ocmi 2018: professional presentations class

ocmi18 ppI had the extreme privilege to teach a course that is very near and dear to my heart during our OCMI camp this year: professional presentations. What is it, you ask? Really it changes each year, so my focus this year was about helping students prepare for what life as a musician looks like, as well as how to earn money as a musician right now – even at their young age.

ocmi18 chris and macMy incredible colleagues from our camp joined me to help inspire and challenge our preconceived thoughts about life as a musician, and I am so proud of the intelligent questions and ideas our students brought to the table.

A HUGE thank you to my colleagues for opening your stories to these students:

  • Maestro Ernest Richardson, Omaha Symphony
  • Dani Meier, Omaha Symphony
  • Jeremy Powell, NYC
  • Ellen Sommer, KU
  • Tal McGee, Manhattan School of Music
  • Chris Holtmeier, Foton-Foto
  • Jay Wise, Omaha Chamber Music Society
  • Diane Owens, Creighton University
  • Melissa Holtmeier, MAHR Quartet
  • Yulia Koloshonikova, Omaha Conservatory of Music
  • Rachael Griggs, Omaha Conservatory of Music
  • Cody Jorgensen, Omaha Conservatory of Music

Ocmi18 Ellen            ocmi18 Ellen and cody

Students heard about the logistics of choosing a major and career path, how auditions really work, what a casting director is thinking, how to work with a collaborative pianist, how to manage your emotional well-being, how to program a gig, and oodles more.

Students, per my promise, please reach out to the professionals that shared their time with you, as well as your new colleagues you met in class! You can find the presentation HERE.

Thanks, everyone, and see you next time!ocmi18 pp kids


summer lessons!

Summer lessonsStudents, prepare your summer camp material and bring your fun fiddly/pop/atonal tunes and let’s explore a bit this summer! See you in June 🙂

Bonus points for Celtic or soundtrack music you bring in!


Ok, once I get past the mortification that I haven’t written a post in a whiiiiiile and you forgive me, we can proceed. Good? Good.

It’s really a travesty because so many wonderful, creative, and challenging moments have happened and collectively I and my students have learned SO MUCH. But to practice what I preach, I need to just make progress, so instead of waiting for the stars to align for me to have time to write, I’m just going to get it out there.

To start, here is a list of things that make me so thankful and proud to be a cellist and teacher of such precious people. (air kisses to you all.)

sprout notesMy String Sprouts classes keep me full of hope for the future. These families work so hard with their kiddos and just LOVE their kids. That’s the best.


Candace and Amy

Amy Barston came and worked with our cellists and I am so thankful to have her as a cello friend. We all need these, and her willingness to share her expertise and experience with friends and strangers is such a gift.



My Pipsticks subscription makes me so happy. And my students happy. And the other teachers happy that get random sheets of stickers because they make me think of them.


izzy and zuill

I have had students selected for multiple masterclasses with incredible artists, and I am beyond proud. To put yourself on display to show your strengths and weaknesses and then be dissected by a brilliant musician in front of a large audience takes guts and grit. And my students have both, which is rad.



And to the liquid that makes all of this possible: I am grateful for good coffee. Or even bad coffee. I’m just grateful.

pink coffee

>> photos by @creativecoffee, filters by a color story and afterlight

lessons begin this week!

Prep for lessonCan you believe it’s that time again! I can – it has felt like ages since I’ve seen all my favorite cello pals. To get ready, let’s be sure to update your checklist:

  • Practice what we mutually agreed on
  • Fill out your practice chart
  • List questions to ask during lesson
  • Trim yo’ nails
  • Bathroom break before lesson
  • Wash your hands
  • Get ready to be positive and creative!
  • Keep an open mind
  • Don’t forget to take notes!Desk

see you this week! gray smaller

joshua roman masterclass

Jr mc ivargasHe may look like a cello rock star, but don’t let his headshots fool you. I mean, he is – totally – but he’s also a giant cello nerd just like the rest of us.

This past February my studio was lucky enough to watch and participate in a masterclass with the famous Joshua Roman. After seeing him perform the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations in a velvet suit the evening before, students were sufficiently nervous to impress him.

Jr mc asmith

Intermediate through advanced students walked nervously in front of the crowd and Mr. Roman and put themselves out there – which is a victory in itself. He worked with them on Beethoven, Breval, and Bach (as well as a few other non B-composers).

It was an incredible two hours to spend together, and I am so proud of the students for the work they did that day – and beyond. Here are a few notes from the day:Jr mc aruiz

  • Improvisation makes you a better cellist. Sometimes things get forgotten, and you must get through so make it up until you can find it again.
  • You MUST hear your piece in your head. Some of Mr. Roman’s practice time is sitting and hearing it in his head exactly how he wants to execute it.
  • Pitch accuracy is paramount. Drone it up.
  • If you are concerned about something, it will go wrong. Being worried about forgetting a portion of your piece or intonation of a specific shift means it will happen. (My addition: because you didn’t work it enough to feel like you conquered it.)
  • Bonus tip: avoid greasy foods right before a performance. It makes your fingers feel like they turned into curly fries.

There were many more wonderful moments and quotes from the day, but to save the students I’ll just say you had to be there. So be sure to come to the next one!

I leave you with this wonderful artistic rendering of Mr. Roman that my student Ariana created! Special thanks to the incredible Omaha Conservatory of Music and the Omaha Symphony for making this possible for the students!

Roman drawing

>> photos by @creativecoffee, filters by a color story and afterlight