Tag Archives: Teaching

Not so bad after all

Today was my first day back teaching this year.  I had been dreading it because I really like my vacations.

Well, it wasn’t so bad after all.

I managed to impart a little bit of wisdom, a little bit of guidance, and had a lot of patience.  Of those three, patience is the most important for teaching children to play the violin.  In fact, patience is the most important for teaching anybody anything!

My students were generally in good spirits and happy to be back to school and violin.  Most hadn’t practiced, but that’s okay.  I even had a few Christmas presents waiting for me, since the last couple teaching days at school had been canceled due to ice, so it made the day seem a bit more festive.  All in all, a great start to the “working week.”

I was also able to spend about 30 minutes planning for the semester of orchestra.  I think I’ve selected a few pieces that will be fun but challenging.  A couple I know will be very challenging, but the fall pieces weren’t challenging enough for a couple of students, so I want to push them.  We’ve got a variety of levels (and work ethics) in the group, as would be expected, so it’s a constant challenge on my part to keep everybody engaged and involved without boring half the group while the other half has no idea what’s going on.  Typical classroom teaching, I imagine?  Honestly I would need magic to actually accomplish this but I keep trying.

Okay, time for a bit of randomness.

#1. New blog/writing project:  The Daily Post at WordPress.com.  I’m not going to promise to post everyday, but I plan to use this to give me inspiration when I need or want it.  I enjoyed the challenge of reverb10 and this looks similar.

#2.  I wore my new purple shoes working out tonight!  I’ve been shy about wearing them to the gym so far…(tomorrow I think) but I wore them doing Jillian’s 30 Day Shred tonight and loved them.


#3.  New Year’s Eve Pictures:

1.  My interpretation of “blue steel” from “Zoolander”, 2.  with my friend Jennedy, 3.  with Chris and my friend Dave


That’s it for now!  I might be back later tonight or tomorrow am to share “what makes me smile.”  Though, you can see in these pictures—my friends, a shiny dress, and having my picture taken!

HBBC (last week!): January 1: 10 mile run: 10 points, 7 f/v: 1 point, total: 11 points, January 2: 20 minutes stretch/20 minutes weights: 2 points, January 3:  30 minute workout video: 2 points, 7 f/v: 1 point, total: 3 points.  January 4: 4 mile run: 4 points, workout with Mike: 4 points, 7 f/v: 1 point, total: 8 points.

Giving in

Monday I had a double class at Child of God due to scheduling concerns. In fact, it will be that way every Monday–I’ll have a class of 1st through 4th graders. I probably could have come up with something better to do, but since I was sick over the weekend (and into the week, argghh!) I went the lazy route. I told the kids they had to play Twinkle and French Folk Song for me and if they succeeded they would get a pencil. The class was full of cacophony of the kids frantically practicing! However, I was able to accomplish two goals: hearing each child alone for assessment purposes and making sure each child knew Twinkle and French Folk Song. So it worked pretty well, though I felt guilty and cheap 😉

And here I am going into Wednesday without a super clear idea of what to do in tomorrow’s classes…really I want to play a bunch, play as many pieces together as we can and also work on posture (NO droopy violins, stand up straight.) Hmmm…I suppose that’s as clear of an idea as I need…let’s see how it goes! Perhaps I’ll play piano tomorrow instead of violin to give the kids variety and hold their attention longer.

The great rewards debate

It seems that the question of rewarding children can be a good debate. I finally finished the Alfie Kohn book, “Punished by Rewards” and brought up some of the points tonight at a friend’s house. Most of my friends (many are teachers) swear by stickers and the like for their students (younger). I loved stickers as a child as well!

It seems that it boils down to external motivation versus internal motivation, and how the child needs to move towards being internally motivated in order to learn and grow.

Of course, I am not really internally motivating to practice the violin…though I love the violin, I am still externally motivated to practice. I don’t practice for fun or love of playing, I practice FOR things like a gig, an audition, a recital, or because I am afraid of sounding bad in front of people. I suppose if I’m not internally motivated now to play, I never will be. Then again, I do practice quite a bit…maybe it’s just that I was always shown that practicing was a means to an end? Or perhaps I just don’t love the violin as much as I love other things?

