Violinist.com members may keep personal journals on the website. Violinist.com's editor selects the best entries for the column below. Links to all other recent blog posts may be found in the column on the right.
By Susan Pascale
October 24, 2012 14:14
“Mom, can I practice Puh-LEEEEZE!”
How often do you hear that from your child? I never heard it from my older daughter, now a sophomore at Juilliard; nor from my adult son, a jazz musician. But recently, I’ve been hearing it from my 10-year-old daughter Jenna, a cellist – ever since we launched our practice club.
The idea came about because of Jenna. She was born into and grew up in my music school. She’s naturally musical, but it took an unnatural amount of effort to get her to sit down and practice. My usual tactics – prizes, bribes, and badgering - weren’t working.
What had worked in the past was rewarding her with something that meant a lot to her. When she was younger, it was all about stuffed animals. Now, it’s all about her friends. Her closest friends all play in my orchestra with her.
So I thought having a practice club on Sunday, my one day off, might be worth it.
Of course, parents immediately jumped on the idea – they were happy to drop their children off with me for the afternoon, especially when they heard it was to practice!
The first two Sundays were utterly exhausting . As soon as the six young musicians were dropped off at 12:30 p.m., they scattered like mice, running wild on the property. It was a challenge to keep them engaged for three hours
But by the third attempt I had an improved plan. I visited the 99 cent store and bought fuzzy slippers, small candies and assorted prizes. On Sunday, the kids arrived and I immediately pulled out a basket of slippers, informing them that, to be a club member, they had to wear them. That engaged them right away (with just a little bickering over who got which color).
Next, they were handed a clipboard, a mini-pencil, and a blank practice log. They were instructed to write down everything they intended to practice for the next two hours. The log I designed has columns that show how much time they planned to spend on each piece or exercise, and then the actual time that they spent.
They were each led into their own practice room; I strategically placed the closest friends furthest apart!
For the third hour, the kids played in groups, which of course, they love. Some played duets, others worked on their orchestra music together.
I’m still practicing practice club, and it keeps getting better. Here are some of my most successful strategies.
1. Fifty is fabulous – Fifty minute intervals, followed by a 10 minute break, seems to work best.
2. Pop-ins are popular - Frequent interruptions in the beginning of their practice session sets them up for the afternoon – they know I’m listening.
3. Reward them often - While making the rounds, bring an arsenal of stickers and throw one on their practice log to reward their efforts. They also perk up with an M&M or two. (Cheerios work too.)
4. Have snacks, will practice – For some reason, practicing makes kids hungry. Each ten minute or longer break should come with a healthy snack or beverage.
5. Leave the door open - For your most challenging practicers, pass by often , calling out “Do it again! “ or “That was out of tune!” or “You’re doing great!” The surprise coaching keeps them on their toes.
6. Extend the fun - After club time, ask a parent to take the kids out for frozen yogurt, miniature golf, or a movie.
7. Try a weekday club - On Thursday nights, parents in my program have picked up the ball and begun offering a mini-practice club. The kids do their homework, practice, and eat dinner. By the time Jenna gets home, all that’s left for me to bark is, “Brush your teeth and go to bed!”
8. Encourage teachers to join the club - One of our cello teachers, Tao Ni, the associate principal cellist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, has occasionally joined the club. So has our viola teacher, Zach Dellinger, who is preparing for an important competition. Hearing them practice makes a huge impression on our budding musicians. It teaches them that practice really does make perfect!
9. Acknowledge accomplishments - We have a binder in which kids put their completed practice logs . At the end of each month, we add up everyone’s hours, and post them on the school bulletin board. Kids feel proud and it inspires other children to join a practice club!
Some people think I’m crazy to do this on my Sunday afternoon. But it’s worth it, to to hear my daughter and her friends begging to practice, and to hear the improvement in their playing. My household is a lot more peaceful these days, with less nagging and more cello!
