The semester begins!

I had my first Suzuki Pedagogy class of the year on Thursday.  Most of the class was spent settling on deadlines for various projects.  Lucky for me, I get to record another private lesson AND a group class…I don’t even teach group classes, so the thought of this makes me a WEE bit nervous.  My only redeeming thought is that the recordings from last year weren’t nearly as awful to do and watch as I thought they would be, so maybe it won’t be that bad.

I’ve (almost definitely) set a date for a Quartet recital at the end of February!  We will be playing at St. Margaret of Scotland Church, and I’ll keep you all posted as to personnel, repertoire, etc, as it unfolds.  I have so many repertoire ideas, it’s a challenge narrowing things down now, and making it into a (somewhat) cohesive program.  It should be fun for us and our audience as well.

Snowy days, cloudy thoughts

It’s a snow day tomorrow for me!  And by that, I mean, I’m totally off anyway (except a makeup student) so I won’t have to go anywhere.  The first snow of the season really (take THAT, Cleveland!).

I’m doing a whole gym thing for my New Year’s.  Not  a resolution, just a new thing (to say otherwise would feel lame).  I’m getting a few (perhaps more, depending) personal training sessions as part of my sign up package, and it’s been fantastic.  I never participated in sports in my life, or any sort of athletic pursuit really, so it’s interesting to compare teaching techniques.  The one thing I was considering in my teaching today was making my students repeat things just a few times more than they wanted.  Or maybe I was just in a bad mood and wanted to make them miserable.

My trainer thinks that I give up on things before I’m actually fatigued, as in, my brain tells me I’m tired.  I wonder what, if any, truth there is to that statement, and if so, how that could affect my violin practice as well.  With violin, I’m always trying to be careful with my time as to avoid injury (which evidently I have been so prone in the past) and trying to remain relaxed.  At the gym, I am (evidently) meant to completely shred my muscles as to allow them to rebuild and become stronger.  So the approach is obviously different, but the idea of repetition and pushing oneself still holds.  Doing just a bit more than you think you can.

This can open up a whole can of worms involving my perception of my physical abilities (which I have always considered to be quite low, for the record).  It also makes me think about my learning style, and being a student.  I am a very “good” student, which means I am eager to please and do exactly what (I perceive) the teacher wants.

This blog might be a different style than my previous posts (or not…meh, who am I to judge, DEAR READER) but I think it’s time to kick things up a notch.  What do you think?

By the way, I am eagerly looking to acquire a few more students (South City, St. Louis or School of Ballet in Chesterfield), so if you or anyone are interested, please contact me for more information (  No previous musical experience required, all ages!

Christmas Vacation

Now I am in the relaxing portion of Christmas vacation–I spent a week visiting my boyfriend’s family (and seeing my parents briefly as well!) and now I’m relaxing at home.  Ideally I would be resting up for a hectic spring, but it looks like things are pretty calm so far.  The one crazy week will be a week of Columbus Symphony AND ProMusica Chamber Orchestra at the same time!  Columbus is playing an all Shostakovich concert, including Shostakovich Symphony no. 10, which I have never played.  I know I will be exhausted (my schedule will include two triple service days and one quadruple day) but hopefully in a good way.

What is a service?  For orchestras, our week is divided into “services” which is either a rehearsal or a concert.  Usually these would be either 2 or 2 1/2 hours.  If you are paid by the week, there would be a limit of services per week, with the average being 8 services.  For part time orchestras, generally we are paid by the service, so…the more the merrier!  Except you do get really exhausted, both physically and mentally.

This is such an odd time of year, between Christmas and New Year’s.  On the one hand, there are several days where one should be working and getting things done, because, really, we can’t ALL take two weeks of vacation.  On the other hand, why can’t we all take two weeks of vacation??  I did teach a few students, but I decided generally I needed the time off.  There’s something so decadent about not having work for several days, and really feeling like you can settle into a fun project at home and not worry about what you are wearing!  Of course I’m currently just on the computer sitting next to my cat (who is curled up next to me sleeping), but the point is that I could be doing some fun project.  I do have some projects to work on, both musically, and just for fun.  More about those later, when I get to them!

