Thursday, June 11, 2009

Doing Everything as Unto the Lord

Four weeks ago I couldn't wait for a break from teaching. I was approaching burnout and was so very tired. I felt that the families who come on a weekly basis to violin lessons were exhausted beyond the point of trying to learn anything new and just needed to chill out. So we played a recital and had a barn party, courtesy of one of the sweet families who has a barn on their property and generously shares it with youth groups and adult organizations and violin studios. After the barn party everyone seemed to perk up and want to learn more, but I had already announced a summer break beginning in mid May. I received so many requests for summer lessons that I only took a two week break and started teaching again, and the difference in attitudes was amazing.

Five of my students are attending summer camps or institutes and wanted assistance in preparing for those events. Another three took a five month break while their parents were employed as traveling therapists, and they all returned enthusiastically ready to dive in to music and perform. The family is planning a performance in two weeks at a town homecoming, and they will bless all who hear them.

One of the adults I teach brought her husband to her lesson today. She is excitedly anticipating buying a new bow--one that stays on the string much better than the current one and will enhance her playing. Another student is away at a state 4H event, which is her main interest in her teenage life, but she is making great progress this summer as a violinist. Another little guy just got a new violin (he had outgrown his first one) and began the process of adjusting to the new dimensions and weight of the bow and violin, the increased reach for intonation, and opening his arms to place the bow in the best possible position for good tone. If you think it takes time to adjust to new shoes, you should try switching violins!

A group of girls, ages 12-15, decided to come for lessons with some definite performance goals in mind--learning to play for events such as weddings and receptions. I planned three lesson times of two hours each, allowing them to bring a lunch along. During the lunch break I played YouTube videos of performances by string groups and let them watch and listen. We worked on Mozart, Bach, a Tango, and a contemporary fiddle tune, plus some theory, and lots of playing in ensemble pointers. It's amazing that you must actually tell students to write on their music what you are teaching them to do. In professional orchestras all musicians write on the music constantly as the conductor talks and gives instruction. We never trust our memory--it's considered insulting to the maestro to just sit there and not write.

Anyway, after six hours of practice I called a nice local retirement center and set a date for performance. We played a short program for about 30 people, got lots of compliments and kudos and our motto was that we "did it for God", just as Bach wrote on all his compositions--"to the Glory of God Alone". After the performance I treated those who could go to the yummy donut shop, and we visited for almost an hour. What we all noticed, when it was all played and the violins put away and the stands folded, is that people were touched by the music. One nice man stayed quite a long time to meet each of the girls. He has had a fiddle band for many years and will be playing with his band for the same crowd. Another lady who came and met each of the girls and thanked each one individually, commented that every time she hears the Bach "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" that she is blessed and lifted.

That's what it's all about.

No comments: