Fall 2019: Newsletter

Whoo hooooo! Fall is on it’s way. It’s no secret that fall is my favorite season…and the start of what I think it’s going to turn out to be the BEST STUDIO YEAR EVER!!!

Fall is a great time to celebrate our accomplishments, honor our loved ones and practice gratitude.

Let’s see what we can do work together and highlight these ideas over the fall quarter.

The start of fall term is also a good time to review studio policy.


This quarter we will focus on storytelling in music. Music’s power lies in its unique ability to tug at our heart strings; it’s music that reminds us of our humanity. Musical notes go straight to our hearts to define our triumph, struggle, joy and pain all without out a single word!

Many students loose joy in music study because they only learn their pieces on the superficial level. They of course learn notes and rhythms but generally move on to the next piece before adding more emotional and expressive qualities like dynamics and phrasing. Working in this manner never allows children to get to the heart of what music is all about- the very same reasons they were drawn to instrument study. It’s all about the feels!

Through music and story telling, we can help children develop their empathy and creativity skills.

To help our studio friends learn how to use music to tell a story, we will practice these concepts in group class. During group class we will listen to a few minutes of a Classical Kids recording which uses a composers work to tell a story about that composers life. We will also work collaboratively at group class to tell a story with our instruments, suzuki repertoire and various sound effects. I will use simple picture books to inspire the story. I hope students take some ideas from group class to refine their own story projects.

I would like students to think of a story and a suzuki piece that fits their story. Or, go the other way and choose a piece and then write a story that fits the piece. The story can be fictional or nonfictional. For example, the child might choose to tell a story about a time they overcame an obstacle, or of a time they were really happy or very sad. Perhaps the story could be related to fall or completely non-sensical like… a monkey with whopping cough goes to to the movies. You may take various phrases of pieces and make a “Frankensong” e.g. the B section of allegro, A section of Gossec Gavotte, D section of Gavotte mignon and F1 section of Martini Gavotte.

There are only two requirements:

1. The piece must be a suzuki piece that the child can already play well. Remember we are moving past the superficial level and going straight to the emotional center.

2. Students will need to demonstrate how to show emotion through dynamics, tone, phrasing and vibrato if applicable.

Advanced and professional musicians research the pieces they perform. It’s helpful to understand the composer and consider the time period the piece was composed in. This helps us get a better picture of what the composer was going for. What´s the composers own story behind their piece? If you think researching your piece could be helpful in storytelling, check out this book: From Twinkle to Mozart. We also have a copy in the studio.

So, what´s your story? Please let me know by the first lesson of fall quarter which piece you will play and the accompanying story that goes along with it. I would be happy to brainstorm with you if you are stuck!

We will use the last group class of fall (November 20th) as a “story time” class. Feel free to wear your pajamas and bring your favorite blanket or stuffed friend. You are also welcome to dress in costume or bring props for your story presentation. Warm spiced apple cider to be served!


Happy Squirrel!

Our multi-level, combined group piece this fall will be The Happy Squirrel.

If you need another copy of the sheet music you can find it here. Parts were announced this week.

Book 3+ violin students are welcome to audition for the “advanced’ part after learning their assigned part. Let me know if you’re interested in auditioning. Email me for the password, or see it on the board in the studio. Please start working on your parts as soon as possible.


Fall Goals

We will continue learning how to set goals this quarter. Last quarter students choose three goals to accomplish by the end of summer. Some friends quickly found out that perhaps they were a little ambitious and that more thought might be required when it comes to setting achievable goals.

During fall quarter, I will help students learn how to break down goals into smaller units to a)make sure they are doable in the time frame at hand and b) to come up with a week by week plan to help them stay motivated. Please be ready at your first lesson of fall with some goals in mind.


Pre-Twinkle Demo at the Westminster Branch Library

Join Ms. Glenda Walsh Crouse from Westminster Suzuki Strings for a free 30 minute violin class. Children ages 2-5 will explore the exciting world of pre-twinkle violin. Children are taught through play, games and storytelling. In addition to hearing a brief professional performance of the violin, children will be able to try a real fractional sized violin. Following the class, Ms. Glenda will be available to answer questions about the violin and the Suzuki Method. Register on the library website. Registration begins 8/23 for the 9/6 class and 9/11 for the 9/25 class.


Scrub-a-dub!

With fall quarter just around the corner, it’s time to get back into the habit making sure our hands are clean before lessons.

Washing your hands before your lesson is a small act of kindness to yourself and to our studio community. Let’s do our best to help keep everyone healthy.

