Finding the right violin size

 
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I know that there are tons of information that are already out there for this question, but I feel that other than videos, a lot of the posts are either too wordy or hard to understand.

My head and hands were itching to design another poster for my students and parents, as well as anyone who might find this useful, so here it is!

The best way to find the right size is to actually try the violins with your teacher or a professional and trust them.

I’ll improve on this poster as we go along. Feel free to share it, hope this helps! =D

Matters of the mind #4

Dealing with low self esteem

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I’ve come across many young students who are hesitant to even start playing on their instruments during lessons. It may seem that they are looking for all sorts of excuses to avoid playing and if we are not mindful enough, we could just easily classify them as “rascals/rebels”. However, I’ve come to realize over the years that most of them behave this way due to a similar root of the problem: A very low sense of self esteem.

This comes out in many different forms in my students, namely: 1) Extremely negative towards situations 2) Beating themselves up in every possible way 3) Easily anxious 4) Does not persist long enough to find a solution to a problem

It’s a very long journey in guiding kids with low self esteem, but I have seen some of them transformed overtime, even if they have stopped learning music. What has worked so far for them and myself is to constantly pen down their thought process and draw them out. Visualizations work wonder for kids and anyone who’s receptive to them!

In this particular example, this student is extremely temperamental and has an extremely low sense of self esteem. His most common phrase is “I can’t do it!” When I started to draw out how his brain was working ( he named the wall of negativity “Trump wall” lol..) and broke down the reasons why he thought he couldn’t do it, he was able to see his own thought process clearer. ( He had fun penning these down as well!) Once we sorted these out, he was much more receptive to play on his violin and work through problematic passages. This of course took many months to cultivate the awareness of this mental barrier in him.

The goal is not to change the students, but to at least bring out the awareness of their own problems and to see an improvement through music. We can only do that much within a weekly lesson. The practice of mindfulness needs to build from home and the communication with parents on this is crucial as well.

It’s always a learning journey for myself as well whenever I deal with my students. Growing with them is not an easy path, but definitely a rewarding one when you start seeing more smiles and sparks in their souls <3

Matters of the mind #3

“No that’s an up bow.... No that’s a down bow... down? Down? Yes down, not up!” (Repeats this throughout the lessons)

A problem that a lot of my little ones have: Getting confused with the direction of bowings and the signs for it. After many countless futile attempts of re-phrasing my words throughout numerous lessons, I decided to attach this to the bow and this has worked out for most students after sometime! 🤗

Use a washi tape to tape any paper to the bow so that it does not leave a sticky mark on the bow.

Use a washi tape to tape any paper to the bow so that it does not leave a sticky mark on the bow.

 
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What happens when young ones don’t remember what or where their pinky should be on the bow? You tape a cute paper sticker to it and they remember it for life 😂 It’s actually a lot (sometimes too much) of information for them to remember how the physical mechanisms work when they first start learning an instrument.

It’s important to identify the root of confusion for them and work out a solution around that; while keeping it interesting and fun for them!😄 Try it!

It’s very interesting to see how the human mind responds to different approaches in teaching. Kids are inspiring as they have some of the most creative ideas that you get to learn from as well. What matters most is to find out what works best for every child and the possibilities for solutions are endless, as long as you keep searching!

Sight-reading Parties

Attending sight-reading parties together with friends was one of the fondest memories that I had back at Eastman and it has baffled me as to why it doesn’t happen here in Singapore ever since I came home in 2011.

SRP #1

SRP #1

Lots of food/drinks for each reading party

Lots of food/drinks for each reading party

SRP #2

SRP #2

Sorting out and filing all the scores

Sorting out and filing all the scores

SRP #3

SRP #3

SRP #4

SRP #4

I’m so happy to finally be able to start these parties from this year onward as I have my own place now. The chamber music itch hits me almost every 3-4 months amidst the crazy schedule and it’s been fun as well to prepare these parties; improving on making it a better experience for all by compiling and tidying up the scores. Everyone has been such a sport and good company and I’m definitely hoping to include more instruments other than strings in these chamber music readings in future! Cheers to music, good company and good food! <3

Source: https://www.christinazhou.net/blog/2018/si...

String Teachers' Collective

WHAT IS the STRING TEACHERS’ COLLECTIVE ALL ABOUT?

