Tag Archives: violin


Phoebe has been part of a little violin duo for a year or so, and we decided it was time for a music video.  Presenting, TWIST:


little flower

The kindergarten concert was a breeze compared to last week’s 3rd grade presentation.  First of all I washed Phoebe’s cream sweater and tights with a red dress, and the outcome was a pale pink that I think went pretty well with the pink dress, but was completely unintentional.

After that, the strep throat hit.  Check out that nasty white spot back there.  Thankfully we had a few days at the beginning of the week to rest up and pump the antibiotics in the system, before Thursday’s evaluation.  At my kids school they are evaluated twice a year by a panel of instrumental teachers.  They get scores on a variety of technical and musical points and written feedback on their progress.  To quote her teacher: “It wasn’t her worst evaluation, nor was it her best.”  I am pretty sure it was her worst as far as how Phoebz felt about it.

All day long she was on my heart, and I braced myself for which Phoebe would exit the building at pick-up. My instincts were right, she had nothing positive to say about her evaluation experience and was very down about her performance.  I had to power her through to Friday though, because her concert was the very next day.

I kept telling her that her concert had nothing to do with the judges or her teacher, that it was about her and her music.  She put forth her best effort (this time I might go as far as to say that she looked much better than she sounded), and felt much happier after the concert compared to her evauluation the previous day.

Today my camcorder bit the dust before I had a chance to upload this performance, and I think Phoebe and I are totally okay with that.

Life Lessons

Phoebe’s violin teacher encouraged her to participate in a music competition.  I signed her up because I try to do whatever her teacher tells me to do (clears throat), within reason of course.

I personally think maybe it was a conspiracy because 4 out of 12 of the competitors came from his studio, his friend accompanied all of them for a total of 3 minutes and charged each of us $65- for that 3 minutes (and some more for a rehearsal that week), and one of the competitors sang “Put on a Happy Face.” No lie.

The woman running the competition was high strung.  Her energy remained positive, but had a slight discomfort to it.  Each child played in a room with a piano and two judges, with french doors. We all huddled in the hallway to see our little person perform.  It was so bizarre.  We were stationed near a gift shop, where Lolly kept walking in, taking something, and walking out, and around a corner to show us and beg us to buy it for her.  She basically stole 4 items, and then we returned them.

She had time to steal 4 items because Phoebe played first and we hung around until the end to receive her judges comments and get a certificate.  Along with the certificate came a speech from the woman-in-charge. She told the children in her heavy Russian accent: “I like you all, I love you all.”  Her speech was uncomfortable, a little too familial after only an hour spent exchanging high-strung energy.

After it was over Phoebe and I went into the bathroom to change clothes.  While we were in the stall I heard someone come in, so I told Phoebe to “hurry up!”  She then said: “That Victoria (lady in charge) is crazy.” My first thought to respond was: “You shouldn’t say that, she could be standing right out there…”instead I said “let’s go.” We opened the door and guess who was standing there, and she asked: “Why do you think I’m crazy?”

Thankfully Phoebe’s Mom doesn’t mind covering for her….so I went on and on about how we use the term crazy very loosely in our house (totally true) and it’s a compliment.  I then told her I thought her speech was crazy–the part about “loving everyone”…she then went on to explain that we have to be crazy if we are to be great musicians. She seemed to take it very well.  She then went in the stall, did apparently nothing, because she was in there so briefly (with no flush or other bathroom-type noises), and then left.

I told Phoebz that if she thought she had a chance at being invited to the final round, that her chances probably just got flushed down the toilet.  It was awesome. We laughed about it the whole way home.


The Chief’s mom was in town this past weekend, so she brought her by to the practice coaching.  Phoebe got to interact with a violinist of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, who has been playing for 41 years.  It was her first one-on-one master class, and she did it for free.

It was great for me to see how the story could end: Mother and Daughter making music together.  I hope that’s how the story ends….not me on the violin of course.

Third Person Thursday

She sat reading the teacher’s manuel for the piano lesson series The Music Tree, that she is going to start teaching her kids soon.  This, after attending her daughter’s first recorder lesson and learning how to finger the notes B, A and G. BAG.