By Graham Emberton
October 23, 2012 22:38
The Indianapolis Symphony is back! Last week a settlement was reached between musicians and management; this “bridge agreement” will cover the ISO up to February 3rd next year. If a substantial $5 million can be raised before January 31st, 2013, then a second contract will come into effect, covering the ISO up to September 3rd, 2017. The musicians have accepted some pretty steep cuts; the minimum pay has dropped to $53,000 from $78,000 (it would rise to $70,000 over the next five years) and the season has dropped from 52 weeks to 38-42. Especially considering these deep concessions, I’m very thankful the symphony has returned- there is something of a dearth of symphonies in Indiana and the ISO’s five week hiatus was significant (I think my university’s orchestra performance in September may have been the first symphony concert in the Indianapolis area). While I cannot afford to donate the handsome sums the ISO desperately needs, this weekend I did what a college student can best do to support orchestras, and attended the ISO’s opening concert consisting of Messiaen’s “Poemes pour Mi,” Ravel’s “Bolero,” and Debussy’s “La Mer.”
When I entered Hilbert Circle Theatre, home of the ISO, there was a real buzz to the place (not all due to the cocktail bar). As soon as the orchestra had assembled on stage the audience burst into a lengthy standing ovation. It was really touching, actually. Certainly the only time I’ve witnessed such glee and gratitude before a note had been played. Eventually the musicians themselves joined in the applause and everyone stood there, clapping. I think anyone watching this would have been boggled about how strife could possibly have permeated the ISO in the first place. Truly, people have missed having the symphony perform regularly.
Eventually the applause died down and conductor Krzysztof Urbanski, soprano Twyla Robinson, and the ISO began “Poemes pour Mi.” This cycle of nine songs was composed in 1936 and is dedicated to Messiaen’s wife, Clare Delbos (nicknamed Mi). Twyla Robinson sang with a beautiful, warm tone that was very appropriate for a work inspired by love and steeped in Catholic and biblical allusions. Following intermission, the orchestra performed “Bolero.” Krzysztof Urbanski made quite a statement; after coming on stage he pointedly walked off again to sit and watch the ISO perform sans conductor. I have loved Bolero for a long time, and even if you hate its repetitive nature, there’s no denying it’s catchy. The ISO did a fine job and a highlight for me was a positively rude saxophone solo by principal bassoonist Mark Ortwein. The performance closed with “La Mer.” This was what I was looking forward to most; I had recently worked on some of Debussy’s other orchestral works, “Nocturnes” and “Iberia,” for my school’s orchestra, and I’ve never seen “La Mer” performed live. Urbanski led the ISO in another strong rendition. The orchestra pulled off Debussy’s characteristic colors and tonal “painting” with success and Urbanski was hugely dynamic from the podium. Again the best part for me was observing individual players; this time it was fun watching concertmaster Zach DePue and principal violist Mike Chen interact with one another- looked like they were having a blast! Another standing ovation ensued, lasting for a long, long time. I think Urbanksi was puzzled by the fourth curtain call, but such was the appreciation of the audience, myself included.
Even if for now the ISO has lost its place amongst the full-year orchestras, even though its musicians are currently underpaid, even though gobs of money need to be raised, the gloomy aspects of the symphonic world were temporarily alleviated on Saturday with the essence of it all, music-making. I really hope the other orchestras around the nation also facing difficulties are able to reach a solution quickly because audiences really do care. The ISO is clearly a fundamental aspect of the Indianapolis cultural scene and was missed a great deal.Tweet
By Susan Pascale
October 23, 2012 13:23
Snap your strings! Stomp your feet! Play on the bridge!
That may not sound like traditional advice for a conductor to give her
At least that’s what we’ve discovered in our strings program, now
Doing Halloween up big started about eight years ago, with monthly
Then we decided the entire orchestra should perform in costume. Our 60 orchestra members are ages 5 – 12. For that concert, I couldn’t resist getting into the act. –I dressed up as Cruella de Ville. The kids and parents at first did not recognize me. It came as a hilarious shock. There were lots of laughs as I ran the recital in character, as a meanie!
