Getting into Reaching Out

On a day to day basis, I teach private violin lessons to young people that have committed themselves to music.  Dealing one on one with a talented and serious young student, lessons often go into extreme detail and can sometimesbe draining.  While the student enjoys their chosen art, it is not always flowers and sunshine.   Going into a school of children who either have never heard a violin or have just started their own musical journey, the approach must obviously be a little different.   Our job is to inspire children to love and appreciate music so that they will one day be our audiences.   Any musician who has looked out from the stage into the sea of gray-haired heads understands this need for a new generation of youngsters.

Let me set the scene at the second elementary school we visited with the From the Top program.   Lauren, one of my best friends since our USC undergrad days, is sporting a new hairstyle.  Next to my straight brown hair, her bleached blonde mohawk looks even more, well, mohawk-y.   This combo of ours actually works quite well – she’s the edgy, over the top one who gets the kids super excited about all the different things a viola can do outside of the classical world.  The fact that she plays in a rock band really drives them wild.     I play the straight man in this duo, first performing some Bach and talking about how I won this concerto competition and played with such and such orchestra.   I talk to them about how the bow makes sound or how to make the most of their practice time.  Then we play the Handel Halverson Passacaglia duo, always a crowd favorite.  By the end, our roles have kind of meshed together more and blurred.  Lauren clearly has a respect for her classical roots and it turns out I’ve got kind of an edge myself.   After the usual mix of legitimate questions ” How did you pick the violin?”  and not so legit ” How old ARE you?” we conclude the class and most of the kids scurry out of the band room.  A couple of girls come up to  Lauren and I, ask us a few more questions and then we invite them to our upcoming concert with New West Symphony.  One of them, Lupita, stays even a little longer, has a sparkle in her big brown eyes and says she just loves playing the violin and wants to be a pro someday.   I give her my direct email and, sure enough, she writes me later and comes to the symphony concert that night with her whole family.  I’d say this was a big success.


One Response to “Getting into Reaching Out”


  1. 1 Getting into Reaching Out « Danielle Belen’s Blog

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