From Soybean Fields to Note Reading in Louisiana



Just a cello hanging out by the soybean fields

I just got back from teaching at the Acadiana Suzuki String Instutute in Lafayette Louisiana. It was an amazing time! First, let me fill you in a little bit on what the city was like.

The food was amazing. Cajun food might be my new favorite. Eggs benedict is one of my favorite breakfast foods, and one day I woke up at the bed and breakfast (La Maison de Belle) to get a version of it with crawfish on top. Just like the week itself, it was a wonderful mix of familiar elements I love with something new.


That was the day we had a great jam session that ended with a wasp attack. No kids or wasps were harmed in the making of this video.


If you're reading this, you might already know that note reading is a pretty standard element of modern Suzuki teaching. On top of the masterclasses, technique classes, and rehearsals, we had daily note reading to expand their skills of reading on the page. But with 16 kids meeting right after lunch, let's face it--if teachers aren't careful, things can get boring really fast. Right before one class, I came up with an idea to keep the kids engaged for the whole lesson. It worked! Here's what I did.


I'll experiment with the formula more and see how it can apply to different situations. If you have any suggestions or things you would like to add, let me know!

After all the teaching, we got to wrap things up with a final concert. It was a lot of fun hearing the younger kids show their polished music that they worked on in lessons and masterclasses, while the older kids had their own role in providing the accompaniment. Great job, kids.


Photo Credit: Trung Vu

Oh yeah, I also tried geocaching for the first time. I ended up in some weird places (and that's how I ended up with that pic on top with my cello on the side of the road) and found some cool stuff, thanks to the help of an experienced geocacher.


My man James Hutchins showing how it's done

Big thanks to all the teachers and families I worked with for making this all possible! It was a fun week, but now it's back to the grind in Frisco with new podcasts and videos. Thanks so much for following what we're doing! We have exciting plans for the Summer, and I can't wait to share more. Stay cool out there, y'all.


Neil Fong Gilfillan is a Suzuki cello teacher in Frisco Texas. He and his wife Rachel Samson on viola/violin run Chili Dog Strings, the only string studio in Frisco named after a dog. To see more of his teaching tricks and performances, check their studio Facebook page, YouTube channel and Instagram!


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© 2019 by NEIL FONG GILFILLAN and RACHEL SAMSON.

Special photo credit to Keli Cardoso de Melo who took so many of the photos we use on our website :)