Stuff on my cat

This is my cat.  We call her “Fatty”.  Okay, so it’s not a terribly nice name, but it is an incredibly endearing nickname.  Her given name was “Oistrakh” and she was one of a pair (the other cat, since deceased, was “Heifetz”).  But the name “Oistrakh” proved to be too big for such a sweet kitty, so it never really stuck.

Here is my best attempt at putting “Stuff on my cat“.  As I’m a violinist, you can see my tuner and metronome are there!  My students tend to like my cat–she is usually very friendly and sweet to them, very affectionate, and she is SO soft and furry.  Occasionally she causes a distraction in the lessons, but I think I keep it under control enough…after all, young children need an occasional distraction, right?  The funniest thing about her is that she absolutely hates when I practice.  She doesn’t seem to mind most of my students’ playing, but she hates mine.  I assume it is because either a) she detests violin playing at a professional level or b)on average, when I play, it is much higher and louder than any of my students, and thus hurts her ears more.  In any case, I just wanted to share those pictures–the carpet in the one picture is on the floor in the room where I teach.

I stopped by Target today for a variety of things, and visited “the One Spot”.  For those who aren’t familiar with Target, the One Spot is an area near the front where everything is $1 and is usually just a bunch of cheap junk.  However, for a violin teacher (or perhaps any teacher?) there are often great finds–today I got a bunch of pencils (Toy Story, Hello Kitty, and just random colors) and some stickers.   I loved pencils and stickers as a child, and today’s children do too.

Tomorrow I have two weddings/receptions.  I am playing both with my good friend Ranya, and one with Chris as well, so I’m looking forward to them…as long as the weather holds up!  It looks potentially stormy, and definitely hot.  However, I have learned that an “LBD” is a wonderful item for summer outdoor weddings.  (That’s a “little black dress,” for those of you less inclined to abbreviate things.)  As long as I am out of direct sunlight, I should be fine.

Memorial Day weekend

It’s a busy time of year!  Lots of weddings (three this weekend) and recitals to prepare for (the kids, not me).  I’m setting up my summer teaching schedule, and looking forward to a few new students (still more openings if you are interested!).  My home recital (next weekend) is neat in that I have several adult students performing as well as the children.  One told me this would be his first violin recital ever (and he has been playing off and on for many years).  In fact, I think only one or two of my students have performed before (I have several beginners) so this will be a wonderful experience.  I am going to try to serve punch afterwards–I remember loving punch at recitals and church events as a child.  I am not sure how to go about procuring a punch bowl, other than, I guess, buying one, but I’m thinking.   I also am considering making chocolate peanut butter brownies (any excuse to bake!).  I am starting to get nervous about the recital–like I’ve mentioned before, this is the first one I have hosted, and I just hope it goes well.

I think I’m starting to get over my disappointment from the other week.  I’ve been practicing again (now with more drone!) and working up a little piece to play for my students.  I had a wonderful time yesterday playing quartets with friends (granted, it was a wedding prelude, but nonetheless FUN, and, if I do say so myself, we sounded pretty good) and I am definitely pursuing more teaching work for the fall.  Things have been slow going here, but I think it’s going to be fine.   Perhaps I’ll take a page from “Lost” and just let it go 😉

Happy Birthday!

Today is my dad’s birthday. Tomorrow is my youngest sister’s high school graduation. And here I am in St. Louis, too far to go for either event without making a bigger commitment out of the visit (and missing out on some work!) My brother is currently visiting my parents (they live in SC) and my other sister will be visiting over the weekend. The guilt, oh, it burns!

I was able to make some extra pottery studio time today, for the first time since starting my class! We can do unlimited “open studio” time, meaning just stop in and make stuff but without the teacher present, but I have just been too busy for a long time. I only have three more weeks in my current session, but I hope to use up all my clay this time! Then I’ll decide if it’s something I want to sign up for again–July is pretty sparse activity wise so it could be worthwhile. I know by the fall I won’t have time (fingers crossed at least) so I could try to make the most of it.

If I were better at pottery I could send my family members mugs or bowls I have made…not a wise idea now, as surely I made lots of poor looking art projects when I was a child…

So again, Happy Birthday DAD!! May you have a fantastic year 🙂 And perhaps come to St. Louis?

