STEVENS POINT - Watching her grandsons, Ben and Marty, learn to play in harmony with a large group of strangers, Jeanne Wieland knew the outdoor concert was a proud moment.
"Nice to see them develop the confidence in their abilities," Wieland said.
Wieland drove up to Stevens Point from northwestern Illinois to join her family at the UW-Stevens Point's "American Suzuki Institute."
The week-long camp brings together more than 1,000 students and families to learn the Suzuki method.
"There are so many ways to get the kids focused on what they're doing and if they, like normal kids, get off they are able to bring them back," Wieland said of the camp's instructors. "It's not painful."
Brian Flynn and Roberta Hunter's kids started coming to Point's Suzuki camp seven years ago.
"We block it off on the calendar every year," Flynn said.
Now 15 and 20 years old, their kids enjoy seeing old friends and meeting new ones.
"Chances that the kids have to interact with each other and people from different countries and different cities around this country also works out very well," Flynn said.
At this camp, those chances are everywhere. Students come from 29 states and seven different countries.
"Music is a universal language," camp director Pat D'Ercole said.
D'Ercole says UW-SP's Suzuki Institute was the first of its kind in America 46 years ago. The camp uses Shinichi Suzuki's approach of basic language learning to teach music across cultural barriers.
"We don't measure success by how many students are here or what our bottom line is or any of those kinds of things," D'Ercole said. "It's by how many lives we've changed."
The camp hopes to change parents' lives too. New this year, students perform together daily in the city square.
"I cry every time the kids play together," mother Jodi Clair of Mahtomedi, MN said. "It's a gift."
Providing a gift of connecting children across cultures, creating one voice in perfect harmony.
For more info on UW-SP's Suzuki Institute click on the link below.
UW-Stevens Point Suzuki Institute