Uptown Violins

Dallas - Wichita - Kansas City - Springfield

Happy New Year!


I can’t believe the New Year’s here,

It’s time for resolutions.

So here we’ll share a few of ours,

Read on through the conclusion!


Allison, with daughters five

Would like to keep performing,

Teach students to love music more,

And make a few recordings!


Ashley says she hopes to teach,

Her child the violin to play,

With lots of help from Grandma, too!

And write blogs each First Friday.


Sheree, the head of KC branch,

Would like to play new venues,

Our chief of social media,

She shares all Uptown’s fun news.


Our fearless leader Brittany,

Much music she arranges.

She’ll lead us in recordings, gigs,

We’d not make any changes!


Kerri’s New Years goal this year

Will empty out our cabinets,

She’s helping organize our songs

To read right off our tablets!


Christy, a college senior now,

Has one driving ambition.

Perform recital with great flare

To walk May graduation.



We made some great memories last year,

And are ready for some new ones.

We hope you had a great year too,

And keep your resolutions!

Happy New Year from Uptown Violins!

Ashley Rescot, 2019

Dallas Showcase!

Forty-Five Ten (downtown location)

Forty-Five Ten (downtown location)

“I learned a lot I wouldn’t have learned roaming the streets of Dallas.” -Dennis Rodman 

Brittany Peterson, executive director of Uptown Violins and Dallas resident of 7 years, shares some of her experiences performing for a wide variety of venues in the Dallas metropolitan area.

Brittany, which venues have you performed for recently, and what did you enjoy most about them?

Republic Center, AD EX

Republic Center, AD EX

Recently we have performed for Arlington Hall at Lee Park, The Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, the Adolphus Hotel, Perkins Chapel on SMU's campus, the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Hidden Pines Chapel, KPMG Plaza at Hall Arts Center, the Republic Center for the Architecture and Design Exchange, and First United Methodist Church downtown! Whew! (We have been busy!) We really enjoyed playing in the sculpture garden at KPMG's Plaza at Hall Arts Center because it was a beautiful night with a great crowd who loved both the classical and pop music! Arlington Hall is one of our absolute favorites to perform for because of the amazing facilities and staff who work there! The Architecture and Design Exchange opening was held at the corner of St. Paul and Pacific where the new downtown park will be opening soon as well! Lastly, we always love playing at both the Adolphus Hotel and the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek because of their gorgeous layouts as well as their dining options!

What Dallas venues do you think lend themselves well to weddings?

Hidden Pines Chapel

Hidden Pines Chapel

Arlington Hall at Lee Park is one of the best locations in Dallas for a wedding because of the beauty of the Hall as well as the surrounding gardens and park. It is located right off Turtle Creek and is very close to a number of beautiful hotels for your guests! The Arboretum is a classic outdoor choice for weddings because of its seasonal décor, including pumpkins in the fall, lights in the winter, tulips in the spring, and other beautiful flowers in the summer! Hidden Pines Chapel is also a fairly new beautiful venue which is perfect for large weddings, as well as convenient because the whole wedding can be held in one place, accommodating the large number of guests!

Can you share your recent experience playing for First Baptist Dallas?

First Baptist Dallas

First Baptist Dallas

It was so much fun to be able to fiddle "live" with First Baptist Dallas! They are such wonderful musicians and people! They always perform with a full choir and orchestra to accompany the soloists, so we all have a blast up there just worshipping! It was fun to play a little country at church, haha. (All Hail the Power)

Which Dallas venues will Uptown Violins be performing for this holiday season?

Adolphus Hotel

Adolphus Hotel

We are staying busy throughout the holiday season here in Dallas! We will be playing at the Adolphus Hotel for the Modern Luxury “Power Players” event, the Shops at Clearfork Holiday Teas where we will be accompanying dancers with Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite music, "A Night of Christmas" at First Dallas the weekend of the 14th-16th, Park Cities Presbyterian Church for their Candlelight Services on December 16th, Gateway Community Church the weekend before Christmas, and several other private performances! We cannot wait to play our new Christmas pieces from Sia's album, Lindsey Stirling's album, and the all time favorite "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)"! 

Adolphus Lounge where we perform

Adolphus Lounge where we perform

We hope you come to see us this season!

Wichita Showcase!

“There’s no place like home.” Dorothy in reference to Kansas, from The Wizard of Oz


This past month Uptown Violins has loved playing several gigs in our hometown of Wichita, KS. On our mother Allison’s side, most of her family members are professional musicians or work in dentistry. Her grandfather George Scheer, father Harold Scheer, brother Brick Scheer, and now her nephew Brandon Scheer have all been dentists, with several other family members working alongside them at the office, including her sister Laurie Little and niece Casey Scheer (Brick’s daughter.)


In September, Scheer Dentistry celebrated its 100th anniversary, and to commemorate the occasion they asked Uptown Violins to play for the reception. Allison (Scheer) Peterson performed, in addition to daughters Sheree Lutz and Brittany Peterson, nephew Darin Parker on drums, and family friend Terry Glanville on keyboard. I interviewed Allison about the experience to hear her thoughts on the event.

Ashley: What did you enjoy most about performing for your family’s special occasion?

Scheer Dentistry

Scheer Dentistry

Allison: What I enjoyed most about performing for the 100th year Celebration of Scheer Dentistry in Wichita was being able to honor the legacy of my dad who passed away about 3 years ago. He was such a Godly man who treated his patients so faithfully with excellent care. I was thrilled when my brother Brick asked my family to play. I wanted to honor him as well because, just as my dad and my grandfather before him, Brick is providing the community with fabulous dental care. I personally know from my own experience with Brick that he cares about his patients.

Ashley: Do you have any memories that stand out of your dad working as a dentist?

Allison: My favorite dental memory of my dad was when he and my mom handed out Halloween designed toothbrushes instead of candy to all the “trick or treaters” for Halloween.

It was very “fitting” for a dentist promoting good dental health. The kids really did love it, and probably the parents even more so!

Dr. Brick Scheer and Dr. Harold Scheer (Brick is also holding now Dr. Brandon Scheer)

Dr. Brick Scheer and Dr. Harold Scheer (Brick is also holding now Dr. Brandon Scheer)

Ashley: If your dad was alive today, what would he say regarding the continuation of both the family’s musical and dental heritage?

Allison: Honestly he probably would have made some kind of pun like 

"I’m glad to see you ‘put your money where your mouth is!’” He loved to tell jokes. My dad’s investment in dental school for Brick and all the musical training he provided for me were well worth his efforts. He and my mom sacrificed a lot for our education. All ten of my brothers, sisters and I have benefitted from Dad and Mom believing in us and giving us the opportunity to thrive. They did put their “money where their mouth is.” Brick, Laurie, Brandon, and Casey all work hard to keep this wonderful dental legacy going, and many of the others of us continue Mom’s musical legacy. So, I am sure he would say “continue to be excellent at what you do and give the credit to our Lord, Jesus Christ."

web 1_logo and dates.JPG

In addition to the 100th year Celebration of Scheer Dentistry, Uptown Violins also enjoyed performing in Wichita at the Autumn and Art Festival, as well as the HopeNet gala. I decided to interview Sheree, our art historian in residence, about the former, and Brittany described her experience of the latter.

Ashley: Sheree, can you share with us the theme of the Autumn and Art Festival? What did it entail?

Sheree: The theme really is bringing many art forms to the public! Sometimes art is viewed as an esoteric field, but festivals like this help it come alive for everyone. At Autumn and Art, they have booths with glass, photographs, paintings, jewelry and much more. They have live entertainment as well, including dramatic performances and music. This is where Uptown Violins came in!

Ashley: What kind of music did you perform?

Art Booths at Autumn and Art

Art Booths at Autumn and Art

Sheree: We played upbeat party music to get the crowd going! We are excited about some new songs that blend classical violin concertos with pop and rock songs. This always seems to catch our audience by surprise. We love it because we get to showcase some violin virtuosity while also offering something most people recognize from the radio. Again, it brings art from the realm of esoteric the public.

Ashley: What stood out most to you about the event?

Sheree: I always enjoy when we get to perform with other Uptown musicians. Recently we have been collaborating frequently with our cousin Darin on drums and a good friend on keys. These instruments add dimension to our sound and let us experiment even more!

Terry, Darin, Brittany, and Sheree performing at Mark Arts

Terry, Darin, Brittany, and Sheree performing at Mark Arts

Interview with Brittany regarding the HopeNet gala

Ashley: Brittany, what is the mission of HopeNet?

