Happy Spring everyone. Spring can be very different, depending on where you are in the country. In Seattle, the weather stays about the same. Highs in the 50's and lows in the 30's. In Houston, we are almost ready to jump in our pools with high's in the 70's and lows in the 50's! What's your favorite thing about Spring? We would have to say the wildflowers.
In this month's newsletter:
Student of the Month: Ronald Luong
High School Solo and Ensemble Results
Recitals are coming up
Article: Practice tips from legendary violinist, Itzhak Perlman
Fanny and Felix's Follies
Let's wish a very happy birthday to all of our March born friends!
Student of the Month
City and state currently residing?
I live in Lynnwood, Washington.
What are you playing/working on right now? I am currently working on the first movement of Edouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole and Paganini’s Caprice No. 9. When did you start in SSS? I joined the studio 4 years ago in 7th grade. What drew you to the violin? I started violin in elementary school after my parents encouraged me to learn a musical instrument. I wasn’t sure if I would like it at first, but I found myself enjoying the technical aspects of playing violin. As I got older, I also grew to love the wide range of emotions a musician can convey on the violin. What is your favorite musical experience to date? I would have to say my favorite musical experience was playing and placing first at my regional Solo and Ensemble competition with my quartet. We played the second movement of Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No. 2, and while preparing for the competition was exhausting, it was enjoyable and well worth it in the end. In what other activities do you participate? Besides violin, I am a member of my school’s track and Knowledge Bowl teams. I also enjoy coding and am working on a few small projects with my friends. Any other tidbits about yourself that you want others to know?
I aspire to be an avid foodie and hope to one day travel the world to try many different cuisines.
High School Solo and Ensemble results
The Sesek String Studio absolutely crushed Solo and Ensemble in both Washington state and Texas. ALL of our students that participated received "Superior ratings!" Not only that, we had several students qualify to go on to the state round. Those who qualified to go to the state level competition will have a asterisk next to their name. Here are the results:
2nd Place- Ronald L.
3rd Place- Joy L.
*2nd Place- Lilian N.
*1st Place- Mendelssohn string Quartet No. 2- Joy L., Lilian N., Ronald L.
*1st Place- Kamiak Kammerstreich- Joy L., Claire P., Ronald L., Ryan C., Camille C., Lilian, N. Lena C.
2nd Place- Sky M.
3rd Place- Ronin C.
*Claire D. has advanced to the All State round of Solo and Ensemble in the category of viola solo
To reach the state level is a monumental achievement! Students in Washington will compete in late April while Claire will compete in May. Let's be sure to cheer them on!
Recitals are coming up!
Spring is here which means recital season is in the air. We will be offering Rolling Recitals on April 23 and 30 and they will held downstairs in our home. These shorter format recitals will be offered as a prep for our Gala Recital that we will host on May 15th. Remember, you do not have to participate in recitals, however they are and excellent way to hone your performance skills and have an opportunity to demonstrate what you have accomplished for the year. If you have any questions on how the recitals work, email us at email@example.com
Article: Practice tips from legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman
My family was at the IAH baggage claim upon returning from New York for Christmas. It was January of 1990 I had only been playing for a few months. All of a sudden, a gentleman in a wheelchair and a violin case came next to me. I was in awe! It was Mr. Perlman. I knew who he was because I had obsessively listened to his VivaldI Concerti CD (new technology at the time) at least 100 times and I had remembered his face from the liner notes. I nervously walked up to him and said "I am a violinist too!"(which clearly was not quite yet the case. ) I can't remember exactly what he said to me but I remember he chuckled, looked at me and said something along the lines of "well, just keep practicing. You'll be fine." I was so pleased with myself that I had had the guts to speak to what felt like a demi-god. I was spurned by his words and practiced like a manic for a while. Years later, while a grad student at Rice, I would not only have the opportunity to speak with him again, but perform alongside him.
Mr. Perlman has been in the violin game a very long time and has produced some of the finest violinists of this new generation. His council is sought out from violinists across the globe. Recently the Masterclass website had him distill his most valuable practice tips. If it's good enough for Mr. Perlman, it's good enough for all of us (including violists!) All credit is given to Masterclass.com for the content below:
4 Ways to Establish Good Violin Habits
Good habits start with excellent posture and mechanics.
Make sure you’re holding the violin and bow properly. Also make sure the movement in both arms and hands is smooth and functional. If you practice regularly with a slumped posture and poor mechanics, then this will become your habit.
Cultivate the habit of playing in tune. When learning something new, play it slowly enough that you are playing every note correctly. Once you speed it up, continue to play it in tune by choosing fingerings that are comfortable for your hand. If your fingerings require you to stretch and strain, you run the risk of landing in the wrong place, which itself could become a habit. Once you choose your fingerings, stick to them.
Choose good bowings and then commit to them. It’s important to know when you will go up-bow, when you will go down-bow, when you will slur several notes together, play staccato, etc. so that you can be confident in your movements. It is extremely important to choose the bowings and fingerings and stick to them at all times when practicing—without any change. If you do not change the bowings and the fingerings once you choose the ones that feel comfortable for you, you will learn the piece faster, and when you have to relearn it, it will also be faster. (Learn all about violin bowing techniques with our complete guide.)
When correcting mistakes, repeat the correct version more times than you played the wrong version. If you make the mistake again, that repetition doesn’t count. The correct version needs to become your new habit.
How to Practice Violin
Practicing slowly is crucial, especially when you are learning a new piece.
When practicing a particular passage, slow it down enough so that you’re able to play everything correctly (no wrong notes, no out-of-tune notes, no fumbling with the bow).
Keep your rhythms proportional as you slow down the music.
Don’t practice the easy parts fast and the difficult parts slow; instead keep everything the same tempo. That way, when you speed it back up, the rhythms will be correct and well-ingrained.
Give your brain ample time to soak in new information. You can’t hurry good practice.
Okay it's me again. I hope you guys will see that no matter your level, the same practice tips apply to EVERYONE. Many of us are ready to be great yesterday but that's not how it works. Consistency, patience and good technique will reap the fastest dividends over time. So give it try! After all, Mr. Perlman knows best.
Fanny and Felix's Follies
The Poodlessohns get lots of attention from us, but we are chopped liver when compared to our delightful niece, Sofia. She is a bright and boisterous 6 years old and loves all the time she can get with the duo. She is eager to help whether it is walks, feeding or playtime. People always think she is our kid. What do you all think, does she look like us? She has certainly expressed a desire to play like us. Who knows, maybe she will join studio in the future :)