When I slow down to reflect on this past year, this past month, these past few days even - I am blown away by how many exciting adventures I have been involved in! Being a young-professional working in the creative sector, a musician, and a teacher is so busy - but SO exciting!! I honestly can't imagine my life without music. It is such a blessing to be able to live life every day creating and/or supporting something that I feel so passionate about. I am thankful I can hear so I can experience a subject matter that can help us express our souls and feelings. Where words fail, music truly does seem to speak. If for some reason I couldn't hear, the people I've met through being involved in music and the connections I have created working in the arts are also incomparable. I just wanted to write this all down. It is fun documenting my adventures on this blog. Looking back through my feed, I have seen so much growth in my own life. Re-living some of my own experiences is a nice reminder. I am so grateful. Sometimes I can't believe how much I have been involved in, how much I have learned, and how many hurdles that at first seemed daunting I was able to overcome.
Speaking of hurdles, one of my students this week was a bit discouraged at learning a daunting piece of music. I encouraged them to continue moving forward. They thought they couldn't play a certain piece, they said it was impossible, "it's too hard!" But one note at a time we walked through the piece together. I would demonstrate one finger at a time and have the student mimic me. It was a slow process, but guess what my student was able to do? They played the entire piece. They had said it would be impossible. It wasn't. That's a bit like a lot of our lives, isn't it? We have goals, we have dreams, we can feel so overwhelmed by situations we think are stressful. But one note at a time, one step at a time - we can learn. We can keep putting one foot in front of the other, and one day we will look back and realize we have accomplished more than we ever could have thought was possible. How encouraging, how exciting, how refreshing. That's what I've been reflecting on tonight.
I hope you are able to reflect and appreciate your own individual accomplishments and life this week. Count your blessings, I bet you've got more than you could imagine. I sure do. You're important. Don't forget it. You are capable of amazing things!
After teaching private violin lessons for 5 years now, (It’s been 5 years!?!), I have learned more about time management within a lesson. This is my second blog post in my ‘Studio Sense’ blog series. To read the first article, click this link HERE. I hope to bring some helpful information to aspiring private music instructors, or even those of you interested in learning about what teaching private lessons is like. I know….it’s riveting stuff guys. ; ) This blog is very very general. I could probably write an entire book on time management techniques and what/how I utilize teaching time and why. Frankly, there are probably many books on this subject. So enjoy this surface level look at time management and some of my thoughts.
Time Management Within A Lesson:
For my teaching style I have been sticking to 30min, 45min, and 1 hour lessons. I like to correlate the length of a lesson to the age and/or level of each student. I have taught violin lessons to the following age range: 3 years old – adult. I’ve experienced a lot of different ages & I love the variety of that. I teach beginner to intermediate levels within that age range.
Apart from the actual length of the lesson, have you ever wondered how a teacher splits up their focus and points in a lesson? I typically start each and every lesson with tuning. Tuning is very important; it sets the standard for everything else done in the lesson. If the violin is not in tune, then a student could get used to playing out of tune. In that case, they would be training their ear incorrectly. Tuning can take between 30 seconds to about 10 minutes. 10 minutes you ask!!?? Yes, there have been times a violin has a string that is broken or because of the weather it is just finicky and does not want to stay in tune. This is especially the case in winter and with smaller student rental violins. So depending on certain factors, sometimes much of a lesson can be spent on just tuning the instrument. Putting that into perspective, 10 minutes of a 30 min lesson is about 33% of the entire lesson. That's a good chunk of time, hopefully a rare occurrence though.
Other focus points in a lesson may be section work within a piece, physical posture, music history, theory, listening, and pure playing time for the student mixed with duet playing (me with each student).
Finally, I like to reserve time at the close of a lesson to discuss constructive criticism on how to further improve as a musician. This could also include practice strategies for the student and their upcoming week.
So there you have it, a brief inside look at time management from a private instructor's perspective.
Each lesson is very different, and I've learned that I need to be prepared to go with the flow as well.
This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Excited for this upcoming joint recital with two friends and colleagues. Join us at St. Cecilia Music Center on Monday, January 22, 2018 to hear the students of Larissa Fall - violin, Matthew Heyboer - cello, & Joshua Keller - piano. There will also be chamber music selections performed by the teachers and a small reception to conclude the evening. 7:30pm start.
This is my first 'Studio Sense' blog post. For 4 years now I have been teaching private lessons and have learned a bit about the art of teaching and keeping a studio/business. I hope these articles bring some helpful tips to the table for other teachers.
My first tip is about scheduling. With a full-time job, weekend gigs that pop up, and holidays it can be a bit tricky for teachers and families to keep a consistent private lesson schedule. One thing that has really helped me is Google Docs. This app gives you the ability to co-edit documents via the internet. Rather than asking each and every one of my students/parents separately about their availability for lessons I am able to ask them all at the same time. This limits back and forth trouble shooting and schedule overlap. The document updates in real time. I typically just write out the time blocks I have open, leave a name slot blank, create a 'shareable' link, and send this off with instructions to families. They are able to peruse the times and sign-up on the document. All others who view the document after them should be able to then see their selection and pick from the remaining openings.
