Category Archives: For Students

The More You Know: The Importance of Self-Motivation

A fimg_0201ew weeks ago, I happened across a book on a friend’s bookshelf entitled Violin Mastery: Interviews with Heifetz, Auer, Kreisler and Others.  I had a chance to flip through the book, and the few snippets of interviews that I was able to read convinced me that this book should definitely go on my list of books to read.







One selection in particular stuck with me.  A few of you have heard me talk about it in lessons over the past few weeks, and I wanted to share it with all of you now:


What stuck with me from this selection wasn’t that this violinist practiced 8-10 hours a day from ages 5-12 (as impressive as that is!), but this final quotation: “No serious student of the instrument should ever forget that, no matter who his teacher may be, he himself must supply the determination, the continued energy and devotion which will lead him to success [emphasis mine].”

Above all else, this is something I want to help all of my students identify and develop in themselves – an inner motivation that leads to productive lessons, consistent home practice in spite of busy schedules, and the willingness to do the meet the challenges of difficult technical and musical hurdles that must be overcome to develop real ability.

So, as we put one set of recitals behind us and head into a season of new material and new challenges, I encourage all of you to talk with your children about what motivates them, and to help them develop their own internal motivations as they grow older.

Spring ’16 Group Class Assignments

It was great to see all of you in group class last night!  If you weren’t able to join us, we hope to see you in upcoming weeks.

This semester, we are going to be working on repertoire that we will play on the Spring Festival. For us to do the work that we need to do as a group, we need each of you to be doing your individual work on these pieces at home every week!  Here’s the repertoire list:

Twinkle Variations w/ Stops
Wintertime in Russia

Book 1
Twinkle Theme & Variations
Lightly Row
O Come, Little Children
May Song
Long, Long Ago
Gossec Gavotte

Book 2
Chorus from Judas Maccabaeus
Minuet in G

Book 3
Gavotte in G Minor

Book 4
Vivaldi A Minor, 1st Mov. (violin)
Telemann, 2nd & 4th Mov. (viola)

Book 6
La Folia

Boil ‘Em Cabbage Down
Orange Blossom Special

Also, last night Kirby and I mentioned a talk by Itzhak Perlman in which he talks about some principles of practicing.  We wanted each student to watch this video before group class next week, and be prepared to share their thoughts about it.  Efficient practicing at home and in group will be key to a great Spring Festival this semester!  Here’s the video:

See you in group next week!

The More You Know: Playing Less Hurt

Most of you who have studied with Kirby or me for any length of time know that pain – experiencing it, struggling with it, and working to overcome it – has been a big part of my musical journey.  My high school years and college years were something of a perfect storm of physical predispositions and poor practice habits (i.e. quantity over quality) that almost led to me putting my violin on the shelf permanently.  I’ve spent the past decade or so searching out ways to overcome pain, reverse physical tendencies, and learn to do things better.  As a result, I emphasize good posture (and the correct equipment to allow it), proper technique, and efficient practice habits with all of my students from an early age and stage.

That said, some how this book – Playing Less Hurt: An Injury Prevention Guide for Musicians by Janet Horvath – has somehow not cropped up on my radar until today.  Needless to say, I’m looking forward to reading it, but even before doing so I wanted to share it as a resource for those of you who  struggle with pain in your playing, or have children who struggle with pain in their playing.  Our culture doesn’t do a good job of setting us up for a pain-free life (sitting most of the day, hunching over electronic devices for extended hours, etc.), and playing an instrument can exacerbate those problems.  But it doesn’t have to, and I’m very excited to see what Ms. Horvath has to say about her journey and her discoveries.  I hope her book is of help to you, too!

The More You Know is a publication of West County Strings, intended for the edification of students and their parents in the St. Louis community and beyond.