The author used the example of the “Book It” program as a bad program for getting children to read. This was a program from Pizza Hut where children got free pizzas for reading books. I loved reading books as a child, and also loved pizza–this program combined the two! Mr. Kohn suggested that the program didn’t make children want to read, and at most would make children eat too much pizza. I do recall that I always read plenty of books, regardless of the pizza, and hated when I was required to write a summary or something like that. I am definitely internally motivated to read–I read for fun, I read when I am bored, I read to entertain myself, I get lost in books and the time flies by. I don’t need a reason to read, and would probably list it as one of my favorite activities. Then again, I was brought up seeing my parents read all the time and learned from a young age how great reading could be. The pizza was just a bonus!

In any case, the book was thought-provoking, and evidently quite controversial. I will have to try out some of the ideas with my upcoming classes.

Random thought: I am writing a book report of sorts for fun here, and I’m not getting pizza for it (in fact, my trainer would definitely 🙁 upon the idea of pizza). I’m just doing it because I like to blog. Hmmmmm…also no one made me read the book…I read it because it was recommended by a teacher I respect and wanted to learn more about it.

(I guess it boils down to this: no one can motivate you to do something, you have to choose to do it. I think that is true.)

Did you say something, Susan?

I’m currently reading a book by that title. The author is Paulette Dale. I’m not generally one for “self-help” books, but this book is written to help women gain confidence with assertive communication. I am fairly assertive, but sometimes I find myself agreeing to things or letting people get away with rude behavior and then later kicking myself. The author gives advice on how to deal with various situations and people, and how to assert yourself without being rude or pushy. I like to be agreeable and generally consider myself to be a nice person, but of course that leaves me open to getting walked on. I also sometimes have trouble asking for what I want or need, or at least without using a lot of unnecessary apologies. I find in my life that men generally just ask for what they want and get it, and women beat around the bush, hemming and hawing, and then complain when we don’t get what we want.

I’ve gotten better at asking for money and telling people what I charge for things (lessons, weddings, etc), though I still feel apologetic about it. I shouldn’t, I know, and I also know that my rates are really too low for what my expertise is, but I am working on stating the rate without using a question or being apologetic.

I love coming back from Suzuki camp and then teaching…it’s so inspiring! I have been having the BEST time with my students as of late and really trying to incorporate some new ideas into the lessons. The time really flies by–*starts saving to go again next year*

Nice job

I was so pleased with the children’s performances last night at St. Margaret’s! Things went really well, and my students played wonderfully. Of course it wasn’t perfect, but overall we did a great job showcasing the hard work all of my students did this year. And my piano playing wasn’t bad…It was also fun to watch the other performances. There was quite a bit of singing and speech making, and everybody did a wonderful job!

Two more student recitals to do-one at my house with all of my private students, and one at the ballet school. The ballet school one I am very concerned about as I will only have two students playing and I don’t have to organize it. The one at home should be a lot of fun, but I’ll have to make sure everything is in order (and hopefully the audience can fit comfortably enough.) On both performances I will also be playing a little piece, so that should be a nice treat for the audiences 🙂

I’m glad this week is over though–I was so stressed about it (and naturalmente my stress continues for a bit longer), but I did great on my Suzuki final and will be registered for books 5 through 10 (10!) shortly, AND as I mentioned, my class performance went well. My practicing continues, with another lesson on Monday. I’m ready to just relax into wedding season/summer…but we are not quite ready for that yet.

Arts Night

Tonight my two violin classes (well, one is violin/cello) are performing at the school’s Arts Night. (St. Margaret of Scotland School, just fyi). I am playing piano to accompany them, which is always a bit terrifying for me. I took piano lessons growing up, but since then have not owned a piano nor do I have very good access to one for practicing, so it’s a bit scary! Luckily these accompaniment parts are pretty easy. I could probably get someone else to do it, but I don’t trust them to play with the group/lead the group the way I need it, and then what would I do? Conduct?

Hmm…there’s a more frightening thought!