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Ever since I came home in 2011 after graduation, it’s been a whirlwind journey with balancing teaching, performing and everything else life has to give. One thing that has been consistent is the strong desire in doing much more in the education sector and building the community; not just for students and our community, but for teachers in general as well.

One of the biggest challenges is finding the right people to work with, people who align with your beliefs and values. This year, it felt like the stars aligned and it’s so exciting to work with Tee Tong on this collective for and with like- minded teachers. There isn’t a collective like this for string teachers in Singapore and we are very happy to initiate this. I’ve known Tee back in 2014 and it’s heartwarming to see how we have grown over the years, reconnect and develop in different ways. It’s always rare to find people who are 1000% dedicated to education and growing the music community here, and Tee is one of them! As what Tee wrote about STC: “Building an inspired string teaching and learning community, organised by string educators for string educators.”

Read more about Tee’s thoughts on STC here!

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We’ve had our first dialogue session back in October and it was such an intimate, inspiring and heart warming event where everyone exchanged and shared their thoughts on pedagogical related issues. Struggles, things that work or don’t; it was almost too much content to cover in that session!

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String Teachers’ Collective welcomes any teacher who is looking to share your struggles or experiences, seeking any growth in your own teaching or learning journey and we hope that this community will allow that space that you need.

Our next session is coming up on JANUARY 14th 2019! Please RSVP down below! If you think “Oh I don’t know what’s gonna happen” or even slightly intimidated by the thought of attending these sessions or what you could share, then all the more you should join us and check it out for yourself!=D

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Living with grief and your fears

Grief hits in different forms; losing a loved one, losing a career, relationship etc.. Any form of loss.

My greatest fear in life since young is losing a loved one. It hasn’t been an easy journey dealing with grief ever since I first experienced it back in 2012 when my teacher/mentor, Zvi Zeitlin passed on. When you’re much younger (teenager), you just see it as a “sad event” and get on with life much faster. The older I get, the more I realized that I have/need to deal with this kind of loss. There is no timeline in healing, there are no right ways in dealing with loss and sometimes it hits you in waves in the slightest and least unexpected moments. Sometimes, you avoid things that remind you of the loss, sometimes you want to relive the memories for fear of forgetting while trying to block it out at the same time. Sometimes you question your emotions overtime and wonder if you’ll ever get better as the pain is too devastating. Sometimes you think you know how to deal with the emotions until something new triggers the pain or fear once again.

Sometimes I want to love people less so that the pain won’t be as intense if I ever have to deal with the loss in future, but at the same time, those who I love and treasure are the reasons I live and love, the motivations and drive behind what I do and I can only love them dearly. Sometimes you don’t want to talk to your friends, even loved ones about it as you think that no one will ever understand.

But.

It will get better. However long it takes. At least it has helped me so far; if you allow any of these thoughts to flow and just be. It’s ok to avoid things. It’s ok to block certain things out. But it will also be better if you allow others into your deepest fears and inner world sometimes. I’m used to listening to others. I’m used to trying to keep it all inside my heart and head and not talk to even my closest friends about it, thinking that “Everyone has shit to deal with, I better not bother them with mine and add on to their burden.”

But I’ve learned that it will help to heal if I talk about it. It’s still hard, especially when it’s also hard for others to approach you. “I don’t know what to say. I don’t know the right things to say.” Thoughts that go through my mind when others are going through grief. But just being there, letting them know in every little way that you are thinking of them helps.

Grief has changed my outlook on life, my values and my motivations for the better. Grief is like a life compass that directs a different/new perspective in your life. The people whom you have lost will live through your life in so many ways, as well as sharing that bit of them with others throughout your life. We mourn for their absence but rejoice for their presence in our hearts forever.

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Banksy’s artwork “Girl with balloon” has a different purpose and meaning, but it somehow resonated with me in terms of dealing with grief/ life.

Learning to manage these painful emotions will be a lifelong journey. I can never know if I’ll ever be able to “recover” from the loss, I don’t plan on fixing that as I have no answers as well. Some things might never be “fixed”. Letting go does not equate to not caring, it’s allowing yourself the space to accept and grow in a different way.

