Category Archives: For Parents

Virtuoso Club Festival ’19

The Spring Semester is well underway, and one of the events we look forward to this spring is the Virtuoso Club’s Festival on the weekend of April 13-14 at St. Charles Community College.

The Virtuoso Club is a St. Louis-based chapter of the National Federation of Music Clubs, and holds events and provides opportunities for young musicians in the St. Louis area throughout the year.  Their Festival is their annual highlight, with a variety of events and performances throughout the weekend.

At the Festival, students ages 7 and up have the opportunity to play their selected pieces for a judge, receive feedback on their playing, earn points towards prizes, win the opportunity to be featured on a recital, and even compete for college scholarships.  Kirby and I can help you figure out what pieces would be best to prepare, and help you work toward this goal.

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Registration is $27 per student, and your entry must be submitted by your teacher no later than February 14.  So, if you’re interested, please let Kirby or I know as soon as possible so we can work out the details with you and make sure everything is in order.  We’ll try to ask each of you individually in lessons, as well.  I think it’s great to take these kinds of opportunity to perform “under pressure,” but in an environment that is very intentionally student-friendly and positive.  We look forward to having you join us this year!

January ’19 Update

This week, we begin a new year at West County Strings, which means for each and every one of us an opportunity to reflect on everything that took place in the past year, and also an opportunity to set goals for ourselves for this new year.  We’ll be setting goals with each student in lessons, but we encourage you all to take a moment beforehand and reflect:

What in your musical journey did you do well this past year?  What could you have done better?

What came to you easily in your musical studies?  What was difficult for you?

What do you consider your greatest strength as a musician?  How about your greatest weakness?  What would you most like to improve?

Where do you see yourself musically at the end of this month?  This semester?  This year?

The more clearly you can envision what you want your future self to be, the more capable you’ll be of becoming that person as we work together this year!

As we prepare to warm up after a bit of rest and get back into the swing of things, here are a few important dates and pieces of information to keep in mind:

  • Private lessons resume this Friday, January 4.  We look forward to seeing you all again, and bringing some fresh ideas, approaches, and inspirations into our work together!
  • Group classes resume next Tuesday, January 8.  Group classes are a part of what sets us apart, and a major factor in a well-rounded musical development.  We’re very much looking forward to seeing you all in groups again!
  • Tuition for the spring semester (or payment 1 of 4 for the spring semester if you have opted to pay for the school year in installments) is due by Tuesday, January 15.  Please let us know if you need reminded of your remaining balance or installment amount.

And finally, I know it’s a bit cliché, but I really do love the list of “10 Things That Require 0 Talent” that seems to pop up around the beginning of the year every year.  Perhaps you’ve seen this a million times, or perhaps it’s new to you.

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As food for thought, Time did an article on these arguing that they are indeed talents that can be cultivated, and I think there’s certainly some validity to that.   These are all areas in which we can – and should – aim to improve in 2019, along with our tone, intonation, posture, bow hold, shifting, vibrato, bow strokes, dynamics, phrasing, musicality, and everything else that goes into our playing!

And with that, we’ll look forward to seeing you all within the next week!

Holiday ’18 Update

It seems like as each semester at West County Strings comes to a close, I say to myself, “This was our best semester ever!”  And yet, seemingly without fail, the next semester is even better, filled with even more learning, growth, development, and wonderful memories than the last.  And so, with the Fall ’18 Semester now behind us, I find myself saying once again, “This was our best semester ever!”

A few factors stick out that made this past semester so great:

  1. Consistent Practice.  No one wants to feel “stuck in a rut” with their playing – not students, not their parents, and certainly not Kirby or me as your teachers!  Moving forward and making progress feels good for everyone involved, but it can only be done when the practice is frequent, and done with great care.  So THANK YOU for all the days, hours, and minutes that you all put in practicing this semester!
  2. Group Class Attendance.   If practicing is to developing ability on a stringed instrument what water is to a plant, then group class might best be described as the fertilizer.  Group class allows us to develop so many things that are hard to do in individual lessons, and all in a fun way.  THANK YOU to everyone who made the effort to regularly attend Tuesday night group classes.  Know that those make all the difference in your child’s continued musical development.
  3. Participation In Extracurriculars.  Kirby and I are daily reminded what a special community of families we’re privileged to work with at West County Strings.  THANK YOU to everyone who played in community concerts throughout the semester or came to the Holiday Play-Along Party last weekend.  It is these little and not-so-little things that help make music such a special part of our lives and our children’s lives, and that make West County Strings a special place to be.

We wish you all a happy Holiday Season and safe travels to see family and friends.  Lessons will resume Friday, January 4 and group classes will resume Tuesday, January 8.  Encourage your children to enjoy some much-needed time of rest and relaxation, but also to keep their strings singing throughout the holidays.  I’m sure a few minutes can be found here or there to do some scales, etudes, and review!

Thanks again for a great 2018, and we’ll see you in 2019!

Fall Solo Recitals Sign-Ups & Information

Every semester, we look forward to our solo recitals as both a goal to be strived for and a moment of achievement to celebrate all the learning that has been done over weeks of work and many days of practice.

