Filtering by Tag: viola
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!
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!
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!
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!
A friend of mine posted this article from Lifehacker.com on Facebook a while ago: (http://lifehacker.com/5939374/a-better-way-to-practice)
I’d read it a few months ago myself, but not as closely as I read it this time. It’s a great article for anyone who wants to be better at anything, and in a nutshell, stresses being present and mindful in your practice. Read it if you have time! It’s short and well-written.
I too am a violinist. I saw a lot of my own habits in the article, both the good and the bad, and agree with most of what was said.
I’m currently setting weekly goals for my violin and viola practice. This week I focused on left hand dexterity by using my metronome to play passages faster and more accurately. I found that the more thought and deliberation I put into each passage at their slowest metronome marking, the more accurate my intonation and rhythm were once I got to my goal tempo. In contrast, when practicing the etudes at their slowest markings while daydreaming about what was in my crock pot and trying to remember where I’d put some batteries I recently bought, I made nowhere near the progress I’d made earlier when I was truly focusing.
This coming week I’m going to continue working on my left hand dexterity in my violin and viola practice. However, I’m going to practice nothing but focus when it comes to composition. I hope to have something decent to share next week!