Journal Excerpts 2014 and Comments from Past Retreats
"It was a good first day. Sonja is a terrific teacher and the Popper is a really beautiful piece. Carrie gave me some useful tips on the string crossings in the Bach Prelude and also talked about phrasing. I enjoyed the morning silence. It was a nice way to ease into the day. The cello exercises helped to release some of the tension in my neck, shoulders, which was good. Your talk resonated with me a great deal".
"The music therapy presentation was really interesting. I was especially interested in the material on the music and it's effects on the brain. The improvisation was fun as it was very relaxed and non-threatening. Sonja and Joe's improvising on the cello was wonderful. I'm always amazed at people who can be so open and spontaneous. It's a wonderful quality".
"I found the communication exercise extremely difficult today, harder than the first time. I got extremely emotional and it surprised me. I was fine and then I was near tears....like falling off a cliff. I had to struggle to maintain control. I know it's fine to be emotional but I was very uncomfortable with being that vulnerable with someone I don't really know and I don't want to make her uncomfortable. I realize the question I need to look at is WHY that is so hard for me. I walked for an hour after we stopped in part to calm down and in part because I think better when moving. I think I found it difficult for a few reasons. I'm shy and private and so the exposure feels very unsafe. I don't yet understand this. In my life away from the cello I'm actually quite solid and I'm usually the one at work, in my family with friends that can be counted on to stay calm and be relied on when things are difficult. But at the cello lately, especially, I seem to be a fragile mess and I really can't stand it. Again, I don't expect a solution to this from you, it's my mess to sort out and although I really disliked the exercises it was beneficial as it helped me at least formulate some questions that need answering".
"The Celtic cello demo last night was wonderful. Valerie was a great addition to the staff. I found the mandala exercise this morning really special how the group worked together in silence and produced something unique and I liked the dance/singing. It felt meaningful in a way I can't articulate.
The meditation this morning was different from the rest of the week, not just because it was longer. It provoked a bit of anxiety. The other sessions didn't but came out of it feeling somewhat calmer than when it started. Our chamber rehearsal went well. We're starting to come together as a group and I wish we had a bit more time with the piece, but tomorrow will be what it will be".
"Its' been a wonderful, in some ways, difficult week. Thank you so much for all the time, energy and care you put into designing and running this retreat. Thanks also to all the counselors. They were all wonderful teachers, very kind and supportive. Thanks also to Dory for all the great meals. It was good to be part of this community. It really is one of the kindest spaces I've ever been in. I feel I learned a lot more about playing the cello. Every counselor gave me something to take home and work on. I also feel it's possible for me to take more ownership of this process and to begin to really show up when I play, in spite of all the fear. I'm not quite clear as to how to do this but I do now see it as a possibility, a realistic one, and I didn't feel that way at the beginning of this retreat. I really enjoyed all the people here. It was good to talk with everyone at different times throughout the week. Everyone brings something unique to this experience. I enjoyed all of Dory's evening activities. I really appreciate all the energy she put into trying help build community".
"Where should I start? CelloChanWoods has been an amazing experience. At first the meditation was a bit of culture shock, though in the end, it made sense and was a relaxing".
"The best thing about today was the swimming. I think my meditation skills are improved, I could not sit in silence for an hour before, but now I would be able to. I now see that it does not matter as much what you produce, but who you are.
The best thing about meditation was lying down and the bell. I learned that the cello could used for therapy!"
Zoe Potts Journal:
"Music is like an onion. On the surface it is notes, beats rhythms, flats sharps key signatures and melodies. In the second layer it's both bow hand and your cello hand. At it's core it is your emotions your energy. When you think about it, it's an onion! Cello is like a meditation. Once you get good enough you can clear your mind while playing. Meditation is supposed to calm you down. To me, cello calms you down as well. Meditation is also designed to clear your mind. Cello does this as well".
"I got help with my vibrato and that got 100% better. I can't believe it's Monday already. I'm excited to see what new things I will learn next!"
"Today we had our final ensemble practice before the rehearsal and then the concert. Everyone's parts sounded great. I think this year we had the perfect amount of time to practice. I think everyone ensemble piece will sound AMAZING! I'm excited for my skits for the talent show! It's going to be so much fun. I can't wait! I wonder what the counselors are doing for the talent show? For one of my skits I need my face painted. I wonder what I'll do for my other skits with my face painted. Hopefully it will be my first so I can take off the paint".
"Today we got to wake up at 8:00! I was happy to sleep in! Breakfast was really good. I loved the pancakes. I also love all the quotes, especially the ones from Yo Yo Ma. He's my favorite cellist. I can't wait for the concert later. I bet everything will sound great. I think the past week was awesome - I loved everything. The amount of practice time was perfect. It was a lot better with 6 days rather than 4. Plus I liked the different ensembles. It made it easier on everyone. I also loved the outdoor time. It was fun swimming every day. I wish it didn't' t rain as much though. We only had 3 firesides but were supposed to have 5. Thank you for making this camp. AWESOME"!!
