We had a great time playing at the St. Stan's talent show. I also really enjoyed seeing and hearing some of the violin students sing and dance. What a talented group of kiddos!
We are setting the foundation for a strong string program at the school and I am so thrilled to be a part of it.
Looking for a new way to engage your child musically? There are so many great books with musical themes written for kids. Here are a few of my favorites!
The Carrot Seed is about the patience one must have when planting a seed and watching it grow. I love to talk about this book with regard to practice and how we grow musically from patience and hard work.
The Cat Who Loved Mozart tells the story of a girl and her cat, and how they bond over the music of Mozart. (You know how much I love cats!)
Frederico the Mouse Violinist is a cute book about a mouse who lives in a violinmaker's studio, who gets a tiny violin of his own.
Jake the Philharmonic Dog tells the story of a NYC pup who learns all about the symphony and its instruments, and eventually he gets a job fetching the conductor's baton!
The Magic Violin addresses the need for hard work in musical study in a fun and approachable way.
The Man with the Violin is an account of the actual experiment that violinist Joshua Bell conducted in a train station. It encourages you to stop and listen to the music and is absolutely delightful.
Meet Lola the Viola and Her String Instrument Family Written by a professor of strings, this book introduces young readers to the members of the string family.
Polly and the Piano is a lovely book written by a piano teacher about her relationship with her dog. It comes with a a CD.
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin This one's last alphabetically, but definitely not least! Zin! is one of everyone's favorites.It explores the instruments of the orchestra and is a joy to read.
Don't forget - I have a lending library (with many of these books) for my current students. Do you have a favorite that;'s I left out? If so, mention it in the comments and I'll include it in my next reading roundup!
I started off 2016 by flying to Dallas, TX by way of Detroit on January 1. I left my Brooklyn apartment at 4 AM, and arrived in Dallas around 10:30 AM, Central Time.
You might be thinking, "This lady is crazy, taking a 6 AM flight on New Year's Day!" Believe me, this crossed my mind, too. However, once I got there I knew there was no better way for me to kick off what I know will be a wonderful, musical year, both in my teaching life and performance life.
An important part of my job as a teacher is to keep learning, keep asking questions, and keep reviewing the way I teach and how it best works for my individual students. By default it makes me a better player, too!
This particular course was a review of Suzuki Book 1 training that I took a few years ago. I am so fortunate in that my studio has grown so much since that time, and I thought I owed it to my kids and to myself to review this very important book and its building blocks in their musical journeys. (Funny, I always learn as much about my own playing in these training as I do about how I want to teach!)
8 teachers gathered with Judy Bossuat-Gallic, a revered pedagogue who studied at length with Shinichi Suzuki himself. She had the most beautiful and applicable stories to tell about her time with him, This class was exceptionally organized, and I learned so much from Judy as well as from the other teacher participants from around the country. People asked such interesting questions and added valuable perspectives to the subjects covered. (And we covered a LOT!) I also met some lovely people with whom I hope to keep contact.
I came home feeling full of excitement and optimism for the year to come, and feeling so grateful for my studio families. I truly love what I do and am so fortunate to have this community of families and colleagues.
What are some of the things YOU are excited about in your musical journeys this year? Let me know in the comments!
I had the best time in LA this week for the Take a A Stand! Symposium. Here's a preview of my next blog post to come shortly!
I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to vacation in Europe this summer. So far I’ve traipsed around Paris and Lyon, France. I’m currently en route to Geneva, Switzerland, and then will make my way to Novelle, France, and back to Paris before we head home.
One strange thing about a long vacation for me is all of this time without my instrument. At first the idea always seems good, but by around day 3 I miss it so much. There are so many things one can do to practice sans instrument (blog post about this coming soon!) but it’s just not quite the same.
There is a MAJOR heat wave in Europe right now, which sent me and my terrible French skills on a wild goose chase for an electric fan in Lyon. What was meant to take about an hour ended up taking near three, but it was so worth it!