Brittany: “HopeNet’s mission is to offer comprehensive and professional services aimed at restoring dignity and hope, based on Christ’s love for those experiencing crisis.” This event’s purpose was to raise funds for those who cannot afford these services on their own. 

Ashley: What musical selections did you choose to perform?

Brittany: We were asked to get the party started, so we played a lot of pop songs! 

Ashley: What did you most enjoy about playing for this event?

Brittany: We just loved performing and interacting with each other. As Sheree mentioned before, it has been so much fun to collaborate with our drummer and keyboardist. Our goal was to bring people in and enjoy the night, which I think they did!

In September we were thrilled to return to our hometown to perform for so many inspirational organizations! Next month we will take a look at some of the highlights taking place in Dallas for Uptown Violins! Please keep us in mind for the upcoming holiday season, whether you are looking to hear your traditional favorites, or need to get your holiday party rockin’!

Return to Me

“Will we never all be together again?”- from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women



Growing up in a family of all girls, we probably enjoyed more than our fair share of chick flicks in the Peterson household. We were swept away by the digital love story You’ve Got Mail (1999), starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, which we quoted incessantly, much to the chagrin of our parents and boyfriends. One summer while vacationing in New York we even insisted on visiting Café Lalo where Jo Fox first discovered Kathleen Kelly’s true identity.


Another of our favorites was the Romantic Comedy Return to Me (2000) starring Minnie Driver and David Duchovny. We laughed at the hilarious old men’s club, hoping someday we could be as funny as them in our golden years. And of course we cried our eyes out when we discovered that the protagonist’s heart belonged to her boyfriend’s deceased wife.

As a family of sisters, we couldn’t help but love Louisa May Alcott’s epic Little Women depicted in the 1994 movie starring Winona Ryder (Jo March), Christian Bale as Laurie (pre-Batman.), a young Kirsten Dunst portraying the baby of the family (Amy March), Claire Danes (Beth March), Trini Alvarado (Meg March), and the forever talented Susan Sarandon as Marmee. Sheree and I always enjoyed pretending to be the oldest sisters Meg and Jo, although Brittany was less enthusiastic to play Beth, protesting that she never left the home and then died! Kerri and Christy fought over who should be Amy, as Kerri arguing that she was the 4th sister, but Christy claiming rights as the baby. Somehow we convinced little Christy that she could be the cat! And of course our Mom with all of her maternal wisdom really did mimic Mrs. March, only she vowed she never wanted to be called Marmee! Even now, I tear up as I watch the sisters move from their childhood home where they all lived happily together to try their wings in their separate domains: Meg as a mother of twins, Jo as a New York author, Amy as an artist in Paris, and Beth as the first to enter heaven.


Like the March sisters, we have experienced the growing pains of leaving the nest, as we now live in three different states scattered throughout the Midwest. Fortunately, thanks to our music, we have all remained close at heart. We perform together frequently in duets, trios, and quartets, keeping the family music tradition alive which our own Mom passed on to us. However, it is not often that all six of us get together, so we were elated when Brittany proposed the idea of making this music video as a group. It was her drive and vision that brought us back together for this touching rendition of “Return to Me.”

For one glorious day we gathered in Dallas to put our quotidian lives on hold in order to spend time together as a family. The ambiance almost resembled a wedding, getting our hair and makeup done and dawning elegant gowns that certainly would have been the envy of the March sisters. As we crossed the threshold onto the rooftop of 400 N Ervay in downtown Dallas, the view nearly took our breath away. Spending the morning playing violin with our best friends in our best dresses with such a spectacular view truly was an out-of-this-world experience. We couldn’t help but feel a little like Hollywood stars, followed around by our photographer and videographer. Brittany could not have chosen a better song than “Return to Me” to capture the emotion of the moment.

All to soon we had to leave the rooftop and change back into our ordinary clothes, but we still enjoyed the rest of the day running around Dallas playing our violins, talking, laughing, and eating at our favorite local chocolate shop. None of us wanted the day to end, and we nearly cried as each of us had to go our separate ways at the end of the evening.

Fortunately, this video serves as a remembrance of that memorable day, and in watching it we hope our viewers can catch a glimpse of the family love that remains the driving force behind Uptown Violins.


Uptown Violin’s "Return to Me" Music Video Launch!

“...I think everyone’s voice is worth hearing. So if you’ve got something to say, say it from the rooftops.” - Tom Hiddleston


    We at Uptown Violins are so excited to announce our new music video launch! It has been a lot of fun in the making, truly a rooftop experience for us all, and now we are so excited to share it with our viewers! I took the time to interview Brittany, our Executive Director and the head of this project, to share more of the details that went into making this video.


Ashley: What inspired you to make this music video? How did you decide on “Return to Me?”


Brittany: My inspiration was to bring in a visual aspect into our music! The music video ties in both visual and sound to compliment each other in creating beauty. I decided on “Return to Me” because I have always loved this piece since watching the turn of the century movie starring Minnie Driver and David Duchovny. I really like the old-timey, classic feel it evokes.

Ashley: What went into your arrangement of the song? Why did you decide on this instrumentation?


Brittany: After listening to the piece I knew I could definitely take all the different brass instrumentation and spin it with a string twist! When deciding which instrumentation to use, I wanted to utilize the expertise of Luke Ferraguti on piano and Darin Parker on drums in addition to our violin ensemble in order to recreate the jazz feel. Next, I listened to various versions of the piece and started to take the different lines and apply them to the violins. Building the chords with the strings was similar to how a barbershop quartet or a backup vocal trio might arrange their chords. Next, the improvisation was where the real fun began! Finding fills where cascading lines can take place in both the violin and piano parts is some of the best parts of arranging!


Ashley: How was your experience recording in the studio?


Brittany: Recording in the studio was a dream thanks to Luminous Sound! The violinists were separated from the drummer (Darin) by a partition and the pianist (Luke) had his own separate room. We all kept in time by using a click track in our ears as well as the drums. After recording it was fun to work with Tre who helped us hear what the sound would be like coming through various  kinds of speaker systems. 



Ashley: How did you select the rooftop on 400 N. Ervay, Dallas, TX as the setting for the video? Where else did you film?

Brittany: I just knew after playing an event on the rooftop of 400 N. Ervay that we had to shoot a video up there! The rooftop truly looks crystalike with the glass buildings all around! We also shot in Dallas’ historic district West End, and at Oak Lawn Park on Turtle Creek Blvd. for the more casual shots!

Ashley: What went into some of the other visual aspects of the video? Hair/makeup/wardrobe/etc.?


Brittany: Well, I wanted to create a story of us coming together, and really Kerri had the idea of having us get ready in beautiful light-colored gowns! I want to say thank you very much to Mickey Gunn and Lakin Kingston, our MUA’s for the day! We couldn’t have done it without both of them in making us look beautiful for the video.



Ashley: What can you share with us about the technical aspects of the video-making? Videography/photography/ etc.?


Brittany: The videography was done by Whitney Butler Media, and the photography was taken by my dear friend Brooke Moore! We really appreciate all the time they put into making this happen!

Ashley: What was your favorite part of making the video?

Brittany: My favorite part was just being on the rooftop, playing one of my favorite songs with my best friends/family! It was a magical day, and of course we had to treat ourselves to Sablon, Dallas’s famous chocolate shop, at the end of it!

    We hope you all enjoy watching our video! Check back with us again next month for more behind the scenes footage and my personal take on our amazing rooftop experience!




Celebrate America!

“O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?” –Francis Scott Key



     Happy Independence Day! Growing up, we members of Uptown Violins loved celebrating the 4th of July together as a family. As we had a great view of fireworks from our elevated back porch, we often invited other family members over to our house for homemade ice cream, which we helped Mom and Dad make earlier in the day with the old-fashioned ice cream maker. Of course Dad had to do the bulk of the heavy cranking! But it was always worth it, as nothing could beat the homemade taste, accompanied by a phenomenal fireworks show.

