“Leo Grinhauz's cello solo stood as a reminder of what beauty can be.”
– The Star Ledger, NJ

SEMESTER GOALS

1. My priority for the school year will be to engage my students in the process that is making music.

In the early stages of learning how to play an instrument, children often experience high levels of frustration due to the fact that it is just plain hard to make a stringed instrument sound beautiful. While the child can hear and appreciate the way it is supposed to sound, they find the basic tasks tedious, and the end result unattainable. I will guide each student through important fundamental, physiological principles that will illustrate that playing an instrument has to do with their bodies. Once they have begun to understand that they will overcome their difficulties by relaxing their bodies, and by repeating exercises, their form and technique will begin to take shape. Since everyone learns in their own time frame, I will recruit those that advance more rapidly to help guide their classmates.

I will have all of the exercises and music that my students will be working with throughout the year. Lesson plans will be very basic and will begin by focusing on the technical aspects of their chosen instrument. Once I get to know each student, the material can then be adjusted to suit their individual preference. For instance, if they have a favorite song or genre, musical exercises can be developed to motivate the student to want to practice.

I will also discuss performances and special events that will highlight the school’s music program, and the natural talent that lives in all people.

2. After three months, it will be my goal to help my students feel comfortable enough on their instrument to begin learning how to perform. This will be achieved through guiding my students through the art of practice. Just like they practice their math and writing skills, their musical practice will involve repetition. In whatever stage a child finds him or herself, I will convey that form is the key, whether it is reinforcing basics like holding the instrument and bow, or adhering to fundamental principles like playing in tune and in time. Teaching technical aspects of string playing will be a large part of the lesson plan. My aim is to show kids how to practice in a way to best maximize their time and to inspire them to go home and want to practice their instrument. I will stress the importance of teamwork and guide them as they learn to better play together in small chamber groups, and in their large ensemble. Equally important will be choosing repertoire that will inspire and excite children of all levels and backgrounds. Personally, I find that including music from all of the Americas is very rewarding. I also enjoy exploring different genres and musical styles from all over the globe with students to show them how strings can do a lot of different things and produce a wide range of sounds, and reinforce how interesting it is to live in such a diverse musical world.

At six months, my hope will be to have a bunch of eager children yearning to play music together. The focus will be to rehearse the end-of-the-year concert. There will be children at that stage that will demonstrate stronger abilities than others. This will be the time to pull out all the stops and help those that need further guidance. I will rely on the strengths of some children to help those in need. As those children help others, their own abilities will be further enhanced. My goal at the end of the year will be to present my children at their best by having them perform in a concert. This is where they get to feel proud of themselves and realize the fruits of their labor. There is nothing like the feeling after a performance. They will remember this for their entire lives and hopefully, motivate some kids to want to progress even further.

3. At the three month mark, it would be my goal to have my students be able to sit correctly, and properly produce sounds on their instruments. Achieving these abilities involves listening and focusing. If some students are having ongoing difficulties with these concepts, addressing their needs is key. Some students will need more attention paid to them at this point, and it is crucial to give it to them. Some students may merely be unable to keep up. However, in music there will always be something for them to do. Giving students good choices may enable them through the difficult times. Perhaps offering them an instrument different from that of their classmates may give them more of a sense of importance. The goal at this point would be to include everyone in the class. To that end, the addition of percussion instruments may be the key. Some children may simply want to sing, so that would be incorporated.

My aim will be to always have my children work together to achieve a musical performance. Just like in sports, a team works together to achieve victory. I realize that not everyone on the team will be doing exactly the same things as long as what they do individually benefits the group as a whole.