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What I've Learned from Early Music Training

Mendy Smith

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Published: May 23, 2015 at 3:04 AM [UTC]

About a year or so ago, I reconnected with my first private viola instructor. When I took lessons from her as a child around the age of 8 or 9 in the late '70's, she was teaching out of the university but had moved on to teaching elementary school children later in her career.

I fondly remember warming up in the university's rehearsal rooms before lessons, performing music written by seniors at the school for their finals, unknowingly at the time auditioning for the Sewannee Summer Music Festival, and playing pieces with no fear that I struggle with today.

Since the time we reconnected, she has always been willing to lend advice on my viola playing struggles. It has been a very nice and much appreciated surprise to have my first teacher still take an interest in my music education 30+ years later.

When I discovered earlier this year that she was retiring at the end of this school year, I began a project to show how early childhood music training continues into adulthood, both for personal music and professional career growth. As I delved deeper into this project, I became amazed at how these early lessons had become deeply ingrained into my life as a whole.

Today is her official retirement day. This is the first installment of her retirement gift from me to her.

There are particular practice and rehearsal methods, techniques and etiquettes that we all learn early on in our music training: make sure you have your music, tune first, practice slowly, count out loud, keep playing no matter what happens, don't chit-chat during rehearsals etc. This is especially true when playing in a small ensemble no matter how old and experienced you are ...

Later in life, those early music skills found a way of making their way into my professional career, despite that career being completely unrelated to music:

Part two of this series: practicing at home, taking lessons, pushing personal limits and summer camp as an adult will come out in early fall.

Happy Retirement Dr. Creider, and thank you for getting me started on this most amazing journey!


From Paul Deck
Posted on May 24, 2015 at 1:30 AM
Great fun! Thanks for sharing that.

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