Category Archives: Teaching

Transfer Students

I’ve had a few “new to me” students this week. I enjoy transfer students because somehow it’s easier to teach a student that is already used to being taught. The ones I had this week seemed wonderful and really fun, and I’m looking forward to continuing with them.  I get new ideas from seeing how they learned in the past, too, and feel like I’m always learning and improving. Let’s not pretend: I often feel like I’m not as good of a teacher as I should be, so I’m constantly trying to figure out how to improve.

This week flew by, mostly, because the nights were full of Opera rehearsals (and last weekend.) I’m playing Carousel with Union Avenue Opera, and it opens tonight. And might I add how great it has been sitting in the back of the second violin section rather than having to lead as in other gigs I play: it is SO much easier and less stressful yet still enjoyable.

Fridays have been an interesting day in the summer, because I’ve been teaching only in the mornings, so I’m done for the day, except this whole “opera” thing later tonight. The question is, what to do this afternoon? I’ve spent 30 minutes catching up on emails and a few other items, and now, practice, read, or nap? Maybe a little of each is ideal. I am definitely on my third cup of coffee.

I have a lot things in my head, and I feel like summer is nearing an end…what else can I actually accomplish this summer while giving myself a little more time to relax before the fall hits…I’m starting to get excited, but when you basically double your weekly workload, or more, it feels a little overwhelming to look at. I do have a lovely vacation in between too!

If I sound lazy to you (which I’m sure I don’t, but in case) remember that during the school year I basically work everyday. Sometimes I think I must be crazy, but I don’t know that I chose this life: it chose me, and I kind of love it, even though I complain. I love the hustle, I love the bustle, I love feeling like I’m really pushing myself to do all these things, and I love having a varied schedule full of different things in different places. I just also love traveling, having relaxing days, and reading. It’s a constant battle.

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One last Blue Apron meal from the other week. We both loved this meal—it was absolutely delicious. Purple Rice and Miso Spinach Bowls. I do love the Blue Apron meals, but it’s a lot of work cooking each one. I’m thinking of trying something called “Platejoy” that is a meal planning service next. I do enjoy cooking but some nights want and need a 20-30 minute meal rather than a 45-60 minute meal.

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I don’t have any particularly fun plans for the weekend, just working a bit and starting to assemble what we need for the camping trip. I think it’s usually best to pack ahead of time so you know if you are missing anything! The itinerary is basically done (if you have any suggestions for Asheville/Smoky Mountains, do share in the comments though!) and it’s just a matter of loading the car and hitting the road. One more week!

Getting Ready

As you know, my work schedule is quite irregular. Some weeks I only have my students and get to have a “regular” schedule, but other weeks I have extra rehearsals and concerts which makes for a very busy week. A good skill to have is the ability to look ahead and figure out what needs to be done ahead, and also to figure out what can be done ahead to help out when work will be too busy to do anything. Since the past two weeks have been very light weeks, I’ve been working on a variety of projects to prepare for the fall. I’ve been updating my syllabi for the courses I teach, I’ve prepared new “interview” forms and questionnaires for new and returning students.

The key to being busy and getting stuff done is organization! I told Louie I feel like it doesn’t come easy to me, and he thought that was funny, because I am always working on being organized and trying new things, and I have loads of binders and notebooks, but the truth is that I still feel like so many other teachers are more organized and I can learn so much from them!

In any case, I’m also doing lots of practice, running (the heat, my god, the heat!) and relaxing. July has been a low income month, but it’s been easy and relaxing, at least. So often I’ll have busy times where I also don’t make much money, so I’d prefer this! I started a project on Instagram with the hashtag 100daysofpractice where I post a video of my practice each day. I didn’t come up with the idea, in fact, I think Hillary Hahn might have, and my friend Ingrid is doing it…in any case, I won’t have 100 days in a row because of vacation, but as I said on my first post, life isn’t perfect and if I don’t do the project because of that, then I’m already failing. Follow me there—I’m “hannahviolin.”

