April Reading List

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what happened to March.  It was February, and now all of a sudden it’s April. Let’s just pretend it didn’t happen this year, okay? At any rate, here are my four book choices for April.  The Rules: a new-to-me novel, a work by Shakespeare, a book that has to do with my career and a “fun” book.  Often the “fun” book will have something to do with that month’s focus, but this month, that one fits into the “career” slot.  I’m off to Charleston and Savannah tomorrow, and I’m excited to settle into my seat on the plane and Just Read for a little while. I hope you’ll check out these titles and read along with me.  We’ll dish about them next month!

 

  1. Pachinko.jpgA New-to-me Novel: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.  My Korean friend, Yun, suggested this book for our Boston book group.  Everyone who has finished it has been raving about it non-stop, so I’m reading this one first before they let out any spoilers!

*”In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant–and that her lover is married–she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

Richly told and profoundly moving, Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, ambition, and loyalty. From bustling street markets to the halls of Japan’s finest universities to the pachinko parlors of the criminal underworld, Lee’s complex and passionate characters–strong, stubborn women, devoted sisters and sons, fathers shaken by moral crisis–survive and thrive against the indifferent arc of history.”

2.  81jOEgMffrL.jpgThe Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare.  Because “The Shew” is named Kate, and I need to see if she gets her way or not 😉

“Love and marriage are the concerns of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Lucentio’s marriage to Bianca is prompted by his idealized love of an apparently ideal woman. Petruchio’s wooing of Katherine, however, is free of idealism. Petruchio takes money from Bianca’s suitors to woo her, since Katherine must marry before her sister by her father’s decree; he also arranges the dowry with her father. Petruchio is then ready to marry Katherine, even against her will.  Katherine, the shrew of the play’s title, certainly acts much changed. But have she and Petruchio learned to love each other? Or is the marriage based on terror and deception?”

51zoPxOK2EL.jpg3. Theoretical and Practical Treatise on the Violoncello by Diran Alexanian.  I remember dipping into a copy of this at the NEC Library when I was in College, and I’m excited to dive into it once and for all.  This is the be-all end-all book on cello playing, written by a very smart Armenian man.  Enough said.

“The Classic Treatise on Cello Theory and Practice, by one of the revolutionaries of the 20th century. This republication of Diran Alexanian’s classic, “Traite Theorique et Pratique du Violoncelle” published in Paris by A. Z. Mathot, 1922 is one of the stellar examples of cello pedagogy in one volume. This volume represents one of the most thorough explorations of cello playing and technique in the literature. When Pablo Casals first held it, he acknowledged that it not only did it mirror how he saw the technique, but he found it to be the best treatise since Duport.”

414ceeoO6mL.jpg4. Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt.  Admittedly, I’m reading this one because I got a free copy of it.  It might be brilliant, it might be a bit woo-woo.  But it is definitely aligned with my desire to make the most of my time, and to keep the different parts of my life in balance, so let’s give it a whirl, shall we?

“We all want to live a life that matters. We all want to reach our full potential. But too often we find ourselves overwhelmed by the day-to-day. Our big goals get pushed to the back burner–and then, more often than not, they get forgotten. New York Times bestselling author Michael Hyatt wants readers to know that it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, he thinks that this is the year readers can finally close the gap between reality and their dreams.”

A little of everything, I’d say.  Some heartfelt drama, a little clever humor, an Epic book on playing and teaching the cello, and a dash of life-improvement.

*All quotes are from the publishers.

Happy Reading, Everyone!

