruments, their family members, and Suzuki music teachers. They gathered for an intense musical experience that began at 9:00 a.m. and lasted until the final note was played at 6:15 p.m.

Hannah Weesner poses next to the poster with her picture on it. (Photo/Pam Richards)

The instruments featured were violin, viola, cello, guitar, bass, and piano. Some of the students were just beginning to learn. Some have studied for years and play in local youth symphonies.

Tehren Brandon of Charlotte, North Carolina, brought her four-year old daughter to participate in their first statewide Suzuki event. “Charlotte has only been playing violin since June,” Tehren said. “She played in a recital last night.” 

Beginner students work with their instruments. (Photo/Pam Richards)

Suzuki Book 1 Violin Class (Photo/Pam Richards)

The 29 classes were taught by 13 teachers. Some sessions were conducted in two of the performance halls, Crawford and Hood, located in Gray Building, and others were held in Semans Arts and Administration building (SAAB). The two buildings are located next to each other. The classes were held throughout the day with the performance beginning at 4:15 p.m.

Jamie Williams of Mocksville, North Carolina, attended with her three daughters, Annelise, 10, Vivienne, 7, and Marielle, 5, who study violin. The Williamses also have a son Colin who studies piano. “I feel like we are giving them such a gift to learn the joy of making music,” Williams said. “The discipline of practicing teaches them life skills such as not giving up when something is difficult. It teaches them perseverance. It also gives them a community to belong to.” 

Joshua Weesner thanked everyone for making the event a success and introduced the first piece, “Song of Sorrow, Traditional Ukrainian Folk Song,” arranged by Michiko Yurko. Nancy Brown, Eve Hubbard, and Bill Kossler, three teachers at the event, provided additional arrangement.

Guest artist Ruth Kelley performed “African Dancer” by William Grant Still. Kelley was a recipient of the William R. Kenan, Jr., Excellence Scholarship, and is in her third year of undergraduate studies in Violin Performance with UNCSA senior faculty Kevin Lawrence.

Several pieces were played which featured students and teachers, such as two Irish Reel tunes and “Concerto for Two Violins” by J.S. Bach. Group performances showcasing each of the various instruments alone followed.   

Six-year old violin student Hannah Weesner has studied with her parents for three years. “My favorite part was playing on the D string with the song at the end,” Weesner said. The young Weesner was referring to the encore performance featuring all students and faculty for a romping rendition of “Boil Them Cabbages Down!” 

State NC Suzuki Association President Rachel Talbott Parker said the event was “Amazing!”

Tuning for Performance (Photo/Pam Richards)

City of Arts and Innovation:

 North Carolina Suzuki Association

 Suzuki Association of the Americas:

 Winston-Salem, North Carolina

NOTE: UNCSA is located at: 1533 S Main St, Winston-Salem, NC 27127