Cameryn Boyd Journal:
"....The people are really nice and meditating was cool. I couldn't believe it when Suzanne rang the bell saying 10 minutes had passed when it felt like maybe 5 minutes. I went swimming with a bunch of the campers and Carrie, Lee and I swam to the far raft. It was really far and tiring, but a good workout. I really liked Valerie's lesson on learning music by ear. I picked it up pretty fast and it was fun to learn another tune with her during my private lesson. It is nice to be able to relax and I like hearing the counselors play their pieces together. It will be interesting to sleep in my own tent tonight, especially since it started to rain. I think I will improve my cello playing by the time this camp is over".
"I practiced some pieces that I've played before and focused on my vibrato. I have to remind myself not to tense my shoulder and often shake out my arm. The meals were good as always. Our chamber practice went well. We had sectionals with Carrie working with each section individually. I think the piece sounds better than it did yesterday, although we still struggle to stay together and balance everyone's parts. We had communication exercises and the younger participants didn't participate. The questions were who are you and how is life fulfilled? I had really good conversations with Carrie and later Joe. He made me think and it was pretty difficult since we had to talk to the other person for 5 straight minutes. (3 x.) It was also hard because the other person had to be expressionless, so you couldn't look for a reaction to what you said. After that we practiced again and I had another short lesson with Valerie. (Valerie Thomson, Celtic cellist was a guest this summer at CCW) I reviewed the one I learned yesterday with the accompaniment and I might play it with her tonight. It's raining again and I really hope no bugs got in to my tent".
"We also did a mandala that was a picture we all made together in the driveway. Then danced into the ground while singing. It was really nice. Lunch was good and during the break Lee, Laurie and I decided to do "6 days of cellochan" for the talent show. It was really fun to make and we laughed a lot. Then I played ultimate Frisbee with Lee, Laurie and the counselors and the kids. I was on Sonja's team and we dominated. After the snack we did the talent show prep where tome and Chris joined our group. CCW rappers. It was hilarious trying to teach them the song and dance. It was really nice being able to work with all the counselors and learning a lot of new and useful things. I am excited for the talent show".
"Today is the last day of cellochanwoods. I had a really great time. Last night we had some of the best enchilada I've ever had. Thank you Dory!!! We all walked down to the lake. I had a great time putting my intentions on my banana leaf lantern and letting it go into the lake. The sky was beautiful and we had a campfire and Sonja and Dory told their own riddles - that was really fun. "The people here were really great and it was fun getting to know them. I think I learned many things from the counselors that will help my cello playing in the future. It has just been a very peaceful week. I think I will try to do short periods of meditation whenever I'm feeling stressed / angry / frustrated or any other bad feelings. I didn't really enjoy the bug bites and worrying about bugs in my tent. I don't really enjoy that part of camping but overall, I had a good time and there are things that I can take away from this experience not having to do with the cello. I had to think about things I hadn't thought about before. It was nice that even though I came late, I was able to make new friends and connect with people here".
Ana Andrade Journal:
First full day at cello camp. It's been great to be around everybody and see how much they've grown. As a cellist and as a person. I've been appreciating that I'm here, thank you Suzanne for the chance. I'm unsure of my piece for camp. And since I didn't prepare one. I came with the intention of trying my patience in practicing. Patience is one of the hardest things for me when I practice. So I thought I could pick a piece and start practicing with a lot of patience and really slow, minding my posture, my intonation, etc. I want to see how I do on one piece over a week if I practice my best. It's kind of hard, today I started practicing slow, after I remembered the notes I wanted to start going fast and I didn't until realized it and stopped myself. And I will continue to do so until I feel confidant to play it more musically. I've been loving playing in sectionals. I appreciate everybody's excitement. It makes everything a lot more fun"
"Today was awesome. I've spent a lot of time talking to everybody and also trying to make everybody a lot more comfortable coming to me. I've asked people to play with me too. I've been amazed of the feeling I'm getting - I think I had forgotten how fun playing the cello was and it's back to me!!
Alleluia!! To me!!! I was kind of afraid this feeling would never come back to me....
It is really a relief to feel free from tension.
Confidence: I'm not scared to not know what I don't and to mess up. It's fixable...learnable"!
"I've been trying to focus hard on everything that is being presented. I also think that helping others helps me a lot too. I've been having as much fun as possible. I love everybody's smiles. I've been inspired by the simplest things. Makes me feel like practice is easy again. I really needed to come and I'm glad I did. I feel that I'm moving towards something new and that is doing what I really want to do. I Feel like Ana with the cello again. I hope to come again to see everybody's growth, make some people smile, sometimes laugh - why not?
I'm excited about the concert. I think it will be a really good one this year".
"Last day of cello camp...... I will miss everybody and being out here. Although I might feel sad, I will also leave this place in peace and tranquility. The whole thing has been a blessing. I'm feeling motivated now & want to play again like I did when I loved what I heard. I will be present in my practice. I well am patient in my practice! I feel that this camp is really what I needed, (it has planted seeds.) It's something I know but I can't quite explain yet. At camp I saw many things, realized a lot of things, that make sense to me. Understanding certain things brings me calmness sometimes. I will never forget this experience and so, for now it's a part of me. Hopefully next year I will be able to come ...that be wonderful". (Ana will be a cello major at Wayne State University with Marcy Chanteaux, assistant principal of the DSO in Detroit.)
