Bringing it All Back Home: Reconciling Dylan and Seeger

The 1965 Newport Folk Festival is widely considered one of the most iconic moments in rock history. It is one of those historical moments where it felt like everything changed radically in an instant, where the familiar fell apart and a new thing was birthed.  A lot has been written and said about the event;…

every note is alive

Basho was a poet who lived 17th century Japan, considered one of the greatest haiku writers of all time.  It was said that Basho was once with a student, and they saw a dragonfly, and the student attempted to compose his thoughts on the experience: A red dragonfly If you would but pluck its wings…

free and creative from the beginning

A teacher is always continuing to learn, and must always be open to new ideas and challenges. Learning is a lifelong process of continuous evolving and tweaking how we do things. I once heard in a class that one of the more important sentences for a teacher is, “I used to think ___ but now…

how to become your own teacher…

In my own musical journey, I have been deeply blessed to have the patient, knowledgeable, and supportive input of many great teachers. By walking beside me, encouraging what was good, challenging what was lacking, and helping me change the way I approached violin playing, they brought me to a level where I can comfortably realize…

On rats, shifts, and teaching

When I was taking violin lessons in college, I had a few stressful weeks trying to perfect a particularly awkward shift and finger pattern high on the E-string. That note required a lot of practice time trying to get it in tune – practicing one measure of an etude again and again until it started…

being musically multilingual

In a previous article, I briefly brought up the concept of being musically multilingual as an important goal for my students. Just as a multilingual person is able to communicate with people from a wider range of nationalities, a musician proficient in multiple cultural or musical traditions can perform with a wide variety of people,…

Why we need both a Suzuki and an O’Connor method….

… I was prepared to not make a comment on this at all, but recent discussions about violin pedagogy and which method books to buy have reached a level of passion and vitriol I usually associate only with religion and politics (and that usually sends me looking for the door.) For those of you too…

what I learned about violin teaching from a hamster…

  A few days ago, my wife and I became the proud owners of a very adorable longhaired hamster, mostly not by choice. A neighbor knocked on our door and handed us a shoebox of the adorable but feisty creature, telling us she had too many animals and was looking for a nice home for…

Four musical approaches…

When I first walked down this path of using strings to create sound, I was unaware how versatile it could be, or how the same instrument could make me comfortable in a huge variety of settings. I have inserted my voice into all kinds of situations – sometimes projects involving many hours of rehearsal, and…