The following year, our orchestras were invited to perform at
After overcoming that obstacle, we were quite a hit! The kids had a blast and so did I. So now, a Halloween concert is an annual ritual.
Here are seven reasons why Halloween can be the best time of year for you and your music students:
#1. It’s a great way to dive into the fall semester, and get your students
# 2. Halloween can be a technical smorgasbord. There is a lot of
- Creepy Crawl, by David Shaffer and Jason Barrera
#3. You can develop creative rituals and traditions. For example, ‘Rosin Eating Zombies’ calls for a solo scream. We hold an open audition during rehearsal. There is tons of hysterical laughter as the kids vote for a winner. We make it even scarier by turning off the lights during the performance so we’re in a completely black room (I wave a light-up baton, and the kids play from memory.)
Another ritual: Long before the concert, we create ‘guess what the conductor will be wearing!’ game. It’s top secret, revealed at the time of the concert. It’s a fun shock for all.
#4. It’s a bonding experience. My goal is to keep kids playing their instruments as long as possible, especially through the difficult teen years. Events like these create lasting friendships, which leads to children staying in music.
#5. The media loves it. A costumed children’s orchestra dressed playing spooky and classical music– it’s eye candy, as well as ‘ear candy’!
#6. It’s a fundraising opportunity. As long as you’re generating
#7. It’s an outreach opportunity. We advertise the Halloween concert as
So what will I wear this Halloween? Shhhh, I’m not saying! You’ll find out soon enough! (One clue: we’ll need an even bigger van than last year!)
The Los Angeles Children’s Orchestra’s performance at the Kidspace Museum Pumpkin Festival in Pasadena, CA will take place on October 28, 2012, at noon. For more information go to www.kidspacemuseum.org.
By Heather Broadbent
October 23, 2012 10:56
Who would have thought to teach online? Not me two years ago. Two years ago I protested the idea of skype violin lessons. I had students request them when I was overseas and I didn't make the effort to even try because I wasn't sure about the effectiveness. This last summer my student insisted and I agreed. I also had two other students on the skype lesson bandwagon. I was truly surprised by the results. For me it was absolutely amazing. After the first lesson I was completely convinced that this was and is a very effective and valid form of teaching.
This last week I taught Emilly Thieme her second skype lesson. She loves it because she doesn't have to leave her house. I have had Emilly as a student for at least four years I think. In this last lesson we were talking about Boccherini Minuet and the corresponding scale work. I decided to have her watch my youtube video to remind her of the A Major scale. Before watching the video let's say Emilly was a little rusty but after the video 100% better. Night and day difference. A true testimonial to me the effectiveness of online tools. I tell her the same thing in the same way that is in the video but I think it was more effective for her because it was a youtube video. I was in a different setting - actually a different country when I filmed the video. Whatever the influences it was extremely beneficial for Emilly and in turn for me.
By Bram Heemskerk
October 22, 2012 14:15
3 Baroque violinconcerto's of Myslivecek + Leclair.
By The Weekend Vote
October 19, 2012 10:14
The theories about what makes a Strad a Strad continue to pour in, as well as theories on how one could make a Strad-quality instrument today.
Some of the theories include the idea that the wood used by luthiers of that period was of a special density -- due to the Little Ice Age -- that just so happened to make for superior violins. Another theory that was especially widely accepted in the 20th century: Stradivari had a secret formula for his varnish, and that made all the difference. A few have surmised that perhaps the guy was just a great violin maker. Or, perhaps he made a good number of duds, which have fallen to the wayside as his best fiddles became valued. Another theory is simply that violins improve with age, and so that is a primary reason why Strads sound great: they are all some 300 years old.