Our solo recitals this fall will be held at:

Chesterfield Presbyterian Church
KREW House
15037 Clayton Rd.
Chesterfield, MO 63017

The KREW House is located on the east side of the church’s main parking lot.

Recitals will be held at 2:00, 3:15, and 4:30 p.m.  To see which recital your child/children will be playing on, please see the recital assignments list.  We have tried to incorporate all scheduling requests into our recital time assignments.  If a correction needs to be made, please let us know as soon as possible.

Piano rehearsals in preparation for the recitals will be held in the studio (1199 Fieldhurst Dr.) on Tuesday, December 4 and Wednesday, December 5.  Additional rehearsal time will be made available on Sunday, December 9 at the KREW House (15037 Clayton Rd.) prior to the first recital.  We ask that this time be reserved for Book 1 students, and it has been divided into 10 minute slots, instead of the usual 15 minutes.  Please tab over on the rehearsal sign-up sheet to find the Wednesday and Sunday sign-ups

And finally, we always look forward to the time for students and their families to visit with each other during the reception after each recital.  Please visit our volunteer sign-ups to sign up to bring a snack or a drink for everyone to share and/or to help set up or clean up for each reception.  Please scroll down to find the sign-up sheet for your particular recital time.  Thank you so much for your help.  We truly couldn’t do these events without you!

Thanksgiving Break ’18

Hello WCS Families!

As hard as it is to believe, the majority of the Fall ’18 Semester is already behind us and Thanksgiving Break is now here!  There will be no lessons the week of November 19 – 24, to allow students and their families time enjoy the holiday with family and friends.  We hope you all enjoy a restful and joyful Thanksgiving Day and break!

That said, we hope students still find opportunity to take out their instruments and practice over break.  I believe Dr. Suzuki was very serious when he said, “Only practice on the days you eat!”  (Maybe we should practice extra on Thanksgiving!)  Just like our bodies need daily attention to keep them healthy – eating well, exercising, brushing your teeth – so too do our talents and abilities need daily practice to keep them from diminishing!

When we return from break, we will have less than two weeks before our Fall Solo Recitals on December 9.  Recitals will be scheduled for 2, 3:15, and 4:30 p.m in the KREW House at Chesterfield Presbyterian Church, 15037 Clayton Rd.  If you have other activities the afternoon of December 9 and need to be placed on a particular recital, please let us know as soon as possible!  Piano rehearsals with Ms. Parkin will be held in the week leading up to the recital (sign ups will be posted soon).

That is all for now, so until the week of November 26, enjoy your break and a very happy Thanksgiving to each and every one of our students and their families!

Halloween Recap & Parent Night Info

Hello Everyone!

Many thanks to everyone who joined us for our Halloween Group Performance & Party.  What a fun evening it was!  Students, you played beautifully.  Getting so many of you together playing as one is really something special.  Thank you for your hard work and preparation this semester thus far!

Don’t forget, next Tuesday, November 6 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. is our final “group” event of the semester – our Parent Night, which will be held at Local Chef Kitchen, 15247 Manchester Rd.  We look forward to seeing you all there to discuss what “progress”  looks like and concrete ways that we can measure it.

Here are some photos from the Halloween gathering.  Thanks again for making it such a memorable evening!

 

October ’18 Update

Today, it’s finally starting to feel like fall is in the air.  And as the leaves change and the temperatures continue to fall, they’ll bring with them some of our favorite fall semester studio events!


Halloween Performance & Party

The first is our annual Halloween Group Performance & Party, which will be held on Tuesday, October 30 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall of Good Shepherd Church, 1166 S Mason Rd.  This informal performance gives students a chance to showcase what they’ve been working hard on in group classes this semester, and will be followed by treats, musical games, and a chance to get to know each other better.  Costumes are highly encouraged!


Parent Night

The next event is our Parent Night for the fall semester, which will be held on Tuesday, November 6 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at Local Chef Kitchen, 15274 Manchester Rd.  The topic will be, “Help! Is My Child Making Enough Progress?”  Local Chef kitchen is owned and operated Rob and Mitzi Uyemura, whose sons Ethan and Owen are long-time West County Strings students.  No purchases are required, but we certainly encourage you to sample their locally-sourced, healthy, and delicious menu while we’re there!

 

Solo Recitals

And last but certainly not least, our Fall Solo Recitals will be held at 2:00, 3:15, and 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, December 9 at the KREW House at Chesterfield Presbyterian Church, 15037 Clayton Rd.  Solo recitals offer students the valuable opportunity to polish a piece to the very best of their ability, perform from memory in front of a supportive audience, and see how far their work has brought them since they last performed.  Recital pieces must be selected no later than one month before the performance date, so your teacher will be working with you to choose yours soon!


As a final note, we are now already in the midst of the eighth week of the Fall ’18 Semester.  And these first eight weeks have really been exceptional.  I’ve been so excited to see what’s going on in group classes, and for the consistency I’ve seen so many students exhibiting from week to week in their practice and the progress that goes along with it.  Let’s keep it up as the semester progresses!