Gabriela Rios Journal
"My overall experience here has been wonderful. I will try to come here next year but I'm not sure I can. The food has been delicious and I finished my 8th flower card. My cello has improved a lot. The campfires have been wonderful. The albatross would story was very creepy. I slept well and had a good breakfast that consisted of 3 pancakes, apples and orange juice. I kind of miss my cats though, so it will be kind of nice to go home. The only people that need to sign my flower cards now are Gabe, Sonja Carrie and Joe. Anyway...........
I have a lot to pack and I don't know how I'm going to do it".
Gabriele Tazzia Journal
I love the sounds of nature here. The lapping of the water, the croaks and splashes of the bullfrogs, the call and response of the unknown night critter, howls of the coyotes.
The lake last night was divine. I think that is my meditation when I am here. I feel centered and relaxed when I leave the water. Sometimes I think that is my favorite part of camp.
The morning had a very different feel with everyone actually being silent and I found the guided meditation to be very relaxing (maybe too relaxing, I felt sleepy.) I always Love the cello exercises. I find the arms stopping, spine twisting one to be helpful in loosening me up and reminding me where it feels like to move. I also liked the one where we move the "ball" up and around. It really felt like it loosened my back and improved my mobility".
"I'm frustrated with my body this retreat. My intestines are misbehaving and I've had a migraine 3 days in a row. My hand is cramping up and getting very tired. I think it is partly an over use issue from work and partly a position problem. Working with Sonja helped clarify that problem.
The music therapy speaker was really good...dynamic and lots of info. I think it was very valuable especially for the young people to see there is a way to incorporate music into a career that is not performance. The drum circle was a lot of fun. It was really interesting to watch Joe and Sonja jam. I loved seeing the connection between them and how they played off on another.
I had a realization tonight as I was swimming. I had been floating and paddling around in the water for about an hour and I noticed that I was really focused in the moment. The way the light was playing on the water, the lush green of the trees, the soft breeze, the lake smell, the feel of the water against my skin, the sound when I dipped my toes in and out of the water, the rings of waves, and the sound of my breathing as I was floating around. I noticed that I was just focused on all these things around me and that I was able to just let thoughts flow through my consciousness without dwelling on them.
I think it is the closest I ever got to meditating. Swimming at camp is so important to me".
"A good day in cello land....I thought camp ran very smoothly this year. No glitches or problems that were obvious to the campers at any rate.
The counselors were amazing, fun, patient, knowledgeable, creative energetic and compassionate.
The variety of activates was nice too. Having out door time and journaling time was really nice and offered a different kind of introspection. I liked the creativity and thoughtfulness of all the activities Dory put together. I liked that you decided to have the chamber groups this year. It allows like skilled players to work together. It also lets people hear, experience a wider variety of music.
The buddy walk is a favorite as well. I don't look forward to it but always enjoy it. It would be nice to be done in groups of 3s or 4s. It would still be intimate but would allow us to get to know more people. I enjoyed the 2 guest speakers we had and the activities they provided. The first communication exercise day was enlightening but the second felt like too much".
Chris Couling Journal
"Today was very productive. I worked on Von Weber's Country Dance and the first movement of Richard Strauss cello sonata. Joe gave me some helpful pointers on realizing chords. While walking back from the lake, heard counterpoint to the fist of my new set of piano pieces. The day has been fun". (Chris's cello quartet was performed by our staff at the concert, with Chris playing one part.)
"Very nice day. The free time was very soothing as I was feeling a bit troubled for non camp-related reasons. I think we're progressing nicely on Libertango. I think the quartets are very cool. Our music therapy presentation was also very interesting and the drumming was fun".
"Today was great. After a nice sleep my spirits were lifted from yesterday and everything that we did today was extremely fun. I absolutely loved hearing the first run through of my quartet and playing with Ana was so fun. I have had a great time all day. I also made very good progress on my triplet part in Libertango".
"The day was pleasant. I went on a jog with Ana and Tom. Rehearsals were fun all around. I'm excited for my two solo parts in the Libertango. I'm excited in general for the recital on Thursday. The communication session were challenging, entertaining and interesting. One can learn so much from how different people interpret the same question'.
"Though I am very excited to return home, I feel that I am just today reaching the level of maximum learning. Today was an extremely enjoyable mix of making progress and relaxing. In fact, much of my time today was spent revisiting old music, or working on new pieces was relaxing and fun. I am fully looking forward to everything tomorrow.
Cellochanwoods has been just as rewarding the second time around. Although my second experience here has been structured very differently from the first, I think I came away with just as s much progress. I think I would warn anyone unsure about coming that CCW could be an emotional roller coaster. It will almost certainly yield great results, so long as effort is put in".
Lee Pavach Journal
"I've been enjoying the camaraderie of fellow cellists and the refreshing down time swimming in the lake. Food is also refreshing and tasty, served at the right intervals to keep my stomach from growling. During practice and my lesson, I've gotten instruction on technique that will help me develop finger strength and to improve the ease of sounding good and strong consistently (minimizing pressure - using weight).
"The communication exercise was anther eye opening revelation about how I live my life with so much short-hand communication about what I'm doing instead of just being and Spending my time and attention on what is truly important to me. The practice meditation was valuable because it set down specific steps in categories outlined as part of the journey to mastering a new piece. I don't spend enough time familiarizing myself with the music recoding/video and score to see where it's going first. So I can it in. The singing step has been a key missing piece for me. Tying it to your description - performance of voice with emotion, dynamics and rhythm really brought it home to me. The particular way of sketching it out, looking at the score, is the foundation to be able to build my "voice" into the music.