-Kate

 

April Focus: Teaching and Being Taught

 

Slava and Rose

I’ve never met a (classical) musician who didn’t also teach.  Sure, there are times when teaching is put on the back-burner for a time, or maybe even stopped completely. But It is virtually unheard of for a musician to go their entire career without sharing their passion, experience and knowledge with others who are eager to learn their craft. To me, it also seems like it is our duty to pass on what our teachers learned from their teachers.  My first cello teacher, Gilda Barston, studied at Juilliard with Leonard Rose, who had studied with Felix Salmond, whose mother studied piano with Clara Schumann.  I mean, what a legacy.  The musical thoughts and ideas that were taught to me, come from some pretty steep places!  So, yes-I’d better continue to pass them on to the next generation.

download-1.jpg

I taught my first lesson when I was around 10. It wasn’t my own student, of course, but a younger student of Mrs. Barston who lived in my neighborhood, and whose parents both worked long hours and didn’t have time to help him practice.  They paid me to come to the house 2-3 days a week and help him.  I will never forget that feeling of pride I felt when I was able to help him play something that had been giving him trouble, or how happy he would get when he saw he was making progress.  Mrs. Barston gave my name to a few other students over the years, and by the time I landed as a freshman at NEC, I had been “teaching” for 8 years.

images.jpg

I’ve become fascinated by how we work with students in the classical music world these days, in how things have evolved over the generations, and how they might be changing in the future.  It used to be that if you showed a certain amount of talent, you would be taken to live in Paris or New York or wherever, and your mother would rent an apartment for you or send you to live with relatives and you would have daily lessons with a great master.  These days,  people find a teacher who lives near them and they meet with them every week–same day, same time, for the same length of time. In between those lessons, the students are expected to work on their own, and make a certain amount of improvement.  To be honest, I’m not sure that is the most effective way of doing things.  I have been doing some (very unscientific!) research amongst my colleagues and my students this past year, and I have been thinking about what the best ratio of coached/self-practice is.  Whether it depends on the student and what other, outside factors are involved.  With the technological advances we have seen with Skype and Facetime, what is the future of teaching and does location need to be a consideration anymore?

 

 

Casals

I’m looking forward to doing some deep dives into these questions this month, the idea of a music teacher as a coach, and what the ideal conditions are for learning.  I am lucky to be standing on the shoulders of musical giants, and so, while I will be spending the majority of this month on the road, and perhaps BECAUSE I will be spending the majority of this month on the road performing, I am dedicating this month’s focus to my teachers: Gilda Barston, Nell Novak, Colin Carr, Ralph Kirshbaum, Michael Tilson Thomas and all of the other brilliant musicians who have taken the time to share their passion, experience and knowledge with me.  I would be neither the musician, nor the teacher I am today if it weren’t for them, and I am eternally grateful.

IMG_1562

My February Focus

 

If you have been following along on my plan to focus each month on a particular aspect of my life, you’ll know that I have already done “Health”, “Career”, “BYSO”-one aspect of my professional life, “Home”, and “Blogging”.  Some months were super clear and easy, and others were a bit more difficult and abstract than I thought they would be. God knows I have already had some wrenches thrown into the works (umm, hello computer dying in the middle of “career” month and losing some very valuable work information…oops.).  But I am so happy to say that at the end of every single month, I have been able to point to a list of things I accomplished that improved that focus area, and that every single month, I have come away feeling like I have learned a few important things, and have created some sustainable habits that will help continue the progress.   I am excited to keep going with this plan, but to be perfectly honest, I am a little apprehensive about this month’s focus: Marriage.

save the date 1

At the beginning of this 12-Month Focus Project, I drew up a list of the 12 most important areas of my life, and then set about assigning a particular month to each area– trying to choose the month that makes the most sense.  I was feeling the need hit “reset” on my body after a long summer, so I made September “Health” month, and since I will be seeing lots of family in July, that gets “Family” month.  But “Marriage”? well, there IS Valentine’s Day, and I booked my week of concerts in Florida for his half-term break so that he can join me and make it a working holiday.  But otherwise, it’s a bit arbitrary.  On one hand, we’ve only been married for a couple of years.  We are definitely still newlyweds.  On the other hand, my marriage is one of THE MOST important things in my life, and I want to cherish and nurture it.  In other words, I am more than happy to devote a month to focusing on my marriage, but it’s not like we need any kind of major overhaul.  There are no big issues to resolve, and we don’t have kids, so we already get to spend a lot of quality time alone together.  So, what should I do?

