Archive for July, 2018

I am excited to start a new first-year violin/viola class for 2018-2019. Check out the results of last year’s class at the post entitled Concert of the First-year Class – 2018.

In our weekly one-hour group class, the children learn basic musical structure and ear training through the use of singing games, moveable-do sol-fa, reading and writing activities, and other activities familiar to most North American Kodaly programs.  They also learn to play their instrument together in an ensemble, and they learn to perform solo for each other in a casual setting, including concert etiquette.

In our weekly half-hour private lesson, which is attended by a parent, each student gets the individual attention they need, particularly with violin technique, which allows the teacher to customize the program according to the needs of each student.

With this model for lessons, the children really do get a comprehensive program for developing complete musicianship.  It’s amazing to see how much they learn in such a short time!

I am looking for parents willing to bring their child twice a week to violin lessons and to supervise practice at home.

Contact me at crich8136@q.com or call 801-372-4890 if you live in Utah County and want this complete musicianship training for your child.

If you are a teacher, I highly recommend this model for teaching your own students.  You can learn more about this way of teaching at Intermuse Academy located at Brigham Young University.  Log on to https://intermuse.byu.edu/ for information about their Kodaly Certification Course in June each year.

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This was a great year for the first-year violin class, 2017-2018, at the School for Strings.  Here is their performance in the May concert.

Here’s what some of the parents said:

“Our 8-year-old son has thrived under Mrs. Richards’ violin instruction.  He is consistently excited to go to his lessons and complains the 60-minute group lesson goes by too quickly!  Her program is well developed, thoughtfully progressing through skills to build a solid foundation and good habits.  She is able to translate her years of violin experience into a language children understand and enjoy.  We are so happy to see our son developing serious violin skills and even more happy to see him love doing it.”  JG

“Mrs. Richards’ method of teaching has been very successful for our daughter. The curriculum is very well rounded, teaching technique, theory, composition, artistry, and ear training.  The weekly group class provides a social gathering for the children where they learn to be comfortable performing in front of others and enjoy playing together as an ensemble.  I have been very impressed with the overall experience for my daughter and highly recommend it.”  MKW

“It is tough to keep the attention of 7-year-olds, especially when it comes to the arduous task of teaching music, but Cynthia Richards does an amazing job of not only engaging the kids but actually helping them learn music and have fun at the same time.  The group class provides the party element and the private lesson ensure that the kids get the individualized attention they need to progress rapidly.  You can’t go wrong with this set-up.”  ERB

Moving on to SECOND YEAR!

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Wondering what I might add to the fixed-do versus moveable-do debate, probably the best thing would be to relate my own experience in becoming a musician.  Growing up as a violinist in America, the only system I was given for referring to notes was an absolute one: letter note names that could be fingered on the instrument.  Early on, I had to find a note on my violin by its note name in order to know what it sounded like.  I had not been taught how the tones related to each other to make music. Later, I surprised myself when, as a high school student, I found I could pick out tunes by making lucky guesses for fingerings.  As a music major in college, I attended all my theory and aural skills classes, learning intervals by their numbers, sometimes being helped by attaching the sound of a well-known tune to that interval.  For me, this system was not adequate in helping me to hear in my head what I was reading on the page. Using my ears to form pure intonation with other instrumentalists or with myself was not a problem, since matching tones is a different skill from being able to perceive musical structure and tonal relationships.

It wasn’t until I was taught, much later, the use of moveable-do sol-fa that my ears awakened to tonal structure.  I rejoice that now I can hear a note as a sol, or a fa, or a ti, in any key.  The system is such a simple, marvelous template that can be moved anywhere around the tonal universe! It was a huge light bulb! I found this to be such an important piece of the musicianship puzzle that was previously missing in my own education, that I created a curriculum of my own for teaching my students from the beginning to have well-trained ears.

As I became aware that a fixed-do system existed as another way of learning the absolutes, I wondered why use it?  We already have a set of note names that functions very well.  Not until I learned that not all countries use these letter note names, but use sol-fa names for their notes did I begin to understand the problem.  And so, what it boils down to is what you were brought up with and your willingness to master both an absolute and a relative system for referring to pitches.  I went for a long time with ears which were asleep, because I was never taught any kind of relative system.  Now, I can hear in my head what I am going to play, instead of what I just played.

It is true that as music becomes more complex and/or atonal, the relative system becomes less useful and the absolutes more useful.  That is one reason why both are necessary.  As an educator, it seems to me the logical learning sequence is to teach the basic rules of tonality first as the foundation for understanding more complex forms.  When it comes right down to it, most of the music we enjoy today is tonal anyway.

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