Still love the Libertango piece, playing ensemble with the sectional. I worked with Ana to master a section. She helped with my part and we played together. The music therapy guest lecture was freeing and memorable. I didn't realize how much music could do to break through self-judging and other physical injuries. I look forward to embracing improvisation as a loosening up technique.
Long meditation was relaxing. The time went by fast. Breathing in I am happy, breathing out I am music made me breath more deeply and joyfully.
The master class was very helpful for me, especially the section on making good sound. The education about dynamics was illuminating. Starker " dynamics are a quality not a quantity.
My lesson with Sonja built on this further with specific exercises to help me develop an instinctive sense of contact point, bow angle, and sound.
"I've really enjoyed listening to the other cellists play individually while they practiced, especially Adam (Adam is an autistic boy who plays at a high level) He's inspiring when he plays alone and in our quintet.
Valarie Thompson (Celtic Cellist) is a wonderful addition to the program. I've loved quickly learning 2 pieces that sound far more complex than they actually are. It was great to learn the rhythm chop tech".
Another fulfilling day at CCW.
"The communication sessions were difficult. It's hard to talk about who I am and come to terms with the gaps between what I do and who I am. The good part about it was the resonant theme that it's good / important to be who you are. The requisite ingredient is to know who you are, to be more actively aware of it and to act on becoming the person you are and want to be.
The mediations that acknowledge the business of daily life resonate. That I have the power to dial down the business and have gained more techniques to quiet my mind is a wake up call to live life more intentionally and introspectively and claim back the time and presence of mind to become a better cellist, musician...person. The silent illumination meditation made me very aware of subtle movements. The blood pulsing through my fingers, my jaw slackening as I breathed out, through my mouth. I realized that though I felt balanced in the chair, my vertebra were not aligned on top of each other".
"I really enjoyed talking with Suzanne about the camp experience. There are many ways this year worked better than last year for me. I've needed the time to absorb and practice the lessons, meditate and have plenty of time for recreation. I'm always amazed at how effortlessly harmonious the mix of ages and personalities is.
The quote from Yo Yo Ma about the relationship between listening and tension is a powerful lesson. I've struggled with physical tension or lack of confidence and of technical knowledge and skills. The tension makes practicing of the cello hard and discouraging. At CelloChanWoods I've received individual instruction, simple exercises and insights to bring to the pieces we've worked on and to all future music making. I've gained confidence having he time, compassion of my chamber group mates, teachers and all the cellists and counselors. I've gained an appreciation for time, how it's spent, how it's applied. The silence, the notes, the cadence of our cays highlighted the need to make time to focus and savor music and practice when I leave here.
Lastly the counselors were fabulous with their generosity of insight, teachings, and time. I've loved being with them and with everyone in our community. They've all embodied the spirit of what CCW is all about".
Kepler Eberle Journal
"Today we worked on our sectionals but today I over slept and didn't get breakfast. The morning was no talking. That drove me insane. Then we did some swimming then came back and had a snack. Then I practiced 'In Dreams' with Karen. And did some Golem impressions. Then sat down and started to write this. So far this has been a great day.
This the best camp EVER!!!!"
Thomas McCarthy Journal
"I feel like mediation is hard for me. The brain's a feedback mechanism that is built to respond to stimuli. Is mediation a stopping or a feedback mechanism?
Relaxation exercises seem important. I don't know if I do them right all the time. There's always more of the body to relax. RE: The brain during meditation. How do you know if you're successful?
Don't miss work. During meditation exercise with Kepler, my question was what is music? And I started talking about information theory. I was meant to be an engineer.
The communication exercise with Ana was interesting. At first I found my self-responding to her, not through voice, but through facial expressions - nodding. This I know was against the rules of the exercise. However I could see that this, in a sense, directed the monologue. If the brain is a feedback mechanism, our conversation was definitely an outgrowth of that. (Her answers responding to my response.) I tried to remove myself more so that the answer was all her answer. Then her answers seemed be become more personal."
"Music therapy class was interesting. It's interesting how music can affect the body. Causing changes in the brain as well as in the body. I wonder if it's specific to music, but a function of all art, all expression.
Joe talked about ways to internalize rhythms. The Popper Requiem can be complicated. All the triplets, tenor clef. I lose my context. More complicated music. The counselors seem really busy."
"Next, running with Ana. I have never run with anybody else before. Just my dog! Not from, say lack of interest, but because I don't know any other runners. It was fun."
"With Sonja I got a much better understanding of vibrato, like Joe, I really felt she was meant to be a teacher."
"I'm looking forward to the last sectional and the final performance
In previous years I have wished that CW were just a couple days longer. I think this might be the perfect length. I am still sorry to see it end, but part of me s longing to get back to my life. I am glad I have a few days of solitude, personal time before work restarts.
I feel like I have gotten more out of this experience than I have in other years. I have improved on the cello and in spirit. In a sense I feel like CCW plants seeds that will ripen over time.
I thought the schedule was well designed. There were large windows of scheduled work and large windows that I could fill as needed. I am glad that I had an opportunity to work on the Popper and that we moved on to the Mozart. As a group, this was this right decision."
