Beach School is a K-8 public school located along the Interstate Avenue corridor in North Portland, Oregon. It includes both a traditional neighborhood school and a Spanish immersion program. We are a proud and diverse school. Over 58% of Beach students qualify for free or reduced lunch, an indicator of poverty. In addition, a significant number of students qualify for transitional housing services.
The Suzuki Method
The Suzuki Method was developed by Japanese violinist Shin’ichi Suzuki (1898-1998). Dr. Suzuki based his approach on the belief that “Musical ability is not an inborn talent but an ability which can be developed. Any child who is properly trained can develop musical ability, just as all children develop the ability to speak their mother tongue. The potential of every child is unlimited.”
The Portland Suzuki Project at Beach SchoolIn the United States, the vast majority of families receiving this method of instruction have been those who can afford it, excluding economically disadvantaged students. In 2008, the Portland Suzuki Project, founded by Martha Shackford, began giving violin lessons at Beach School during the school day to 27 Beach kindergarteners at no cost to families, Beach School or the District. The program has flourished and this year the Portland Suzuki Project (PSP) served seven classes from grades 1st through 4th, including two Spanish-language classes for our immersion students. Students use an appropriately sized violin and participate in two half-hour lessons each week in a small class setting. This year, PSP taught 156 students. Next year, PSP hopes to reach ten classes serving 210 students.
The Portland Suzuki Project provides the students at Beach School critical access to music education and the joy of making music. There are academic benefits as well: recent studies show that young children given instrumental training have increased learning ability. In addition, the activities of PSP’s violin program at Beach give children, families, teachers, administrators, and community members a reason to come together, be inspired, and celebrate the accomplishments of their children.
Until now, most of the project’s instruments have been donated to the project. Accessories and repairs have been paid for with money raised by Beach School parents and grants from the Multnomah County Cultural Coalition and All Hands Raised. Our violin teachers have worked simply out of the goodness in their hearts and the knowledge that, but for them, most Beach students would never touch a violin or comparable instrument.
Two students who received violin lessons for the last five years during the school day have gone on to play for the Metropolitan Youth Symphony. This is a great opportunity for these students. Beach violin students are eager to continue learning and frequently ask about what is required to successfully audition for a youth orchestra. PSP is preparing them for this ensemble experience.
Unfortunately, this successful program has lost its stream of new volunteers and faces mounting costs as the program grows. This is why we need your help.
We hope you will support our violin program! The Beach Students are counting on us to make sure the Portland Suzuki Project remains at Beach next year and for years to come. Help us make this happen!
If we do not meet our funding goal, The Portland Suzuki Project will not continue at Beach School next year. Any money raised will be used instead for instrumental music instruction at Beach School. This will likely mean after school classes for students who are interested. However, our main goal is to provide this program to as many students at Beach as possible, and we can only achieve this through a program incorporated into the school day.
The Portland Suzuki Project is a 501(c) 3 (non-profit) organization. All donations are tax deductible.
Other Ways You Can Help
1. TELL A FRIEND about The Portland Suzuki Project at Beach School and our effort to raise funds to save this program.
2. CONNECT us with volunteers that would like to teach violin class (Suzuki method training is available), assist in our classes, or help with coordination. We are always looking for help with taking videos or pictures at concerts and behind the scenes set up for our school concerts. Pianists are always welcome to come and accompany our classes. We would love the support.
3. SHARE our story with your friends, family, and community/networks by using the tools on our page!
4. LIKE "The Portland Suzuki Project at Beach School" on Facebook.
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