Nanny Music #23 -Happy Holiday

After performing in public all year, it’s nice to just play music for the family. A 3 years old audience requested, Lady Gaga, bring out the laughter. Well, actually, it’s not a bad idea, you never will know what people want to hear, a musician has to have an open mind, in creativity and acceptation. Challenge is always good.

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Nanny Music #22-count your blessing, and pay forward

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Here is a comment I posted to a fiddle group in Facebook while people discussing about musicians charging for teaching.

–I never asked music teachers to teach for free, matter of fact i hate some of those event organizers don’t pay my children because they are younger, even they are performing in a professional level as all adults. But some teacher offer cheaper or free lessons because they admired the desire of learning, like my guitar teacher, I had offer to pay many times, he just said if you pay I won’t teach you. He do charge fair amount to teach in college and performance and still the best teacher in Taiwan. We have to respect those masters. On the other hand there are musicians count every minute they teach even charge extra for a emergency earlier leaving because they are short of money. The main thing is not how much you charge, but how you treat your students. My son is teaching fiddle now, he don’t charge much but according to the student’s guardian he is a great teacher, patient, connect with the kid, really bring the kid’s attention to the music, is that all what we expect from the teacher, a great mentor.—

Truly, everyday we are learning from someone, paying or not. Are you appreciated what you get from people? Are you going to pass it on and give the blessing to others? At the end of the year this is what we all need to think about.Image

Nanny Music #21-Just Do It

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Lia enjoys to play violin

Lia enjoys to play violin

Here is what Lia’s new classical violin teacher comment on her playing when she’s 12. Lia has a beautiful vibrato. Many would give their right arm for such vibrato. No one knows actually she learn how to do vibrato in a little workshop at fiddle camp the summer when she turn 6. Back then, her classical teacher refused to teach little kids vibrato, even other kids in same level already try it out. One of the violin teacher told me, it will take years to develop the skill. I believes what Mr Suzuki said, everyone can learn music and it’s never too young to start. So when I saw the worksop on the list of the program I encourage her to join. All I hope is she could grasp a slim concept of the technique.There was a lady walked toward me excitedly after the workshop and told me in disbelieve, “She got it. She is only 6 and she got it.” Over these years, her technique developed nicely. And her new teachers were willing to help her to polish it at younger age. But without that specific workshop, she won’t have the chance to learn it early and has the longer time to polish. So When you have the chance grab it

P. S. Please help us. http://www.gofundme.com/9meds our violins have cracks but they are not worth to fix. Please help us get a couple better violins. Spread the words to get sponsors for us

Nanny Music #20 – learning through teaching

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Magic wand

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Kai got his first fiddle student, a 6 years old little girl who have no music training at all. She is like a blank canvas ready to be painted. Her colourful life depends on Kai’s teaching. Will she like music as much as her first music teacher? Will her music approach go even farther? The sky is unlimited. And Kai definitely will learn how to deal with a mini musician to be, to bring her interest with his violin and bow like a magic wand. Sure the little blank paper will make Kai think and learn to not just be a better player but also a better teacher.

Nanny Music # 19 – Believe in yourself

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There are times judges in the contest don’t like Kai and Lia music style, or give other young fiddler more points because of her smile. But when they join the contest that has best fiddlers from the whole country and best judges who are in the hall of fame. you know it’s the real test. This summer they went through one of this kind of fiddle contest. Kai was the youngest in his category and there are some fiddlers in the same group who are almost winning every contest and were invited to compete in Canadian Grand Master Fiddle Competition. We were not keeping any extra hope or giving up, just wish him do his best. After a year of practice and analyzed the songs, there is not much they can do in a couple of nights except listen to the original recording one more time and double check every equipments. The result, both Kai and Lia won first in all categories they joined.
Despite how good they played, we found that because they were not nervous and able to perform at their best. They were not over pride of themselves, nor intimidated by the other fiddlers. And there you go, they proved what they really can do. Never take one lost too serious is the key to get them going. And always review after contests give them content to improve. Nothing is impossible.

Nanny Music #18 – different approach

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Lia in cello lesson when she was 6Changing the kids violin teacher again because Lia really want to play violin in the orchestra but not just cello, and we think they need a little boost by the recitals, camp, exam and the bigger environment with their peers. Since their first violin teacher retired, this is the third time we are looking for a violin teacher. According to the teacher to be, they are well-trained, so we are not looking for a “better”‘ teacher. Besides, Lia is with the same cello teacher since the beginning. So why?