Comments of participants from past summers
This experience has been an amazing one. From the first day I have felt safe and comfortable. The first individual practice session, Ethan recommended I fill the space around me and not play with the mute. This was the first step to playing more confidently. Later during day one, Carrie came and asked to hear me play and she helped open up my sound. The second day Joe helped me with the bow arm exercises. All of my experiences with the counselors have been an amazing one. They were all encouraging and never let their critique sound negative.
As for the timing of things.....I really like that we all got to have snack time. I know it was probably meant for the little ones, but I truly enjoyed the breaks. Thanks!
Each sectional was perfect. Carrie is an amazing leader and I never felt like she was trying to show off, or show that she was better than us in any way, which was a different experience than last year. I wish I could have exuded more confidence this year during sectionals so I could help Gabriele. I know I could have, I just didn't feel confident enough to help. For this is my one and only regret.
On a spiritual level, I have been fulfilled every day that I showed up and worked to the best of my ability. I believe this human experience was one my soul will never forget. My mind may not be with me later to remember everything, by m soul will. It was and is a privilege to be a part of this wonderfully illuminating experience.
I thank you for the work you have done and the work you will do in the future. P.S. I also felt really connected with my peers. There was little to no judgment, which was awesome. I felt connected with everyone instead of just seeing the connections we share.
~ Samantha - Age 20, Summer 2013
CelloChanWoods was a wonderful experience for me. I personally gained many things, some of which were unexpected.
The absoluteness of the positive energy at this camp was inspiring. Too often there is unnecessary competition with playing music and I saw no sign of that for the whole camp.
The work ethic of the students has personally helped me to regain some excitement and energy about cello playing. Prior to coming to the camp, I was feeling slightly burned out on the cello. The opportunity to teach really was refreshing and offered a new way for me to improve as a player. The idea that one is never good enough at the instrument is not inspiring, but rather daunting at times. This camp had a great outlook on doing one's personal best and finding satisfaction and pride from that. It is important to step back and say "I am good enough for today and tomorrow is a new day where I will continue to grow and become better."
I feel rejuvenated and can not wait to take on Reno in a few weeks as I begin my Masters in Music. Thanks to all of the students, staff and leaders who put this together. I feel everyone has walked away a better person, and cellist.
~ Joseph Tatum - Counselor. Jacobs Music School, University of Indiana., Summer 2013
I was apprehensive about the camp when I arrived, feeling inconvenienced by it's talking up of days from my summer. The only way I kept positive was telling myself that a., I would have fun eventually, and b., the camp only lasted 4 days. This attitude was more than reversed after spending 3 and 1/2 incredible days with incredible people. I find myself lamenting the fact that the camp has been "only four days." I learned great techniques, not so much from the classes as from the practice times in which a counselor would casually mention an improvement and suddenly you not only discovered a problem you didn't know you had, but also fixed it instantly. These 4 days have been amazing socially too. I had never really spoken with any of the other cello students, but after bonding with them at meals and campfire sing along, I am proud to say I have made at least 20 new friends. All of the counselors were very helpful, friendly, and skilled. I am happy to be able to take these new skills home, sad to leave and overall, I know my life has been impacted positively and greatly during my time here. I also fell that being a counselor here someday would be amazing.
~ Chris - Age 15, Summer 2013
As advertised, this retreat was a holistic experience of exploring and understanding what it means to make music with the cello on a personal and communal level. Though I didn't appreciate what it would feel like, physical and emotionally to approach cello instruction from a holistic approach.
The physical instruction, from the exercises to eurhythmics and individual instruction in techniques helped me internalize the lessons and feel the difference it makes in my cello playing. The emotional and spiritual instruction also helped break down and change the impatience and self judging to an experience of more freedom and gratification in practice playing with others and performance. I love the intergenerational community, which is a testament to the fact that we are all at different levels but all have something to offer. Having the young, very talented cellists inspires a sense of playfulness in the counselor's instructions, as well as campers that is also very freeing. There are many life lessons as well as cello lessons. I will take away as I expected there would be, but the visceral connection to them nurtured in this setting, with the instruction, music and community of 20 campers will make it easier to remember the experience and bring it back to my practicing, lessons, and performing when I leave.
I had thought I picked up cello for the intellectual stimulation of learning something new and for the beauty of the music. Now I find it's becoming more of an expression of my sprit, a safe place to explore and a place /way to connect with other musicians. I had been less interested in performance before cellochanwoods, but now I aspire to perform and play with others. It's pushed me to wan to challenge myself more and see the values of practice, including scales, warm ups, and other techniques we learned here, to help move forward more quickly. The focus is shifting from being able to play a piece to being able to express myself and share playing with others.
Intellectually, we've discussed many of these topics in lessons, Suzanne. The retreat has made these teachings more experiential, focused and memorable, again on a physical and emotional level.
This has been an extraordinarily rewarding and inspiring experience.
~ Lee Pavach - adult, Summer 2013
I am a firm believer in the development of character, leadership and team building through the engagement and study of canoeing. Learning how to speak as a leader/follower.
Transitions this week were difficult. Sectionals were difficult.
1. Put away your cello and bow
Pack up your music, pencil, stand, and chair.