She has embraced the part of her life that is practicing, but now with her younger daughter starting her instrument, and the older wanting to have her violin practice reward be her first piano lesson, she’s feeling that familiar overwhelmed feeling.

She found herself transported back in time to college, when she took intro to guitar (and sucked at it) and violin (her husband could play twinkle better than her) and some early music education classes.  She remembered when she went to do her first observation of music educators, to fulfill the required hours of observation before declaring the music education major.  She remembered arriving home, knocking on the door and her husband (husband!) opening it and she fell into his arms and wailed that she didn’t want to be a teacher.  She remembered feeling so panicked that she had to make what seemed at the time, like a life-altering decision with a husband attached.

The husband was just who she needed, because he encouraged her to follow her dream and make a living performing.  So, she did not become a teacher. Instead, she found the fastest way out of that school, which was 3 years and a music/business major and graduated in 2000. By 2002 she was a mother and 5 years later, she was a music educator to her daughter, despite her best efforts to avoid that path.

Now here she sits with instruments up to her ears and her grandpa’s mandolin which she has wanted to learn to play since inheriting it 2 years ago, and piles and piles of music that she uses every single day, that can never be put away because it’s an “active” pile.  Part of her wishes she had stayed the music education course.  Having little children read music and play instruments was never part of her vision for the future, but the present is a different reality.  Though managing all the music is difficult some days (especially when she gets a last-minute audition at 6:15 PM), she is grateful to witness the fruits of her labors and to keep her own musicianship from getting rusty.

What’s the sub-dominant of G Major? Anyone? Anyone?

See? ; )

Rainy Days and Mondays

What if they are the same day?

Strangely, Monday did not get me down.

My alarm did not go off (perhaps I did not set it….?) so I had a little late start, but once I got it together it was go-go-go.

After dropping Lolly off at school, I hit my audition hours early in hopes to be seen earlier than the appointment given to me. Thankfully they let me pop in early! I ran into my cyber-friend and fitness instructor there, and promised to see her at the class at 2.

After that I acquired the necessary materials for Lolly to start her recorder lessons today, and stopped by my actor’s union building to sign up for an audition later in the week.  On the way to the train I heard a very familiar voice! It was Mary J! singing ONE. I followed the voice and it led to her! In the flesh.  Unfortunately I arrived right when she was finishing up.  I have no idea why she was singing in Times Square in the rain at 11 AM.

After that I headed to Phoebe’s violin recital. She played three songs very well considering how long she had to sit and wait for her turn, and the heat and humidity that was sweltering. She practiced so hard for this concert and it showed. She played three songs in a row, each of quite a different character, and she transitioned from one to the next with ease. I was very proud of her, and myself. Come on, I spend hours with her each week practicing that thing, I’m kind of mad I can’t play it, for the amount of time I’ve spent practicing…though my piano skills have improved quite a bit.

After the concert I took my second physique57 class. I did much WORSE this time around…maybe because I knew how long it was, what was coming next…or maybe because three other attendees (one of which was the captain of The Rockettes, hear of them?) had 0% body fat and were clearly much more in shape then me, and I was comparing myself to them!? I sweated, I’m sore, even though I didn’t do every single thing, I still got a workout. I think I prefer my 2-mile jogs…speaking of which, this week is the week I start easing into jogging again…I started by jogging a quarter block to catch the M5 bus.  November was forever ago was it not?

The day ended with subway sandwiches because we had to pick up Lolly at a playdate in Parkslope and get the kiddos to bed so that we could prepare for the midnight pachyderm watch.

Slice of Life

This week I accompanied Phoebe on her violin. I was so nervous.  I made mistakes I had never made before.  When it was over I asked her if she gets nervous to play and she replied; “No, I just tell myself: I’m having a concert!” (swinging her arms out and smiling!).

I chose this short clip of our performance because of Lolly. And if you listen carefully, you can hear Jason say: “SIT. DOWN.”