Suzuki’s garlic strings: Gilroy’s violin kids at Garlic Festival

Lori Franke leads the South Valley Suzuki String Academy during a performance on stage in the children's area during the 2014 Gilroy Garlic Festival July 26. Franke is the Founder and Director of the Academy and President of the non-profit South Valley Su

Children’s violin skills may not be the first thought that comes to mind when thinking about Garlic.
South Valley Suzuki String Academy mostly Gilroy-based violinists, however, felt quite at home in the Garlic Capital during the 36th Annual Gilroy Garlic Festival because for many of them, it’s also the place they call home.
“We’re not just an orchestra; we’re more of a family,” said one of the group’s older members, 18-year-old Aiden Carrasco.
The orchestra led by director Lori Franke performed songs like “Orange Blossom Special” and other kid-friendly tunes, several gleaned from books, Franke said.
Vicki Beerli came into town from Mountain View with her husband, stood by with packed haystacks full of people and marveled.
“It’s so sweet,” Beerli crooned. “They make it look easy, but it’s not.”
With international performances from the Azores under their belts and an upcoming trip to Gilroy’s sister city Takko-Machi, Japan in April 2016, students like Carrasco and 14-year-old Gilroyan Cassandra Maciel agreed that the program is a great tool for aspiring musicians. Franke teaches students of all ages. Suzuku methodology is Franke’s forté for teaching students “learning with hearing” under the banner of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki’s vision of “World Harmony Through Music” approach.
Franke, who also runs a program at Antonio Del Buono Elementary School, also commended the variety of traveling opportunities through the program: The Azores, Germany, Australia, Hungary, England—Franke’s students get an international experience if they choose.
Mother Margaret James of Gilroy’s son was among those performing. James said she will enjoy watching students mature from children to high schoolers, honing their skills with the program, including her son. According to James, most of the children and their families are from Gilroy.
“(Franke) is etxremely patient with all of them,” James said.
Sum up the program in a few words? Here’s how some Suzuki students put it.
“Peace through music,” Carrasco said.
“We’re family,” said Maciel.
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