Filtering by Tag: Erin Ellis
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!
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!
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.
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 email@example.com. Hope you can come!
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!
In just a few short weeks I'll be attending my first Suzuki conference in Minneapolis. I was not sure as to whether or not I should go, given that my budget allows for either the conference or another teacher training this year, but I decided that I'd really like to see what it's all about. I'll continue my training next year. I wasn't feeling completely solid in my choice until I read this post on the SAA blog. Upon finishing this article, I knew I'd made the right decision.
I've mentioned before that I don't believe one methodology is necessarily better than another. Different approaches to learning work better for different people. However, I know that the Suzuki approach is the right one for me. In particular, I embrace the community aspect - teachers supporting each other; sharing ideas, forming groups, meeting together for coffee. I've never felt more welcomed into a musical community. I love that someone took the time to post a blog about what it's like to attend a conference, and recommended that we all make an effort to reach out to one another.
I'm looking forward to the presentations, concerts, seminars, and teaching points I'm sure to learn in Minneapolis. Most of all, I look forward to reconnecting with people I've met in my Suzuki journey, and meeting some new folks with whom to share ideas.
I thought it might be fun to write about a day in my week - there is definitely no "typical" day!
Last week, Thursday, March 27th was a super busy day. I didn't have any students on Thursday, but that didn't stop me from having a full day of music.
I woke up and did some lesson planning, and then headed to Manhattan to rehearse chamber music with my friend and her sister (who is now also a friend). We had a blast! My friend and I have been working on the Bach Double Violin Concerto. Her sister is an accomplished pianist, so we met for a few hours to work on it as a trio. It completely changed the vibe of the music and added to the fun we've been having with it. We are planning to get together this week and polish it up.
I headed back home and did a bit more studio work; lesson plans, paperwork, and basic day-to-day things necessary for running a studio. It felt good to catch up.
Around 6:30 PM I headed back into Manhattan to rehearse with The Doctors Orchestral Society of New York. This orchestra was founded in 1938 by physicians who were also musicians and wanted to play orchestral music. (FYI - I'm not hiding a secret MD, they've opened the group to other members!) The program is a really fun one to play, and is called "A Celebration of American Composers." The pieces are An Outdoor Overture by Aaron Copland, A Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin, and Symphony No. 2 in D-flat Major, Opus 30, W45, “Romantic” by Howard Hansen. The piano soloist for the Gershwin is a high school student here in NYC.
It was a really fun and productive day practicing by myself, with a few friends, and lastly with 60+ other people. I came home around 11 PM completely exhausted but extremely satisfied with the way my time was spent. I'll post about a day of teaching soon!
I'm about to set off to Dallas again for my Book 3 Suzuki Teacher Training. I'm looking forward to it for a number of reasons, in no specific order:
1- The Teacher: I took my Book 2 training with Judy Bossuat-Gallic and am thrilled to have the opportunity to study with her again. She teaches in a way that really works with my learning style. I'm a better teacher and a better player because of the time i've had with her. I've loved all my teacher trainings so far, they've all been incredible experiences.
2-The Camaraderie: One of the many things that constantly excites me about the Suzuki Method is the support system that comes along with it. Teachers are supportive and collaborative with each other. I've gotten so many great ideas from other course participants, and have connected with people that I hope to keep in my network throughout my career, professionally and personally. It looks like some of the people I met in Book 2 Training will also be in this class - I look forward to seeing them again and meeting those people I haven't yet met.
3-The Repertoire: I've really enjoyed going through the Suzuki repertoire with the teacher trainers. They know so much about why each piece was chosen and in what order, and have great ideas and suggestions for how to teach them.
And now to the silly stuff:
1. A bathtub! I live in a WONDERFUL but tiny NY apartment. A bathtub for an entire week is pretty much the definition of luxury to me.
2. A car! There aren't tons of places for me to go, and I plan to be very busy practicing, but it will be fun to drive again!
3. Pay per view! Perhaps I'll even have a little time to watch a few of those Oscar-nominated movies I never saw. (And I never saw any of them...)
4. Slightly warmer weather! The weather in Dallas is much like that of my hometown of Atlanta, GA. Not yet balmy, but warmer than it is here. I'll take it.
Stay tuned for updates from the road!
As a teacher, I feel it's imperative to practice regularly and keep my skills up in order to set the best example for my students, as well as for my own enjoyment.
This past Monday, I was fortunate to have a lesson via Skype with an instructor I greatly respect and admire. I completed my Unit 2 Suzuki Violin instruction class with her, and will be studying Unit 3 with her in just a few weeks.
It was such an eye-opening experience! We worked together for an hour, mostly on my left hand position, but also on my bow arm. It's truly incredible what just one lesson can do. While I feel I do a good job adjusting my studentss' positions, I hadn't been paying close enough attention to some bad (and painful!) habits I'd let myself get into in my own playing. By the end of that hour, my left elbow no longer hurt, my intonation was better and and my left hand felt relaxed. I have another lesson in a few weeks and can't wait to see what comes from it.
One of the things I love the most about playing an instrument is the fact that one never stops learning. I can go back and play pieces that I learned in high school and now incorporate new technique, new feelings, and new experiences that shape the way I play. It’s a lifelong learning process, and I feel it’s such a gift to have this.
I can’t stress enough how much I’ve enjoyed the Suzuki training I have pursued this year. I didn’t grow up in the Suzuki method, and I believe there are many wonderful and diverse ways to learn how to play an instrument. I’m really inspired by the community aspect of the Suzuki method and the support system I’ve acquired in the past year. I also feel this method has been wonderful for my students.
Through these seminars, not only have I learned how to be a better teacher, but also a better player. It’s wonderful to be in a supportive learning environment with your peers, each of whom are from different backgrounds, and we teach to and learn from each other.
I’m greatly looking forward to my next trip to Dallas in March to study Unit 3.
More on the training in the next post!