I'm playing some really beautiful chamber music with International Chamber Artists the next couple weeks. We're playing Dvorak's "American" quartet, and an arrangement of the Grieg piano concerto for 7 strings and piano. There are two chances to hear us play, hope you can make it!
I have a recital upcoming, lots of fun and beautiful viola music including the Chicago premiere of duet by Sixto Franco. Hope you can make it!
I just came across this video and thought I would share, it has some good info (or reminders) on how to practice well. I especially like this bit: "coordination is built with repetitions, whether correct or incorrect." Go slow and do it right!
Last weekend I volunteered for a local organization called Sharing Notes that provides live music performances at a couple hospitals and children's hospitals in the area. I played on a cardiac care unit at Northwestern Hospital. It was a neat experience, not only were patients happy to hear music, but I think they were also really happy to have the chance to talk and engage with someone. I can only imagine that the ICU is a pretty quiet and lonely place, with not much to distract from the beeping machines. It felt good to play for people that were so appreciative
Last week I participated in an artist residency on a farm in rural Wisconsin. The residency is organized by a friend of mine who is working to make it an annual retreat for writers, artists, musicians, poets, etc, to get together for a week and not only focus on their respective projects, but also talk, learn, and hopefully be inspired by one another.
It was such a great week! I went in just hoping to get a lot of practicing done without my regular everyday distractions, but I was surprised by how much more I got out of it. I was the only musician there, but talking with the others about our projects, goals, and challenges brought a lot of good discussion and questions to consider. My tendency is too get hyper-focused on technical aspects of playing viola. Playing in tune is, of course, important, but this was a nice reminder to keep a clear picture of the bigger form of the piece, and what I want to get across. I'm sure I've heard this before, but I think the writers I was with had a different way to talk and think about it.
It was also refreshing to have a week away from phones/computers/screens. The farm is outside of Argyle, WI, and there was no phone or internet service. I could check my messages if I was willing to ride my bicycle up a giant hill about a mile from the farm. It felt good to have to work for it, instead of just pulling my phone out of my pocket 20 times a day.
That part of Wisconsin is quiet and peaceful. My work space was a corner of the barn, and when I wasn't paying all I could hear were birds and insects (which are surprisingly loud!). Our meals were prepared by a local CSA farmer and were incredible! Highlights were goat curry, lamb moussaka, lots of delicious salads from her garden, and tasty local cheeses. It was a great way to finish up the summer!
My main project for the week was to work on a viola recital program I have planned for the fall, check back here for more details. Also, let me know if you're interested in participating in this residency next summer and I'll put you in touch with the organizers.
Everyone is invited to a recital I am performing on Thursday August 18 in Lincoln Square. Pianist Chris Narloch hosts concerts throughout the summer at his piano studio, you can see his full schedule at narlochpiano.com. Chris' studio is located at 4636 N Francisco. I was happy to learn that Chris organizes these neighborhood concerts. The studio is in a little strip of storefronts just around the corner from the Francisco brown line, I hope he's able to generate interest in the neighborhood. It's a cozy space and I'm looking forward to playing there!
I'll be playing two pieces that I've wanted to study for quite a while: Infanta Marina by American composer Vincent Persichetti, and a beautiful viola duet by English composer (and violist!) Frank Bridge. Plus, I'll revisit one of my favorite viola pieces, Lachrymae, by Benjamin Britten. That's my half of the program, the other half will feature violinist Rachel Brown. I believe suggested donation is $10. Let me know if you have any questions, hope to see you there!
Last week I was at a violin teacher training course at Ithaca College, in Ithaca, NY. It was an inspiring week of observing fantastic teachers working with young violin and viola students and diving into string pedagogy. Not only did I pick up lots of specific tools and ideas related to violin pedagogy, but it's also been fun to talk more broadly about lessons and music education. I often think about what are the end goals for my students. Playing well and a deeper connection to a musical language are of course at the top, but also, how can music study help students turn into more thoughtful, articulate teenagers and adults? People often cite studies showing that music study makes people smarter, which I'm sure is true, but I think it's lazy to stop there without really thinking about what we can do as teachers to support the kind of learning that will turn kids into more engaged, intelligent adults.
I got to work and talk with a great teacher and mentor, Carrie Reuning-Hummel. I love her playful and imaginative way of presenting violin exercises in a way that is fun and engaging for students, and she is also hyper aware of different personalities, relationships, and learning styles. She's given me so many ideas to think about and bring back to my students in Chicago. Watching Carrie teach and play is really inspiring to me as a musician. It reminds me that these "easy" tunes that we teach young violinists/violists are, in most cases, fun and beautiful music. It's easy to lose sight of this. We spend a lot of time thinking about how best to teach specific skills, and finding the right curriculum to accomplish this so our students play with great sound and technique. It's nice to be reminded that this is good music, and it's worth taking time to encourage creativity, and have kids explore different colors, moods, and characters in their playing . I've been enjoying revisiting these early pieces as a warm-up in my daily practice; my neighbors have been hearing a lot of twinkle twinkle and Bach minuets this week!