String Extra-Curriculars

It's beneficial for string players (and all young musicians) to experience music-making and performing via as many outlets as possible. Our local school systems offer amazing Regional, District, and All-State Orchestra Events every year. Auditions are typically at the beginning of the school year for events that take place January-March. Students can talk to their school teachers about obtaining audition materials. Fairfax County VBODA offers the Solo & Ensemble Festival for students to perform solo or in small ensembles and receive feedback from a judge on their playing. It's an excellent opportunity and a lot of fun, too! I am busy helping many of my students prepare for their respective Festivals -- coming up shortly!

Lastly, there are some excellent youth orchestra organizations in the D.C. area. The youth orchestras typically rehearse once per week and present concerts 3-4 times throughout the school year. Admittance to these orchestras is typically based on an audition scheduled in May or June of the prior school year. It's enriching, a great way to meet fellow string players from other schools, and improves musicianship. A couple of organizations I recommend:

Washington Metropolitan Orchestras - An excellent organization that rehearses locally in the Alexandria area

American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras - A very well-respected set of orchestras which has opportunities for a wide swath of ages and abilities

Youth Orchestras of Prince William - Another great organization - I am an alumna of these orchestras and have fond memories of fun concerts and their gifted conductors and section coaches


Summer Camp!

The Washington area is currently bracing for its first winter storm 2016. What better time to start considering summer music programs for your student?? I'm a huge proponent of summer music camps, especially sleep-away programs. They are wonderful way for students to experience and immerse themselves in new music in a beautiful setting, meet other like-minded young musicians, and study with new teachers and conductors. Right now is the time for students to send off applications and audition recordings! I've done a bit of research and here are some great programs:

  1. Brevard Music Festival (for high school age students)
  2. Sewanee Music Festival (ages 12 and up)
  3. Killington Music Festival (ages 12 and up)
  4.  Camp Encore/Coda (grades 3 through 11)

This is just a tiny sampling of some of the wonderful summer programs. As an alumna of two of the programs above, I still cherish the memories and the invaluable musical experiences from these programs.

Hello, Mando

I've recently been working up my chops on the mandolin. Since the mandolin shares the same string intervals as the violin (G, D, A, E) the transition from violin isn't totally outrageous. However, there are some obvious differences: picking vs. bowing, frets, double strings, etc. I always love trying out different instruments because I find it helps me in my teaching studio. I get to experience exactly what my students experience in terms of trying to train your mind and body to do something totally new. I have to remind myself of the same things I tell many students: "Practice more slowly!" "Start simple!"  Chris Thile's mandolin video Essential Techniques for Mandolin has been a big help. It's also such a joy to see my technique improving day by day, even in very small ways.  Learning the mando is turning out to be a very rewarding challenge. The most difficult part for me? My left hand fingertips are sore! Turns out violin finger callouses aren't nearly tough enough to withstand mandolin strings. :)Mandolin