Opening 19 Jan 2012
A grade school in Hamburg St. Pauli collected enough money to finance violin lessons for children in grades two to four. The teacher, Gino Romero Ramirez, developed lesson plans to provide access to children’s way of thinking. For example, he placed pieces of paper with large drawings of penguin feet in a large circle. This is where the children were to stand with their feet in this exact position. Playing the violin is not necessarily on every child’s “to-do” list, but Gino enthusiastically touched something in each child, so that each was willing to try. No child left in angry frustration; some children showed real musical talent. “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” never sounded better.
For three years director Barbara Metzlaff with Alexandra Gramatke documented these lessons for their film 20 Geigen auf St. Pauli. By the fourth grade, some pupils who showed exceptional promise began extra lessons with other children in a neighboring school on an advanced level.
Teacher Gino originally came from Colombia, Central America, to study music in Vienna. He settled in Hamburg instead, where he has been a successful teacher for the last 30 years. He was especially delighted about this opportunity to develop violin instruction in grade school. The film’s title is 20 Violins in St. Pauli, but at the Filmfest Hamburg premiere, more than 30 children played the violin on the stage of Abaton Cinema for their admiring parents and teachers.
This is a wonderful, must-see film, which will probably appeal more to parents than to students. It’s especially recommended for residents of Hamburg, who will recognize the area, for ex-pats who will commiserate with the problems of Ramirez – a fellow ex-pat, who nevertheless learns German and makes his mark, and also to educators who will recognize their own problems in the film and feel encouraged to continue their efforts. (Becky Tan)