Small Wonders | Chicago Reader

Small Wonders

Roberta Guaspari-Tzavaras teaches violin to East Harlem public-school students. They pay rapt attention to her when they're not distracted or overwhelmed, and their lessons culminate in the opportunity to perform with renowned professionals at Carnegie Hall. But director-editor Allan Miller doesn't trust this footage to make a case for arts education. He includes a voice-over by Guaspari-Tzavaras that's clumsy, generic, and burdened with logistical trivia. In a transparent attempt to persuade us that violin study produces disciplined children, not just violinists, he uses sound bites of students parroting adult rationales to justify their strict practice regimen. Miller needn't have been so insecure—the faces of the children speak more eloquently than any postproduction contrivance (1996).

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