Saturday, September 18, 2010

Happy New Year in September

September is the start of a new year for Jewish people, teachers, and people associated with annual concert series.  That includes me.

August is a very slow month for me as a violin / fiddle teacher because most of my students are away.  Some of them, mostly beginners, will not come back to me for violin lessons because they lose their momentum during the summer.  I'm writing emails to them.  I believe that some of them will resume lessons when they know more about their school and after school schedules.  One of my new students is someone I taught several years ago, when she was six years old.  She had so much fun at her lessons that she didn't want to leave, but her parents could not get her to practice at home.  Now she is in middle school and is more motivated.  She has been placed in a violin class at school with kids who have been playing violin for two years.  Her mother decided that she needed private lessons, and she remembered that her daughter and I had a good relationship, so she called me.  That made me so happy.  She is my first "reclaimed student."  I have a few other new students, both adults and children, and beginning to learn to play the fiddle is exciting.  Violin shopping is fun, and I did that with one of my new adult students.  Some of my adult students have returned from summer vacations, and it's fun to be with them again.  I love teaching as a way of helping others to enjoy the experience of playing music, and I also love it because it enriches me.  I have learned so much about music and have become a better musician since I started teaching.  My students are of different ages, ethnicities, lifestyles, and cultural backgrounds, but music brings us all closer to each other.

Annual series of concerts begin in September.  I just got the tickets I ordered earlier.  Overall, the prices are up compared to last year.  Perhaps I splurged, but I feel good just thinking about the concerts I'll attend.  I'll hear two of the greatest violinists around:  Hilary Hahn and Joshua Bell.  I'll also hear two of my favorite pianists, Andras Schiff and Yevgeny Kissin, and the incomparable musician Yo-Yo Ma.  I've only begun to appreciate chamber music recently, so I bought a ticket to hear the Tokyo String Quartet.

I do volunteer work for the Institute of Musical Traditions, which puts on a great series of concerts of many kinds of folk music each year.  (See their Youtube channel for high quality clips of previous concerts.)  It's very hard to keep a series of good concerts like this afloat financially.  A lot of people work hard as volunteers because they love folk music and want to sustain live performances.  Some of them are extremely talented and knowledgeable about both electronics and music, and they work the sound system.  I help by doing PR work on the Internet, a good task for me because I don't have a car.  I don't attend every concert because I have a schedule conflict, but I go there as a volunteer any time I can.  I always feel welcome there.  The volunteers are a great group of people.  I bake something and bring it to sell during intermission.  I do a lot of grunt work, too, like helping to set up and tear down stuff for the concert. I attended the first concert I could this week, and it was fantastic.  The performers, the Claire Lynch Bluegrass Band, had an awesome fiddler.  I could tell by his posture the instant I saw him that he had been classically trained.  In one song, he played solo backing up the singer, and his classical training obviously helped him a great deal with that.  He had a wonderful vibrato.  After the concert and the cleaning up, someone gave me a ride home.  I left feeling really good.

Happy musical new year to everyone.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Happy 65th birthday, Itzhak Perlman

Two days ago, August 31, was Itzhak Perlman's 65th birthday.  Today we can honor him by watching and listening to some of his work.

One of the most moving pieces Perlman ever recorded is the theme from Schindler's List. 

One of my personal favorites is Perlman playing Dvorak's Dumky Trio with Yo-Yo Ma and Rudolf Firkusny.  Of course, there are many, many more that I could have added.

He was also a great musical comedian, as shown in this clip of him performing with Professor Schickele, aka PDQ Bach.  I think this will especially appeal to violin teachers.

Perlman is also a great teacher.  He answers questions that people send to him via his Facebook site, and his answers appears on his Youtube channel.  Here is one of my favorites, about practicing.

Thank you, Mr. Perlman.  I hope you had a great birthday.