The second violin teacher they have is from Russia, he is a nice and experienced teacher with super playing skill. During the years with him, Kai and Lia got very solid foundation but lost interest and slow down the progress because of his strict training style a few years later. He hates fiddlers and think the bad posture some fiddlers have would ruin the kids. We found a local teacher later on who is younger and won’t mind Kai and Lia play fiddle. She get along with the kids and bring them to advanced level, but Kai and Lia lost chance to participate in the recitals because she don’t have many students.  Their learning slow down again because lack of stimulation. And Kai is even thinking of quitting. So here we go again.  In different phrase of learning we found they need different approach, either bring more interest or need more polish on detail or just a little push with recital or competition. A good teacher is not exactly the one with the best reputation but the one fit their learning phrase in the moment. Lia is lucky to have a cello teacher willing and able to bend his teaching to grow with her. All the encouragement when she is younger and long-term personalized planning really pay off. All their violin teachers also help them a step a time in different way. Change or not is not the main point but to keep them going to reach the top need both parents and teachers work together and find what the students really need.

Nanny Music # 17 – the kid’s view

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When we drive by piles of logs, Lia show her sympathy, “poor dead trees” I reminded her, “Your violin and cello are made of dead trees.” She replied, “That’s different, my instruments can be used many times. Making papers is waste.” “So we need to recycle them.”

Her cello teacher usually good at teaching kids in kids words, he would pretend using the sword from Star Wars ‘zoom, zoom’ cutting the thumb stick out the cello neck so she won’t choke the cello. Or tell her don’t ruin Mrs. Smith’s garden when she put her bow too close to the finger board. Her violin teacher would tell her and Kai, it’s just like the Canucks always go to the gym when they don’t have games, practice scales is violinists’ work out.

Doesn’t matter how good the teachers can play or teach, if they talk in the kid’s language, the youngster usually accept better and show more interest what they are learning. That usually the way we choose their teacher. They might not have most famous teachers. But a teacher fit their taste and able to fix their problems in a kid friendly way is the best for them. And we are lucky to find some around.

Nanny Music #16- double blast

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Firework

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Lia‘s teacher email us an exciting email said, “Lia is really starting to blossom on the cello! She looks like a little pro, which means she is starting to sound like a little pro.” And there is a famous fiddler Daniel Lapp comment on her score sheet in a fiddle contest with one word, ‘Wow!’ Sometime people think she should concentrate learning one instrument, but why? If she can handle both violin and cello and do both in the pro level, why not continue both. quit anyone will be a lost for her. There is time we need to be forced to make choice but do you really want to if you don’t need to?

Even violin and cello are quite different in playing method, the two instruments have some similarities. And Lia is not just manage the differences well, she is also able to take advantage from each instrument to make both sound better. While playing cello make her fingers stronger to play on violin, the lilt style she got from fiddling make her cello playing really stand out. So have double skills isn’t a bad thing, is it?

Nanny music #15 – determination, A lesson from Ryan Kesler

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When Canucks lost by two goals at the third period and Kesler just got some stitches, there are only 3 minutes left in the game, he shown up and score. Yes, he never give up. and when he is back, he is on fire, nothing can stop him. 

In the same day, I saw such determination in Kai. When everyone think it will be a tough contest for him. And even our luthier praise one competitor as good as a violin prodigy.  He insisted to join the contest with his best. Guess what, he beat the so called best kid fiddler by 5 points and he only lost to the first place winner by 1 point.

It is almost identical situation last summer when he won first in the biggest contest in west Canada ( John Arcand Fiddlefest). Even his fiddle friends didn’t think he had slim chance to win, and he was underage in the category. When he decide to take the challenge, he did it.

Life is full of challenge, and the strong will will take him far.

Nanny Music #14- An Everyday Thing

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Here is what they do before bed. While try to learn a song from Calvin Vollrath (Olympic composer, Canadian fiddle master) video, arguing who got the right notes and who plays the right style, and Kai added:” I am so see Jane jams this with us.” The other day when i asked Kai to practice violin, he replied, ” I want to play Calvin’s tunes.” There is many other days, you would hear Kai or Lia called from the room they practice very excitedly, ” Hear this, I made a new song.” Wherever they saw an instrument they want to try it, no matter it’s in the store or at the green room or even in front of the festival crowd. You will hear Lia plays some classical pieces randomly when she is taking a break between the performance sets, you will see Kai banging on a guitar from friend’s house, or watch them singing in harmony during a car ride even they never get training of it. So how to keep them going? It’s an everyday thing, would be my answer.