Thursday, June 3, 2010

Violin Boot Camp in Central Louisiana

I will be offering a Violin Boot Camp in Pineville, LA from 7/26/10-8/20/10. To allow working adults to take this class, it will be held on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6:45-7:45 AM. These 12 hours of instruction will give you the basics of playing the violin so you can continue playing on your own or continue with private lessons if you wish. The cost is $100, including violin rental for the month. Contact me at alexviolinteacher at gmail dot com to register. Please try to do so before June 25.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

A chamber group for events in Central Louisiana

I would like to announce that I am forming a chamber music group with other musicians in the Alexandria area to play at weddings and other events. Tamera Zona, a pianist, Margaret Waring, a cellist, and I will play piano trios. We can also cut down or add to our group depending on need. Please contact us at my email address ( if you are interested.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cenla Music News

I have a couple of items to report regarding music in Central Louisiana. First of all, the Rapides Symphony Orchestra will be kicking off their season tomorrow, September 26, with their "Red, White, and BOOM Pops concert. It is free and will be at 7:30 pm in the amphitheater on the waterfront.

Also, I met a wonderful Cajun fiddler and violin maker in Tioga. His name is Melvin Doucet, and he comes from Jennings, so is a real Cajun. He fixed up my bow and taught me a few tunes. He sells student violins at a good price, and also makes some beautiful fiddles of his own, which he sells for $875. His email address is

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Violinists in Diapers?

Dr. Suzuki insisted that "everyone can learn to play violin." To him, this meant even very young children, as young as 2 or 3. I started learning violin before I was 3 from a hard-core Suzuki violin teacher who had studied in Japan with Dr. Suzuki. My mom remembers me going to lessons in diapers. However, I was no Sarah Chang, who knew the Bruch violin concerto by age 6. I must have taken years to get past Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, because by the time I was 10, I was about at the same level as kids who had started at 7. I don't really know what benefit I got from starting that young. I suppose playing the violin is more a part of me since I can't remember a time when I didn't do it. However, I think there are other ways to ingrain music into young children besides paying for lessons for them. Playing music for them and singing with them will make music a part of their lives.

I do teach the Suzuki method, but I am not a purist, so I don't teach children any younger than 5. I tried to teach a 4-year-old once, and found it too difficult to keep his attention for a whole lesson period. I think it is easier on parents, teachers, and children to hold off giving them formal lessons until they are school age.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Baby Einstein: A Help or Hindrance?

Many of you have heard the debate about educational videos for kids, especially about their effect on very young children. Time Magazine came out with this article in 2007 detailing a study at the University of Washington saying that babies between 8 and 16 months old who had watched baby videos scored 10% lower on lanuguage tests than babies who had not. The reason for this is that watching videos takes away from the time babies can be interacting with adults. However, this study says nothing about the effect of the classical music in videos like the Baby Einstein ones. All of the music in the Baby Einstein videos is classical music, played in a music box style to make it interesting for children. My kids have learned many classical pieces from their Baby Einstein videos. I love to hear them humming the Blue Danube waltz or see them light up when they hear Beethoven's 5th Symphony. My conclusion is that if you choose to have your children watch any videos, as I do because I have 3 children close in age and occasionally need to find things to keep them entertained, it is good to let them watch something that will expose them to classical music.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Yes, It's Goofy, But It Is a String Quartet

I must share a little song my kids have taken a liking to. It's called "Violin", from They Might Be Giants' children's album "No!"

At first, my adult mind tried to make sense out of the song, without success. My kids enjoyed it immediately, and I realized that kids are just easily amused by nonsense. However, there is a bit of value to this song beyond its sheer entertainment value. The instrumentation is in classical string quartet style. It will also put the word "violin" on your kids' tongues, and perhaps inspire them to play one.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Music Appreciation with Movie Soundtracks

One thing kids like to do is watch movies. Since they will most likely spend a good deal of their time doing this, you might as well make that time into a time for music appreciation. Try to find some movies that have well-written soundtracks. One that my kids enjoy is The Land Before Time. James Horner, who wrote the soundtracks for movies like "Titanic" and "A Beautiful Mind," was the composer for the first seven "Land Before Time" movies. I have only seen the first one, so I can only vouch for its quality. The soundtrack is exciting, and thoughtfully draws from children's classical pieces like "Peter and the Wolf" and "A Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra."

Another fabulous soundtrack that my children have found enjoyment from is that of "The Village." Older children might enjoy the movie, but my young ones love the smooth violin sounds of the soundtrack. They also got excited when it got to the scary parts. I told them it was "monster music." It's good for them to notice when music creates moods, like scariness.