And then based on these theories, there are other theories for how to reproduced this excellence today. For example, if you believe that wood density is the primary key to the sweet sound of a Strad, this might resonate for you: Swiss wood researcher Professor Francis W. M. R. Schwarze claims that treating a fiddle with two kinds of special fungi can make it sound, as an article in Science Daily said, "indistinguishably similar to a Stradivarius."
What is your theory? What makes a Strad a Strad? And I've intentionally left out "all of the above" so we can each pick what we fell is the primary reason. Feel free to discuss your thoughts and theories below.
Violinist.com Interview with Augustin Hadelich: Beethoven, Strads and the Virtues of Practicing SlowlyBy Laurie Niles
October 18, 2012 12:18
While violinist Augustin Hadelich was in Los Angeles to play with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, I had the pleasure of sitting down to chat with him over lunch between his rehearsal and concert (pasta before a performance, he said. And he knew a lot about pasta!)
Tonight Augustin will perform Lalo's "Symphony Espagnole" with the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fischer Hall (Oct. 18, 19, 20, 23), after which he goes to Houston to play Bartok's Concerto No. 2 with the Houston Symphony. The rest of his schedule is on his website.
Winner of the 2006 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, Hadelich has spent the last six years hopping the globe. Born to German parents, Hadelich grew up on a farm in Italy. His recordings include Flying Solo, with works for solo violin by Bartok, Ysaye, Paganini and Bernd Zimmermann; and Echoes of Paris, with works by Poulenc, Stravinsky, Prokofiev and Debussy, performed with pianist Robert Kulek. Over the summer, Augustin collaborated with guitarist Pablo Sainz Villegas on works by de Falla, Paganini, Piazolla and Sarasate, for a recording that will come out next March. Next summer he is scheduled to record the Thomas Adès and Sibelius Concertos with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Hannu Lintu.
In Los Angeles, Augustin said he enjoyed working with conductor Jeffrey Kahane, who is an accomplished pianist (in fact, he was playing the Ravel Piano Concerto, in the same concert!)
"We had 30-minute meeting, playing through some places. He'd sit down at the piano and he had a great time playing the piano reduction!"
"I think every time I've played this piece, it's been with symphony orchestra, not chamber orchestra," Augustin said of the Beethoven Violin Concerto. Of course, it's a piece that can be played with either set-up, but a lot of the balance problems that arise with the typical symphony performance simply were not issues with a chamber orchestra.
"The whole approach is different," he said. "It's quite easy to be flexible in tempo, because (chamber musicians) are so used to listening. With a big symphony orchestra, if you want to move the tempo, it's so difficult. The conductor can do it, but it isn't easy because sometimes the conductor will do it and they don't even pay attention. Of course, there are moments in the piece -- some of the big tuttis, big climaxes -- where having the full, big orchestra sound is incredibly good. So it can work several ways."
Figuring out the tempo is one of the most challenging things about the Beethoven Concerto.
"I've gone back and forth many times. Sometimes I've played with some stern older German conductors who want it very, very slow, and it can work. It becomes other-worldly and quiet," Augustin said. Then again, "if you just look at the orchestral introduction and think about what tempo it should go, and not think about any of the rest of the piece, you arrive at a tempo that is much faster than how most people play." When the violin enters and plays these themes, they are ornamented and full of passagework. "I think the mistake that a lot of violinists make, and I used to make as well, is that you try to play that ornamentation melodically. I think it bogs down, suddenly you have to play it much slower, and you lose the large structure."
So for a while, he tried playing the piece at the tempo of the introduction. "I really went for it -- and it was really fast. It becomes a really different piece," he said. "I was pretty unsatisfied, actually, afterward. The problem was that somehow, it felt restless. It no longer had the depth, and the time and space."
These days, he looks for the compromise that is both fast enough to be flashy and to give the listener a sense of the larger structure, but slow enough to show the piece's ethereal quality and peacefulness.