2. On a good day, carry all these to the door
3. Get everything down and put on your shoes
4. Pick everything up, weave past everyone else, and find a practices spot out doors. Hopefully, with a chair
5. Cello down, stand up, music up cello/bow out
6. Remember what to practice
7. I often didn't allow enough time for this, which led to anxiety when things ran late.
I was very intrigued by Suzanne's description of mandalas. As a teacher, I view my students as a sort of mandala. I treasure every relationship I have built here. I have a good story that I will hold onto from each person and I have done my best to share my knowledge and passion for improvisation and creative music with you, and now we scatter.
~ Eli Bender: Counselor, Summer 2013
The meditations helped me get calm. They also helped me focus. Some meditations I didn't get.
~ Kaden - 7 years old, Summer 2013
Many a man and woman have compared life to many things. In truth, life can be one thing, it can be another thing, and it can be everything and nothing too.
I think life is like the cello. In truth, you can do whatever you like with a cello or you can do whatever you fancy with your life. But as with life, you can simply throw you're cello, you can break it, or you can just do nothing at all with it. Yet there are those who go to the cello and play beautiful music. In order to play beautiful music, one must labor very hard. In life, no one gains anything without a price to pay. The road through life is an arduous journey, like the road to the cello. Yet the trip is worth the pain.
These thoughts and more have blossomed in my mind due to the 3 days I have spent here at CCW. Nature is a thing of beauty and being exposed to its cool ecstasy brings a sense of enlightenment to me. I have often compared CCW to blue lake, which in both places I have discovered two sides of being human. At Blue Lake, I found the social animal carelessly enjoying the company of others and the ripe fruits of life. There, I discovered the psychology of others, but not myself. Here, I have learned about myself. I have taken a journey to myself, discovering my own mind like never before. Here I take the fruit of life, ponder over it, question the ripest part. I and only myself breathe the ecstasy off the woodland, bathing in my solitude. I and only I breathe ecstasy of the forest as the dew slowly dries under the morning sun.
~ Pablo 14 years old., Summer 2013
Throughout my time here at CelloChanWoods, I feel that I have channeled a calmer and more focused version of myself. I find myself able to clear my head and center myself in the day's various activities, which is exactly what I was hoping to achieve here. I am so excited to continue exploring meditation and the many tips and tricks we learned in physical therapy and daily warm ups. As for my role as a counselor, I can't begin to express how much I have treasured this experience. I feel that I have gained so much knowledge to put towards my teaching. In working with each camper and observing my fellow counselors, I am so humbled by, and grateful for, this amazing opportunity. It isn't often that a community such as this one comes around, and I will sincerely miss each and every person. I have never encountered such a unique group of people where I learned something new from every body. It has been a joy for me to get to know this family and community and I truly hope to return next year. CelloChan'woods has helped to renew my passion for what I chose to do with my life, and there are no words that can explain what that means to me.
~ Carrie Brannen - Counselor - Western Michigan University, Summer 2013
My experiences at this camp have been great as a whole. I have learned a lot about myself as a person and cellist. I feel that being a year older has really helped me take all of the lessons to heart. I think that because of that I felt more comfortable with the camp and what you were saying, Suzanne. I really like that you had the option to camp out overnight here, which is something I would really like to do next year. The main difference from my perspective this year was that the group seemed even closer. That is probably a result of us not going straight into meditation but instead being more social at the breakfast table. I like both the social and more silent approaches but I think you should try to balance them.
I also found that being more advanced as a cellist allowed me to use more of the instruction and feel less lost during activities. I came to realize I could potentially be using my practice time much better to get greater results. The exercises we did I am going to do on a daily basis because they really helped my tension in my back and shoulder, which made playing so much easier. To me, it also helped to have the counselors really enjoying their time teaching us. It seemed to me that this year's group got a lot more into it and were fun to be around. I also really appreciated the normality and flexibility of our activities. Overall, I really enjoyed this year and I really hope that next year is even better so I continue to progress.
~ Simon -age 14, Summer 2013
I feel like I got more out of CelloChanWoods this time than I had previously. The camping experience seemed more effective to me than the day camping experience. It removed me more from the day-to-day experience of my daily life and seemed more efficient. The CelloChanWoods experience never stopped. Where as, as a day camper, I would leave at night and go back to my normal life.
I really enjoyed taking lessons from the different counselors. They all had different ways of teaching and were all effective in some way. I also really like the conductor. He was really good at bringing the different parts together and I feel like the ChelloChanWoods pieces came together better because of that.
I wish we had had more time for sectionals. It was fun to work with the counselors in the sectionals and I felt like it helped to incorporate the different aspects of cello plying you had talked about in the morning talk, Suzanne.
The guest speakers did this too.
Leaving, I feel like I have a more concrete sense of how I can improve my cello playing. Physically through better from and mentally through better mind set. This is partially because the counselors did a good job of transferring topics we'd discussed to the music we were playing and because they were really good teachers.
~ Thomas - adult, Summer 2013
When I was younger and even into college, I never wanted to practice. The only time I ever really enjoyed playing the cello was in orchestra, mostly because I had very enthusiastic and nurturing conductors. I was never really pushed to be better, to work at the cello. At this retreat, however, I have found that I actually want to practice and play. That I enjoy making music and learning new things. Over the past year and few days, I've gotten more relaxed in my playing, more into my playing. The exercises and meditation have helped me to relax even more. I've developed more of an ability to practice slowly, working on just one aspect of my playing instead of jut hoping I'll get the notes or relying on my sight-reading. I wish I could have had more time here to practice and work more. I didn't have time to work on the Popper to get it to where I'm completely comfortable. But overall, I had a great experience and I hope to be back next year.
