Skip to main content


Certificate of Merit and Other "Non-Suzuki" Approaches

 Prepare yourself for the rabbit hole that is TEACHER TRAIN OF THOUGHT.  You've been warned. I'm joking around lightly, of course.  But it is funny to me how, in retrospect, I end up exploring new opportunities and approaches. So COVID-19 happened.  As we all know.  And with that came a series of massive teaching environment changes.  My home studio and what was on my music stand and how far I had to reach for my tuner was all totally set up and perfect pre-COVID.  It was an environment that allowed me to create this lovely Suzuki environment for all my students. That environment changed. With those changes I had to start thinking of different ways I was going to reach students.  This is always the challenge with teaching, of course.  But it became obvious to me which students were fine with steadily progressing through their pieces and which students maybe needed additional structure to their lessons. Enter the exploration of "non-Suzuki" approaches.  I started inves
Recent posts

Forget Perfection

Since the quarantine I have taken on, with some trepidation, new students.  As in, they were not studying with me before the shutdown.  100% fresh start... and all online. This experience has been interesting, to say the least.  I will admit that I approached the whole "starting an online new student" thing with a toe dip rather than a full cannonball into the pool.  The first one I took on was older (seven), her mom used to play violin in middle school, and I've taught her grandmother violin for some time now.  Can't get much better than that, right? I have become bolder in subsequent new students.  Younger students with less experienced parents.  Each experience is so different!  Each child responds to online lessons differently.  Plus the nature of having lessons in their house (compared to coming to lessons in my studio) adds a grocery list of extra variables.  Did the dog run through the lesson?  Did the younger sibling decide to have a meltdown?  Each week varie

An Imperfect Instrument: Jennifer Stumm @ TEDxAldeburgh

Jennifer Strum calls the viola the "middle child of the string instruments." Through a mixture of talk and performance, she offers a compelling meditation on the viola's capacity for emotion-- and for making beautiful music  Violist Jennifer Stumm has forged a unique musical path as a dynamic advocate for her instrument. Hailed by the Washington Post for the "opal-like beauty" of her playing, she brings the viola into the spotlight with innovative programming and irrepressible enthusiasm. Jennifer recently made solo debuts at the Kennedy Center, Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall, and the Ravinia Festival, Chicago, as well as appearing at the Wigmore Hall, the Concergebouw, Amsterdam and at the BBC Proms. Upcoming she releases her first disc for Naxos of rarely heard 18th century virtuoso works by Alessandro Rolla. Jennifer is the winner of three major international competitions: Concert Artists Guild, where she was the first violist in the 60 year history of the compe

Never Assume!

Just like any other job, certain aspects of teaching become routine.  I generally  know when I want to introduce two-octave scales.  Nuances of course may change and evolve with time and more training.  But I am almost never reinventing my entire approach with each student.  This allows me the flexibility to be creative in lessons when necessary but also able to stay on track with progress somewhere in the back of my mind. What I didn't  realize was that with these routines I started to inadvertently assume things.  I taught the parents of my older students how to tune.  Therefore I did not need to reteach tuning to those parents when I started a younger sibling.  But... this unintentionally led to me assuming that all parents knew how to tune.  Or--let me rephrase--I assumed that if they were uncomfortable with tuning they would have asked for guidance. Wrong. If there is one thing this pandemic has made clear: never assume.  A student is progressing through repertoire does not ne

What if every child had access to music education from birth?

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Anita Collins shares how learning music influences our brain development, and what this means for musical education.  Anita Collins was handed a clarinet at the age of 9, and it changed her life. This single event dictated her future career as a musician, music educator and academic.

Virtually Relearning Everything About Teaching During COVID-19

My apologies for the lag in blog posts!  As of writing this post, we have been in COVID-19 quarantine lockdown for about five weeks.  I find the memes and jokes about suddenly finding all this time on your hands hilarious but they don't exactly ring true if you have young children. While there have been quiet moments for me, I haven't felt the willpower to write anything.  Writing--even if it's nonfiction--requires a certain amount of "creative juice" and I found that I just didn't have that in me at first.  Too many things were changing.  Too many little stresses added up to make me prefer relaxation over creativity. So  many online teaching resources suddenly exploded into existence when the lockdowns started.  It's been absolutely amazing to watch happen.  Many teachers that were suddenly bursting with creative juices when presented with this new challenge of 100% online lessons.  I think that has been a wonderful balance for teachers like me that w

Suzuki Early Childhood Education Skills

Suzuki Early Childhood Education (SECE) can best be described as a "musical readiness" class.  While parent-child bonding certainly takes place, the goals differ from a typical "mommy and me" style of class.  Each activity is designed to not only develop life skills but to also prepare the child for lessons on a musical instrument. As an example, each class begins with ball rolling.  Music is played softly in the background while the children take turns rolling the ball to each other with parental help when necessary.  This is such a simple activity that, on the surface, could be seen as just a social icebreaker--not that these are ever bad to practice! But on a deeper level consider all the skills a child must develop just  to pass that ball casually around the circle: -Waiting your turn -Hand/eye coordination -Responding appropriately when music is cued (ball passing stops when music stops) -Intense focus during a prescribed period of time (pass the ball