"I was around eight when I started playing the Beethoven," Augustin said. "As a child, you don't really understand Beethoven at all. The violin part is very exposed, so it's very useful, having played it that long. Although, some places never get easier! It's one of those pieces that I can do 100 times in a row and not be tired of. It's such a gorgeous piece."
For about two years, Augustin has been playing the "Kiesewetter" Stradivari of 1723, on loan from the Stradivari Society.
"It's a great instrument, it sounded good right away, but it's a process, to get used to the way it sounds," he said. "The one I had before (the ex-Gingold Strad) was really different."
Most Strads are fairly finicky, and in the last six years, Augustin has become a student of how to finesse a Strad. When it comes to sound production, "you can't press too much, and you have to use enough bow," especially with the earlier Strads.
The "Kiesewetter" is from a later period, and "it's somehow more resilient. It goes through changes in humidity and temperature, and it will sound sometimes a bit better, a bit worse, but the difference is not so great that an audience would notice anything -- you notice as a player. You do have the option, when you're really in trouble, like you're just playing in the worst hall possible or the orchestra is way too loud, you can push it, you can press on it, and it does actually have a reserve that you can push out and make it sound even better. It's quite good as a soloist's instrument."
"And I think it has a very beautiful sound, and it has more colors than the other one," he said. "It's not so sweet, so when you play music that is not always just beautiful, you play the Shostakovich, or composers who write music about the ugly sides of life, then you need to be able to get colors that are really different, and that was really difficult on the other one. It was just so sweet all the time!
Like Mr. Gingold!
To get a fast response, he was changing the strings every 10 days or so with the ex-Gingold. He found that Vision Titanium strings gave the fastest response, if not the prettiest sound. "I still use those strings on this one, but I can leave them on for a month now, and it still sounds fine. It speaks."
"That Gingold Strad, I had to sort of tame it. It's gorgeous, the sound that comes out in the recordings, when you don't have any balance problems and you can put the mike really close, it has such a beautiful sound. I really loved it. I had to have it adjusted all the time." That is, he eventually started taking it to the luthier every week.
"She was just down the street in New York, and she was really nice," he said. "We would just check. Sometimes things happen, like cracks or seams opening. Depending on what condition the violin is in or what repairs were done how long ago, it can happen quite frequently. Once dirt gets into the seams, they open up very quickly again. Also, with every little weather change, you have to do the soundpost again."
"With the one I have now, I go three times a year. I don't really get soundpost adjustments because it sounds good, even when it's out of adjustment! It's very stable. It's made my life a lot easier."
Hadelich also became adept at dealing with a "wolf" -- when a specific note on the G string tends to crack when played and sound like an opera-singing frog.
"The violin I have now usually doesn't have a wolf - only if the weather is really bad," he said. "Most violins have a wolf on the B or C or C#, that range, and I can feel it on this violin, the notes are always more precarious when you are up on the G string. But if it's stable enough, then you play them and you usually don't have trouble. But when the wolf is really strong, you can start having a wolf on every string, for those same pitches on the D string or on the A string. It has to be the same pitch, whatever pitch the wolf is on, you can have it on the D or A as well."
Here's the secret to dealing with it:
"The Gingold had a wolf on the B natural on the G string. If you are playing a piece like Tzigane, where you play that note a lot, you have to find a way to get the note to speak. It is possible, actually. You can compensate for it with your bow pressure and bow speed. It's hard to just start playing the wolf-note, but if you arrive to it from another note, and you get the string to really ring on the previous note, whatever that note is, and you build the sound and pressure and bow speed up, then if you switch to the wolf note and you keep it the same, or you can decrease it, and it won't do the wolf thing to you. But, if you increase it, or if when you switch to the wolf note for some reason the sound is stopped and you have to restart it, then it will be wolf-y. You can't really crescendo well on it, then. That's when it gets really precarious, if you increase the pressure or bow speed on the wolf. So the trick is, usually you will arrive to it from another note on the G string -- you get the string to really, really ring, then play the wolf just a tiny bit softer, or just relax a little on it, and then it will be fine. If you have to start on the wolf note…There's a way you can attack it, you attack it then you let go of it. But once it starts doing the wolf thing, it's over!"