IMG_7440

I decided to take a cue from one of my original inspirations for this whole project: Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.  She devoted a month to her marriage as well, and this was her list:

  • Quit nagging
  • Don’t expect praise or appreciation
  • Fight right
  • No dumping
  • Give proofs of love

 

Sounds about right.  I’ll start with these and add any others that come up.   At the very least, at the end of the day (er…month) Paul will be one very happy husband!  Wish me luck!

-Kate

Gondola

My February Reading List

Was one of your new year’s resolutions to read more?  Because I can help.  I have a thing that I do–a method, if you will–for reading more, and not getting stuck in a rut.  I do realize that there is probably something seriously wrong with me.  This obsession I have with structuring every thing I do, but I swear it works, and it makes reading more of a pleasure and less of a chore.  Here goes.  Ready? Nerd Alert: Continue reading

January 30-Day Focus: Blogging

 

I can’t believe I’m already on month 5 (F-I-V-E!!!) of my (year-long) 30-Day Focus Project, and I have to say, it has been an AMAZING experiment for me.  The clarity I have found in identifying the 12 most important areas of my life has been profoundly helpful in improving my ability to make plans, decisions, and set goals for my work, my relationships and in basically every area of my life.  I feel like I have accomplished more in the last 4 months than I have in the last 4 years!  I’ve been announcing each one as they come, but here is the full list in case you’ve been curious: Continue reading

3 Things to Leave Behind in 2017

 

Hello, and welcome to 2018! I had a great time with my family here in Bermuda and it has been so wonderful to slow down, relax, and spend some quality time with friends.(and also my couch!)

As I mentioned in this post from last September, my life and my career more closely follow an academic (Aug-July) year than a calendar (Jan-Dec) year,  but one can’t help but be swayed by the masses doing their yearly tallies and New Year’s Resolutions.  I am a total sucker for a new start of any kind, and also for any and all forms of self-reflection.  So, even though I feel as though this holiday time is merely a half-way point, it has been interesting to look at 2017 as a whole and figure out some highlights, as well as how I have grown over the last 12-months (starting with my hips, but that’s due to too many Christmas cookies!).  I believe that as we grow as people, it is as important to shed past habits, thoughts and actions and consciously leave them behind, as it is to embrace the shiny newness of an adopted habit/job/family situation, etc.  So here are 3 things I am choosing to leave behind with the rest of the 2017 detritus Continue reading

My Month of Home

December.  Month of holidays, vacations, family and get-togethers.  Whether you are celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, or the First Snow Day of the season, there is no denying that December is one cozy-ass month. Even here in Bermuda, the lights in town are twinkling, and the nights get chilly enough to throw on a sweater or curl up in front of a fire.  And for that reason, I decided to make My Home the focus of this month. Continue reading

The $100 Bill

What would you do if I handed you a $100 bill?  

I once had a student who started cello lessons with me when he was 5 years old, and he LOVED the cello.  He loved playing the cello, he loved practicing the cello (as soon as he woke up-at 5am! Much to his parents’ dismay).  But he had this weird thing he did–He only used about 3 inches of bow–ever (probably due to the fact that he was trying not to wake his parents up!).  And every week he would come into his lesson, sad about his lack of tone, and I would say “Use your whole bow!  Use more arm weight! Yes!!!! Just like that! Do it again!  Terrific!  Okay.  Practice this piece like that, with big bows, and you’ll always sound like that”.  And he would leave his lesson super excited about knowing exactly what to do to get that great big cello sound he was after.  And then he would come in a week later, using only 3 inches of bow, and sad that he sounded so wimpy.  And we would repeat the cycle. Continue reading

Chicago!

Remember that little trip to Chicago I took in October?  It was just last week, but it feels like it was a gazillion years ago!  It was exciting, exhausting, exhilarating, and everything you would expect.  Overall, my experiment of going to a city and playing as many concerts as I could for as many different groups of people as possible worked.  I learned a hella lotta stuff about the whole process of sending press releases, booking concerts and venues and more importantly, I learned a lot about myself and what I need in terms of concert prep. Continue reading