Violin teacher to take Lake Forest students
Suzuki method violin and viola teacher Donna Curry teaches 7-year-old Lily VanderMolen, left, and 9- year-old Jasper Bickers, both of Winnetka, in her Winnetka studio. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
BUSINESS: Donna Curry Studio
OWNER: Donna Curry
SPECIALTY: Master Suzuki violin and viola teacher
CONTACT: (847) 721-1860; donnacurrystudio.yolasite.com
Updated: October 4, 2012 3:58PM
WINNETKA — When Donna Curry talks about teaching violin to young children, her words brim with passion and pride.
After more than 30 years of teaching violin and viola through the Suzuki Method in her Winnetka home-based studio, Curry has nurtured countless “babies” into young adults playing concertos.
And she now has a second studio in Fort Sheridan to better serve Lake Forest and Lake Bluff residents. Inquiries from residents in the Lake Forest and Lake Bluff area are being accepted now, she said.
Becoming a master violin teacher requires the ability to communicate with parents the fundamentals and techniques of each repertoire piece, Curry said. Coaching the parent as the home teacher is crucial to the student’s development.
“These are babies learning this most difficult instrument,” said Curry, who teaches children as young as 4 years old. “It’s a very patient method. You have to help the parent be patient — to have children not be pushed, but prepared.”
Using the method designed by Japanese violinist Shin’ichi Suzuki, patience, praise, and listening lead to the more traditional note-reading, she said.
“It is a piece of artwork, and when the child is learning, they know what they’re learning,” said Curry, former string instructor for Winnetka Public Schools and past faculty member of both the Northwestern University Preparatory Department and the Music Institute of Chicago.
“By fourth grade, if they started young, they’re traditional,” she said. “You gradually add note-reading.”
The Suzuki Method is about “learning how to learn,” she said, adding that the method is a prototype to the learning experience — helping children to learn, understand and enjoy the learning process. Children become confident that they can learn anything, she said.
“You take what you learn, the confidence you learn, to anything else you want to learn,” she said.
By eighth grade, her students are playing concertos, she said.
“Students come to me and stay,” Curry said. “They graduate with me.”
A master teacher also must be an accomplished violinist with the knowledge of major works for the violin and viola, and be thoroughly trained in the Suzuki Method concepts, she said.
“You set out immediately to learn that library (of music). What you learn are those concertos,” said Curry, who studied music education at the University of Michigan.
With 40 students, Curry said years of preparation helped her become an affective teacher with a successful studio.
“You have to have developed your violin playing,” she said. “I have observed some of the finest teachers through the Suzuki Method. I set out to be the best teacher I could be years ago.