Augustin has found that, with all the traveling and playing with various orchestras, he has had to change his practice routine.
"My practicing methods changed a bit over the last year, because I had a bout of tendonitis in one of my fingers," Augustin said. "I never used to warm up or anything like that. I always practiced only at tempo and not slower." The stress of switching pieces frequently -- playing Sibelius one week and Mendelssohn the next week -- caused stress, which led to tension in his hand.
"I really overdid it one week, and suddenly I had tendonitis," he said. "So for a while, I couldn't practice very much, but I still had concerts. So I started practicing very slowly. Suddenly, I discovered that I was actually playing better, even though I was doing so little practicing. I did two things: I practiced very slowly, and I would go through the piece in my head. I'd look at the score, and go through it. So my idea of the piece, how to interpret it and structure it, was much clearer. And, I was practicing slowly -- there's a reason why people always say you should practice slowly, I realize now!" (He smiles)
"Of course, now my finger is all better," he said. But he has become more aware of the warning signs. "I learned how to figure out when there was tension when I was playing. I'm better at not doing it. There would be certain moments in the piece, where I would tense up. If I practiced it a bit more, or practiced it slowly, and then I wouldn't need to be so tense."
"I used to think that if you practice it at a slower tempo, you only get better at playing it at that tempo," he said. "There is some truth to that: when you play it faster, everything is different. If something doesn't work, you can slow it down and figure it out, or get a clearer idea in your head, but it is important to practice at speed as well."
"At the same time, you can get a passage a lot better by practicing it slowly. It doesn't put any strain on your hand," he said. "So that's become a big part and now I do warm up as well, when I start playing in the morning."
"I felt really stupid when this happened last year, because it didn't really come from the way I was playing the violin in general, it wasn't anything major I had to change, it was just the kinds of things that are sort of common knowledge," he said. "When you're very young, you don't absolutely have to warm up before you play. You can just pick the violin up and everything works. The body is really resilient. Then at some point you just have to - warm up!"
"Even stuff that's very difficult, your hand CAN do it in a relaxed way, if you practice it," he said. "The faster the passage, the less your fingers have to press down on the string, and that can take care of a lot of tension, when there's something very fast." For example, in Lalo's Symphony Espagnole, a piece with a lot of fast notes: "A lot of times, your fingers just don't need to go all the way down. The faster the passage is, and the higher up, the less they have to go down. That can take care of a lot of tension as well."
And here's another thing: "It's important to enjoy it -- you are up there for 40 minutes, you should really love the experience," Hadelich said. For example, in the Beethoven: "When the orchestral introduction starts, I try to have a good time and enjoy the fact that I'm playing one of the most beautiful pieces ever written."
Hadelich played Paganini 24 as an encore in Los Angeles, here is a live performance from 2010 in Saarbrücken, Germany:
By Charlie Gibbs
October 18, 2012 12:07
Some of you might have read my last week's blog about how I stumbled into playing the viola (although it might be more accurate to say that the viola tracked me down, tripped me, and caught me while I was down). I also mentioned the possibility of playing viola in a local orchestra. Well, the fickle finger of fate has struck again, and yesterday I wound up in a rehearsal of the Ambleside Orchestra.
I arrived early at the church where the orchestra holds its rehearsals. I've always liked wandering through a church when nobody else is around - there are so many strange rooms and passages to explore. But eventually, as I passed one of the entrance doors, a woman came in towing a cello case, so I followed her to the sanctuary, where people were starting to gather.