     Probably one of the most widely used pieces of music for 4th of July fireworks displays, the 1812 Overture, was actually written in 1880 by the Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. It originally had nothing to do with the United States, as it celebrates Napoleon’s defeat by the Russians. Tchaikovsky even quotes the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, in the composition. However, Americans realized that the famous cannons lend themselves well to the booming nature of fireworks, and it has become a staple song in our holiday festivities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31eHHQiY-xw

     Another iconic work associated with American heritage, the William Tell Overture, was composed by the Italian composer Giachino Rossini in 1829 for his opera depicting the Swiss Alps. Although not American at all, the TV show The Lone Ranger popularized the work in the United States, associating it with the American Wild West. That’s quite a stretch from the majestic mountains of Switzerland! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4134FfagFo


     This past month I have enjoyed delving into Czech composer Antonin Dvorak's famous  American Quartet, as I am to perform it this upcoming year! I love the bucolic themes and pioneer spirit the work evokes. Dvorak composed it while visiting Iowa where he first experienced the American Midwest. (At the time he resided in New York City while serving as the director of the National Conservatory.) Dvorak was particularly drawn to African-American and Native American music, which helped inspire both his New World Symphony as well as the American Quartet. The latter has become part of the standard cannon of chamber works for string quartet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DxtAHpYIXdU


     The 20th Century American composer Aaron Copland continued the tradition of bringing folk music to the classical genre with his popular ballets Billy the Kid (1938) and Rodeo (1942). Copland incorporated a lot of cowboy tunes into these ballets which helped preserve the allure of the Wild West. His “Hoedown” from Rodeo draws from the folk tune “Bonapart’s Retreat.” His work gained further national recognition as the music for the commercial “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner.”  Christy and I had fun performing this work as a dueling violins duet several years ago for her school talent show. It continues to be a favorite showpiece! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsReWx9XdNs

     We hope you all had a wonderful time celebrating the 4th of July, and encourage you to stay tuned for our upcoming music video!! We will give you more behind the scenes details about the project in our next blog!!


What Music Should I Choose for my Wedding?

-“For they say when you marry in June, you’re a bride all your life.”


    June is known as the month of weddings, and it certainly is for Uptown Violins! We have already been playing for several weddings throughout the Midwest and the South, and thought we would take this opportunity to share with future brides-to-be a few of the things to consider when choosing wedding music.


    First of all, having live music at your wedding is always much more memorable than simply playing a recording through a sound system. Although it will not sound exactly like the recording, especially if you have a different instrumentation than the original, it will help your wedding stand out from what your guests could otherwise experience in their homes.


    Secondly, when choosing music and style you should take your venue into account. If your wedding will be outside, you may want to consider our electric violin option, as these instruments will carry much further than our acoustics. However, if your wedding takes place in a historic church, the acoustic instruments would be preferable, as these older buildings were designed for acoustic instruments. Also, if you are having a traditional liturgical wedding, like Catholic or Lutheran for example, you will probably need to primarily choose traditional classical songs, as all selections must be approved by your pastor/priest. However, if your wedding takes place at a country club or in an outdoor garden, you will have more latitude in your choice of repertoire.


    On a related note, you should consider the overall style of your wedding. Is it contemporary and cutting edge? Simple yet distinctive? Traditional and elegant? These questions will help guide you in choosing the style of your music. At Uptown Violins we offer a wide array of music, including traditional classical, romantic gems, religious hymns, praise and worship music, jazz classics, and contemporary pop.

    Lastly, it is important to know the places where music is needed in your ceremony. Some of the most common include (but are not limited to):

    -Prelude: 20-30 minutes of music which sets the tone for your wedding as your guests arrive. Usually the musicians choose these selections based on the style of your wedding.


    -Seating of the Parents/Grandparents: This song can be played as the last song of the prelude, or the first song of the ceremony. As it is hard to predict how long it will take your Grandmother to walk down the aisle, it is important to select a song that has multiple stopping points in the phrasing. For a classic choice, you can’t go wrong with Bach’s famous “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring.” Some more contemporary options could include John Legend’s “All of Me” and Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.”

    -Wedding Processional: This is often the longest of the opening songs, as it usually includes the procession of the bridesmaids, flower girls, and ring bearers. One of the most popular wedding songs of all time would be Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” Again, this piece can cadence at any point during the song, so as to accommodate the number of people walking down the aisle. If you prefer an ethereal, Impressionist selection, you might enjoy Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.” For some more contemporary choices, you could consider Florida Georgia Line’s “H.O.L.Y.“ or Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.”


    -Bridal Processional: This is the climatic song for the opening of your ceremony, and should be the most poignant. However, as it is just for the bride, it is also the shortest song, so again, you need something that can be stopped after a brief period of time. For a dramatic entrance you can’t go wrong with baroque composer Clarke’s “Trumpet Voluntary.” A fabulous Romantic era masterpiece would be “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini.” Some popular contemporary choices are Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” and “Love Me Like You Do” by Ellie Goulding. However, if you choose one of the latter three, you may have to wait a little longer for the musicians to reach a cadence that sounds natural, so as to avoid an abrupt cutoff when you reach the altar.


    -Unity Candle: You will probably enjoy having music during the ceremony, and this is an excellent place to include one of your favorite songs! However, you don’t want to pick a long song, as it can be uncomfortable to be standing too long awkwardly waiting for the music to end after you light the candle. A verse or two of Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli’s “The Prayer” is always a nice choice, as well as the beautiful hymn “Be Thou My Vision”, and Burke’s “Hallelujah” as a more contemporary song.

    -Recessional: This song concludes your ceremony, to which you and the bridal party will exit. You definitely want to choose something exciting and upbeat. We recommend “La Rejouissance” (The Rejoicing) by Handel, or “Rondeau” by Mouret. Maroon 5’s “Sugar” is a fabulous choice as well as Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” and “Finesse”  if your goal is to leave with big and fun exit!


    -Postlude: Here you can pick a song or two as an exit for your guests. Handel’s “Hornpipe” is an excellent classic in addition to his “La Rejouissance” and Mouret’s “Rondeau,” which also make great postludes. Many brides choose an old-timey song such as Natalie Cole’s “This Will Be (An Everlasting Love)”, Marvin Gaye’s “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”, Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely”, and Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.” You could even choose something like One Republic’s “Counting Stars”, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ “Home”, or Justin Bieber’s “Despacito” if you want a dramatic finish!

    -Do not forget that you can also hear any of these songs plus plenty more at your cocktail hour for your reception if you would like to include this option in your wedding package!

    We hope that this list helps guide you as you prepare for your special day! Please check out our Audio/Video link to listen to several of these selections!


Happy Easter!

“And He Shall Reign Forever and Ever. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.”

    -George Frideric Handel, The Messiah (1741)


    April festivities began before sunrise on April 1st for several of us at Uptown Violins! We had the privilege of participating in Easter services in three different states throughout the country.

     Growing up, Easter was always a special time for us as a family. I remember waking up and hurrying downstairs to see if the Easter Bunny had filled my basket with goodies, piling it high with malted milk ball eggs, chocolate bunnies, and yellow peeps. The Easter Bunny’s jellybean hunt was always a huge hit, although I ate the goodies so fast not many of them actually made it into my basket! My sisters and I always loved reading the tales of the Easter Bunny, especially The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Du Bose Heyward (1939). It is a charming tale about a little bunny who dreams of becoming one of the five Easter Bunnies when she grows up. Everyone tells her it is impossible, but even after she has a large family (of twenty-one baby rabbits!) she proves to the world that she deserves to be one of the five. She hops all over the world, delivering colored eggs to children everywhere before returning home with a basket for her own babies, wearing a magical pair of golden shoes. My sisters and I loved this story so much we would act it out, with me as the mother bunny, my sisters as the babies, and extra stuffed animals to fill in as the remaining bunnies.


     On Easter we always attended church, often listening to our mother sing with the choir or play in the pit orchestra for the Easter cantata. In the evening our parents led us in a time of family worship, for which we sang the beautiful Easter hymns “Up From the Grave He Arose” and “Christ the Lord is Risen Today.” Afterwards, Dad gave a devotional on the importance of Christ’s death and Resurrection to our Christian faith. Although Easter was particularly special, my parents led us in these devotions every Sunday night throughout the year, helping us to better understand the life and work of Jesus.

     Now, although we can’t all be together each year for this special holiday, we continue our Easter traditions in our own communities, with our own families. In Dallas Kerri played for a Good Friday service, and Brittany performed several for Easter. She even had the opportunity to accompany Christian recording artist, Jeremy Riddle while he sang “All Hail King Jesus!”