Other fun stuff: Some Blue Apron meals—we’ve been getting it about once a month since we started, so I believe this is our 3rd or 4th time.

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My food photography is not good, plus it’s dark by the time I eat…in any case, this was delicious: Crispy Catfish & Plum Sauce.

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And then Sweet Corn & Pepper Empanadas with Charred Sugar Snap Peas and Radishes. The radishes were amazing and I enjoyed making my own empanadas. It’s something we often share as an appetizer at Mission Taco, but it was nice to have homemade (and likely healthier) ones.  That recipe came with a side of lime yogurt for drizzling, but I wasn’t sure for which part of the meal, so we put it on everything. Sometimes you feel like Blue Apron makes you do a lot of sauces and garnishes and sometimes they are easy enough and delicious (in this case) and other times it’s a lot of effort for little. But overall, still liking the service, and we have one more meal to make from this shipment.

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The next few days are quite busy with some extra performances and rehearsals. I’m really looking forward to playing Carousel with Union Avenue Opera! And soon…vacation for real…we are going to the Smoky Mountains and Asheville. If you have any suggestions let me know! I have a lot of great ideas and a bunch of stuff already planned, but any more suggestions are welcome.

Back to practicing!

April Showers

We all know that expression! But anyway. I sit here at the computer, waiting for my parents to arrive for a short visit. It’s been a hectic week, of course, but that goes without saying. I look back over the past year and am pretty happy about what I’ve accomplished, but I am finding I definitely need to stay on top of things! I’ve let a few things slide and I’m trying to figure out how to keep it all under control.

One thing I tried to incorporate last year was a monthly student newsletter. I’ve let that slide this year and, as a result, my students aren’t as up to date and informed as I’d like them to be. I had 4 students play at the Festival yesterday (so proud!) but I wanted more. I need to make sure everybody knows what is going on, because we are ALL busy and pulled in so many directions. I think the newsletter can help with that. I need to make it monthly and it needs to come at a consistent time. Maybe the first Monday of each month? I’m not going to make that this month, but I can make it a new goal.

I’ve also set up a small ad buy for my teaching website. While most of my referrals are “word-of-mouth” I know I need to be a little more proactive. I have three graduating and I’ve lost a few this semester. While I’m pretty busy at my two college positions, I still want a few more private students. A more full studio means better recitals and MORE word of mouth. All of this plays together!

This weekend has been more of a work/relax weekend than anything else. We hit up the Mexican restaurant right near our house on Friday night (they sent an email advertising cheaper than usual fish tacos so Louie and I were drawn like bugs to a light!). Yesterday I worked until 6 pm (I ended up having to judge a few students in the morning, including saxophone which is traditionally one of my least favorite instruments. I tried to be impartial and not hold it against the student though!)—Festival, rehearsal and teaching, then walked the dog, made dinner, and read. It was nice. Today I’m free until evening and am looking forward to a short visit with my parents.

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My parents are pretty hard-core campers. Look at my mom standing in front of their tent in the snow! I don’t envy them too much, as it looks quite cold,  but I do envy their time to travel. (This is a thought that drives me to save for retirement..I just filed taxes and I’m currently broke because I put all my extra money into retirement savings. Fingers crossed the car repairs I sunk money into last month hold up for awhile.)

Anyway! You’re probably watching Opening Day today, but if not, come out to see me play with MOSL in Kirkwood this evening. That’s the group I’ll be solo-ing with in the fall (so excited, can’t wait, must practice!) so you’ll hear more about them in the future.

Anxiety

I will be less anxious, hopefully, after Tuesday’s election. So many things hang in the balance.  Fingers crossed, everybody, and if you haven’t been able to vote already, go vote on Tuesday! Everybody should make their voice heard. No, your one vote won’t “make a difference” but collectively we all do. I always figure, whatever I do, that other people will too, which makes me feel like my actions and behavior are important and that they matter. If I do something, or if I don’t do something, other people like me will do or not do the same.