All I know is that I can only live my life as meaningful as I want to, as much as these lost ones would hope for me to, to share as much as I can, to love as much as I can and as much as those around me right now would hope for as well.

Finding that inner peace is a constant journey. I hope that for everyone going through grief at different stages/moments throughout of your life, that you know that you are not alone and that it’s ok to be not ok.

Much love and hugs. Thank you for reading this as well. <3

Source: https://www.christinazhou.net/blog/2018/li...

Reminisce

Oct 28th 2018

Bach Sonata in G minor: Adagio

Bach Sonata in G minor: Adagio

Moszkowski Suite for Two Violins and Piano

Moszkowski Suite for Two Violins and Piano

Why “Reminisce”?

It’s been 7 years since I graduated from Eastman School of Music; a place that changed my life, mainly because of my mentor, the late Mr Zvi Zeitlin and the bonds forged during my time there. It has always been a dream of mine to hold my own ticketed solo recital here in Singapore and this dream came true this year together with Liu Jia and Kitty, who have been inspirations and close to my heart way before any of these planning came into action.

The human bonds and memories created in the past are things that I treasure the most since young; be it good or bad, tough or smooth-sailing. I live by this: 做人最重要,真心真意过一生,which means that one should always live his/her life as genuine and sincere as possible.

Music is one of the best ways that I can express the unspoken. After all these years of working, playing together with colleagues and friends, teaching and going through the pain of loss, grief, joys and life’s ups and downs, it finally felt like the stars are aligning and a strong desire to put together a recital this year that celebrates friendship and memories.

Rehearsal at sound check

Rehearsal at sound check

Rehearsal at sound check

Rehearsal at sound check

I’ve known Liu Jia since I was a kid and she has seen me grow over all these years and it would definitely not make sense to me at this juncture to play with anyone else but her. For Kitty, it's an incredible “coincidence” and I would like to believe that fate, has brought us together again. We have played together in a recording at Eastman before and have always kept in touch even after graduation. Earlier at the start of the year, I made a trip to Hong Kong; where Kitty is based and I was very fortunate to buy one of the violins that Kitty has played on for many years, one that I have been yearning to call it my own for a long time as well!

To find the right violin is like finding a gem in an ocean. She mentioned how great it will be if we could get to play together and get to hear how the violin would sound, with both “owners of the violin” making music together again. That immediately aligned with what I have been wanting to do and it could not get anymore meaningful than to perform together!

I wanted a good balance and pacing of solo, duet and trio works. Solo pieces are always the most challenging and that was motivation for me to step out of my comfort zone and program it into the recital. The reasons behind choosing each piece are explained in the program booklet.

Tze Toh: Time- Dreams, Death, Love

Tze Toh: Time- Dreams, Death, Love

Prokofiev: Sonata for Two Violins Op. 56

Prokofiev: Sonata for Two Violins Op. 56

Kitty stayed with me from Tuesday- Sunday and every single day was basically “Eat. Sleep. Music”, what Eastman School of Music (ESM) meant to the both of us and it was so special to re-live those moments in a different setting. I took two weeks off from work so that I could focus and channel most of my energy towards the recital. Ever since we started working many years back and got into the “professional life” of a musician and educator, it is extremely rare to find times like these to fully focus only on the music and getting enough rest. Practicing together in our pajamas and eating every other three- four hours was true bliss!

More behind-the-scenes and #workinprogress videos here!

The most emotional part for me during the performance was performing the Bruch Violin Concerto in G minor, Adagio; dedicated to my late mentor, Mr Zvi Zeitlin and all those who have experienced any pain or loss, hoping that the music would heal as well. I was literally in tears at one point of the piece and it took me awhile to calm myself down while playing.

Bruch Violin Concerto in G minor, Adagio

Bruch Violin Concerto in G minor, Adagio

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The camaraderie formed among Kitty, Liu Jia and I over a few rehearsals before the recital was astonishing and we had so much fun rehearsing and performing the Moszkowski.

At the end of the concert, I could not hold back my tears anymore because of the precious moments created because of them, as well as the deep gratitude towards the audience and the people who have supported me and influenced me all these years. All these moments will only happen once and the best way to re-live those moments is to “Reminisce” about it😄

Snippets of concert videos coming soon…=D

Source: https://www.christinazhou.net/blog/afterth...

