Saturday, January 24, 2009

Twinkle, Twinkle; My Little Star!

Liesl's 2nd violin recital was Sunday, January 18. This one was much less formal than December's masterclass recital weekend, but it was just as fun. For her first violin recital, Liesl went up on stage with Miss Sharon and myself and identified all of the parts of both the violin and bow. December's recital was also an experiment--it was her first true stage experience. How would she react when asked to walk on stage in front of one hundred people? She did so well, and projected her voice wonderfully for the entire crowd.

The Suzuki Method encourages monthly recital classes to give students regular opportunities to perform in a safe environment. The recital classes also provide opportunities to perform with other children in the teacher's studio, and to socialize with them afterwards. So this will be a monthly event for our family. For her second recital, Liesl actually got to play her violin. She performed quarter notes on all 4 strings, both with bowing and with pizzicato, or plucking the strings with her fingers. She did fairly well with this task, and once again was very confident walking on the stage and performing. "Stage fright" is not in our family's vocabulary!

Her pizzicato quarter notes were wonderful. With the bowing, she was still having a little trouble differentiating between the D string and the A string. So, in an email to me shortly after the recital, Miss Sharon gave me the idea to do the "Blast Off Game" in order to demonstrate the difference between the two middle strings. Liesl counts down alternately on the D and A strings, then when she completes the exercise she gets to thrust her bow up towards the ceiling (without throwing it) and exclaim, "BLAST OFF!" This game, invented on the spot by Miss Sharon, turned out to be incredibly effective. After a few days of practicing the "Blast Off Game," Liesl's bowing of her quarter notes improved significantly--she is more precise when playing the D and A strings.

Liesl had an incredibly good lesson this morning and was introduced to a new song, "The Flower Song," as well as two new techniques: Actually placing fingers on the strings to produce new notes, and playing sixteenth and eighth notes. I think she's getting awfully close to playing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" (which is the traditional beginning song of most violin students.)

We are very blessed to have found the right violin teacher on our first try. I have heard many stories of children (and parents) quitting an instrument because the chemistry between teacher, student and parent was off; it is truly a personal relationship. Miss Sharon is a very warm teacher with very high expectations (read: strict. That's the way we like 'em.) And Liesl adores her. It is really nice to see Liesl enjoying herself with her violin; it is also very rewarding to see our daily hard work paying off so well. We are sure there will be bumps in the road--or broken strings--in the future, but with such a strong, positive start, I am confident we will persevere.

(And, oh my...I am going to be starting this process all over again in a year and a half with Ava. Let us not think of that yet!!!!!)
Patiently waiting her turn at the rehearsal at Miss Sharon's house. The rehearsals are typically held the day before the recital, where they give the students a chance to practice their pieces with the pianist.
Liesl unpacking her violin before the recital.
She does most of the unpacking herself.
Playing quarter notes with her bow with Miss Sharon
Taking a bow

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