Studio IV

Violin and viola instruction in Brooklyn, NY.

Studio IV is the violin and viola teaching studio of Erin Ellis in Brooklyn, NY.

Filtering by Tag: violin

Congrats to the Children of St. Stans Violin Club for a Fantastic Performance!

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.

A Beautiful Wedding

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.

Photo by Georgette Hood,

Photo by Georgette Hood,

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.

Photo by Janna Leigh Photography - Macon, GA

Photo by Janna Leigh Photography - Macon, GA

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!)

A Day in the Life - Thursday, March 27, 2014

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!

Reflections on Book 3 Training

I fully intended to post a blog from Dallas, but was so excited about practicing and making notes on what I learned last week that I had to wait until I had some time to soak it in!

Book 3 Training was a massive success. As expected, I learned so much and learned even more about what I need to learn! It was great seeing our teacher trainer, Judy, again, and I loved seeing some of the friends I'd made at my Book 2 training and meeting the people I hadn't yet met.

This class moved QUICKLY. We were at a real advantage in that we had all studied with our trainer for a previous unit, so we knew how she presents the material and we were able to jump right in. We played together, learned and discussed ideas for teaching the repertoire, and had the great privilege to watch Judy teach. It's really incredible and inspiring to see the passion she has for not only for teaching, but also for the teachers she mentors. I came back feeling refreshed and ready to try out some new ideas with my students.

While in Dallas, I was also lucky enough to attend this concert at the beautiful Eismann Center in Richarson, TX. A cello student from the Suzuki Music Institute of Dallas was one of the competition winners, and it was neat to see support of the  Suzuki community from which she is a a part. She played beautifully. As an aside, her mother was a violinist in my Unit 2 training course!

I had a wonderful time in Dallas* and learned so much from our trainer and my colleagues, and am looking forward to my next Suzuki Teacher Training experience. I highly recommend training for anyone teaching from the Suzuki repertoire.

*And for all those following up from my last post, with the exception of one rainstorm, the weather was amazing! 

ACMP Chamber Music Play-In Weekend

This weekend, March 1-2, 2014 is the annual ACMP Worldwide Chamber Music Play-In.  This is an informal event that happens yearly the first weekend in March. Musicians get together in their homes, in event spaces, in hotel lobbies, anywhere they can think of, and read chamber music together for fun. 

I'll miss it this year as I'll be soaking up some rays in Miami to escape this never-ending winter, so I decided to meet with my friend Barbara (also a violinist) and play some duets today. We read through and practiced all three movements of the Bach Double in preparation for playing with his sister, a pianist in a few weeks.

I love playing chamber music. There's something really fun about being so exposed and really listening to yourself and the other players. I always learn so much every time I'm lucky enough to have good people with whom to play.

I encourage everyone to find a group and give some music a read through this weekend. And while this weekend I'll be soaking up some much needed Vitamin D, I'll plan on joining you next year!

Practice Methods & Focus

A friend of mine posted this article from on Facebook a while ago: (

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!

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