Category Archives: Studio Updates

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!

Fall ’18 Group Class Updates & Information

Many thanks to everyone who came out and joined us for our annual Play-In & Ice Cream social to help kick off the school year.  It was a lot of fun to see and hear you all back in one place again after summer.  There’s something really special about a large group of stringed instruments playing together, as you can hear at Suzuki Institutes, Workshops, and group performances – I really recommend experiencing it as often as you can!  To those who weren’t able to make it this time, we missed you and we hope you’ll be able to join us for the next one!

Starting next Tuesday, August 28, fall group classes will begin in earnest at Good Shepherd Church (1166 S Mason).  The schedule is the same as in past years:

  • 5:30-6:00 p.m. – A Majors (Pre-Twinkle – Andantino)
  • 6:10-6:40 p.m. – G Majors (Etude – Bach Bourree)
  • 6:50-7:20 p.m. – Viola Choir (layered violas of all levels)
  • 7:20-8:05 p.m. – Circle of 5ths (Book 4+)
  • 8:05-8:50 p.m. – Performance Ensemble (supplemental/non-Suzuki Book 4+)

HOWEVER, many of you have graduated to new class levels!  If you have moved into the second half of Book 1, we would love to have you join us in G Majors.  If you’ve completed Book 3 and are making your way into Book 4, we would love to have you get your feet wet in Circle of 5ths AND keep coming to G Majors.  If you’re solidly in Book 4, 5, 6 or above, we’d love to have you in Performance Ensemble, as well.  Please refer to the sheet below to find your assigned group(s) for this semester, and let your teacher know if you have any questions.  We look forward to seeing you on Tuesday evenings!

FA19 Group Class Rosters

Spring Festival ’18 Recap

There have only been a few times in my life that I’ve performed something and lifted my bow at the end of the last note thinking, “Wow!  I totally nailed every last little detail of that.”  I think the feeling is actually more memorable and meaningful because it’s so rare.

Leaving the Spring Festival on Sunday, I had a feeling that everything had gone very well, but it wasn’t until I had a chance to sit down and listen to the recording of the concert that I literally said to myself, “Wow!”  You guys really nailed it!

Parents, I will be telling everyone during their lessons this week, but please convey to your kids that they did an exceptional job of preparing this semester, both in group classes and in private lessons, and they put on a truly wonderful performance.  They should be very proud of themselves, and I hope that you’re very proud of them, too.  I know I am!

It’s at times like these that I’m particularly reminded how fortunate we are to know and have the opportunity to work with such wonderful families.  We truly appreciate you all!

We’ve had a chance to go over a few of the photos from the afternoon, and we’d like to share them with you.  If you have any great moments that you captured and would like to share with us, please do!  We’d love to have them to commemorate the day.

Welcome to the Home Stretch!

Once upon a time – long, long ago – I used to run cross country.  There’s something I really  enjoyed about training for cross country races.  As you get to know the course and your body, you start to get a feel for how to pace yourself, when to conserve energy and when to exert it.  And there’s something especially satisfying about the “home stretch” – that last straightaway to the finish line – because you know that you can just leave it all out there because afterwards the race is over.


Well, as far as this school year goes, we are now on the “home stretch!” April and May are arguably the biggest months of the whole year for preparation and performances, but afterward lies summer, so you know you can put in the kind of work that makes you think, “I can’t keep this up forever!” because (good news!) you don’t have to.  The end is in sight.  But now is the time to push yourself.

The first thing coming up is the Spring Festival group performance on Sunday, April 29.  We only have four (that’s right – 4!) Tuesday night rehearsals left to get ready.  That means everyone needs to be well-prepared individually for all the repertoire that they’re responsible for, and prioritizing attending class this upcoming month.  (If your’e wondering what repertoire you’re responsible for, you can find it here.)  I’m looking forward to these next four weeks of classes, to seeing how much we can improve as groups, and to having fun as we do it!

Holiday Break

Hello Everyone!

Today is the last day of lessons for 2017 at West County Strings.  We will be on break from Thursday, December 21 – Wednesday, January 3.  Lessons will resume Thursday, January 4, and group classes on Tuesday, January 9.

2017 has been a whirlwind of a year for Kirby and I – between building a new studio space and having Adelaide we’ve barely had a moment to pause!  However, I can also say that this fall in particular has been the absolute best and most enjoyable semester of teaching that I’ve ever had.  Thank you all for being a part of it, and giving us the opportunity to work with you!