After my first unsuccessful venture, I roamed around looking for the second place I’d marked on the city map the hotel had given me. (Note to self: those maps are NEVER to scale!) I never found the store I was looking for, but I did wander into a sheet music store that I saw along the way.
After Patelson’s closed in NY this year, I resigned myself to the idea that I’d always have to shop for sheet music online. I can’t begin to explain the nerdy euphoria I felt when I opened the door and saw all of that music. I said greeted the shopkeeper and asked her “Est-ce que vouz avez de la musique pour violon?” (Do you have music for violin?)
She replied that they did, and showed me to the section.
I had a great time browsing the shelves and ended up buying three books that I’ll use with my young and intermediate students. Here is a sneak peak:
As I paid for my items, the shopkeeper asked about me and what I’d chosen. I told her in my mediocre French that I was a Suzuki violin and viola teacher and that I was delighted to find her store, as our brick and mortar music stores are gone.
Finally as I was ready to leave, I thanked her again and apologized for my terrible French.
She then flashed a giant smile and said to me “Je vous comprends.” (I understand you.)
The way she made me feel in that moment is how I want my students to feel with me. It was a truly lovely experience and I can’t wait to get home and share this new music with my students.*
*I did kind of ruin that beautiful moment at the end by telling her in French that I am so pretty rather than so happy. Oops! Got a good chuckle, though, and I won’t mix up those words again!
As you know, listening is a vital component of the Suzuki method. I encourage you to expose your kids to as many performances as possible! I find them to be fun, inspiring, and engaging for children.
For those of us in NYC, there are quite a few places that offer programs specific to children. Here are links to a few resources:
Let me know if you'd like to arrange a group trip!
One of the things I love most about playing the violin is that I've been a part of so many beautiful weddings. I've played for hire, for friends, and for family, and each celebration is so unique and personal.
This past weekend I had the honor and privilege of providing the ceremony music for my cousin John, and my new cousin Charli! Look how beautiful and happy they are.
The wedding was held at the The Blacksmith Shop in Macon, GA. The ceremony was outside in the courtyard and the reception was in a beautiful old building, formerly a blacksmith shop (hence the name!)
I've always enjoyed playing weddings, but it's even more special when it's someone you love. I prepped for the event by setting up my iPad with an AirTurn pedal. (Post on this later!) Long story short, it allows you to scan your music into the iPad so that you can easily turn pages with a foot pedal. This is helpful for weddings in particular, as you never know exactly how long it will take for everyone to get down the aisle. It also helps that the pages don't blow away during an outdoor wedding!
Charli and John were so laid back with their musical selections, so I pretty much had free reign to play what I wanted. The only specific request was that Charli wanted to walk down the aisle to Pachelbel's Canon in D. I played a lovely arrangement by Martha Yasuda. I chose this one as it's full of beautiful double stops so this piece doesn't sound naked as a solo violin piece.
For the recessional, I used Martha Yasuda's arrangement of Jean-Joseph Mouret's Rondeau. I also played for about 45 minutes before the wedding. When I can choose the music, I'm always very Bach-heavy, so I played lots of Bach. He wrote so many lovely pieces for unaccompanied violin that are perfect for a wedding. I added in some Beethoven, Handel, Massenet, and others. (If you're interested in a list of my wedding selections, email me or comment below!)
It was a lovely day and I am so happy to officially welcome Charli to our family! (Though you've been family since the day you walked in the door!)
In music instruction we often talk about balance. Balancing our practice time, balancing our everyday lives, our other interests, even the balance point on our bow. I often wonder if balance is something that can ever be attained, or if the point of balance is to provide ourselves with an outline of what she should strive toward?
I'm thinking about it now, because for the first time in years, I feel like my ideal musical balance is being met. I am so satisfied as a teacher, I'm performing with an orchestra that I love, I play with two chamber groups, and I have enough practice time to feel like I can contribute to all of these facets of my musical life. I'm looking forward to more opportunities to share some of these things with all of you, and will keep you posted on performance dates.
