A couple of weeks ago I was asked to do a Community Engagement type presentation at a couple of elementary schools up in Santa Barbara.  An organization called From the Top, well known for its radio and tv broadcasts of talented young musicians from across the country, also has a branch that sets up outreach type events.  My good friend, violist Lauren Chipman, is an alumnus of From the Top and asked me to join her.  

I have done this sort of thing many times at my alma maters, Travis Ranch Middle School and Esperanza  High School in Yorba Linda, California.  In addition, The Sphinx Organization engaged me in school events alongside my performance travels in Atlanta, San Francisco, Colorado, Florida, North Carolina and Boston.  Read More

Last weekend I had the pleasure of leading a master class at Tom Metzler’s violin shop in Glendale as part of a new series of workshops he has created.  The theme was “Preparing for the College StringAudition” and to my surprise, it even got reviewed!   Laurie Niles from Violinist.com was there as an audience member and she wrote a wonderful article you can find on her website.   She recaps the class more eloquently than I could try to do here, so I will just attach a link for your enjoyment!  http://www.violinist.com/blog/laurie/20101/10860/

Congratulations students
Mia Laity and Erin Dennis!

Mia recently auditioned for the prestigious New York String Orchestra Seminar and was invited to participate this coming December. The seminar introduces the most exceptional young musicians to new musical ideas at a formative point in their development, offering them chamber music coaching from members of the world’s top ensembles,and giving them the challenge of performing on the stage of Carnegie Hall on a high professional level.

More information can be found at http://www.newschool.edu/mannes/subpage.aspx?id=30433


Erin just won first prize in the South Coast Symphony Concerto Competition and will be featured as soloist next February with the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto. The goal of the Young STARS of the Future Competition and Concert is to foster new, young talent residing or studying in Orange County, California. Winners of the Young STARS of the Future auditions are selected by a Jury of distinguished musicians.

Information on the South Coast Symphony can be found at http://www.southcoastsymphony.org/young_stars.php

Practice makes perfect -boy, is this the truth! The time you put in is important, but the quality of practicing is crucial. I love making lists (ask my students) so here are some of my favorite practicing tips. This is certainly a list that will be added to in blogs to come!



1) Sound is Everything – don’t bother practicing for technique if you are playing with a floaty sound that has no core or focus. Intonation practiced slowly is good, but without a disciplined sustained sound it will not work at 100% in performance.

2) Break it Up

Don’t always just play difficult passages from beginning to end and hope for the best. For example, a fast arpeggio or scale should be practiced starting from different anchor points within. Start in the middle, start on an offbeat, start in a seemingly strange position. The ability to nail a passage from all angles will solidify it that much more in your hands and in your memory as well.

3) Balanced Practicing

My teacher, Robert Lipsett, always told me that it was important to have balance in my practicing. There are two general types of practicing – Slow, methodical work: One is very organized and covers all the technical and musical aspects of a piece. Intonation, vibrato control, bow division, metronome work, etc. The other type of practicing is full fledged performance practice – that is, running through your piece in it’s entirety with all the passion and energy that you would have in a true live performance. It is so important to have a good amount of both types of practicing. Some people do all of one and nearly none of the other. A combination makes for the strongest players.

Sorry for the corniness of this title…had to. My latest travels have brought me to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Known for being a big tobacco manufacturing town in its past, this town seems somewhat desolate at first appearance. After spending a few days here, however, I can see why so many people love to call it home. Click to read more

These yummy treats originated in Winston - Salem

These yummy treats originated in Winston - Salem

Well, it is definitely that time of year. We are all just getting back from our summer vacation- some of them were restful, some more productive, and then BAAMMMM! We are hit with the September onslaught of youth orchestra auditions.youthSymph

As a former member of the American Youth Symphony , I look back fondly on my many years in the violin section and, eventually, as concertmaster. The friends I made and the repertoire I learned under Maestro Treger’s skillful guidance has directly affected who I am today. The auditions, however, were always an emotional roller coaster. As I hear my students playing their excerpts, memories flood my mind. Click here to read more….

IMG_3934At our last violin studio class of the Luzerne Music Center’s Senior Session, my lovely students decided to give me a goodbye surprise. Student Mia Laity (who plays on a very nice old Italian violin on loan to her) got up on stage to perform for the class. A fellow student Michael Acosta held her violin while she prepared her music. When she asked Michael to hand back her violin, he walked up to the stage, tripped on the stairs, and fell flat on his face on top of the violin. CRUNNNCHHH!!! Mia screamed. The room went silent….my hand went over my mouth and my heart pounded. Time stood still for about 10 very long seconds until Michael stood up with the destroyed chunk of wood in his hands. Bright orange wood, that is, that looked like it was made in China. The smile on my face let the class know that I knew–this was not Mia’s violin. The room erupted in laughter. The video camera was rolling. Everyone, including my husband who helped them purchase the $40 gem online, was in on it. I was duped. Nice one, kids. I’ll get you next time, my pretties.

Congratulations to students Adam Millstein, Michael Acosta and Erin Dennis for their solo performances last Saturday night. Also to Mia Laity for winning the Luzerne Music Center Concerto Competition. Mia will play the last movement of the Bruch concerto with the symphony orchestra a week from Sunday.

Erin Dennis performed a Brahms sonata

Erin Dennis performed a Brahms sonata

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Adam Millstein and Evin Blomberg along with their quintet

At the Chamber Music concert this Saturday, students performed movements from Schubert’s “Trout” Quintet as well as the Schumann and Dvorak Piano Quintets to a very enthusiastic crowd. The first two weeks have flown by…here’s to another successful (and even busier) two weeks ahead!

This last week has been a crazy mix of performing and teaching here at the Luzerne Festival – add on top of that a dozen back and forth emails between the editor at Naxos, myself, and our featured composer, Lawrence Dillon.aIMG_9137

Norbert Kraft, the incredibly talented recording engineer and editor for my upcoming cd of recital works by Dillon, sent me the final version of the tracks last week. Lawrence and I are both thrilled with the results! I’d like to thank Norbert for his hard work and also my colleagues Juan Miguel Hernandez, David Fung, and Stan Muncy for making this whole experience a success! Thank you also to Naxos and the Sphinx Organization for making this all possible in the first place!

Now we must be patient…it might not reach store shelves and Itunes until next spring……..

Congratulations to students Anna Vosbigian, Alexzandra Morris, Avery Morris and Cameron Daly for their solo performances last Saturday night on the Luzerne Music Center stage. Additional kudos to Anna and Avery for being chosen to perform at the masterclass earlier that day with Raymond Gniewek, former concermaster of the New York Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

In addition to Mr. Gniewek’s insightful comments and helpful suggestions regarding how to use the bow to make a better phrase, he also shared an interesting story. Years ago when he was first starting out as concertmaster, the Met was premiering an opera by composer Samuel Barber. One day, out of the blue, Gniewek got a phone call…the caller said he was Sam Barber and was hoping to get some help from him on bowings for the string parts for his new opera. Gniewek, in disbelief, took a second and then agreed. Talk about living history! Anna, who performed the Barber violin concerto at the masterclass, smiled at the story…only one degree of separation from the iconic composer himself.