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.
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.
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?
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.
Happy Friday, Everyone! After a few concert-filled weekends all in a row, I am looking forward to a quiet and low-key one this week. We’ll go over to the Yacht Club tonight for a glass of wine, and on Saturday and Sunday, while Paul is off puttering with the boat and cheering on his students at a school science competition, and I will be curling up with this amazing book, catching up on a few little house projects, and having brunch with my friend Alison. Here are a few things that have caught my attention this week.
Basically everything you need to know about Saturday’s March for Our Lives Rally.
These might be the perfect Concert Heels Not TOO high, and the strap makes them more secure for walking on and off stage.
Dreaming of summer (yes, even in Bermuda, we dream of summer).
I’m putting together my April reading list, and thinking about this book. Have any of you read it?
These are on my must-have list. I’m tired of having to take my shoes off at the airport.
In Bermuda, everyone heads over to Horseshoe Bay Beach on Good Friday and flies kites. Seriously. Kites Everywhere! I think that this year, we should all fly these to show our support for equality, human rights, and gay marriage.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Sorry I have been a bit MIA as of late. February was insane, and then March got even crazier. I’ve missed writing, but then you know how it goes….the longer you wait, the harder it is to get going again. I realized that I hadn’t even posted about last month’s trip to Florida, so that’s where I’ll start.
I had planned this week of concerts around South Florida to coincide with Paul’s February School Holidays, so he was able to join me for for the trip. I had been in Boston for some recording sessions and a concert the week before, so we met up in Miami for a little sight-seeing and relaxation, and then moved our way up and down between Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach. I had a mix of public and private recitals, school workshops and master classes scheduled for the latter half of the week. Over our 8 days there, we caught up with dear friends, met some new ones, and I got to perform my solo program for a whole bunch of people. We explored the Wynwood area in Miami, checked out the Museum of Science, and went to the New World Symphony Gala. We walked the Riverwalk in Ft. Lauderdale and hit up the shopping strip in Palm Beach, spent time with my uncle and time at the beach. It was lovely.
But we were also there on Valentine’s Day, and what should have been (especially during marriage month!) our über romantic get-away, ended up being a horrible, horrible, awful, mind-numbing day when 17 innocent kids were gunned down at their own high school a couple of miles from where we were at the time. Needless to say, it lent a bit of a grayish tint on my memories of the week. Everyone was distracted. I showed up to play my concert the following day and they had completely forgotten about me. I do strongly believe that music heals the soul, but in truth, no one was really in the mood for a concert, least of all me. The concerts all happened (except one, but that’s a whole different story….!) but we were all walking around in a bit of a daze–at times pretending that everything was fine, and at other times, depressed and uninterested in doing anything at all.
It was, however, good to be in some warmer weather, and as I mentioned, we got to spend time with relatives and dear old friends – some of whom I had not seen in over a decade. We ate delicious meals and went on romantic walks. I got to see Paul get excited over geeky things at the science museum and he got to catch a glimpse into my former life in Miami Beach.
So, there you have it. It was a strange and bizarre trip, and while it wasn’t the luxurious get-away I was hoping for, I am so grateful that Paul was there with me. I’m not sure I could have done it without him. Logistically and emotionally, I needed him there. He drove me to concerts so that I wouldn’t arrive exhausted, he chatted up audience members and convinced them to buy cds, and he let me snap at him (sorry!) when I didn’t really know how to answer his questions that were generally along the lines of “what the hell is wrong with your country?” and “Why can’t you guys solve your gun problem the way the rest of the world has?”
It was in Miami, actually, many moons ago, when Gary Hoffman gave me some advice that I have never forgotten. When I asked him what it was like to travel around the world as a concert cellist, he looked at me, and said “Well, you just have to accept that 85% of the time you’re going to feel like shit. You’re going to be jet-lagged, or have a headache, or have caught a cold on the airplane, or some weird thing is going to be going on in your life or around you, but you have to learn how to just show up and do it anyway.” That week in Florida definitely tested me in a lot of ways, but overall, I think will come away with fond memories of the people I met and got to play for, the talented and enthusiastic students I worked with, of renewed friendships and tender moments. And on Saturday, I will be thinking of all of those people marching in the States, I’ll be going for a long walk around the island in solidarity.
Happy Friday, Everyone! I’ve been in Boston this week for some recordings and a concert tonight, and tomorrow I am meeting up with Paul in Miami! I’m so excited for a week of concerts, masterclasses, some serious beach time, and catching up with some friends and family members who live down there. Here are a few things I have been enjoying lately. I hope you will too!
