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Showing posts from 2018

'Violins Of Hope': Strings of the Holocaust

A violin maker in Israel has spent more than two decades painstakingly amassing a tragic collection: instruments played by Jews during the Holocaust. He calls them "Violins of Hope," and they will be displayed for the first time in the United States, and featured in a series of upcoming concerts.

You can watch the complete video here:

San Diego Suzuki Institute 2018 Holiday Fundraiser

The Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) is committed to Dr. Suzuki’s belief that every child can be educated and that high ability can be nurtured in every child. With this commitment in mind the SAA has designed a comprehensive Teacher Development Program to assist teachers in creating the best possible learning environment for their students, an environment that puts a priority on the development of fine character along with excellent ability and musicianship.

Training primarily occurs through summer institute programs such as SDSI. Teachers of all ages and backgrounds pay out-of-pocket to attend these training programs in an effort to increase the quality of education they can provide to students.

The proceeds from the purchase of a San Diego Suzuki Institute hoodie or cash donation will primarily go toward scholarship money for teachers in need of financial assistance as they make the effort to take this training.

To purchase a fundraiser hoodie, follow this link:

10 Years of Teaching

As of October of 2018 I have been teaching in an "official" capacity for ten years.  It's crazy to think about!  Honestly, I think I stopped counting after about six years.

However, it's fun for me to look back and reflect on how much has changed.  I started teaching out of my parents' house when I was fresh out of college.  At the time I was inexperienced with teaching and terrified that I would forever screw up the music careers of every little student that came to me in those early days.  But every teacher has to have guinea pigs, right?

At the end of every lesson I bow with my student and say "thank you for teaching me."  When they ask, I tell them that I say it too because the lessons go both ways.  I teach them the violin and they teach me how to teach.  Little kids think this is funny usually.  Silly teacher!  Adults don't need to learn anymore!

And now, ten years later, I'm teaching out of my own house pretty confident with students (but…

Minimalist Teaching

Teaching accessories are a slippery slope. Walk into any teaching store or browse through any specialty education website and it’s almost too easy to drop an entire year’s worth of income on supplies. It’s totally worth it if it makes the job easier for you and more fun for the students, right?


I’m always toying around (pun intended) with how much is too much when it comes to accessories. Like is that cute panda clip for the bow tip really necessary? Or can we get the same job done by only using the bow itself?

I tend to favor “simple” when it comes to teaching accessories. I dislike having to spend lesson time setting up some elaborate game. While these types of games can be effective, I can’t help but feel that more moving parts means more distraction. I want the students generally focused on their instruments and not which color of magic wand they are using.

Now this is not to say that I never use extra stuff during my private and group lessons. I just have a pre…

Understanding Without Explanations

Sometimes talking is necessary. Children may not hear every word you say but they need to know that you are trying to encourage them. As a teacher I often wonder how much of what I say actually gets through. But that is exactly what has made me appreciate that true understanding comes without an explanation.

I’ve been working with Music Mind Games theory material more and more these days. For those that are unfamiliar it is a system of games and activities designed to teach music theory. I’ve always made a point to do theory worksheets with my students in the past. But I’m finding that I no longer need them as much as we gradually work our way through the games. The games allow the students to understand without explanation, which makes it a far more effective lesson.

One example that comes to mind is the idea of the musical alphabet. The letters used in music are always A, B, C, D, E, F, G. So, naturally, young children almost always ask why there is no “X, Y, or Z.” It is …

Interview with Dr. Molly Gebrian on the Neuroscience Behind Block vs. Random Practice

Welcome to Rethinking Genius, Molly! Can you tell us a little about your background in teaching and neuroscience?

Thank you for inviting me to do this, Danielle! I was a Suzuki kid myself (I studied with David Einfeldt at the Hartt Suzuki Institute from the time I started at age 7), and I’ve done some Suzuki teacher training, but these days, I’m a college professor teaching at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. I’ve been teaching for about 15 years, from 4-year old beginners, all the way up through graduate students. As far as neuroscience goes, I was a double-degree student at Oberlin College and Conservatory, majoring in viola performance and neuroscience. I had no plans to continue with neuroscience (it was just something I found fascinating, that I did for fun!), but when I got to New England Conservatory of Music for grad school, something was missing. My roommate at NEC, who had also been at Oberlin with me, participated in a study at Harvard looking at musicians’ versus …

San Diego Suzuki Institute is now a registered 501(c)(3)

As some may or may not know, I became the director of a Suzuki institute in 2017. Starting up this type of business very much felt like a roller coaster ride at times. But the moments of stress felt totally worth it in the end after we pulled off our first successful year.