     In Kansas City Sheree contributed to the Good Friday service at her church, playing the poignant worship songs “My Savior King,” “Broken Vessels,” and “Provide.” Allison sang with her church choir in Wichita, while also celebrating the holiday with Christy and our Dad. Stacy. In Illinois, I had the opportunity to play for Good Friday and Easter morning services at my local church. I especially enjoyed playing my friend’s spine-tingling arrangement of the hymn “Stricken and Smitten,” as well as accompanying the choir on Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from his famous baroque oratorio The Messiah. Afterwards I “hopped” back home in sparkling silver shoes (apparently silver ones have no magical powers) to fill my own daughter’s Easter basket with goodies, and to hide the jellybeans for the jellybean hunt. And of course, I had to read The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, in the hopes that one day she will carry on our Easter traditions with her own family.

The Chamber Music of Secrets!

“Chamber Music— a conversation between friends.” –Catherine Drinker Bowen


One of the advantages to being a professional violinist is its variety! We frequently have the opportunity to learn new material, explore multiple genres, and uncover old gems from centuries past. We also have the chance to play in a variety of capacities, whether as soloists, orchestral players, or members of small ensembles.


This month I am enjoying immersing myself in the latter by delving into the world of chamber music. It is such a fun medium, as it provides an intimate setting in which performers can engage in “musical conversations.” This past Wednesday I had the opportunity to perform a chamber concert featuring several violin and cello duets, including Beethoven’s Duet in C Major, as well as several pieces by lesser-known Russian composer Reinhold Glière (1874-1956). In his work Huit Morceaux pour violon et violoncelle, Op. 39, the first movement certainly reflects the provocative harmonies of the turn of the twentieth century in which the violin plays an accompanimental role while the cello plays the doleful melody. However, the second movement stands in sharp contrast to the first, as this “Gavotte” sounds much more Baroque in style. The third movement, “Berceuse” is a sweet lullaby, evoking a soft quality by the instrumentalists’ use of mutes. The “Canzonetta” picks up the tempo, with the violin carrying the melody over the cellist’s broken arpeggios.


On March 25th, I look forward to performing more Beethoven, whose genius is by no means lost in his string quartets, as well as a portion of Shubert’s famous quartet Death and the Maiden (1824). Sadly, Schubert was a sickly composer who died at the young age of 31. This work reflects his preoccupation with death, depicting the maiden’s struggle and eventual embrace of death. In spite of the composer’s early demise, his quartet’s appeal has lived on for nearly two centuries.


I asked other members of Uptown Violins what were some of their favorite chamber works, and they mentioned Brahm’s Horn Trio in Eb Major, Op. 40 (1865), a fun work for violin, piano, and natural horn, as well as Shostakovich’s famous String Quartet No. 8 (1960), which secretly depicted his struggle against the Communist Party. We also really enjoy performing Baroque violin duets, including Bach’s Double Violin Concerto, as well as Tartini’s Sonata in D Major for Two Violins and Piano. We have a lot of fun performing together (as well as collaborating with our talented colleagues), and look forward to many more upcoming performances. If you are interested in having special music at your event, please consider adding a bit of charm by adding our live chamber music!


Gliere: https://youtu.be/YCEKqjKZ8rE

Beethoven Quartet in c minor: https://youtu.be/ejL43BmxL20

Schubert Death and the Maiden: https://youtu.be/8fXYjSmR6Bw

Brahms Horn Trio: https://youtu.be/ORvvsRawgDo

Shostakovich Quartet No. 8: https://youtu.be/tby5aMrMu6Q


Romeo and Juliet!

“Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.”
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet


Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, bringing thoughts of love and warmth to our cold winter. I can still remember a very special Valentine’s Day several years ago when a handsome guy took me on a helicopter ride and asked me to be his wife. I said yes, of course!

    However, the love story we are looking at today is not quite such a happy one, although its longevity has stood the test of time. Romeo and Juliet is arguably one of the most famous plays ever written. William Shakespeare wrote the work at the end of the sixteenth century, and it has continued to fascinate artistic aficionados centuries later.


    Artists including Ford Madox Brown (1821-1893) and Frank Dicksee (1853-1928) have memorialized the famous balcony scene on canvas. Eighteenth-century actor and playwright David Garrick adapted the work to better appeal to his contemporary audience. The film industry has created multiple versions of the story, including the 1936 film with Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer as the star-crossed lovers. The renowned 1968 film adaptation features Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, and of course who can forget Leonarda DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the 1996 version? Only a few years ago in 2013, Douglas Booth and Hailee Steinfeld starred in yet another remake of the epic tale.

    Musically, Romeo and Juliet appealed greatly to the 19th-century Romantic sensibility, resulting in phenomenal orchestral masterpieces. Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) greatly admired the literary works of Shakespeare, as well as the musical genius of Beethoven, so when he wrote his symphonie dramatique Romeo and Juliet, he drew inspiration from Shakespeare’s epic depiction of love, as well as Beethoven’s use of vocals in a symphonic work, as evidenced in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (1824). Berlioz first saw David Garrick’s version of Romeo and Juliet in 1827, which inspired him to compose a symphony on the story. A little over a decade later, in 1839, he wrote the symphonie dramatique. Although the work employs vocals, Berlioz admiringly gave the lead characters of Romeo and Juliet to the orchestra, who play the “scène d’amour.”


    Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Overture-Fantasy of Romeo and Juliet was first performed in 1870, but underwent much editing for a decade until the Tchaikovsky finished the version we know today. Unlike Berlioz’s colossal work (the entire symphonie dramatique takes about an hour and a half to perform), Tchaikovsky’s is more succinct, only about twenty minutes in length. However, the beauty and power of the work is no less breathtaking. The 1936 movie Romeo and Juliet even incorporates Tchaikovsky’s music into the film.

    Composers’ fascination with Romeo and Juliet continued in the twentieth century, with Sergei Prokofiev’s (1891-1953) stunning ballet, premiering in 1935. He derived three orchestral suites from the original ballet, the 2nd of which contains the famous scene between the Montagues and the Capulets, featuring the majestic dotted motif.


    In 1957 the musical theater production of West Side Story captured the American audience through its retelling of Romeo and Juliet with relatable themes and a contemporary setting in New York City. The musical was a collaborative effort by Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, and Jerome Robbins featuring the volatile relationship between rival gangs the Jets (Montagues) and the Sharks (Capulets). American-born Tony, the contemporary Romeo, and Puerto-Rican Maria, Juliet, fall in love, but the story ends tragically with the death of Tony and a reprimand by Maria to the rival gangs in which she claims that hate killed him. The songs “Maria,” “Tonight,” and “Somewhere” beautifully describe the love of the young couple. The musical was memorialized in the 1961 film. Our own Uptown Violins member Allison Peterson even starred as Maria in a production of the musical!


    This Valentine’s Day, take some time to relive your favorite renditions of this tragic love story, whether that be rereading Shakespeare’s original play, listening to Berlioz’ symphonie dramatique, soaking in Tchaikovsky’s Overture-Fantasy, watching Prokofiev’s ballet, or reliving your favorite film adaptation!


Berlioz: “Scène d’amour”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aenKKIgXP0I


Tchaikovsky: Love theme: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upyQMC-ioKE


Prokofiev: Balcony scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a04IcHI1fFQ


West Side Story: “Tonight”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7xTvb-FAhQ


Let's Accessorize!

Exercise? I thought you said accessorize! –Anonymous


    We all know that a well-chosen accessory can really make an outfit pop, like a pair of red heels with a black cocktail dress, or a sparkly clutch with the right blouse. However, we’re not here to talk about fashion! In our last post we looked at the benefits of the electric violin, and here we are delving into its many accessories.


    Firstly, the electric violin by itself makes no sound, therefore buying some kind of amplifier or speaker is paramount. Many guitarists use Fender amps, and they can work well for their instrument. However, Fenders do tend to produce a gritty sound overall, making them less conducive to the violin. We at Uptown Violins personally prefer the Fishman amps, which can be bought from most local guitar centers. If you are just getting started with the electric and are only looking to plug in yourself, you might consider the Fishman Loudbox minibox (60 watts). However, if you often collaborate with another musician, we recommend the Fishman Loudbox Artist Amp (120 watts) or the Fishman Loudbox Performer (180 watts) which allow for two instrument inputs. The Fishman amps keep a clean sound that doesn’t distort the tone of the violin, better resembling the sound of acoustic instruments. If you want a quality three-instrument input amp, we recommend the Acus Sound Engineering One for Strings (200 watts), although it is significantly more expensive than the Fishman amps.