~ Meridith - adult., Summer 2013
I think that this camp is just a beautiful place and time. It is more than just an idyllic setting and a peaceful get away. I have found a real sense of community with everybody and was shocked at how well I knew everybody even after the first day. We work and think as a team and we're all holding each other up so that we're all functioning on a higher level than we could have on our own. It's amazing how a group can improve the individual and the individual can improve the group. Since we are all our better selves here, we are all out better cellists. Having to walk around and coach, I haven't had much time to practice, yet I fell like I'm making long strides in my own playing. Just being immersed in a community whose goal is peace of mind and ease of cello playing, I'm gaining valuable tools with which to move forward from here. I love the way my body feels after the stretches and meditation, and I' love the way my cello sounds when my body feels so good. This is clearly the answer. My deepest thanks to Suzanne and everybody else that worked hard to make this happen. It's invaluable.
~ Ethan Young - Counselor - Jacobs School of Music, University of Indiana, Summer 2013
Thanks for facilitating such a fabulous summer cello camp. It was a wonderful experience for me, from swimming in the lake and boating to meditation, exercises, master class, individual practice time with help from the great counselors....this list could go on. Highlights for me include evening campfires, which were great for bonding and much fun and orchestra rehearsals with Daniel. My goals coming to camp were numerous, but my main goal was to become more relaxed in my arms to relieve unnecessary tension. Meditation and bow exercises taught surely helped me overcome that obstacle, thanks to you and the very incredibly supportive counselors. It was nice to get away from home for 4 days and spend it here in the middle of the woods playing cello and getting tips, comments, and feedback from knowledgeable people other than my teachers back in Seattle - so I definitely got a lot out of my experience. The speakers who visited, especially the Eurythmics speaker (Rebecca from the Cleveland Institute of Music) thoroughly impressed me and I learned so much. Thanks again for everything and I really hope I can come back here again next year! I'll try to persuade my parents. (:
Have a good rest of the summer.
~ Zhao Hui 13, Summer 2013
My Journal - My experience:
I loved playing together and orchestra but it was also nice to have individual practice time as well. I like how when we had individual practice, the counselors would help us and give us advice. Swimming and canoeing were also fun and gave us a nice break from cello so we could be refreshed and read to start playing again. The buddy walks I like because you got to know new people. After camp was over each day, it was nice to sit around the bonfire while talking and singing. Thank you for making this camp wonderful.
Your friend and student,
~ Zoe - age 11, Summer 2013
I experienced a lot of compassion/support from the staff and it was very much appreciated. Working on the Popper, which was very challenging (Popper Requiem transcribed for 6 cellos and piano) has given me more confidence to approach difficult pieces / passages. I realized I practice too fast. I tend to approach practice with the same mindset I approach work, there are many things to be done in a given amount of time and it's very goal oriented. This is because my practice time is quite limited and so I always feel pressure to "move ahead". I realize this is a completely backwards approach and it actually is slowing down my progress. I need to develop more patience and be more process oriented to experiment more. I gained some insight into the source of my insecurity /fear around playing and I have an idea of steps I need to take to address these issues. I really enjoyed the positive support group that we formed over the 3 days. Technically I came away with a lot of ideas for improving my tone and for shifting into higher registers. I enjoyed being a student and think it's always good for a teacher to be a student from time to time. This helps me renew my empathy for my students. Also the presence and compassion of the teachers here are things I will use to renew my own teaching in the fall.
~ Laurie - adult, Summer 2013
My favorite part has been seeing campers from last year again and meeting all the new counselors and campers. I was worried about the kids coming to camp but it has been a wonderful addition - just a different energy. Camping together has been really fun. Dory did a good job making the evenings fun and a good bonding experience.
I found all the counselors to be delightful, knowledgeable and excellent teachers. They all had different things to offer and complimented each other well.
I always dreaded the buddy walks but each one this year was great. I got to know more about a person's history and story.
~ Gabriele - adult, Summer 2013
I like camp because it was nice to get away from the frustrating things of daily life.
At camp I had fun singing songs, playing the cello, improving and hanging out with people. I think that we need to do some outdoor activities like soccer or more games. Camp really helped me focus on one thing and not be distracted by others doing other things like playing soccer. I have learned how to stay focused and relax at the cello. If I could take something away it would d be that I'm more focused and have gotten to know people like Kaden and Zoe better and met nice people like he counselors.
Mr. Vampire ) Kepler.
~ Kepler - age 12, Summer 2013
Long story short, I think this camp has just been perfect! It has been such a great time getting to know all of the students. In addition to being so enthusiastic and energetic, everyone is so receptive as well. They were so much fun and were inspiring to work with that it was almost a shame that the camp wasn't longer. Apart from the students, the other counselors are all just amazing. We all got along very quickly and by the end of the first day, it felt like we have known each other for years. I really liked the morning meditations. They really got me energized and ready to take on the rest of the day. I also enjoyed the guest speakers and the presentations. If anything, sometimes it felt like things were too tightly scheduled. I would have loved longer individual practice times to work with more people in an intimate 1 on 1 setting. In addition, to the tight schedule, I found myself thirsty for a little more solitude. I think partially because we spent the individual time helping others, there was not much time to just collect my thoughts.
