Graduation 2019

Little Lance

Little Lance

Throwing it back 17 years ago, this not-so-little-boy-anymore is now graduating from his University studies! At five years old he was my very first violin student. He certainly holds a very special place in my heart and I’m so proud of his accomplishments.

Initially, the reason I entered music performance and education as a career was my love for music and that I knew I was capable of achieving this goal. But I learned quickly that I had created special bonds with my students during, and after their formal violin lessons were finished. I am amazed with how music has helped to shape their lives.

Let me share some unsolicited advice to the class of 2019.

  1. HONOR and LOVE your Parents. They aren’t perfect but they do the best for you in the way they know how.

  2. You ARE NOT entitled to anything - work hard for what you want.

  3. When life gets tough, push through.

  4. When someone breaks your heart, you can only cry for one day - the next morning, put on your best smile and MOVE ON.

  5. Be FIRM, but KIND. Be HONEST and maintain your INTEGRITY.

  6. SING when you’re Happy. SING when you’re Sad.

  7. Keep your eyes focused on GOD. When you think you can’t make it, HIS grace is sufficient.

HATS OFF to the Class of 2019!

Cheers to a GLORIOUS end of this chapter and the beginning of a NEW adventure!


Teaching Violin in Japan

March is currently hosting the beautiful Sakura Season in Japan!!! The Cherry Blossoms are blooming all over Japan and picnic-ing (“Hanami”) under the blossomed trees becomes an exciting weekend happening that you would prepare for and look forward to months beforehand. If you are planning a trip to Japan, Sakura Season is THE time to go!

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Oh, how I miss our days in Japan. We lived in Tokyo, Japan for 1.5 years in 2017 - 2018. I enjoyed riding my “Mamachari” bike through the city streets, and the street festivals full of food and entertainment. Food in Japan is DELICIOUS! I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad meal eating out. Although It was such a short time, I have developed a respect and a fascination with the Japanese Culture and their way of life. I realized that the Japanese value system is cultivated and taught to their children from birth. At very young ages, the children are taught how to behave in various environments, to be independent, to be tidy, to have a deep respect for their surroundings and their parents, teachers, and elders, etc. There are no “Janitors” in schools as the students clean their classroom floors, and even serve lunches to their peers. I’m sure we’ve all see the video about Japanese kindergarteners taking the trains to get to school all by themselves - its real!!!

You may say, “Yes, I also teach that to my child.”

But I can tell you, that from experience, the Japanese people have taken it to the next level up. I still can’t figure out how they do it! During “Bring your child to work day”, my husband brought our son and I to his work floor in Roppongi. All the Japanese kids were quietly looking and walking around - you’d never guess they were there! Then you hear a “WHEEEEEEEE!”- Oh! That’s the American kid. HA! Now, I’m not saying that the energy of my child is not a good thing (or a bad thing). I just admire how the Japanese raise their children to be outstanding citizens.

At this time, I was teaching music in an international preschool/kindergarten and giving Violin lessons in my home. Since I am a certified Suzuki Teacher, I found myself fortunate enough to be living in the country of Shinichi Suzuki, the man who founded the “Suzuki Method” for teaching music. I began to recognize the parallels of his music philosophy - that talent is not inborn but cultivated through ones environment and efforts - with that of his Japanese Culture.

One of the main points of his music philosophy that stand out the most to me is, in my own words, “Do not teach the child how to play the violin. Teach him how to play with a beautiful soul.”

Like Mr. Suzuki, I aim to teach my students to be “good citizens” - to have “endurance, discipline, and sensitivity to their surroundings.” He often says, “Foster the heart, then acquire the ability.” The Japanese people are humble and grateful people - grateful to nature, their environment, and to each other. This mindset carries into music: be humble and grateful for all the gifts that music can bring to your life.

I don’t live in Japan anymore but I do find myself doing, dare I say, “Japanese habits” - like slightly bowing when giving thanks. My now 3 year old son still automatically takes off his shoes and puts them the closet when he comes home - I can’t complain.

Is my child ready for Music Lessons?

“How do I know if my child is ready for Music Lessons?”

Now that’s a question I’ve heard many times from parents.

I’m a VIOLINIST, but I have a crazy love-affair with the CELLO. The deep, chocolate-ly sound of the cello makes me fall in love. SO, naturally, I want my son to play the cello. From birth, I’ve let him listen to Cello music, Cello youtube clips, touch and feel the cello…basically, I’ve been brainwashing. Hahaha. But now that he’s 3 (OMG, they just grow tooo fast!), I’ve been keeping a close watch on his readiness to play cello, or take any type of music classes for that matter.

I’ve been teaching Violin for more than 10 years to children ages 3 - 12, and I know that there are many factors to readiness that include cognitive and physical maturity. But here are three general things that you, the parent, can keep an eye on:

  1. Your child expresses interest in the instrument. Does he say, “When is it my turn?", “Can I try?”

  2. Your child can take direction from other teachers

  3. Your child can be still for 20 - 30 minutes

There are other great music options out there if you feel that it’s not time for formal violin lessons such as Music Together!!! My son LOVES this class. I admit, he does a lot of running around the room, but when the music stops, he says, “MORE MAMA!!!!” hahaha.. I know there’s something going on in that creative, little brain!

“Start ‘em young!”, a well meaning mother said. A great idea, but, if you really want to give your child a meaningful start to music, wait for their readiness.

If you’re still unsure, call me for a trial lesson. Happy Music Making!!