    In order to set up your amp, you will need a ¼ inch cable that connects to both the violin and the amp. We suggest that you don’t put the gain too loud, as it is not just volume. Also, if the treble is turned too high it becomes piercing, so it should be turned down lower than the bass and middle ranges. You can plug an auxiliary cable into your phone for music/backing tracks/etc. If you are playing in a large venue you should plug your amp into a sound system via an XLR cable, allowing for a more surround sound. If you use the amp a lot, you might also consider buying a cover to protect it, as well as a dolly to help transport it from venue to venue.


    After you have purchased your amp and ¼ inch cable, you might consider buying a pedal to allow for different effects. For this you will need an additional ¼ inch cable. One connects your violin to the pedal via the electric guitar input, and the other connects the pedal board to the amp. We like the Boss ME 80 pedal board, as it includes fifty-nine different effects. As opposed to the individual Loft pedals, this combines several pedals in one. The pedal board weighs about eight pounds, which is much easier to transport than a huge pedal board with many different individual pedals. Some of our favorites effects include the blues pedal (good for jazz), the wahwah pedal (for an electric guitar sound), the octave pedal (which we use to imitate the cello), the distortion pedal (which also imitates the electric guitar), the delay pedal (which gives an ethereal sound, and you can choose how many seconds delay you prefer), the loop pedal (allowing up to thirty-eight seconds of looped material), and the OD (overdrive) pedal (which gives a gritty sound). You can also buy a Boss ME pedal bag to hold the pedal and cords. If you prefer not to have so many cords, wireless options are available as well.


    Another small accessory we like to use especially with our electric instruments is our violin mute. The mute gives our instruments a warmer, less tinny sound. Because we use the mute most of the time, we turn our overall volume up. If you want a more pointed sound, we suggest taking the mute off. We personally like our Finissima mutes, which our friend Brandie Phillips decorated for us with sequins to add a little extra.


    Lastly, if you want to fully digitize your music we suggest purchasing the new I-pad pro. You can upload your music onto the device through the app For Score. This eliminates your need to carry around enormous bags of heavy music, as you can have it all at your fingertips. You would need to buy its accompanying stand, and we recommend the Page flip firefly Bluetooth page-turning pedal as well, so that you can keep your hands free from inconvenient page turns.


    As Valentines Day approaches and you’re thinking of buying your violinist sweetheart a gift, instead of giving a visual accessory like jewelry or shoes, try buying an auditory accessory instead!

It’s Electric!

“If I like dubstep and electronic, why don’t I make the violin fit me rather than making myself fit the violin?”- Lindsey Stirling


Last month we looked at the origin of the acoustic violin, and we thought it would be fun to contrast it with the electric violin. Surprisingly, the electric violin will soon be celebrating its centennial, as it first appeared in the 1920s and 30s during the jazz age. Stuff Smith, a famous jazz violinist of the era, performed on one in his band Stuff Smith and the Onyx Club Boys during the 1930s.

Now, nearly a century later, violinists have a wide variety of options to choose from when considering electric instruments. As usual, however, you do get what you pay for. If you buy the cheapest instrument you can find off the Internet, you may be disappointed with the quality of sound it produces. Most classically trained violinists who venture into the world of electric sound prefer the Yamaha line, including popular artists Black Violin and Lindsey Stirling.  All members of Uptown Violins perform on a Yamaha SV-130 Concert Select Violin. Brittany experimented with a few others before deciding on purchasing the first electric violin for the group, and she found that this violin most closely resembles the feel of the acoustic. Some of the other brands she tried out had a weak sound, and she wanted something that still sounded refined but with an electric edge. Although some electric violins look impressive with their minimalistic straight neck approach, we definitely prefer electric violins with a shoulder in order to better accommodate left hand shifting. For violinists who also double as violists, the five-string Yamaha SV-255 Silent Violin Pro can be a good fit because it includes both the E and C strings.


We at Uptown Violins love the versatility of playing on both acoustic and electric instruments. We were all trained on acoustics, which allowed us to develop better dynamics and, most importantly, excellent tone. Students who try to bypass using an acoustic often deprive themselves of these fundamentals needed for violin playing. However, the electric instrument offers violinists the opportunity to expand their sound palette, as well as adapt to more contemporary venues that were designed with electric instruments in mind.

    Here are a few the things we consider when deciding whether to use our acoustic or electric violin.

  1. Musical genre: If our gig is classical in nature, we often prefer to play our acoustic violins, as these were the instruments used by the composers whose music we are interpreting. This certainly doesn’t mean we can’t play Bach on the electric with a contemporary twist!

  2. Ensemble: When performing in a large group, like an orchestra or large chamber ensemble, we usually perform on acoustic instruments, as electrics are much less universal. Large groups need the string section to elicit a more uniform sound, which would be impossible to do if some string instruments were amplified and others not. In contrast, if we are playing in a rock/pop/praise band setting, we prefer to use our electric instruments, as they can compete more easily with the other instruments in the group, including electric guitars, keyboards, and drum sets.

  3. Venue: Sometimes we perform in large venues that necessitate amplification. For example, when playing in a stadium, contemporary church/building, or outside, we often need our electric violins to help our sound project throughout the entire space. However, if we are playing in a small setting like a home, in a traditional church, or in a classical concert hall, we usually prefer to use our acoustic instruments, as they are more suited to these environments.

We hope you all have a Merry  Christmas, and an Electric New Year!

"I Want a Stradivarius for Christmas. A Stradivarius is all I Want..."

"... I don’t want Amati, a Stainer or a toy. I want a Stradivarius to play with and enjoy. I want a Stradivarius for Christmas. Only a Stradivarius will do. No French Vuillaumes, or Guarneriuses. I only like, Stradivariuses. And Stradivariuses like me too!"


     If you know anything about violins, you’re probably aware you can’t go wrong in buying your sweetheart violinist a Stradivarius for Christmas. And she would most certainly be happy with an Amati or Guarneri as well! The primary glitch is they are very expensive!

So who were these famous luthiers (violin-makers), and how did the violin become the prestigious instrument it is today? 

     The violin emerged onto the music scene at the beginning of the sixteenth century at the peak of the Italian Renaissance. Bertolotti “da Saló” (1542-1609) founded one of the earliest violin-making schools in Brescia, Italy, during the mid-sixteenth century. Around the beginning of the seventeenth-century, Cremona, Italy, took center stage, boasting the most famous luthiers of all time: Amati, Stradivari, and Guarneri.

     Niccolo Amati (1596-1684), the grandson and son of luthiers Andrea and Girolamo Amati, improved the family tradition of violin making using more precise mathematical proportions than his predecessors (Cizek, 49-50).


     Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737), the most famous luthier of all, most likely studied under Amati, and some of his early violins resembled those of the Amati school. However, during Stradivari’s second period of work he created longer, more slender instruments, which deviated from those of his teacher. His most famous violins emerged during the third period of his career, around the turn of the eighteenth century, and are still performed by twenty-first century virtuosos today! Over the course of his lifetime Stradivari made more than a thousand instruments, including at least five hundred violins (Cizek 61-62)!

     Stradivari’s contemporary and fellow Cremona luthier, Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri “del Gesù” (1698-1744) created instruments that rival even the Stradivarius. The Guarneri violins can be even more difficult to procure, as fewer than one hundred of his violins and violas have been preserved. Nineteenth-century virtuoso Paganini played a late Guarneri instrument which Paganini famously referred to as “Il cannone” due to its incredibly powerful sound (Cizek, 63). He would send “Il cannone” to renowned French luthier Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume (1798-1875), to be serviced. Vuillaume’s copies of the Italian masters were so precise that even virtuosos like Paganini couldn’t always differentiate them from the originals (Cizek, 65)!


     During the late Classical/early Romantic period the violin underwent many changes in order to meet the needs of the day. In contrast to the more intimate settings of the previous era, violinists were now expected to perform in larger venues where they needed a more powerful sound. Composers were also writing compositions that required musicians to play higher pitches than before. As a result, luthiers tilted and lengthened the fingerboards, even altering the instruments of the previous era, to accommodate the nineteenth-century demands. Louis Spohr designed the chinrest in the early part of the century in order to allow the violinist to hold the instrument with the chin rather than the hand in order to facilitate shifting to the higher positions.

     Today, our twenty-first century acoustic violins still largely resemble those of the nineteenth century, and the eighteenth century instruments of the Italian masters are still the most revered worldwide. Although I personally don’t own a Stradivarius, I do enjoy my Italian-made Regazzoni!

     Stay tuned (no pun intended)! Next month we will look into the contemporary electric violin!