However, though the musical balance is on right now, other things are feeling a bit out of whack. Time management is always such a challenge - keeping my home clean and welcoming, spending time with my friends and family, and continuing to grow the teaching business that I love so much. It's a challenge.
Will it ever be perfect? Probably not. But it's important to take a minute and recognize the good things when they are abundant, and luckily for me, that time is now, at least musically!
Share your thoughts on balance in the comments below!
Wow - I can't even begin to thank everyone who came out to the concert at Caribou Baby this past Sunday! I am so grateful to my friends and their little ones who came, and to the lovely new people I met. It was great fun, and I'm planning to do another one in March 2015. If you'd like to be added to the list, let me know by emailing me. My contact info is here.
It was really exciting for me to have the opportunity to play for (and with) kids ranging in age from 11 months to 5 years. I was joined by three of my current students who did such an amazing job showing their beautiful bowholds, playing Pop! Goes the Weasel, and doing some dancing and clapping. I could not have been more proud, and thankful that they had the opportunity to play in front of a welcoming and supportive group.
We also played with some rhythm instruments, learned about Bach, and danced the minuet. We also learned parts of the violin and bow. We sang The Wheels on the Bus, Old MacDonald, along with some other songs, and in true Suzuki fashion, ended the program with Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
I hope the kids and parents had half as much fun as I did. Teachers - if you're interested in the format, ask questions in the comments below.
This past Monday night, I had the joy of participating in New York's fourth annual Dîner en Blanc, an elegant picnic of about 5000 New Yorkers dressed in white. I was asked by a good friend from The Brooklyn Symphony to play viola in a quartet to a few songs at the event.
I didn't know much about Le Dîner en Blanc before actually attending. It started in Paris in 1988 and has since spread to other cities. People dressed in white as a way to recognize the people who were meeting each other. (Obviously now given the size of the event we have to come up with other ways to identify our friends!) The location is a secret until attendees actually arrive there. Everyone is dressed in white clothing, and everyone brings their own table, white table linens, china, chairs, and glassware. Groups gather at different assigned meeting points around the city, and are led to the secret location by a group leader.
Luckily for me and my broken foot, the meeting place that I was assigned to was only a short distance from the actual picnic destination. Past locations have been Bryant Park and Lincoln Center. This year, the group was led to Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City. The space had a lovely view of the water.
Once we arrived, everyone quickly set up their tables and chairs, complete with decorations, some with candles, elaborate centerpieces, etc. It was neat to see how creative people were able to be within the guidelines of the event. There were performances by opera singers, DJs, and an electric violinist.
The meal kicks off with an announcement and everyone waves their napkins in the air. At that time, my friend Abigail and I ran (well, more like hobbled) over to my other friends and we set up the quartet. Our group played a few waltzes and other tunes while people started their meals. Abigail took some lovely pictures, and you can also scroll through this link to the Gothamist article about the event, and you'll see a photo of us there, too.
After we played, we went back to our tables and ate. The picnic turned into a dance party as the lights went down, and it was fun to see all the glowing headpieces and other things people were wearing.
I also wanted to give a special shout-out to Suzanna over at Stems Flower Shop for the gorgeous flower crown. Her arrangements are always so unique and beautiful. I felt like a viola-playing elf princess and loved it. I wish I could wear one every day!
This was a lot of fun - you never know quite where playing an instrument will take you! I'm looking forward to next year, and already planning my outfit!
I'm hosting an interactive concert for kids at Caribou Baby on September 7th at 4 PM. Space is limited so RSVP by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope you can come!
I had a great visit with my family in Florida, broken foot and all! We went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and saw this adorable "music shop" in Diagon Alley.
Even if you don't like theme parks, this one is pretty incredible. Their attention to detail is amazing.
