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May 2021

Happy Summertime Vibes to Friends & Students!

At the studio, we are happily sharing our celebrations of a more relaxed spring and summer, which is especially welcome this year :)

It strikes me now, at this unusual time in our global experience… that:

  • Music is Always Good. Through all that is the human experience, through painful times and happy, prosperous times. When we are joyous it celebrates with us, when we are sad or confused it supports and consoles us. Like a great pet companion, it brings its intuitive affectionate gifts to us with exactly what we need in our moment(s)!
  • Music engages All of our Being, which means that we can benefit from its positive effects wherever our heart and mind may be, at any time. Music converges with mental stimulation, physical challenges, emotional highs & lows, dexterity, spiritual connectivity, coordination, and endurance in all areas. (Yes, violin is also an extreme sport.)

Here at the studio our music continues to serve us so beautifully and well! In our groups, impromptu gatherings, and in private lessons where we have settled into some “make-overs” and personalizing of our musical choices.

For late summer and fall, we may have a classical ensemble emerging, and our slow traditional music group will hopefully re-emerge:) It’s very likely that the mill will be running the Fall Open Studios event in November, of which we are a favorite destination for lots of our friends!

Wishing you all the Very Best Summer, steeped in the music of your hearts!

Yours in Harmony,

Debug Your Practice Habits
Recently Josh (one of our newer students) and I had a conversation about learning and/or playing a tune well. I talked about how we ALWAYS have things to tweak, correct, change, polish, modify, mitigate, fix, personalize, and much more.
Since Josh is a computer programming professional, I compared our musical/technical revisions to his debugging, and I guessed he had to debug at least 50%. He incredibly said it’s more than 90%! Wow.

What if fiddle/violin students had to change 90% of what they had done in learning a tune???!!!! It is never really that much, fortunately.

But still... music students are often quite unhappy to jump right in and start fixing, or may feel inadequate, or that they have failed somehow when corrections and changes are needed. Those things are neither useful or true! The student has simply arrived at the Phase of Revisions, which is essential in order to bring a tune into the “Knowing Phase.”

This musical debugging is a truly natural process of learning and eventually mastering anything. It can take a few minutes or (for certain items) years. The more we do it – and the sooner we do it during the learning process – the quicker we progress.

If you regularly incorporate debugging into your Practice Habits, you'll have far less to do in your Revisions Phase, later on! Here are some helpful tips for debugging your Practice Habits, because Practice is the place where we learn our music/tunes. 

  1. Always tune or check your tuning, on your instrument, even if you tuned it 2 hours ago. Starting with an out-of-tune instrument ensures that you will play out-of-tune.
  2. Begin with a solid open-string warm-up, concentrating on good tone production and a whole bow, and minding the lower and upper parts of the bow for tone quality..
  3. Be clear with yourself on What, Why, and How you will practice each item. Small sections are the standard for gaining control and confidence, with many focused repetitions. Playing through an entire piece (unless it is ultra-simple for you OR you already have it learned) is not really a regular practice approach. It is inefficient at best.
  4. Be aware of “the point of diminishing returns” and stop immediately. You can return later, if it goes well.
  5. Never begin cold with a challenging item.
  6. Never play faster than you can control both your left and right hands.
  7. Always listen to your instrument.
  8. Always take your time. The wild dogs are not chasing you.
  9. Stay with one item until something has been achieved & is reliable on demand – no matter how small. Like getting 2 consecutive notes to happen in tune, with good tone, and good rhythm. Or an assigned practice exercise.
  10. Do less with high quality, efficiency and focus, rather than more with lack of quality.
Susan, Josh, Cam and Toby ham it up in our Monday Night Tunes & Tech class.
Sharing Music with Our Elders
You may think you're "not good enough" to perform for others. In fact, though, as long as you play with caring and heart, you're ready to share your joy of violin playing with others. Older friends and family who have been isolated during the pandemic might especially welcome your gift of a live mini-concert. Who could you play for?

Top photo: Martha solos for her aunt. Bottom photo: Cynthia and friend Anne (who joined us for Fiddlers' Frolics a few summers ago) play duets through open windows for residents at Edgewood Center in Portsmouth.
Wisdom from Yo-Yo Ma
Yo-Yo Ma is a marvelous, warm, generous musician – qualities that all come through in this wonderful Q+A video. Even though he's a cellist, his words of wisdom nearly all apply equally well to playing the violin, so we urge you to take a look. Here are just a few of the topics and tips that resonated especially strongly:
  • "The idea of being a musician is that you're there to transcend technique in order to express."
  • "Knowing yourself, knowing your body, is maybe the first rule of being a musician: being in touch with how you feel, how you think, how your body moves, head, heart and hands. Make them work together and you'll be fine."
  • "If learning gives you pleasure and you can get pleasure from the physical sound and from the vibrations, you're in; you can progress. If you say 'It's really hard to learn' ... and you're all tight, trying to make it happen, then it will be hard. So it really depends partly on your attitude and also on how resilient you are at figuring out what you need to do to create a sound that is pleasing."
Traditional Celtic Music Concert
You're invited to a picnic on the lawn of the 1701 Colonel Paul Wentworth House, 47 Water Street, Rollinsford. This free event, on Thursday June 17th at 7:00 pm, will feature:
  • Hanz Araki, IR flute, drum, vocals
  • Cayt Norris, fiddle
  • Jim Prendergast, guitar and vocals
Hope to see you there to welcome in the summer with lively music.
Cartoon of the Month
A big thanks to Ted, who shared this cartoon for the newsletter.

We always love to get photos, cartoons and links that can be shared with the Full Circle Violin Studio community. Simply email your submissions to Cayt.
Inspiring Quote
With every year of playing, you want to relax one more muscle. Why? Because the more tense you are, the less you can hear.
Yo-Yo Ma
Vivaldi's Spring from the Four Seasons
The flowers, trees and birds have seemed especially vibrant this spring. This one-man performance of "Spring" from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" perfectly captures the spirit of this beautiful time of year.
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Rollinsford Lower Mill, suite 401, 402, 406
3 Front Street
Rollinsford, NH 03869

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