Group Class Observation

I get so freaked out by the idea of teaching [Suzuki] group classes.  I’m sure it’s because I just haven’t done it very many times (once, really, to be official).

This morning I observed the class I will be teaching for my videotape (in the next few weeks, evidently).  The teacher was wonderful with the group, and the kids were both very cute and pretty responsive as well.  I took tons of notes (as usual!) and got several new ideas of things to do.  I started feeling more confident about the class since the teacher made it look so easy to teach them.  Of course,  it’s because she’s an experienced teacher, and has tons of ideas and THUSLY is able to seamlessly move from activity to activity, quickly moving on from something that doesn’t work before the kids notice a problem.  I also feel like I need more, new ideas, but probably at this point, I just need to really KNOW the ideas I have observed, and be able to pull them out of a hat, so to speak.  Like private teaching, I’m sure group teaching is a skill that just takes practice, and I just need more of it.

I have confidence?

From the Post Dispatch review of Winter Opera St. Louis’s performance last weekend (of Massenet’s Werther):

In the pit, Scott Schoonover offered rather choppy conducting of the lush score, but the 22-piece orchestra did a good job, with some really lovely moments.

I’ll absolutely take credit for those “lovely moments” as concertmaster, though I really don’t see how the reviewer was able to notice “choppy” conducting when the orchestra didn’t reflect anything of the sort.  Either I’m just that good, or really, reviewers have very little idea of what they are talking about and need to fill a certain amount of room?  I do think I should have been mentioned by name for my “really lovely” solos though 😉

I’m trying to bring a certain amount of aggression and confidence into my teaching, playing, and life.  (I was testing it out in the previous paragraph!) My trainer is encouraging me to be more aggressive in my workouts, and I am trying to bring my workouts into my life.  I could probably use a bit more aggression, or at least a bit more confidence and assurance, in my life…I guess I’ll add that to the list of “tweaks” I am trying to make!  This whole adulthood thing just keeps getting more challenging.  Or I just need to remember, no one is really paying attention to me after all, so no need to worry what they think.  (But…are people reading my blog?  Then YOU are paying attention, right?).

Save the date:  February 28.  Quartet concert at St. Margaret of Scotland Church.  With members of the SLSO in addition to a couple of just awesome freelancers (including me).  Time TBA but afternoon (baby steps, I know!).

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!

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.