We hope that you enjoy the holidays, that you get to enjoy lots of time with friends and family, and that you have safe travels wherever you go.  Don’t forget to use the time off from school to practice, practice, practice (maybe throw some holiday music in there!), and we’ll look forward to seeing you again in 2018!

P.S. – Here are the pictures we were able to grab from the Fall Solo Recitals on December 10.  What a beautiful afternoon of music that was!


Thanksgiving Update

Hello Everyone!

This upcoming week (November 20-25) is Thanksgiving Break at West County Strings.  As such, there will be NO lessons or group class – we hope you enjoy the week off and all have a chance to spend time with friends and family (but don’t forget to still find some time to practice!).

Private lessons will resume again the week of November 27, however there will be NO group classes for the remainder of the semester.  Groups will resume again in the spring semester on Tuesday, January 9.  Thank you so much to all of you who made Tuesday night groups a regular part of your schedule this fall semester.  They were truly a special experience, and we look forward to seeing you all again on Tuesdays in the spring.  To cap off the fall’s classes, we’ve (finally) uploaded our pictures from the Halloween Group Performance & Party (see below).

After break, the next big event coming up are our Fall Solo Recitals on the afternoon of Sunday, December 10.  We’ll have three recitals that afternoon – 2:30, 3:45, and 5:00 p.m.  As in recent years, this upcoming Fall Recital will be held at the KREW House of Chesterfield Presbyterian Church.  Piano rehearsals will be held at our house (1199 Fieldhurst Dr.) on Tuesday, December 5 from 4-10 p.m.  If you are in Book 4 or above, you need to sign up for a piano rehearsal (find the sign-up sheet here)!  Please consult your teacher if you have any questions about signing up.

Happy Thanksgiving!




Studio Update – October 2017

Hello Everyone!

I hope you are enjoying the colors, cooler air, and sunny days and grey days alike as we transition into fall.  Picking up my violin in the morning and going through warm ups reminded me of my days in college walking across campus to the music building on cold fall and winter mornings and getting started on the day’s practice.

When I was a student, I never understood why teachers seemed frustrated if I didn’t practice.  (“Yes, there were plenty of times over the years that I didn’t practice as much as I should’ve, believe it or not!”)  It always seemed to me that their job was essentially the same whether I practiced or not, and I didn’t really see the big deal.  As a teacher, however, I can now completely understand their frustration – it’s really gratifying to see students making progress and the work that’s put in during weekly lessons and home practice taking root and leading to growth, and it’s equally disappointing when it seems like things aren’t really moving forward.

I don’t think that this frustration is unique to teachers, though.  I think students and their families feel the frustration in their own ways, too.  “Success breeds success,” and one of the reasons for that, I think, is that overcoming challenges, making progress, and developing new abilities are a reward in and of themselves.  Believe it or not, it actually feels good to practice consistently!  Similarly, it feels really bad to consistently fail to practice.  Students feel at least some small sense of shame at failing to complete their work, and over time the build up of work procrastinated starts to feel so overwhelming that we may wonder, “Why even try?”

The reason I bring this up is that the school year is in full swing.  Students’ work loads and extracurricular activity schedules are overflowing, and while on the whole I am still really happy with a lot of the progress I see every week, I’m also seeing an uptick in the number of lessons every week that begin with, “So… I wasn’t able to practice this,” or some similar variation.

Dr. Suzuki was famous for saying things like, “Only practice on the days you eat.”  I used to think that those types of sayings were extremely hyperbolic and unreasonable.  The longer I’m at this, though, the more I’ve come to realize that it’s almost impossible to actually be completely unable to practice on a given day.  In 99.9% of cases, it’s a matter of choice, not a matter of impossibility.  The more you get in the habit of making the choice that will lead to growth, the easier it gets to make that choice, and the less you’ll want to let yourself down.

These thoughts come just as we’re starting to head into performance season.  Don’t forget, next Tuesday (October 24 from 6:00-7:30 p.m.) is our Halloween Group Performance & Party.  Make sure to wear your favorite costume and join us for an evening of performance, snacks, and games.  And though it might seem a long way off, there’s actually not that many weeks of lessons between now and our Fall Solo Recitals, which will be held on December 10.

Thanks, and we’ll see you in lessons this week!