Erin Elizabeth Culpepper1
|Father*||Clifford Perry Culpepper M.D.|
|Charts||Henry Culpepper Jr. of Norfolk Co., VA: Descendant Chart|
|Last Edited||10 Jan 2010|
- An Olympic Performer: Practice Pays Off for Erin Culpepper, Who Will Play Her Flute at the Winter Games in Japan
Amanda Griffin, Roanoke Times, 29 Jan 1998, Page N3
Erin Culpepper is going to the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan, in February. However, she will not be competing in an athletic event. Culpepper will be playing her flute in a special concert with a thousand other young musicians.
Culpepper, 14, a ninth-grader at Cave Spring Junior High School, began playing the flute more than three years ago. The school band director let the students try out different instruments, and Culpepper chose the flute over the clarinet.
"I liked the sound better," said Culpepper, explaining her choice. "It's more soothing."
Culpepper was taught to play using the Suzuki method of music instruction, which was developed by Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, who died this week at the age of 99, in Japan after World War II. It is the International Suzuki Organization that is organizing the concert in Nagano. It will feature flutists, cellists and violinists from all over the world who have been instructed using the Suzuki method. The ISO asked Suzuki instructors to select their best students to perform.
About 30 American flutists will participate. Small groups will be coming from Colorado, Tennessee and Washington state. Culpepper is the only representative from the East.
Culpepper's instructor, Deborah Kemper, was taught the Suzuki method by the current chairman of the ISO, Toshio Takahashi. Kemper began working with Takahashi about 14 years ago, when she became interested in the method. Kemper has been teaching flute for 25 years and instructing with the Suzuki method for the past 12.
Suzuki instruction differs from traditional music instruction by teaching the student to play by imitation first, similar to the way a child learns to speak. Suzuki instruction can begin with children as young as 4.
"Their ability to sponge up information is phenomenal," said Kemper.
During an annual refresher course on the method with Takahashi in July, Kemper was asked to invite a student to perform at the concert. Kemper asked three advanced-level students if they would like to perform, and Culpepper accepted.
"She will be a really good representative," Kemper said.
"I felt honored," said Culpepper, who gave her instructor a ``yes'' almost immediately.
"There were a lot of emotions. I was excited and there was disbelief, too," said her mother, Linda Culpepper.
That Erin Culpepper is performing at the Olympics has not changed her daily practice schedule. All Suzuki students build the same repertoire by working from the same set of music books. Culpepper is now reviewing pieces with Kemper, since the 10 to 12 pieces she will perform are part of a repertoire she has already committed to memory.
Once in Japan, Culpepper and the rest of the students will rehearse with Takahashi.
"Rehearsals will be three hours standing and playing. It's rigorous. He is nurturing but detailed," said Kemper. "I told Erin to wear comfy shoes."
The performers are being asked to wear attire representing their country. Culpepper and her mother have narrowed her outfit down to two possibilities. She will either wear a simple navy skirt, white blouse, and something with a red, white and blue print representing the American flag, or an early American colonist's costume complete with bonnet.
Culpepper is being accompanied by her parents, Linda and Cliff Culpepper, and her sister, Bonnie, 10.
The concert is scheduled for Feb. 8. The family will leave Roanoke Feb. 4 on a 17-hour flight to Japan.
"We have tickets for the opening ceremonies, speed skating and ice hockey," said Culpepper.
They have not been able to get tickets for figure skating, but they are still hoping, Linda Culpepper said.
Between attending Olympic events and Culpepper's rehearsal schedule, the family will have only one free day. They plan to use it to explore Japan.
"We'll either go to Kyoto or back to Tokyo. The girls want to do some shopping in a big city," said Linda Culpepper. She would also like to visit the Mt. Fuji area.
The Culpeppers have vacationed in the Cayman Islands, but this will be the family's first big trip out of the country. They will stay either with a host family or at a hotel with Western accommodations. Two Japanese flutists, Ayako and Satoko Katsura, who visited Roanoke about four years ago and worked with Kemper's students, will serve as hostesses for the Culpeppers.