Works Cited:

Cizek, Bohuslav, adaptation française de Cécile Boiffin. “Chapitre 2: Instruments À Cordes Frottées.” Instruments de Musique. Édition Gründ, 2003.

The Violin: A Devilish Instrument!

“Death at midnight plays a dance-tune, zig, zig, zig, on his violin.”

-“Danse Macabre” by Henri Cazalis (French symbolist poet: 1840-1909)


The haunting month of Halloween is upon us, and I couldn’t help but revisit my favorite ghostly violin music. Over the past couple of centuries the violin has had it’s bout with the devil, from Berlioz’ Symphanie Fantastique (1830) and Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre (1874), to Mussorsky’s Night on Bald Mountain.

Saint-Saëns’s Danse Macabre is the quintessential Halloween work, as it celebrates the “Dance of Death” which we all must undergo eventually. The “Danse Macabre” was first depicted in Medieval French art during an era when Europeans frequently endured gruesome deaths due to war and plague. In Saint-Saëns’ 19th century rendition, the violin soloist plays the part of “Death,” who calls the dead to rise at the stroke of midnight on Halloween night. The violin, which we often associate with beauty and lyricism, begins its eerie dance using the diabolic tritone, or “devil’s interval.” In order to accomplish this feat, the soloist tunes the E string down to an Eb to clash with the open A string. The skeletons end their night of frenzied revelry when they hear the rooster crow, announcing the break of dawn.

In high school I played the ominous “March to the Scaffold” and “Dream from a Witches Sabbath” from Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique for the first time, and was struck by the power of this programmatic work. Last spring I had the privilege of hearing it performed live by the Illinois Symphony Orchestra in its entirety, and was again blown away by the French musical genius. Berlioz takes his audience on both a literary and musical journey through a series of movements featuring an artist’s obsessive love and grisly demise. I have always felt akin to the romantic notion of the fusion of the arts, and therefore admired Berlioz’ obsession with literature, which he read vociferously. I find that Berlioz’ fantastical literary descriptions of the work really bring it to life. Admittedly, Symphonie Fantastique is a phenomenal musical work in and of itself, but its ghoulish qualities are ever more grotesque when described in the dance of the witches’ Sabbath in the 5th movement, as well as the artist’s execution at the end of the 4th movement.

In Night on Bald Mountain, we encounter another witches’ Sabbath when the devil calls them together to celebrate St. John’s Eve, which takes place June 24th, as opposed to Halloween. As in Danse Macabre, the revelers dance the night away, but upon the return of the dawn, they retreat from the light. Although Mussorgsky composed the original of this work in 1867 (on St. John’s Eve!), his fellow Russian composer Rimsky-Korsakov’s wrote the more famous 1886 arrangement, depicted in Disney’s 1940 film Fantasia.

In 2013, the film The Devil’s Violinist portrayed the life and career of Niccolò Paganini, the famous 19th century virtuoso whose compositions are so challenging even the devil might have a run for his money! Paganini’s intense popularity, bravado, love of violin and guitar, and lascivious behavior made him the rock star of his century, earning him the title “the devil’s violinist.”

Even outside of the world of classical music, the violinist still can’t escape a row with the devil! In the Charlie Daniels Band country song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (1979), the boy Johnny duels with the devil on his violin to save his soul. Fortunately, Johnny wins out in the end with his flashy fiddling, leaving the devil to suffer defeat.

In my own family, we have always loved Halloween. As kids we usually planned our costumes nearly a year in advance, which our Grandma Carol would sew for us. This was no small feat, as there were so many of us! We especially enjoyed dressing up as the fairies from Sleeping Beauty while watching the 1959 movie featuring Tchaikovsky’s epic ballet. We good fairies always won over the evil Maleficent!


Additionally, our Grandmother Ruth, family composer in residence, loves Halloween so much she wrote a Halloween musical triptych made up of “The Witch of Hate,” “The Devil of Temptation,” and “The Giant of Selfishness.” I can still remember all the lyrics to the first, having dressed up as a witch to sing it as a little girl.

We now enjoy celebrating the holiday with my daughter Annalise who was nearly born on Halloween! Happy haunted listening!

Saint-Saëns’ Danse Macabre: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyknBTm_YyM

Berlioz’ Symphonie Fantastique:

    “March to the Scaffold”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=roX70PAu3oA

    “Dream of a Witches’ Sabbath”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cao6WyF-61s

Disney’s Fantasia: Mussorgsky’s/Rimsky-Korsakov’s Night on Bald Mountain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLCuL-K39eQ&list=RDSLCuL-K39eQ&t=14

The Devil’s Violinist (2013): Paganini’s Caprice No. 24:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WV5wDqJ5WU4

Charlie Daniels Band “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgvfRSzmMoU

Disney’s Sleeping Beauty: Tchaikovsky’s ballet, Opus 66: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmM-XX8atlQ

The Music Behind the Masters

“Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.”

-Jackson Pollock

 On August 10, 2017, Sherèe Lutz of the Contemporary Art Department performed with Uptown Violins to highlight the musical connections to Abstract Expressionist legends Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell  in the exhibition, “Pollock and Motherwell: Legends of Abstract Expressionism,” on view in Gallery L8 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. The exhibition is on view from July 8 through October 29, 2017. Photographer / Ashley Elwell

Jackson Pollock, arguably one of the most famous American artists of all time, still draws attention from art aficionados even now, over a half century after his death. Uptown Violins member Sherèe Lutz recently curated the exhibition Pollock and Motherwell: Legends of Abstract Expressionism for the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, which is on display in Kansas City through October 29th. While looking into the men behind the legends, she examined their many sources of inspiration, including the music which surrounded their work. She recently gave a presentation on these two works, Pollock’s Mural, 1943, and Motherwell’s Elegy to the Spanish Republic, No. 126 (1965-75), in the gallery where the two paintings are displayed. She was accompanied by Allison and Brittany Peterson on violin, as well as pianist Terry Glanville and drummer Rod Lincoln.



Ashley: Sherèe, can you describe the two paintings a bit, in layman’s terms?


 On August 10, 2017, Sherèe Lutz of the Contemporary Art Department performed with Uptown Violins to highlight the musical connections to Abstract Expressionist legends Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell  in the exhibition, “Pollock and Motherwell: Legends of Abstract Expressionism,” on view in Gallery L8 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. The exhibition is on view from July 8 through October 29, 2017. Photographer / Ashley Elwell On August 10, 2017, Sherèe Lutz of the Contemporary Art Department performed with Uptown Violins to highlight the musical connections to Abstract Expressionist legends Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell  in the exhibition, “Pollock and Motherwell: Legends of Abstract Expressionism,” on view in Gallery L8 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. The exhibition is on view from July 8 through October 29, 2017. Photographer / Ashley Elwell

Sherèe: Both of the paintings in the exhibition are what we would call monumental in scale. Larger-than-life in some ways. They are roughly 10 feet tall by 20 wide! They both are abstract with very little representational imagery. You would not see faces, or flowers, or a landscape etc., but rather, color, line and form. Pollock’s Mural is very freewheeling! Swirling colors and forms stretch across the entire canvas surface. Motherwell’s Elegy to the Spanish Republic, No. 126 is primarily black-and-white with strong verticals. It also has repeated red and ocher accents that move the eye across the painting.


A: What do you find most striking about Pollock’s work? And Motherwell’s?


 On August 10, 2017, Sherèe Lutz of the Contemporary Art Department performed with Uptown Violins to highlight the musical connections to Abstract Expressionist legends Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell  in the exhibition, “Pollock and Motherwell: Legends of Abstract Expressionism,” on view in Gallery L8 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. The exhibition is on view from July 8 through October 29, 2017. Photographer / Ashley Elwell On August 10, 2017, Sherèe Lutz of the Contemporary Art Department performed with Uptown Violins to highlight the musical connections to Abstract Expressionist legends Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell  in the exhibition, “Pollock and Motherwell: Legends of Abstract Expressionism,” on view in Gallery L8 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. The exhibition is on view from July 8 through October 29, 2017. Photographer / Ashley Elwell

S: To me, the most striking thing about this particular Pollock painting is that it is the first known use for him to fling paint onto the canvas surface. It points to techniques he would later use that made him so famous. I am dumbfounded by how Motherwell was able to achieve the most matte finish with his black paint meaning no shine on it whatsoever. This is nearly impossible at this scale!


A: During what time periods were the two works painted, and what were some of the cultural influences surrounding them?


