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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halloween studio fun

img_1641Motivation comes in many forms, and one of the whimsical ways it currently shows itself is the “Ninja Hunt” in the studio.

Each week ninjas show up in random (and hidden) places and the students get a chance to look for them at the end of the lesson – if they didn’t locate them already. Sometimes it is easy, other days is hard. The fascinating thing is that the older students are equally invested in the fun (maybe even helping the ninjas hide some weeks.)

These “Practice Ninjas” look at the students from all angles, checking the bow hold, bow path, posture, and those hidden thumbs that students can conceal if you aren’t careful.

img_1639

With recitals this Friday, it has been helpful to inject a bit of posture-oriented-fun into the lesson without having to be the teacher that is the enforcer 🙂 Enjoy the day everyone, and Ms. Ella Fitzgerald (or Lobster Fitzgerald) wishes you a happy and safe all- hallow’s eve!
img_1651sleepy-lobster

 

happy birthday, yo-yo!

ma-yo-yo-eventSure, a child prodigy that attended the Juilliard School, Columbia, and Harvard, befriended Pablo Casals, and performed on 17 grammy-award-winning tracks – that is a person that should be celebrated. From the professional musician perspective, there isn’t much that Yo-Yo Ma hasn’t done.

yo-to-elmoWhat I enjoy about his career is how he has worked to make classical music accessible to everyone. Bach becomes less intimidating if you look at it through visual arts. Collaborations within many musical nationalities have changed how we view the soundtrack of our lives.

To the cellist that has helped to make our instrument more accessible to the world, happy 61st birthday! See below for an eclectic playlist of his discography…

the flip

DottodotIn the spirit of the olympics, I am taking this week to reset, not work a million hours, and prepare for the mindset of a new academic year that begins on August 20th.

This summer I gave my younger students the challenge of tracking their practice minutes by connecting a dot-to-dot page for each minute they practice. The best part is IT HAS 1000 DOTS! A few of my littles have turned them in and it is so inspirational to hear stories of them asking to practice so they can figure out what in the world this picture is supposed to be. Adorable!

Stickerbones

Next week I will prep the new practice charts, goal pages, and start planning the epic cello class that starts in September. Oh, and buy new stickers! You can see the beloved sticker bones that students ravaged this week.

See you on the 20th!

 

what i learned (csi 2016)

CSI stuff 2016 Sitting through hours of teacher training at the Chicago Suzuki Institute brings to light a few important things: I am a good teacher > I don’t know everything > my studio families are amazing > and I can help them more.

My incredible teacher trainer Carey Cheney had us do something very inspirational: she asked us to write ourselves a letter of the things we want to do when we get home to improve our teaching and studios, and in 6 months she will mail it to us. That is called accountability, my friends. So here are a few things I included in my letter to inspire myself.

  • Help parents more. I think my studio parents have a good understanding of what their child is asked to show me for the next lesson, but I think I can help more with the structure of practicing at home with their child. Parents, this family activity is not easy, and I want to help make it simpler.
  • Expect more. There are moments where I don’t want to push a student too hard to discourage them, but you do not grow unless you find limits you must push past. Humans are capable of incredible things, but great skill only comes after being asked/encouraged/demanded to get there.
  • Preview more. I can honestly say I am not a teacher that expects students to perfect everything about a piece before starting to work on another when they are in the beginning stages, but require review to get us there eventually. However, I want to be more strategic about what review is assigned and how to do it, as well as preview very small parts of upcoming songs to make them easier. I do this, but I want to look even further ahead to make skills feel more natural.

So, there is what is essentially my “cello teaching resolutions” for the year. Perhaps I should put them up in some kind of beautiful way in my studio to keep me on course…

[photo below: Carey Cheney teaching a master class to a 5 year-old student playing the Breval Rondo from book 6. She rocks that 1/10th size cello!]Carey and book 5 student

synco-pa-tion (CSI 2016)

Ayumi, Jess and I are finding a million little tips and tricks this week! 


A quote of yesterday (oldie but goodie): 

A good cellist practices until they get it right. A great cellists practices until they can’t get it wrong. 

And a little video on how to practice syncopation: ​