Looking for somewhere to donate an instrument you no longer play? Look no further! I've been working with the violas some at the Corona Youth Music Project. I'm on a (hopefully VERY) short hiatus due to my broken foot, but will be back soon.
They are currently looking for instruments and donations for the fall. It's a wonderful group. You can read more about the instrument drive here.
Hi everyone! I've been slacking in the blogosphere, but I promise I'm back now!
Summer lessons are going well. I'm really excited about starting up group classes in September. Stay tuned for dates and location! Remember that group classes are no extra charge. It's a great place to chat with other parents, and for the students to have fun playing their instruments together.
Some other fun news:
-I'm now helping out with the violas for The Corona Youth Music Project in Corona, Queens. It's great fun and I've met some really wonderful people.
-I've also been playing viola with The Classical Musicians' Rehearsal Symphony Orchestra, and played violin for a reading session with The Brooklyn Symphony. I'm very excited for regular rehearsals to resume in September.
-I'll be playing an interactive concert for kids at Caribou Baby in Greenpoint on Sunday, September 7th at 4 PM. Current students, bring your instruments! No pressure to play, but you are welcome to join me. Invite your friends!
-If you need a practice video for something that I haven't already sent, let me know. If I don't already have one, I'll make one for you.
-I broke my foot! It may take me a bit longer than usual to get down the stairs, but I'm coming. I promise!
Enjoy the rest of your summer, and current students and parents, watch your inbox for Fall scheduling announcements.
Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending my first rehearsal with The Classical Musicians' Rehearsal Symphony Orchestra. I found out about it because of another group I belong to and love, ACMP - The Chamber Music Network. This orchestra meets at various locations throughout the city, and exists for players to be able to read and enjoy playing music together. There is no plan for performance, rehearsals are held so that we can learn new repertoire, revisit old favorites, and just enjoy playing together.
I decided that I wanted to give the viola a whirl. I've played viola as a soloist, teacher, and in chamber music groups, but (believe it or not!) never in a full orchestral setting. I really enjoyed it, but it was extra challenging to sight read on an instrument I don't usually play. We read Schumann Symphony 2, Mendelssohn The Hebrides, and two movements of Beethoven's 7th. I was so happy to be sitting with someone who was a VERY strong player, and I learned a lot from her in those short hours. I'm really looking forward to gong to the next one in July and expanding my viola repertoire even more.
The Brooklyn Symphony, of which I am also a member, will also hold reading rehearsals this summer. I'll most likely stick to violin with this group, but am looking forward to these rehearsals just as much. We're going to be reading Mahler 7, Beethoven 7, and a few others.
Leave any questions you have in the comments!
As violinists and violists, we're lucky that our cases fit in the overhead bins when we fly. Can you imagine having to buy a seat for your instrument? So expensive!
But even more troubling than buying an extra seat? Rolling the dice and checking your instrument.
My 1882 Wasserman violin is probably my most prized possession. It's not the most expensive instrument, but it has a gorgeous sound, and I often feel like it's an extension of me. Am I comfortable having it ride in the belly of the plane? Holding my breath that it will pop out unscathed at baggage claim? I don't think so!
Recently, two violinists on a U.S. Airways flight were told they could not bring their instruments on board, that they would need to check them. As Laurie at Violinist.com points out, it appears that denying them on the flight was against FAA policy. Check out Section 713 of the FAA Air Transportation Modernization and Safety Improvement Act of 2012. (Emphasis below is mine.)
Requires an air carrier to permit an air passenger to carry a violin, guitar, or other musical instrument on a passenger aircraft without charge if it can be stowed safely in a suitable baggage compartment in the aircraft or under a passenger seat.
Coincidentally, the same thing happened to me on my way back from the SAA conference in Minneapolis. I wasn't prepared for this. I've flown with my instrument countless times and it's never been an issue.