S: The paintings could be almost considered bookends to what we might call the mid-20th century. Pollock’s Mural was early and Motherwell’s Elegy was towards the end of the period. The cultural influences in this period are far ranging, but being shortly after WWII, post-war trauma definitely played an influence. Particularly, it brought the leading European modernists to New York fleeing persecution in the 30s and 40s. These men had a large impact on the younger generation of American artists. But the young Americans pushed the boundaries even farther, removing almost all representational imagery. In fact, even the US government used this style of painting to promote the freedom that Americans had to paint however they wanted in contrast to the Communist Realist style of the USSR during the Cold War.


A: What music did you select to accompany your presentation of the paintings?


 On August 10, 2017, Sherèe Lutz of the Contemporary Art Department performed with Uptown Violins to highlight the musical connections to Abstract Expressionist legends Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell  in the exhibition, “Pollock and Motherwell: Legends of Abstract Expressionism,” on view in Gallery L8 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. The exhibition is on view from July 8 through October 29, 2017. Photographer / Ashley Elwell On August 10, 2017, Sherèe Lutz of the Contemporary Art Department performed with Uptown Violins to highlight the musical connections to Abstract Expressionist legends Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell  in the exhibition, “Pollock and Motherwell: Legends of Abstract Expressionism,” on view in Gallery L8 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. The exhibition is on view from July 8 through October 29, 2017. Photographer / Ashley Elwell
 On August 10, 2017, Sherèe Lutz of the Contemporary Art Department performed with Uptown Violins to highlight the musical connections to Abstract Expressionist legends Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell  in the exhibition, “Pollock and Motherwell: Legends of Abstract Expressionism,” on view in Gallery L8 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. The exhibition is on view from July 8 through October 29, 2017. Photographer / Ashley Elwell On August 10, 2017, Sherèe Lutz of the Contemporary Art Department performed with Uptown Violins to highlight the musical connections to Abstract Expressionist legends Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell  in the exhibition, “Pollock and Motherwell: Legends of Abstract Expressionism,” on view in Gallery L8 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. The exhibition is on view from July 8 through October 29, 2017. Photographer / Ashley Elwell

S: I selected a variety of music to accompany my presentation! Motherwell was well educated and very well traveled. He spent time in Europe and was quite influenced by historic European culture. In fact, he has a different collage series where he titled some of the works with classical composers’ names such as Bach and Mozart. So Brittany played the first movement of Mozart’s Concerto for Violin in D Major, and then she and Allison played Bach’s Violin Concerto for Two Violins in d minor. But then we shifted focus to Pollock who was an aficionado of jazz. He had a very large collection of historic jazz albums including big names such as Armstrong, Parker, and Ellington! Brittany had arranged a wonderful jazz medley that included works by each! Finally, we discussed how both artists had an influence on a later generation of artists, including some Pop movement artists. So we could not resist playing some pop songs for our audience as well!


A: Apparently at the end of your presentation, you took Allison’s violin and began to play with Brittany as a surprise. How did the audience respond?


 On August 10, 2017, Sherèe Lutz of the Contemporary Art Department performed with Uptown Violins to highlight the musical connections to Abstract Expressionist legends Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell  in the exhibition, “Pollock and Motherwell: Legends of Abstract Expressionism,” on view in Gallery L8 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. The exhibition is on view from July 8 through October 29, 2017. Photographer / Ashley Elwell On August 10, 2017, Sherèe Lutz of the Contemporary Art Department performed with Uptown Violins to highlight the musical connections to Abstract Expressionist legends Jackson Pollock and Robert Motherwell  in the exhibition, “Pollock and Motherwell: Legends of Abstract Expressionism,” on view in Gallery L8 at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO. The exhibition is on view from July 8 through October 29, 2017. Photographer / Ashley Elwell

S: I think they thought it was fun! They did not know that Uptown Violins was my family’s group that I play with, so it made it fun to play both role as curator and then performer for one song.


A: Do you have any final thoughts you would like to share about the exhibition?


S: I think both the paintings display innovation. It is always good to push yourself and try new things! You never know what might catch on!


    We at Uptown Violins have been thrilled to collaborate with the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City! We believe it is important to foster a connection between the arts, both musical and visual. Please come check out this wonderful exhibition!


The Hills Are Alive

“For I assure you, without travel, at least for people from the arts and sciences, one is a miserable creature!”

-Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart



     I am afraid that, like Mozart, the travel bug runs in our family! We all have those moments when we need to escape the mundaneness of everyday life and experience something exotic. This summer, two members of Uptown Violins traveled to Europe, with Kerri Parr and her husband Forrest taking a breathtakingly beautiful tour of France, even visiting the gardens where Claude Monet painted his famous water lily paintings in Giverny! Christy Peterson had the privilege of attending a music study abroad program in Austria, and we wanted her to share the experience.



Ashley: Where did you stay during your time abroad?

Christy: I stayed with a host grandma in Salzburg, Austria. It was a small apartment close to Nuβdorfer strasse. I had my own room, but she and I shared a bathroom. My host grandma, Heidi, made me breakfast and dinner every day, which was always amazing!


A: Where else did you travel while there?


C: We began our trip in Vienna, where we saw the Hofburg and the Shönbrunn Palaces. We went to Schubert’s birth house, and I was surprised to learn he was born in the kitchen! We also visited Mauthause, a concentration camp from World War II, as well as the Residenz, in Munich, home of the rulers of Bavaria. On my long travel weekend I went to Prague and saw the Jewish Quarter, the Castle, the John Lennon wall, and the astronomical clock.


A: Can you tell us about some of your favorite concerts you attended in Austria?

C: We got to hear Mahler’s Ninth Symphony played by the Vienna Philharmonic during the Salzburg Music Festival. The orchestra was alive and moved and breathed together. It was amazing! I have never really heard anything so moving before. I also enjoyed listening to the Salzburg Orchestra play Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major. I loved the atmosphere of both orchestras. The players would look at each other and smile. They looked like they were having the time of their lives!


A: Considering Salzburg is the home to Mozart, one of the greatest composers of all time, what is your favorite of his works?



C: My favorite Mozart compositions are his Violin Concerto No. 3 in G Major, as well as Concerto No. 5 in A Major. I loved playing them! Mozart’s playfulness makes his pieces enjoyable. I also like his piano variations of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. This may be the result of listening to beginner violinists play Twinkle for too many years, so to hear the creative variations is a nice break!


A: What was the best musical aspect of the trip?

C: I loved how accepting of classical music people were in Europe. I like pop music as well, but classical music often has a lack of respect in the United States, even though most music here actually has derived from some sort of classical music. In Munich, my friend and I happened upon the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra rehearsing on an outside platform. Anyone could listen and be a part of their rehearsal free of charge. I was amazed! The members of all the orchestras seemed have a lot of fun. As an observer, I could see when a member loved a particular part of a piece because they would either smile, move accordingly, or even make a face at a friend in the orchestra! The sense of community could be felt by the audience. They love what they do, and they want others to love what they do as well. It proved to me that you do not have to be completely serious to be professional, and that classical music is not just a serious matter!



A: What did you study in addition to music?

C: I took a history class on the Holocaust, which was very sobering, yet eye-opening. Hearing about Hitler’s life and how the Holocaust became a rational necessity in his eyes and the eyes of many others was baffling. Going to the concentration camp was humbling, but the strangest part was when we visited Eagle’s Nest, home to Hitler’s bunker and the houses where he stayed for a good portion of his rule. The scenery was beautiful, breathtaking actually. We went on a really fun hike where for a moment I forgot everything and just enjoyed the beauty. Then all of a sudden, I remembered the history of the place. It was quite eerie.



A: What else did you enjoy apart from the many musical experiences?

C: We visited the beautiful town of Hallstadt in the lake district, which was surrounded by the lake and mountains. Truly, Hallstadt is one of the prettiest places I have ever seen! From a relational perspective, I loved getting to know my host grandma, Heidi, and other Austrians. To be immersed in another culture was so rewarding. Experiencing how other people live is something I really enjoy. Getting to know Heidi was definitely one of my favorite parts of Austria!


A: Having helped with the Sound of Music themed music camp in Illinois earlier this summer, I have to ask if you went on the Sound of Music Tour?

