Tag Archives: violin

So you want to host a house concert…



Do you? It will be an awesome experience for you and your guests! My friend Amy and I just played our first one and we learned a lot.

Here’s what we would want in the future.

You: Invite your friends and family. Have them bring wine/apps or provide for them, along with providing the normal party things such as glasses, plates, napkins, etc. Have chairs and space set up for the concert. You’ll want to be able to have 20-30 people (or more, depending on your space) be able to attend and see/hear the concert.

We: Show up. Bring our own stands and  stand lights. Mingle with the guests. Play a concert, interact with the audience. You’ll learn about our music and enjoy it too. We will play for around 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, with a short break. We’ll also get there beforehand and stay after and answer questions! This is a way to get up close and personal with musicians.

You: Provide a basket or jar for musician tips. We did our first one at a friend’s house for fun and to learn. The next one we will need to make some money or we can’t keep playing! If you find that gauche, talk with me. We can work it out. I’m sure your guests would be happy to chip in $10-20 each for a unique and enjoyable evening!


Here’s how the first one went. Woke up the morning of and worried that no one was attending (we helped out with inviting more than we will in the future, because it just added too much worry and stress, and honestly, you can’t keep inviting your friends over and over, we need MORE audience members, that’s also where YOU come in!)…decide it didn’t matter. Panic that everybody would hate the concert. Decided it didn’t matter because the hostess would love it and we’d have fun playing and whatever, it didn’t matter, who likes classical music anyway? (Spoiler, YOU do, you just might not know it yet.)

The evening arrived: We got to the house. We’d told people 7 pm, and by 7:15 there were probably 25 people. People showed up! Lots of people. They loved it! We started the program around 7:30 and went until close to 9 with a short break. We had a blast playing and talking with the audience, and loved the setting and the gorgeous house and the up close and personal interaction with everybody. Chamber music the way it was meant to be! And the audience was wonderful and attentive and friendly, and of course it’s more fun to play for people like that. These were friends! New and old friends. I had so much fun performing and talking with everybody.


I’d love to do it again! Look at how much fun we are having! Imagine having two musicians play in your living room. Impress your friends and family with your culture and connections! You can make an ordinary night extraordinary.


I’m sure I’ll learn more if I play another house concert, but that’s where I am right now. Advice? Interest? Suggestions? Comment or contact me.

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.

Finals week

My Suzuki class comes to a close on Tuesday. I’ve been working all day today on a take home final exam and also on finishing up my binder of work. It’s been a wonderful year learning about Suzuki Pedagogy with Vera McCoy-Sulentic at SIUE, and though I will be relieved to be done (and have a few hours each week back to myself), it has been a WONDERFUL experience. I have learned so much, and my students have certainly benefited in many ways.

Next on the learning docket-book 4 at Ottawa Institute in June. I need a break, but by then I’ll be ready to focus again, I hope!

Tomorrow is back to practicing and preparing my students for a variety of upcoming performances. I also have pottery class again, and should be able to pick up four pots that I glazed last week. I can’t wait!


I played for a friend today, who mainly suggested I work on my intonation. I suppose it all boils down to that…it’s funny, because unless you are really well trained, you don’t really notice intonation, but the more you focus on it, the more out of tune stuff sounds. So it’s a self fulfilling prophecy–the more you listen, the worse it sounds. But it seems that more drones are in my future, and more scales and arpeggios too, methinks. Always gotta try to be more in tune.

Let me say a few words about my pottery class. I started about a month ago, taking a class at Krueger’s Pottery in Webster Groves with a couple of friends. I am not good with my hands (odd, yet, not odd), but I’m getting better… Tonight was the first night I felt like I was making progress, and tonight was ALSO the first night I got to take something home! Doing a new skill makes me think about what my adult violin students are going through. It’s so easy to want to give up when something gets difficult, and it’s easy to disparage yourself when you don’t get something right away. It’s really hard to be patient and know that the skill you are learning just takes practice. As a kid, you didn’t expect to be able to do stuff right away, often it took years and that was okay, that was expected. As an adult, you can generally accomplish the tasks or skills you want, so a new skill is truly a new challenge. I think it’s great to challenge oneself in a new way, and pottery is turning into a nice creative outlet for me! I hope I can continue to challenge myself in new and creative ways in the future.

Overthinking it plus viola

I recently started teaching a viola student.  I am having a lot of fun with it!  I don’t really play viola, nor do I own one, but I decided today I know exactly what I want.  Her viola is the same size as my violin–that’s what I need!  A viola the same size as my violin.  Then I can play the Walton Viola Concerto easily, without undue stretching.  (I can just imagine my boyfriend Chris’s reaction to that statement…NOT pleased–a bit of  a viola snob, he is…silly!).  My younger sister became a violist the other year (from violin) and I believe the Walton was her primary reason.  (Also, I think, doing something a bit different from her two older sisters).  I’ll add “small viola” to my list of instruments to buy!  (Mandolin being the other on the list, and of course, ultimately, a piano…)

I was really touched by the story about the Haitian violinist Romel Joseph today.  Here’s a link to the story.  I have no real words…just wow.

Follow up thought from earlier post:  No matter how I act, not everyone is going to like me.   Since I work primarily in a service oriented field (music for hire, or music lessons for hire) I spend much of my day acting in a way that I perceive to be “appropriate.”  I want people to want to hire me to play, and I want to do that by acting in a most professional manner.  Then I see other people (primarily Males, of course) who don’t worry in the slightest about being easy to get along with or nice, and having success in their lives…ugh, what a pain to have been born a middle child female who always just wants people to get along and wants people to like her, or at least well enough.  Naturally I am ALWAYS going to be willing to work with people professionally and meet the needs of my clients, but perhaps it’s okay if not everybody agrees with me at all times (or for that matter, it’s okay if occasionally I might inadvertently do something or say something that someone else miscontrues or is mildly offended by?).   Okay, now I’m definitely overthinking this whole thing!

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!