I was told that the flight was full and I'd need to check my violin. I calmly told the gate agent that it was a violin and I would not be checking it. She reiterated that I would need to check it, and handed me a pink tag to check it at the gate.
I thanked her, smiled and proceeded down the jetway with no intention of following instruction. (If you know me personally, you know this was a HUGE deal as I am an extreme rule-follower!) Instead, I simply boarded the plane, found my seat, and put my instrument in the overhead compartment. There was plenty of room, and the person next to me had plenty of space for his things as well. Whew!
But what if they had insisted about checking my violin? This got me thinking about the best ways to prepare for flying with my instrument. Here are a few tips:
1. Print this out and keep it with you.
From now on I'll have Section 713 ready to go.
2. Board early.
Once your stuff is in the bin, it's rare that they ask you to move it. Many airlines offer early boarding for a small fee. The peace of mind is worth the $10! Pay the extra money and get on early. You're far more likely to find a space for your instrument.
3. Make sure your other carry-on is small.
Let's not be greedy! We're trying to ensure that our most prized possessions make it on board with us. Bringing a smaller bag as your other carry-on item can't hurt.
Last but definitely not least...
4. Be nice!
Had I pitched a fit I doubt I'd have been able to get my instrument on board. Inside I was annoyed by the mere suggestion that I needed to check my violin. You want to chuck my priceless, beloved, magical work-of-art-of-an-instrument in the belly of this airplane???? But on the outside I gave a big smile and moved along. I like to think that helped.
* * *
I realize my story could have gone in a very different direction. I'm not sure what I would have done if they had insisted on checking it. Or, what if I was boarding late and there really was no more overhead-bin space? Would I have refused to board? Would the airline refund my ticket if I refused?
I'm going to keep researching as I expect my violin and I will be traveling more and more. I'll update this post as I learn more.
What are your tips for traveling with your instrument? Let me know in the comments!
I started the day with an 8:30 AM session on teaching vibrato. It was really informative and I'm looking forward to trying out some of the exercises I learned. The room was packed and it was a good last session to attend.
After that I went back to my room and packed. I am so exhausted!
The final conference event was a concert by the students. It was lovely! This was the first time I've heard Suzuki voice students. They all played so well and it made me really excited to get home and work with my students.
I managed to catch an earlier flight and get on home. I had a great time and am looking forward to going back for the next conference in 2016!
The day started at 8:15. I went to a session on Tone Development and creating a beautiful sound. It was a good presentation and I came away with some great ideas on right arm and right hand development. They also gave us some interesting books and I look forward to reading through them when I get home.
After that, I attended a session on copyright. There is so much to learn about this topic! While this was a general overview, I really appreciated the list of resources given to learn more about copyright. It's very good knowledge to have.
I missed the very beginning, but was able to catch the second half of a Master Class with William Preucil, Jr. It was delightful. The students played so beautifully, and it was so much fun to watch him teach. I have always loved his playing, and asked my parents for private lessons after hearing him perform with Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony orchestra when I was in middle school.
I did some running around trying to find something to eat, and had such a hard time! Most things are apparently closed on Sundays in downtown Minneapolis. I ended up having chips and guac and came back to the hotel to peruse the exhibit hall once more and do some practicing.
At 7:30, I had the pleasure of attending an SAA Benefit Concert at Minnesota Orchestra Hall, featuring the Preucil Family Players, members of the Preucil family and some of their students. It was outstanding. My favorite piece was "Suite, Opus 71" by Moritz Moszkowski, performed by Mr. Preucil and his daughter, Alexandra, and pianist Arthur Rowe. It was incredible. I can't wait to get home and study it. The sound at Orchestra Hall was amazing.
Today is a half day and is the last day of the conference. I'll be attending a session on vibrato, and then the closing concert. I've had such a wonderful time and have learned so much, but am ready to get home to my husband, students, kitties, and kitchen! I'm looking forward to reviewing all this information and integrating it into my lessons.