As hand washing is far more effective than hand sanitizer, you won’t see hand sanitizer at the studio this year (except for myself of course to use between each lesson). You’ll need to stop by the restroom on the way in and give your hands a good scrub. Please prepare to arrive a few minutes early to wash up before your lesson begins. Otherwise, you’ll need to spend the first five minutes of your lesson washing your hands.

Did you know that twinkle theme is just the right length of time for hand washing? Try singing it while washing your hands! Choose a different variation each week 😉

Fall 2019 Registration is now open

You can find the link to the registration form by clicking here.

Forms are due by Wednesday, 8/7.


Don’t forget to prepare for group class next Wednesday. As always, if you are not able to attend class let me know before hand.

Reminder: Parents should not have conversations with each other during group class. It is disruptive, disrespectful and I personally find it distracting. The best time to have conversations is before or after the class.

Week of 7/22/19:

Schedule Reminders

No lessons on Monday, July 22 or Tuesday, July 23 due to summer break. For further questions regarding the schedule visit the studio calendar.


Group Class

You can start thinking about review pieces for our next group class. Remember, the goal is to polish your pieces so they can easily fit into the technique category by your next lesson. The idea with playing review pieces in the lesson is so that 1) I can help you with just the trouble spots and 2) so that we can use the pieces to build on your technique. It’s normal for the highest piece you know to fall into the “group review” category but the rest of the pieces you should be able to polish up. Don’t forget to listen to your suzuki recordings and use your book for review help.

For the 8/7 group class, prepare group list number 3.

Week of 6/24/19

Schedule Reminders

The studio is closed this week. No lessons 6/24, 6/25. See you in July!


Group Class

At lessons this week, we divided your pieces into the three types of review categories. Please prepare your pieces accordingly and bring questions to your lessons in July. We are working from the group 2 list.


Shout-out!

Do you have exciting news to share? Have you performed recently or won an audition? Graduated a book or a piece? Do you have a birthday coming up? If you‘d like me to post your news here, let me know! If you have any accompanying videos or pictures please email them.


Week of 6/17/19

Summer Goals

Our focus for this summer is to better understand the review process. Why do we review, what do we review and how can we stay organized? I have placed the “What is review?” document in your suzuki books. Please read this information so that we are on the same page when it comes to my expectations. I have also included the “Am I Ready…” document in your Suzuki books. This document outlines what I’m looking for in terms of starting, completing and graduating pieces. I hope this information better outlines our goals!


Try my idea!

To keep the three types of review straight, try organizing your lesson notes this way…

  • Make a column for each type of review.
    • If you aren’t currently graduating a book, leave out the graduation column. To keep things simple, we work from the list of pieces we will play at the next group class.
  • At the lesson, I divide the group repertoire pieces into the three types of review categories. See the “What is Review?” document for more details.
    • It’s helpful to write down what the focus of each piece is; this is your goal for practice. The focus is the same for all pieces in the Technique column while the focus will vary for the Group and Graduation columns.

Technique Review: Pieces that are mastered and automatic, allowing the focus to be on technique rather than fingers, bow directions, etc. Ideally, the majority of your pieces should fall in this category if you have kept up with review at home.

Group Review: Pieces that need polishing so you can keep up with the group. It takes only one student to be out of tune for the whole group to sound out of tune! Pieces placed in this category indicate that we have some serious work to do if we’d like to contribute positively to the group class. If you work out the group review pieces so they are automatic before group/lesson they can move to the technique category. If you are working towards graduation and the technique is fine, move the piece to the graduation category. If the majority of your pieces fall into the group category, you need to find time to review daily.

Graduation Review: This only applies to students who have completed all pieces in a book and are demonstrating their mastery of the skills learned. Essentially, you audition for the next book. Again, we choose pieces on the group repertoire list to keep it simple. In order to graduate a piece, it has to be highly polished with no mistakes, no technique issues and can be played with accompaniment. We work the piece up to performance quality. See the “Am I ready?” document for more details.


Schedule Reminders


Doodle Dots

Doodle Dots has been posted on the Parents Practice Guide Page. You can also find the all of our “extra” sheet music in the Supplemental Repertoire folder within the parents practice guide. The password was changed two weeks ago, email me if you need the new password. I would be happy to spend time on this piece in your individual lessons, provided all other assignments are completed.


Group Class

It’s never to early to start working on the next set of group class pieces. A suggested method; start with the piece that gives you the most trouble since you’ll have more time to work on it. You’ll also have a chance to ask me questions at a lesson before group. Click here for the repertoire list.


Week of 6/10…

We will play pieces from the group 4 list at the 6/12 group class. Prepare your pieces before the class.

Our focus for the summer will be review. What is it, how do you do it and how do you stay organized? Please come to your lessons with your questions about review.

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