Pros: This app is free.
Cons: Not everyone has a Google account so may need to set one up to use.
As some of you may know, Music Theory (the explanations and meanings about how music works, and the science and notations that explain it) really interests me. In college, music theory was somewhat of a challenge to me. Because it was such a challenge to me, I ended up taking more of an interest in it after college. I see now how vital this knowledge is for young musicians. I have grown passionate about incorporating music theory into every lesson I teach. No matter what age or level of my students, I try to include theory. To be a fully engaged and educated musician, it is important to understand the language of music. Understanding theory helps one relate to other instrumentalists in any genre or style. It can be so easy to fall into the trap of ‘I’m learning the violin’, and then only think about playing the instrument. In reality, being an instrumentalist is just one part of being a musician. Yes, you need to learn the intricacies of your instrument. But what about rhythm, scales, intervals, harmonies, chords, vocabulary, ear training and notation?
Recently I have found some more great resources to use during lessons. If you have questions about them, please let me know.
For me, there will always be more to learn. This is somewhat intimidating, but also exciting!
Happy Thursday everyone!!
Practicing can definitely be a chore. It is a lot of work, & hard work at that if you do it correctly. Practicing an instrument is like training to run a 5k, or studying for the SAT. You have to constantly set goals for yourself and sometimes even push through working on things you may frankly just be tired of working on.
I love the violin. Sometimes I love practicing, other times I dread it. There have been a few times where I did not even want to look at my violin or pick it up. I think everyone experiences this no matter what field you are in, or what your career is or ends up being. Learning an instrument teaches you skills that pour into everyday life.
I think learning an instrument has great value for everyone, even for those who do not become 'professional musicians'. Practicing teaches you self-awareness and how to work towards goals. Self-Awareness & Goal Setting are some of the top skills for leaders, entrepreneurs, and CEOs in any field and any business.
Self-Awareness: Knowing yourself, knowing how your mind works, knowing your body, knowing when you need to stop, knowing when you need to push yourself, knowing when you need to listen, knowing when you need to play out, knowing how far you've come, knowing how far you can still go, knowing when to forgive yourself, knowing when to move on, knowing when you're stuck, knowing when you need inspiration, knowing when to rest, knowing how to motivate yourself, knowing when to ask for help, knowing your capabilities, knowing that hard work pays off even if it takes longer than you want.
As I have been practicing this past week I have been thinking a lot about how far I have come and how far I can still go. Self-awareness and goal setting have been on my mind. I hope this blog post is inspiring in a way to some of my students that may be struggling with practicing. Life is a journey, enjoy the ride! There are and will be hard times and things that may not be fun to experience, but Rome wasn't built in a day. Progress is a process. So as Julia Child said, "Find something you're passionate about, and keep tremendously interested in it." If you are stuck in a practicing rut, find other interesting aspects about your music you can learn about. If you don't or can't play your instrument one day, then maybe just research the composer or listen to a recording. There are many ways to practice - physically and mentally. Keep it interesting. You never know where your passions will take you. Look at Julia Child, she starred in eight television cooking shows, published 11 cookbooks, and was the first woman to be inducted into the Culinary Institute of America's Hall of Fame. And to think she was 49 years old when her first book was published!! Wow.
Past Blog Post You May Like
Have you ever wondered what it looks like to change violin strings? Here is a snip-it. :D
I can't believe it...we have ONE group class left in this semester and school year. Join me in Holland for music, games, treats, memories, and laughs. We will review everything you all have learned this year. $5 for this class. I hope you all can make it!
When: Friday, May 19 5-5:30PM
Where: MidTown Center in Holland, MI
Who: Miss Larissa's private violin students
April is almost here, & that means the Spring Recital is quickly approaching! I am so proud of all of my students and how much they have learned in such a short period of time. This is also why I am excited for the upcoming recital on Monday, April 24th at 6-7PM in Holland at the MidTown Center.
I would like to invite and remind all students that the last Group Class before the recital will be Friday, April 21st from 5-5:30PM. The fee is $5. All ages and levels are welcome. This group class will be different from the preceding, because we will be going over recital etiquette. It will be a great run-through before performance day. Please put this in your calendars and email me with any questions.
3rd to last Group Class of the semester this coming Friday, March 24th! Join Miss Fall & Miss Xiang for a fun time!
I have started the process of recording a few supplemental video lessons for my students to help aid their weekly practice. I think these videos will be useful in reinforcing concepts I teach during each private lesson. It can be hard to remember everything we touch on, so these can be little reminders during your practice times. If you have requests for video lessons please contact me. Below is a sample of a few lessons I recently recorded to give you an idea of what they look like.
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