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

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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.

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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

adventures in chicago

Ten years ago, an email changed the direction of my life and I wouldn’t change a single moment of it as I LOVE what I get to do each day. But I will say, if that email hadn’t come, you would still find me in Chicago. I adore this city.

For spring break, Cody and I decided to spend a week back in old stomping grounds, to visit and re-explore the city. Here are a few great moments from our adventure!

Top places to visit:

  • The Bean
  • Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • William Harris Lee & Co.
  • Hamilton: the musical
  • Andersonville (our old area!)
  • Wrigley Stadium
  • Chicago Field Museum (dinosaurs!)

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And then sometimes, you just come across crazy things…

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

conservatory camerata vol. 2

ArenskyPoems of roses and thorns told alongside stories of fated lovers accidentally dying. And unfated lovers making the ultimate sacrifice. All highlighted by a brilliant young mind studying at the Manhattan School of Music. On April 22nd, concertgoers are in for the ultimate exploration of love, accidents, and loss.

The Conservatory Camerata and Orchestra Omaha have a beautiful concert planned for April 22nd, 2017 featuring alumna Jennifer Ahn on violin as she ends the second year of study at Manhattan School of Music.

These pieces are so emotive and fulfilling to practice and rehearse, so I can’t recommend this free concert enough! Below is a taste of what you will hear next week:

 

 

These two great non-profits work hard to bring you incredible music throughout the year, so please also keep them in mind on the very special Omaha Gives day coming up on May 24th and share the musical love.

See you there!

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

cello trials at William Harris Lee

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The story of my current cello:

Growing up, my mother knew it would be important for me to study piano to be good at school (and just a good human being.) So I did, and I loved it. In fourth grade, one of my best friends said I looked like a “cello person” so I joined the orchestra and played a school instrument. Cello was something that came easier to me at that time, and I asked for a cello of my own so I didn’t have to play one of the severely loved cellos owned by the school. And my mom’s response was “no problem – when you are 17.”

She assumed it was a passing fancy, but didn’t count on me dogging her to switch my lessons from piano to cello for years. Once I was able to drive, she finally agreed to drop piano lessons and let me drive myself to Carol Work’s every Saturday morning. Before my senior year I turned 17 and asked her how we went about getting this cello, and she admitted she hoped I had forgotten. (Don’t cry for my piano – I still have it and play it regularly!)

At the All-State conference in the fall of my senior year, I wandered through the exhibits and happened upon the William Harris Lee Co. booth. The 5 string cello was a big draw for a lot of us students, and we each took our turns drooling over it. But then I tried a few others, and fell in love with this Claus Deutscher cello that just sounded so aggressive. Being wonderful salesmen, they offered to let me keep it for the weekend and if I didn’t like it I was welcome to send it back to them in Chicago.

My incredibly giving mother agreed it was miles better than anything she had heard and we figured out how to pay for it, and knew I would grow into it a bit more and it would sound even better.

Fast forward 17 years later, and I didn’t grow an inch. My cello sounds even better today than it did when it was brand new in 1999, but my hands stayed as tiny so my ability to get around the fingerboard and to thumb position has been a challenge. I didn’t even know a 7/8ths sized-cello was a thing until years later. So now that I’ve been able to try a smaller size and things feel miles easier, I have committed to finding a cello I love as much as my own that fits me better. (Talk about an emotional change, y’all.)

Cody and I trekked to Michigan Ave in Chicago (a block south of where I used to work!) to the Fine Arts building to their shop and showroom. The building is seriously old-school – look at the elevator that needs to be operated manually:

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Whl 1Having 7/8ths or small full-size cellos on hand isn’t something most people just have lying around, so they only had a partially finished cello currently. As they finish it (and others) they will be sending them to me to try, and I can’t wait.

Given this rare opportunity I, of course, played nearly everything they had in stock of their full-size cellos and fell in love with a beautiful and powerful Gary Garavaglia cello that had such a beautiful tone and, if I’m being honest, almost had me saying “well, I’ve dealt with big cellos this long – I think I can just deal with it forever so I can buy this one” but luckily my pragmatic husband helped me keep my focus. But isn’t she pretty?

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(photo from whlee.com)

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They did give us a tour of the shop, including seeing the smaller cello in-process and getting to meet Gary who is meticulous in his work. Here are a few other pictures from our exploration:

I am lucky to also know a few great local luthiers in Nebraska, so I am excited to see what they have in their shops and on their benches that may work. So stay tuned, fellow cellos – I’m hoping to add a new member to the family soon 🙂

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

epic twinkles!

twinkle-marathon-dayY’all. It has been an INCREDIBLE 24 hours in the studio. In order for one of my students to graduate from Twinkles, they have to finish the Twinkle Marathon: play all 6 Twinkle variations, in a row, with me accompanying them. It’s like 8 minutes straight of playing, so a huge feat for a tiny cellist.

AND 3 OF THEM COMPLETED IT IN 24 HOURS!

Students work on this with their parents for quite some time; they practice a few in a row at home over weeks/months, and then like marathon training play 6 in a row. (Come on, marathon runners don’t run 26.2 miles to prepare for it…) But seriously, that much music is almost the same length as a sonata movement. Oh, and while I play a harmony part, so add 30% confusion as they can’t visually watch me at all.

So I wanted to shout their stellar accomplishment from the rooftops! There’s something in the air in my studio – and I can’t wait to see what we can do with it.  I know it is Groundhog Day, but I feel like we lived the perfect day on our first try.

Big shout out to littles K, C, and L – stellar job, tiny cellos!

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