There has been a lot of press lately about the lack of diversity in programming in the Classical Music. A lot of orchestras are sticking to music by written by dead white guys and playing those pieces over and over again. Tonight, in Jordan Hall (Boston), Boston Modern Orchestra Project is dedicating an entire concert to the music of Joan Tower in honor of her 80th birthday. This lady is amazing, and I have loved being fully immersed in her lush sound-world this week. Click here for ticket information for tonight’s show, and here’s a little preview.
This black blouse is so pretty, and would make for perfect “concert black”.
I might be slightly obsessed with houseplants, and these are some of my favorites for adding a little cheer to a room.
I am halfway through this book, and I am loving it. I can’t wait to read the next two!
I loved this collection of comments and ideas regarding friendships and the best ways to maintain them.
We’re halfway through winter, and this sweater is going to keep me warm for the remaining weeks. (except next week, because FLORIDA!). And it’s on sale now!
Did you watch the launch of Falcon Heavy this week? Here’s a great interview with Elon Musk and Bill Nye on the future of space flight. The actual launch starts at around 5:12. It’s pretty fantastic.
Guys, I got a jump rope for Christmas, and I LOVE it. I use it just about every day, and it is so fun, but also a great workout. whenever I come back from a walk or a run, I just do some jumps in my driveway. It definitely gets the heart pumping!
Living in my joggers lately, and these beauties are seriously on sale right now.
Yesterday was John Williams’s Birthday! So here’s a little something to honor of him, and today’s opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang.
Have a terrific weekend!
I’m sitting on an airplane flying from Bermuda to Boston. I have 4 days there–teaching some lessons, and recording and rehearsing a program of Joan Tower’s music for BMOP. From there, I head off to Miami, where Paul will meet me for a little concert tour/vacation combo. Between the 30 degrees and snowy weather in Boston, the 82 degrees and sunny temperatures in Florida, and the mix of concerts, teaching, and beach/date time, this was an interesting trip to pack for! Read More
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.
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?
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:
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!
Is it Friday already? It’s February (thank god!) but that also means it is booking season for us musicians, and the month when we all set out to book our concerts for NEXT season. It’s all a bit fast and furious, and the week just flew by! This weekend will be spent catching up on some other work (and a new blog post). Grabbing our Friday Night fish n’ chips dinner at the Yacht Club, and digging around in my garden. Oh, and I hear there is a little football game on Sunday. Go Pats! Here are a few things to entertain you over the weekend. Have a great one, everybody!
If you’re in Boston this weekend, go check out this concert!
This would be a fun dress to wear in Miami (we’ll be there over valentine’s day, afterall)
I’m falling in love with this all-natural skin care line from Vermont. It even smells good!
Paul and I can’t stop watching this show. We are ALL IN
This would make the coziest Valentine’s Day gift!
Of course, so would this… 😉
These gorgeous dishes are indestructible.
This girl was once one of my Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras cellists, and I am so proud of what she is accomplishing these days. She’s on fire!
Have a listen to this. Beautiful, right?
I’m excited to eat here when we’re in Miami next week. What a great concept!
In case you are in need of some Super Bowl snack recipes, here are a few ideas.
And speaking of the Super Bowl. Who said, classical musicians and sports don’t mix?
What are you up to this weekend? I just got back from a week in Boston, and am so happy to be back home. We’re having some friends over for “game night” tonight, because Paul and I are very very late to this party. Otherwise, Paul will be working on the boat and I will be spending some quality time with my cello and my garden. I’m also going to try to get a nice long run in (god help me!) and maybe do a crossword or two. Here are a few things that I am loving right now, check them out:
I am getting ready to set up a home office in my studio, and I have my eye on this desk:
All hail the great Ina Garten. Thank you for saying this so simply and clearly.
How to lunch like a boss.
Do you have a favorite podcast? I’ve been listening to this one for a while now, and these sisters crack me up!
I’m heading to Florida in two weeks, and I love the back on this bathing suit.
I finally finished this book, and it was as good as everyone said it would be.
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: Read More
The plane tickets were on sale, the hotel room was cheap, and you desperately needed to get out of the snow. So, you booked a trip to Bermuda—dreaming of pink sandy beaches, turquoise waters and fruity drinks. Then you looked at the weather forecast before you started packing and instead of 80’s and sunny, you see day after day of temperatures in the 60’s and lots of clouds. Yep. Welcome to Bermuda in the winter. We are SUB-Tropical, not capitol “T” Tropical, and we DO have a winter. Bermudians won’t even go near the water until May the 24th (the National Holiday here) for fear of being freezing to death in the frigid ocean! (I, on the other hand, went for a swim on Christmas day, and was perfectly fine ;-). But I promise you, all is not lost. For you, weary traveler, I have compiled a list of my favorite things to do during the winter on this lovely island, which truly is “Bermudaful” any week of the year. Read More