Everyone was very friendly, and when they found out I had brought a viola they were positively thrilled, since the orchestra has only one regular violist. I busied myself helping push the piano out of the way, setting up chairs, and unpacking my instrument.
It was when everything was set up and I was waiting for the rehearsal to start that I began to get the nervous jitters. Just what was I doing here anyway? I haven't played in any structured musical organization of this size since my days playing cornet in the high school band 45 years ago. (Jam circles don't count.) I have a total of a week and a half of experience with anything related to the viola, and there I was facing a standful of music I had never seen before, all written in alto clef. And some of the key signatures were brutal.
For a moment everything dissolved into a mass of meaningless black dots on the page. But everyone from the conductor to my fellow violist was encouraging me, and we dove in, starting with portions of Rossini's Semiramide Overture. Sometimes I could find a note here and there, sometimes I'd just quietly fake my way through. Repetition wasn't boring, it was a relief - once I found the right notes I could play them over and over and sound like I knew what I was doing. The last movement of Bizet's L'Arlesienne Suite no. 1 (Le Carillon) gave me similar relief.
At the break I had a chance to unwind a bit and chat with some of the other members. They're human!
We also worked on bits of Bizet's L'Arlesienne Suite no. 2, Mendelssohn's "Ich wollt' meine Liebe", Delibe's "Lakme" (complete with a singer), and Saint-Saens' "Romance for Flute" (which is full of perfectly dreadful key changes).
By the time we finished I was feeling completely wrung out. But at least nobody was moving to throw me out. Actually, it was kind of reassuring to be in the middle of enough instruments that I could be unobtrusive when I wasn't sure of myself. But my buddy who got me into this mess, who was sitting among the second violins, remarked that he was hearing a much better sound out of the viola section, so I must have been doing something right.
And occasionally, despite all the stress, there would come those moments when everyone was playing together well and the music would wash sweetly over us - and I would realize that here I was, sitting in the middle of an orchestra, being part of it all.
Afterwards, my friend and I went to a Chinese restaurant. At the end of the meal the fortune cookies arrived - and mine read: "The longest journey is started by a single step; take it."
I didn't sleep too well last night. Part of it was due to the dreams. I was driving around North Vancouver trying to find the church, and I just couldn't make the lines on the map line up. It must have had something to do with my struggles to make the lines on the alto clef staff line up into something meaningful.
Am I going back next week? You bet! I've now taken that single step. Just think of what I'll be able to do after having the sheet music to practise with.Tweet
By Bram Heemskerk
October 18, 2012 07:21
3 Baroque pieces
By Laurie Niles
October 17, 2012 08:26
As the parent of one teenager and one almost-teenager, I no longer have too many illusions about how much control or influence I have over my kids: in this season of life, pretty close to none, at least directly!
And for this reason I'm instituting a new plan, when it comes to music practice: bribery. Judge me, if you will, but the parent of a student came up with a plan that is working so well for her 13-year-old, that I must try it. Said student is now practicing every day and moving forward, after a period of treading water for a while. As her teacher, I'm loving it, and I get the feeling that she will soon start connecting her new success on the violin with her practicing.
Here's the plan: Get a jar, or piggy bank. Each time junior practices, put in a dollar (or whatever amount of $ you deem appropriate). At the end of one month, junior gets all the money in the jar. It's direct, it has no pretensions. It's one answer to the question, "Can I have money for the movies?" And the more junior practices, the bigger his/her end-of-the-month "allowance."
Put the jar in an obvious place, as a reminder of the "reward" for practice.
Do I want my kid to practice for the love of music? Yes indeed. But let's be honest, the practice has to become before the love. The love happens when you get good at it. I've said before that it takes 21 days to get into the practice routine, and I still find that to be true. But sometimes everything breaks down, and you have to establish those 21 days again. Getting those 21 days can be a real struggle.
Wish me luck. Also, you can make your suggestions for making practice happen below, in case this one doesn't work!Tweet
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