With 2017 under the belt it was time to start thinking about how the institute can grow moving forward. I am very pleased to announce that the San Diego Suzuki Institute is now a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit. The non-profit structure does add an extra element to keep track from the business side. But ultimately this type of model seemed to be something that would open a lot of doors for us.

The biggest positive change is that we are now able to accept donations. Donations will allow for a multitude of scholarship opportunities that we have been previously unable to offer. We would love to be able to offer financial support to both students and Suzuki teachers interested in furthering their careers with t…

Growth Mindset

Establishing the growth mindset is one of the most important jobs of a teacher.  It's also the most challenging because you are at odds with potentially other teachers, children the student interacts with, and possibly even the student's parents.  This is not to say that all of a student's social interactions are negative.  The point is that there could be conflicting messages.

I had a teacher trainer once tell me, "Always praise the process, not the product."  The advice stuck with me and became a sort of mantra that helps me to shape the words that I choose to use during the lessons.

It's not easy!  Over many years of teaching I've come to realize that praising the process is not quite as clear-cut as the pictured chart would have you believe.  For example, saying something like "You're so talented!  You played that beautifully," is obviously something that reinforces the talent is set mentality. 

But what about the grey-area phrases?  &q…

2018 Teacher Training at the San Diego Suzuki Institute

The San Diego Suzuki Institute is continuing to expand its teacher training offerings this year with three different classes:

July 29
10:00am - 5:00pm

Every Child Can!

Every Child Can! is an introductory course on the Suzuki philosophy and its application to education. For parents, teachers, prospective teachers and others, this course provides an inspiring, in-depth look at the Suzuki approach to teaching and learning. For teachers, ECC serves as the first course in the Suzuki Association of the Americas Teacher Development Program.

July 30 - August 3
9:00am - 4:00pm

Overview of Viola Units 1-3 for Violin Teachers

A survey of viola books 1-3. Teachers attending the course need to have completed an SAA audition and have violin or viola units 1-3 already registered in order to attend.

This overview course is 15 hours total with 8 hours of observation time. Both violin and viola teachers are invited to attend.

July 28 - August 4
Starts at 10am July 28. Ends 1pm August 4. Daily schedule wil…

Parenting Trickle Over?

So my husband and I are expecting our first child in a few months.  I decided to make this blog post as a way to capture this "moment in time" so that way I can go back to it in a few years (with a few thousand tantrums under our belts) and laugh.

I've been teaching for almost ten years now.  While teaching in no way prepares you for things like 2am projectile vomit or teething, it does give you quite a bit of experience dealing with things like temper tantrums.  Naturally this has made me wonder how much teaching will rub off on my parenting skills.

I have no answers, really.  More just musings.  It occurred to me that I've been intensively watching other parents interact with their kids for a long time now.  I've even had to go so far as to praise or correct a parent on how he/she is handling practicing situations as they come up at home.  Doing this every day for years has naturally made me form subconscious opinions about what kind of parent I want to be.

So …

The Importance of Music Theory

There is never enough time to get everything done in a music lesson.  And even if there is enough time, it doesn't necessarily mean that the student is mentally on board.  All your grandiose plans can easily go out the window the moment the student walks in sobbing (for something totally unrelated to music, of course).

So it's always a balancing act.  As a musician and teacher you feel a need to pass on all of this knowledge floating around in your head.  As a business person you are also cognizant of the fact that the parent sitting in the room with you is paying for violin lessons and not spending every week discussing counterpoint.

The moment I first took on private students I was pretty adamant about spending at least some time teaching each student some sight reading.  It was something that none of my own private teachers ever spent much time on and, as an adult, I always felt was a resulting weakness of mine.  While I could read music on a basic level, things like key si…

"Daily Do" in Circles

Singing "Daily Do" helps student learn to keep a steady beat, sing intervals, scales and triads using solfege and hand signs and the relationship of major to minor.