~ Jason Gong - University of Michigan piano performance major -cellist, accompanist, assistant, Summer 2013
"More than a music teacher, Suzanne is a spiritual guide. If you know that the music already exists in your soul and you're looking for help in allowing it to flow through you, visit Suzanne and let the miracle of music manifest in your life." ~ Betty
"One of the best music teachers I' ve had. I have had a number of music teachers in my life - I have my ARCT from the Royal Conservatory of Music in piano performance, and I also play the flute. Suzanne's cello lessons are a wonderful balance the technical, the emotional and the artistic elements of creating music. She has focused on guiding me to create music on the cello since the first day I touched the instrument." ~ Stefanie
"Suzanne is the best! She is always nice and funny, I have learned a lot from her, even the attitude to life. I love it when she says"Let go...":)" ~ Qing
"I highly recommend CelloChan to anyone who loves the cello! Suzanne's holistic approach to the instrument has helped to radically transform my son's approach to performing and how he sees himself as a person. Her expertise and knowledge of all of the various little details of correct hand & body positioning literally improved my son's sound after his initial lesson! I have watched my son transform in the past four years under Suzanne's tutelage from a kid who picked up the cello in fifth grade and "liked to play the cello as something to do"; to a matured gentleman who discovered after many years of "something to do" that he loves to play the cello and plans on being a music major in cello performance next year. Suzanne has a direct, honest approach to her students and a fair amount of patience when life events get in the way of practice. She sets her lesson plans and goals based on the goals of each of her student's aspirations. She is respectful and does not force people to do things they don't want to do, yet at the same time she knows when to throw in challenges to help them progress. It has been a real treat to see the improvement of all of her students over the years at the various CelloChan student recitals. These recitals are a real gift to the students and families! My son's confidence and self-esteem as a musician has been greatly improved upon, thanks to these recitals. I guess what I appreciate the most about Suzanne, has been her ability to help my son over the years see his musical potential and ultimately believe in it & achieve his musical goals. She has been a true gift to our family!" ~ Shonda
"Dedication, innovation, and patience, are just some of the strengths of Suzanne Smith's CelloChan program. Suzanne mixes body, mind, and practice (key practice!) in order to break through common barriers. As someone who has struggled with the consistency of practicing, Suzanne continuous to push me firmly and kindly. She does not shy away from engaging your stage of playing, at whatever level. A supremely talented and motivating cello teacher, you will improve in ways you didn't expect. I am completely in love with my cello playing now." ~ Pilar
"An Unexpected Gift Playing an instrument is something I have wanted to do the whole of my adult life but playing the cello was not something I ever considered. I jokingly tell people that after an uncanny series of events that the cello chose me! One of those events included finding Suzanne's flier in an unexpected place and upon reading it knowing she was the teacher for me. I have been playing the cello for a little over a year now and am continually amazed at how much I get out of the experience. It is about so much more than music for me. It has been about self-discovery, physical awareness, and looking at life-long patterns. The cello has been the tool with which I am making some significant changes in my life as well as the salve to heal old wounds. Suzanne has been so much more than a music teacher through all this. I feel as though every lesson is additionally a counseling session and I always come away with some little nugget to contemplate and work on the following week. Her Buddhist background and practice of meditation is woven throughout her teaching. Her perceptiveness and unnerving ability to see to the root of an issue always make lessons an eye-opening experience. Everyday I thank the universe for bringing Suzanne and the cello into my life." ~ Gabrielle
"Educating the whole child Suzanne is a gifted teacher who is capable of bringing out the best in her students. She has an uncanny way of getting to know her students as individuals, identifying their strengths and weaknesses and honing in on the unique key to motivating each individual. She inspires and helps each child find their own intrinsic motivation to make beautiful music rather than being forceful and regimented. Our son has really blossomed as a musician and we are so grateful to Suzanne for helping him find this means of expressing his creativity." ~ Sandra
"cellochan ;) I have been in the cellochan program for about 4 years now, and am enjoying every lesson, recital and cellchan event! Suzanne is a wonderful teacher and knows hot to teach with my learning style very well. I have grown as a cellist, a musician, and a person while learning cello under her teaching. i would recommend cellochan to anyone varying in age from 7-70, it is a great place to begin as a cellist and continue learning as a musician." ~ KA
"Terrific experience Suzanne taught my children not just to play an instrument but to make music, and it helped them discover that making music is a lasting pleasure. The musical education they received as students in the cellochan program was excellent--equally valuable to their development as people, though, was program's focus on music-making as service. As an adult cellochan student myself, I found a place where playing music is all about fellowship, self-discovery, and service. Performances become opportunities to enjoy music and company of other musicians rather than occasions for anxiety, self-recrimination, or competitiveness. Playing in an ensemble with other adult cellochan students has not only helped me improve my playing but has also reminded me of the most important part of making music: sharing the joy." ~ Elizabeth
"Suzanne knows how to get the best out of her students My son has had tremendous success at cellochan. Suzanne is patient and supportive and knows how to work with each student to get them to perform at their best. She provides many opportunities for students to perform in front of audiences, both within the group and as part of community service activities." ~ Susan