Friday, September 24, 2010

Twinkles and Shoes

My little student H. proudly announced to me today that she has learned how to tie her shoes.

Sometimes I forget that students like H. are so young.

It seems remarkable to me that H. can play two different scales, knows five variations on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, can do long slow bows in Lightly Row, and can do independent finger hops in Song of the Wind.

She has all these songs memorized.

And she just learned to tie her shoes this week!

Children are amazing.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

K. 545

A friend posted this on facebook and Nathan and I thought it was pretty funny.


If you're a musician, you probably won't like listening to the music for the millionth time in your life, but you'll laugh at the pictures.

If you're not a musician, you'll probably be confused by the pictures, but you'll think the Mozart sonata is just lovely.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Autumn in New England

Why does it continue to surprise me, year after year, that I love all the seasons in New England? Each March it seems that I can't bear to see one more muddy, dreary snowdrift pushed up against a curb, or to button my coat against the bone-chilling cold one more time. Just when I think I'll go crazy from the endless grey skies and cold winds, the daffodils outside my front door peek through the ground. I welcome spring and all its signs of new life. Spring leads to summer, and in June and July, I am certain that summer is my favorite season. I want summer to last forever. I love the feel of the sun on my skin while I run in the mornings, or work in my garden, or go to the beach with friends.

Suddenly, September sneaks up on me, and I notice that the first of the leaves have already turned. I reach for tights to put on with my skirts, for flats instead of flip-flops, and for favorite scarves that have been put away for the past four months. I remember that I love fall - that maybe, in fact, fall is my favorite season. It rains while I'm driving home from Boston, and I turn off the radio to fully immerse myself in the sound of the rain on my car roof, the rhythm of my windshield wipers, and the nostalgic reminder this is of autumns and winters past. I want to have a mug of hot tea the minute I get home, to curl up under a blanket with a good book. And as I think of that, I think of winter, and how nice it'll be to have snowfall in a few months, to make hot chocolate for the two of us to enjoy on the occasional lazy morning, to read on the couch with my favorite grey fleece pants to keep me warm. And there will be Christmas, as wonderful as it always is, with Christmas concerts to play and Christmas music to sing and joyful times with family and friends. Come February or March, the snow will become mixed with mud and we'll all long for the sun to come out. Spring bulbs will finally poke their pale green heads above the frosty ground, and the cycle will go on as it always has.

The arrival of each season surprises me, year after year, with its beauty and charm. Just as I'm growing a bit tired of one, the next one sweeps me off my feet.

Summer of 2010, I loved you.

But oh...

I love autumn in New England.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Kreisler and Brahms

I never liked Kreisler's Preludium and Allegro much until this past July, when I heard Gabriel Bolkosky, a former student and grad teaching assistant of Donald Weilerstein, work with a student on this piece.

Later I came across this YouTube video of him performing the piece himself:

I am now obsessed with this piece. And I guess that's the highest compliment I can give about his playing; it's very personal - as personal as he is engaging as a person - and somehow his playing brought the piece to life for me, like all those silly B's and E's in the Preludium section are suddenly the most interesting notes ever written, the most sublime notes ever played.

This violinist has a recording of the Brahms G Major sonata available on iTunes and on CD Baby. Since the summer of 2003 when I fell in love with Brahms in an altogether new way, I've believed the first phrase of that first movement might be the most beautiful music in the world. It seems to me to be a universal phrase - full of longing, fulfillment, peace, and sadness all at once. It's encompassing of any and every human emotion, which I guess is what I mean by universal.

If you haven't heard it, you probably should, so here's a recording of Perlman and Barenboim:

I bought Bolkosky's recording; it drew me in and made me feel like it was July in 2003 all over again.

I Love My Students

I recently got an email that brought a smile to my face:

By the way, N is truly enjoying having you as a violin teacher. One day as we walked out she said, "I love Sarah. I want to hug her." It's so cute how kids naturally gravitate to people who are kind to them.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Grad School So Far

On the one hand:
Pointless orientation activities: Not Fun.
Non-informative mandatory meetings: Not Fun.
Meeting tons of singers at least five years my junior: Not Fun.
Taking Exams: Not Fun.
Driving in and out of Boston every day: Not Fun.

On the other hand:
Passing Exams: Fun!
Selecting and registering for classes: Fun!
Meeting a violinist who did her undergrad at St. Olaf: Fun!
Meeting a 26-year-old violinist who's taken Suzuki courses like I have, and is eager to share notes and thoughts with me: Fun!

On another note:
Hearing all the other violinists talk about how they've been practicing the excerpts for Sunday's ensemble placement auditions: Guilt-inducing.

Making new acquaintances that could grow into good friendships: Priceless.