Happy New Year to you all, dear readers!

Happy Holidays!

I am doing some traveling over the holidays, and I know many other people are.  I wish you all safe and happy travels!  If you are staying put, stay warm 🙂

I finished up the Christmas gig season with something a little bit different.  It was a CD release party at a church in Chesterfield.  The style of music isn’t really my thing, kind of contemporary Christian, but Jon and the band knew their stuff and sounded great.  I took home an autographed copy of the CD (by Jon Garrett, entitled “To Find Love There.” ) Too bad I wasn’t actually playing on the CD!  Anyway, this was a few days ago, and I am mainly writing about it because I woke up this morning with one of the tunes in my head…

I did make it through an entire Christmas season without performing “Sleigh Ride.”  This is probably the first time in 12 to 14 years that has happened.  I actually consider this a negative thing, but there’s always next year!

The new year will bring big plans and (hopefully) happenings.  I do have some projects planned (chamber music concert, perhaps a solo/duo recital, possible CD more for fun than profit…) in addition to the usual teaching, Suzuki pedagogy class (another semester) and playing.

This has been a sad year for me and my family.  My grandfather passed away almost a year ago, and my boyfriend’s sister’s husband passed away in September.  The older I get, the more I realize, that’s how life is: sad things happen, and yet time just keeps ticking, and you have to keep doing what you are doing.   I do hope, however, that the next year is better overall…

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, my dear readers!

After the video…

We watched the video of my teaching in class the other day, and it was not nearly as awful as I thought it would be.   In fact it was REALLY helpful.  I should probably record myself again in the future.

What did I learn?  In a nutshell, I talk too much.  I shouldn’t talk so much, or so fast, and simply do.  That might mean playing for the student, it might mean demonstrating a motion, or it might mean moving their body/fingers into the position they need to be in.  Less talk, more action!  I tried to keep that in mind for my next students (and also to slow down my speaking voice for young students!).  It will take practice, but I hope I’ll get better.

I also learned I was doing some things well, which is nice to know.  So often I feel I am not doing things well, or that someone else could be doing a better job with my students (or my life 😉 ), and it’s nice to feel as if I’m doing something well.  I know I am too hard on myself…it’s just that my standards are so high!  Silly conservatory training…

I am looking forward to a musical weekend.  I am playing three concerts with the ProMusica Chamber Orchestra.  One is a Messiah sing along, and two are the same, a  Baroque Holiday Concert, which includes Pachelbel Canon.  The really cool thing is that one of our concerts is sold out!

Next week one of my violin classes (the second year one) will be performing a few Christmas songs for the school.  I know they will be wonderful!  I am so proud of how well my class is doing.  It’s two girls and one boy.  The boy just started cello at the end of September, the girls have been playing violin since last September, and they are playing in three part harmony already!  It’s just wonderful, and makes me really proud.  Wait.  Maybe I’m doing well teaching after all?

Recording a lesson

For my Suzuki Pedagogy class, my teacher insisted I record myself teaching so we could look at it in class and critique ourselves.  I chose to record a young student of mine (I didn’t have that many options right now) tonight.  I have been really stressed out about this!  I have been teaching for what, ten years or so, but I never WATCH myself teach.  Tomorrow in class we are going to watch part of the lesson.  We’ll see what the class thinks!

I have a hard time taking criticism or advice (it’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older) so I am really stressed about watching the video tomorrow.  Hopefully I can handle it, and learn from the experience, versus having my confidence shaken again.  How many times can a person rise up after feeling beaten down?  (Luckily my teacher is not the beating down type, and more the nurturing type, but my own expectations are different.)

Fingers crossed for tomorrow then!

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.