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Seeds of music: Novice teachers share string know-how with Snoqualmie Valley children
Seth May-Patterson and Caroline Faflak are growing the musical culture of the Snoqualmie Valley, one seed at a time.
May-Patterson and Falfak founded the Snoqualmie Strings Seedlings Program this year to help children learn how to play classical instruments.
Off to the Valley
Following their musical mentors to the Northwest, May-Patterson and Faflak brought the music of strings to Valley schools.
Growing up in musical families, May-Patterson and Faflak met at the University of Nebraska, where they both pursued performance music and met Emmanuel and Lenore Vardi.
The Vardis, who live in North Bend, are well-known string musicians. May-Patterson met teacher Emmanuel during his junior year in college.
“I forewent my last year of college to go study with him,” he said.
Following the viola legend, May-Patterson began studying with the Vardis and was followed by Faflak after she finished school. They became the Vardis’ personal assistants.
However, the job of assistant didn’t pay many bills, so the two decided to get more involved with the music community in Washington.
Seeing a flyer for the Snoqualmie Strings Youth Orchestra, May-Patterson contacted director Sheila Bateman, who had been running the program for two years, and asked if she needed any help.
Bateman then nudged May-Patterson and Faflak to start an after-school string program in the district, since there were no public school string programs at any level — elementary, middle or high school.
Since creating the Seedlings program in February, May-Patterson and Faflak have offered to teach the viola, violin, cello and bass to all the elementary schools of the Valley. They now have eight violinists, a celloist, a violaist and a bassist hailing from Snoqualmie, Fall City and Cascade View elementaries.
The program is popular with younger students in first through third grade. But the novice music teachers admit that instructing students with no musical experience at all isn’t always the easiest job.
“Dealing with somebody with past musical experience is far easier, because you can just work on little things,” May-Patterson said. “Taking kids who can’t read a note, we have to start them with reading music and positioning instruments.”
May-Patterson and Faflak enjoy teaching students how to read music, then watching as they makes the association between notes and how to play them on their instruments.
“What’s really cool is the point where they come to class, and they’ve practiced and played for their grandparents and classmates because they want to and like it,” Faflak said. “They have a lot of pride in learning how to play.”
For more information on the after-school program or summer camp, contact Seth May-Patterson at (712)204-9025 or e-mail email@example.com.