We’ve had another quartet concert since I last spoke with you, I played two opera performances (fairly successful) and played with another chamber group at a retirement community. I’ve been busy! And then I got a bit of a cold, so I’ve been limping through this week and trying to take it easy and recover, and I’m getting there…or at least I’m still limping and haven’t totally falling over (to continue that lame metaphor.)

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We got in a short hike at Castlewood over last weekend. It was basically summer weather, which is uncanny…but nice, I guess!

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Halloween was fun. Louie and I went to our friends’ house to pass out candy. We had a lot of visitors, and only a few adults trick-or-treating. I kid you not: one woman showed up with two bags and said she was trick-or-treating for “the babies” who were “sleeping” and shoved her bags in our face and said “gimme some candy.” It was a bit like a hold-up, honestly, but all she got was some candy, so it wasn’t a super successful hold-up from her end.

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I got the trophies for the Arch Cup! Several of my students participated and those that received a Superior Plus get a trophy.

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So far the students have been really excited. The trophies are bigger and shinier than I thought they would be!

Go vote! (Unless you already have, in which case, don’t vote again.)

End of summer

August is a tough time. It’s busy, it’s near fall, but it’s still hot outside!

It’s been fun seeing many of my students again the past week! Most I saw at least a few times over the summer, but a handful I hadn’t seen since May. Some are noticeably taller, some tanner, and many have new hairstyles. It’s fun watching them grow up and it’s great to have them coming back. I have less new students this year than in the past, and I’m glad to have so many continuing (over 30 returning).

Oh, and I’ve got a new part time job. I’m now on the Applied Music Faculty at Washington University of St Louis. I’m thrilled to be teaching some college students! It might sound more prestigious than it is, but I am quite excited.

I’ve been reconnecting with friends and colleagues, setting up and attending lunch dates/meetings, rehearsals, and even a few social activities. My parents visited as part of their epic Alaskan Road Trip, Louie and I rode in the Moonlight Ramble, we had Taco Thursday…basically things are getting back to normal crazy, instead of traveling/camping crazy. And of course it’s back to paying bills and getting mail and responding to emails and phone calls…instead of just packing the car, flashing our national parks pass, and being on the road…

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And I’ll continue to blog and tell you, in installments and with lots of pictures, about my road trip to Utah and Colorado. If you missed my recent posts, I recommend you check them out.

And so it begins…to Aspen

Bear Necessities

Yesterday the National Parks Service celebrated its 100th anniversary. St Louis Public Radio put a call out on twitter for pictures and I sent one in, which is posted in this article!

Oh, and really good news, my dog Mackenzie is doing well. Her hair has grown back in and it’s thick and shiny and I’m thrilled.

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She looks like a normal, healthy dog Smile

Oh, and for some levity, since sometimes lately I feel like my posts are too serious. I saw this cartoon somewhere and loved it.

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Happy Friday, readers! Will I see you this weekend at Union Avenue’s Doubt (audience member, not playing since I was on a trip) or at the Festival of Nations?

IU Retreat for Violin and Viola Teachers

I’m home. I’ve been home for a few days.

I always forget. I forget how much you learn going to a camp or a festival or a retreat. I spent 6 days on the campus of Indiana University at the Retreat for Violin and Viola Teachers started by Mimi Zweig, and it was just amazing. I am still processing all of the information I got, and I have tons of reading and practicing, and teaching to do in order to really understand, but it was exactly what I needed. I only wish I had stayed for both parts and not left after Part I!

I was anxious going into it, but all my fears were subsided. The other participants were nice, I made friends, I wasn’t the oldest, I wasn’t the only one who had been teaching for years already. It was just a great time.

Then I had to come home, and get right back to teaching. I have just over 2 weeks now until we head out for our big summer road trip, and there’s lots to do.

I’ll write more later, what I learned (martele, we did a lot of martele…), how it was (REALLY busy! and so many meals at a coffee shop right across the street), and what I will do going forward.

It was a great experience. Next summer, part II…or both parts again.