Recital preparation

I try to be very methodical when it comes to helping my students prepare for recitals.  Here’s a general timeline I follow:

1. One to two months out:  we select recital piece.  The piece (or pieces, if they are short) MUST be something they already know and would just be polishing. If it will be their first recital or if they are new to my studio, I will talk through what is going to happen on the day so they don’t get surprised. One more point about repertoire choice-I don’t require students to play their more recent piece-they can go back farther if they like.  My only requirement is to perform a piece they know and the goal is to play the best they can with the most beautiful sound!  It’s such a disaster when a student is struggling to learn notes a few weeks/days before the recital.  It’s so much better when they really know the piece and are comfortable with it.

2.  Each lesson, they play through recital piece at least one time, if not many more. I will be sure to mention one or two points to focus on (even if just posture or beautiful tone).

3.  For the last few lessons before recital, I make sure the student will perform the chosen piece several times in his or her lesson.  We also practice with applause and bowing.

4.  The past two weeks I have been asking my students to play through their piece (or pieces) 3 times each day.  This is in addition to any specific spot practicing they are doing.  I encourage them to think about good posture before starting each run through.

5.  I also encourage them to put together small “practice recitals” at home with their family or friends in preparation throughout the whole timeline, and particularly towards the end.

That pretty much sums it up!  This plan is more for beginning/intermediate students–though the 3x a day run through is an idea I got from Linda Cerone back in college.  She suggested running through your recital program 3x a day for a few weeks in advance of the recital.  She said after that, only playing it once would be a breeze!

Things I want to do this summer!

Okay, so it’s pretty much unofficially summer time for me–that is, my school teaching is done, my recitals are near, and I have a lot more free time.  In the past I have made lists of things I want to do–this summer is no different, except I’m going to list some of them here in my blog!

First off, you should know that Chris and I have booked a cruise!  We are going on the Carnival Legend to the Western Caribbean in August, and could not be more excited (at least I can’t be!).  So that’s the big vacay this summer.  My sister wants me to come visit her in Boulder at Colorado Music Festival, and another friend wants me to visit her in Chicago, so we’ll see about those.  I’m also hoping my parents will come to visit (saving me a trip home plus they haven’t been to St. Louis to see me yet) and Chris’s sister is planning to come out for a bit as well.   So I came up with the following ideas of things I want to do IN town this summer, either with visitors or in town friends.

Here are some of my ideas in random order.

MOBOT Dinoquest.  Yes, it looks a little young perhaps, but there are dinosaurs and a geodesic dome involved, plus it’s just down the street from me.  So that might be fun, unless I end up playing too many weddings at mobot and hate it by then (sometimes it’s a looong walk, other times it’s really really hot, other times it’s both.)

Circus Flora.  This is a circus set up in Powell Symphony Hall parking lot.  Apparently they come every year, and it’s great fun.  I want to go!

Opera Theatre of St. Louis is putting on A Little Night Music.  Directed by Isaac Mizrahi!  I already have a ticket, and can’t wait.

Shakespeare Festival–I haven’t seen a Shakespeare play since I was young, but I remember enjoying them at Presbyterian College.  I have never seen Hamlet, and should probably remedy that.

The Zoo, of course.  My friend Browdy keeps wanting me to go with her-it’s her most favorite thing, and I haven’t managed to do so yet.  Maybe this week or next?  Fun fact–the zoo is celebrating its centennial!

SL Science Center.  There are a variety of neat things happening.  Firstly, the Darwin exhibition looks worthwhile.  Then there are a variety of Omnimax movies that look interesting, especially the ocean one.  I love ocean movies on the big screen.  (FYI, we saw the pirates exhibition at the Field Museum last year, so no need.)

Other ideas but without specifics right now:  Art Museum, St. Louis Cardinals game, and Six Flags!  Naturally there will also be a few movies I want to see (specifically a certain Twilight movie and SATC…even though I know it will probably be bad.)  Not to mention running…supposedly I am to be training for a half marathon in October!

This post is really for me to to refer to, but anybody have more ideas for me?  I would rather have too many ideas than sit around complaining of being bored!  My dear readers, please weigh in!

Maya Cafe revisited

My phone camera is not super great, but I tried to take a picture anyway.  Here’s one of the Death and the Maiden guys from Sunday night at Maya Cafe in Maplewood.

It’s a small room with a nice little stage.  Sunday nights is classical music/crossover stuff.  Friday and Saturdays  the owner is bringing in more typical live music (for this sort of venue).   It was a lot of fun hearing the music and chatting with friends.

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.