Matters of the mind #2

Building Confidence

#mattersofthemind

You know the times when we have students who constantly refuses to pick up their instrument to play or try to read their notes, and start to get really distracted and do everything else besides playing their instrument?

“Why are they being so difficult? What’s wrong with them? Why aren’t they listening to us? It’s not that hard to read a few notes, isn’t it?” - thoughts that might run through your mind as you struggle to make the lesson more productive😖

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The truth is- a lot of times, WE are not listening to their struggles. Beneath those seemingly “naughty behavior”, there’s an underlying reason that I noticed in a lot of kids pertaining to note reading issues: A lack of confidence. They don’t have enough confidence to deal with a difficulty or are aware of their own behavior as a result of that. (other than the fact that they are just playful)

When you start to draw out or simplify your students’ struggles in words or drawings, things become clearer and they become more receptive overtime. I have tried this with most of my kids who are in similar situations and they have shown improvements as a result, so I would love to share them:

  1. Pinpoint the root of the problem and guide the child through his/her own struggles (write/draw it out! Or get them to do it.)

  2. Prompt the questions and answers if they are not not able to express themselves accurately

  3. Let them know that it’s OK to have these struggles, and we can try our best to overcome it together

  4. Giving them the boost in confidence in saying “I can do it!” 10 times in a row can instill the idea to be comfortable with themselves with saying that🤩 (they usually break out laughing by the 6th time, but it does wonders to the brain of a child who’s initially uncomfortable with this idea)

After a certain period of time, you will realize that they start to get better and more comfortable with the difficulty.

When we listen and read our students’ body and verbal language, we can better identify the underlying problems, which usually are mostly #mattersofthemind. We’ll need to be flexible in dealing with the different personalities of our students. No one said it’s going to be an easy process and it is very tedious, but if we hope to see some improvements in the long run for some of our students, try it!🙏🏻

#tryit #buildconfidence #violinlessons #musiceducation #kids #mattersofthemind

Upcoming solo recital: Reminisce

Upcoming solo recital: Reminisce

28 October, Sunday

7.30pm @ Esplanade Recital Studio

The concert will also feature guest artists Kitty Cheung ( Hong Kong) on violin and Liu Jia on piano.

Tickets at: https://reminisce2018cz.peatix.com

This will be my first ever ticketed solo recital. It’s taken many years before I feel confident enough to organize one on my own.

There’s some stories and meaning behind each piece chosen and I can’t wait to celebrate and share it with you on the 28th, together with the amazing Kitty and Liu Jia!=)

# workinprogress 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Practice practice practice! Snippets of #workinprogress for upcoming recital pieces🎵

More snippets of #workinprogress for upcoming recital pieces🎵 Sloooowwww practice🐌 Tenths🧟‍♀️🖖🏻Prokofiev❤️

I've always wanted to play this chamber piece ever since I first came across it at Eastman back in 2007. Can't believe after 11 years, I finally get to learn and perform it with these two amazing musicians, Liu Jia and Kitty!

#workinprogress with dear Liu Jia! Counting down to Oct 28th!💪🏻🎻🎹🎻

First practice together for Prokofiev! The best practice attire is in PJs🤩🤣😍

First rehearsal together as one! ❤️ I am at a loss for words to be able to make music together with Liu Jia and Kitty 🙏🏻😭

Music brings back memories; the good, the bad and the rough times. The music in this particular movement is closest to my heart and it has taught me to find solace in times of adversity and grief ever since my dearest mentor, Zvi Zeitlin passed away in 2012.

🎻 I would love to share it with you guys on Oct 28th🙏🏻

Matters of the mind #1

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I’ll be having a series of #tryit posts that I would love to share=)

This method has worked so far in reminding my little ones to keep the violin leveled:

To point Mr Strawberry or you-name-it towards the music and not let him, or any other cute characters of their choice fall down🤣😍🤩

  1. Get some cute paper sticker bookmarker, or even get them to draw their own characters if they wish!

  2. Use washi tape to secure it to the scroll so it doesn’t “damage” it.

  3. Monitor the results and see if they have been reminding themselves during their own practice sessions.

Gotta constantly create what works for them individually. Try it!😄

#kids #musiceducation #violinlessons #washitape #tryit