Northeast Tarrant

Young H-E-B musicians strut their strings

Leo Deepak joined more than 350 students in the annual Suzuki Strings Festival at L.D. Bell High School on Saturday.
Leo Deepak joined more than 350 students in the annual Suzuki Strings Festival at L.D. Bell High School on Saturday. Star-Telegram

The little violinists lined up, faces forward and instruments in hand.

Together they played Perpetual Motion, which calls for repeated, similar bow strokes. Instructor Sue Baer presented an idea. Play loud, she said, then soft.

Afterward, she turned to the parents. “What do you think, parents?” Baer asked. “Did that put a fresh coat of paint on Perpetual Motion?”

Baer and other clinicians were on hand Saturday at the Hurst-Euless-Bedford school district’s Suzuki Strings Festival, an annual clinic that pairs young musicians with instructors from across the country. Nearly 400 students participated in the weekend-long festival.

Students attended master classes and sessions focused on violin, viola, cello and conducting, with the clinic culminating Saturday afternoon in a group concert. Clinicians traveled from Seattle; Washington, D.C.: Birmingham, Ala.; and from across Texas.

H-E-B introduced Suzuki Strings, in which students as young as 5 play the violin or other string instruments, in 2001. Today, eight elementary schools — Shady Brook. Hurst Hills, Bellaire, Wilshire, Viridian, South Euless, North Euless and Lakewood — offer the popular program.

Patty Purcell, a Suzuki Strings specialist at South Euless Elementary, said learning to play an instrument teaches students more than music.

“It engages parents in their children’s lives. It helps them perform better in other subjects,” Purcell said. “This is not about developing careers. It develops character.”

On Saturday, Lauren Lee, 11, a fifth-grader at Wilshire Elementary who plays violin and viola, attended a master class where she worked on her bow technique and posture.

Lauren said she loved working with clinicians and playing with students from other elementary schools.

“It’s fun to get a different point of view and learning new things,” she said.

Annette Lee said that she enrolled her daughter in Suzuki Strings to expose her to art and that as a result, Lauren has also gained confidence and focus.

The Suzuki method was developed in the 1940s by a Japanese violinist and teacher as a way to show children how music can contribute to the learning process as a whole.

Parents say they see that reflected in their children.

“We know that learning to play an instrument builds connections in the brain,” said Shoshana Cook, whose 9-year-old daughter, Cosette, plays viola at Shady Brook Elementary. “They learn discipline. It makes them unafraid to tackle problems later in life because they have conquered issues along the way.”

Sarah Bahari, 817-390-7056

Twitter: @sarahbfw