Phil’zHarmoniks is the performing student group of Tinge Studios. We are based in the St. Louis Metro East area out of O’Fallon, Illinois. With our extension group in Centralia we cover most of southern Illinois. Led by Philip Tinge, Phil’zHarmoniks is a bowed string instrument group based on the concepts developed by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki.
Suzuki believed that one can learn to play well if they can hear what they are trying to play. This method is based on the concept that all children learn to speak their “mother tongue” by hearing others speak, so they learn their instrument by listening to others play. This “Mother Tongue” philosophy is very important for the playing of instruments, but especially string instruments. Without any defined location for the fingers to set upon for a given note, it is very important to be able to hear a sound and then produce that sound. Once students are able to hear what they want, only time and practice stand between hope and success.
Of course there are many other obstacles that must be overcome to play a violin. One of the biggest issues is not actually a musical issue but a fundamental skill needed for success: desire. The saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” is true in all aspects of life. All too often students make plans to do something, but then quit trying when difficulties strip away their desire.
In Phil’zHarmoniks, we utilize methods which help desire grow and students reach goals. This is accomplished by providing a nurturing environment filled with love and care on an individual level. Everyone is important, every part is important, everyone is a part of the family.
Positive peer pressure can be a very useful tool, and social interaction between the ages and differing levels of skills can create enthusiasm and excitement to learn. Along with private lessons, every student of Phil’zHarmoniks is given the opportunity to be active in musical groups. The main group class meets on Thursdays and works on polishing basic skills (such as tone, pitch, and posture) and playing as a group (to learn skills such as following a leader and musicality). The music for these groups is arranged for all ages and skill levels. Students all get to play together at the same time, so advanced players can polish fundamental skills while beginning students learn from the more advanced players. We teach equal importance of parts and all skill levels are given high regards and respect. By giving everyone the opportunity to play together and interact we create a fun environment full of enthusiasm to learn.
To keep the enthusiasm of students covering a wide range of personalities and ages, a large variety of musical genres is needed. Phil’zHarmoniks performs music in every style, from before the Baroque (Bach) era of music through the modern Rock ‘n’ Roll of today. And as we learn from this vast variety we also learn how they all relate. The wide variety keeps students interested and excited, plus allows Phil’zHarmoniks the ability to perform in a wide range of concert venues.
We frequently play for area church services and nursing homes, and have also traveled as far as Europe. Our most recent trip was performing at Walt Disney World on June 9, 2017. Disney workers were impressed, guests were astonished, and we were thrilled. It was a great way to begin the summer. The students who participated had a great time and a boost in their desire to do their best.
The many opportunities to perform encourage students to continue moving forward to meet their goals and helps their will find its way. The family environment helps students accept correction and solidifies self esteem. With all parts being of equal importance, the desire to improve is to accomplish, not be better than, which makes everyone strive to be the best that they can be! All of these traits makes learning to play violin, viola, cello, or bass pure musical enjoyment.