C: No, but I lived it! Our group visited all of the on our excursions. We saw the church from the wedding scene, the convent where the real Maria Vontrappe wanted to become a nun, and the Mirabel Gardens that are so gorgeous with all the flowers and fountains. We sang in the festival hall portrayed at the end of the movie, and saw many places after which the sets were modeled. The lake and the back of the house were actually only a five-minute walk from my apartment, so I would walk there and do homework for my classes, hang out, or go for a run. I still cannot believe that became a normal part of my schedule!


A: Describe the typical food/dress/culture you experienced in Salzburg.

C: They do have a lot of the stereotypical sausages and sauerkraut, but the sausages are nothing like I’ve had in America. Personally I am still not a fan of sauerkraut. Of course schnitzel is a staple. There is wiener schnitzel (veal), pork schnitzel, chicken schnitzel, and zucchini schnitzel. You can schnitzelize anything! Austria is also very well known for its cakes, which have a lot of layers. They serve a lot of apricots, so I enjoyed apricot cake, apricot ice cream, and apricot jelly. Of course you can’t visit Austria without trying their famous Appfle (apple) strudel . We even took an apple strudel class, although I must say my host grandma’s homemade apricot strudel was the best!


In terms of attire, people wore dresses, shorts, jeans, and pants, basically American dress except that they only wore their exercise clothes for exercise. Austrians do have a traditional dress, which for women is a dirndl and for men is the lederhosen. I saw people wearing this attire every day as well. Women could wear dirndls to work, and both men and women sometimes wore lederhosen. People would wear both to church, nice concerts, and even weddings as formal attire. I couldn’t resist buying a dirndl for myself!    


A: Would you like to go back someday?

C: Is that even a necessary question?! Of course! I loved it and I already miss it! I miss the mountains and the lakes! I miss the people, the friendliness, the food, and the music. I am so excited to return one day!

Oh The Places You’ll Go: Music Camps 2017!

Oh the places you’ll go, Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So get on your way!

-Dr. Seuss


Uptown Violins just finished three weeks of music camps in three different cities. We had a blast working with our students across the Midwest!


Week 1: My Favorite Things, Springfield, IL


Our first camp’s theme centered on the beloved 1965 Rogers and Hammerstein classic, The Sound of Music. This movie has always held a special place in our hearts, as Allison and her family used to dress up and perform as the Von Trapps in the years following the movie’s debut. A half-century later, this touching story still resonates with our students. We read a portion of it each day to the kids, while also introducing them to several of its classic songs. We even sang My Favorite Things for our recital on the last day!

In addition to learning about the musical, we studied several other musical genres as well. We looked at classical music, listening to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos and playing one of his minuets while learning how to dance like the courtiers of the 18th century! We also taught our campers to fiddle and even square dance like Texans, which was a whole new world to our Illinoisans! On the last day students learned about early pop and rock music, listening to the works of icons including Elvis Presley (whom none of them had heard of before!), The Beatles, and Michael Jackson. They particularly liked performing a rendition of the King of Pop’s hit song “Billie Jean.”


Week 2: Under the Sea, Dallas, TX

The second week of camp we took our Texas campers on an oceanic adventure! Each day we discovered more about our favorite sea creatures, including the fact that male seahorses can give birth to their own babies! We enjoyed playing some of our favorite water games, including “sharks and minnows” and “still water still.”

From a musical perspective, we focused on famous songs which center on the sea, including Handel’s Water Music, Saint-Saëns’ “Aquarium” from The Carnival of the Animals (which many of the students recognized from the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast), Debussy’s Impressionist work La Mer, and Jazz singer Charles Trenet’s 1940s hit “La Mer,” popularized in the United States by Bobby Darin as “Beyond the Sea.” The kids especially enjoyed performing John William’s terrifying two-note theme from the 1970s thriller Jaws. We also delved into the world of music theory, working on mastering students’ knowledge of key signatures and the order of sharps and flats. To review our extensive material, campers went fishing for musical flashcards, and even embarked on a competitive musical treasure hunt, for which they had to search for clues with musical challenges, including playing the Beatles’ song “Yellow Submarine” and “Under the Sea” from The Little Mermaid. Our little pirates celebrated with a treasure chest of Swedish fish and goldfish crackers.


Week 3: Oh The Places You’ll Go, Wichita, KS

We concluded our summer music camps with an engaging musical tour of Europe, inspired by Dr. Seuss’s beloved classic, Oh The Places You’ll Go, the last of his published children’s books. We focused on composers spanning the Baroque time period to the twentieth century. The first day of camp centered on Russian composers, including Tchaikovsky, who wrote one of the most challenging violin concertos of all time, and Rimsky-Korsakov, who wrote the stunning violin solos in his famous work Scheherazade. The second day the campers dawned braids and alpine hats for their virtual trip to Germany and Austria, meccas of Western classical music. Having already studied the great masters Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven in previous years, we focused on Brahms, Haydn, and the scintillating Schubert symphonies.

Of course we couldn’t ignore Uptown Violins’ affinity for all things French, so on the third day of camp we entered the realm of Paris, with the Eiffel Tower presiding over us as we enjoyed the Impressionist works of Debussy and listened to the coquettish music of Bizet’s opera Carmen. On the last day, we enjoyed the Baroque Italian masters, including the Vivaldi violin concertos and the chamber works of Corelli. We finished the week by performing some of our favorite showpieces at the Lakepoint Assisted Living Facility.

Needless to say, it has been a busy three works for Uptown Violins! However, we all took time to relax together at our favorite summer vacation spot, Table Rock Lake. A little known fact about us: in addition to playing violin, all members of Uptown Violins are avid water skiers!


My Favorite Things

Sound of Music: “My Favorite Things:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IagRZBvLtw

Bach: Brandenburg Concertos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUUUAsqE77w

“Boil the Cabbage Down:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=441sSWWxee4

Michael Jackson: “Billie Jean:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45Ph_MXIP1o


Under the Sea

Handel: “Hornpipe” from Water Music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1h4mAceHmrI

Saint-Saëns: “Aquarium” from Carnival of the Animals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyFpZ5MZ7kk

Debussy: La Mer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOCucJw7iT8&list=RDFOCucJw7iT8#t=76

Bobby Darin: “Beyond the Sea:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5bRAtV-jgoQ

John Williams: Jaws Theme song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BX3bN5YeiQs

The Little Mermaid: “Under the Sea:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GC_mV1IpjWA


Oh The Places You’ll Go

Tchaikovsky: Violin Concerto in D Major, Op 35: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbJZeNlrYKg

Rimsky-Korsakov: Violin Solos from Scheherazade: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPB15Ma2o48&list=RDTPB15Ma2o48

Schubert: Symphony No. 8 “Unfinished” D 759: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWnKMzAedK4

Bizet: “Habanera” from Carmen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ_HHRJf0xg

Vivaldi: Concerto in A minor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTPiZup0QmM

Corelli: Christmas Concerto: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=na9OFx-DnAs



Summer Reading!

-“At heart, she was a violinist. No other instrument, for her at least, could capture the strains of the soul’s deepest yearnings and desires, its bitterest disappointments and losses.” – Tamera Alexander: A Note Yet Unsung


     The beautiful summer weather is upon us, and as a result, I have primarily relocated to my porch. My husband, daughter, and I planted our flowers for the potted plants a few weeks ago, a beautiful assortment of petunias, ageratums, and begonias, as well as several rose bushes for the yard, and my favorite pastime is now admiring the view with a peach tea in one hand, and a good book in the other.

     As a mother of a toddler, trips to the store can prove challenging, so I now order most of my necessities online: clothes, books, shoes, and even, I feel lazy even admitting it, groceries! However, I decided to brave a trip to a REAL bookstore to find a new book for my summer entertainment, with my toddler in tow. I selected Tamera Alexander’s A Note Yet Unsung, and finished the 430-page novel in three days. I have the sunburn to prove it! Here is my review of the book, without giving away any spoilers.

A Note Yet Unsung: A Belmont Mansion Novel

By Tamera Alexander

430 pp. Bethany House. $15.99

Published in 2017

     Alexander sets her historical romance in the 1870s in Nashville, TN. She recounts the experiences of twenty-three-year old Rebekah Carrington, a violinist who returns to her hometown after ten years abroad studying music in Vienna. She desires to play with the newly formed Nashville Philharmonic, but is unable to join due to her gender, as women are not allowed to play violin in public. However, she seeks to persuade the new conductor, Maestro Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb, that she should be permitted to join the orchestra, hoping the positions can be filled based on merit and not simply gender. However, the conductor works with many prejudiced donors who oppose this sort of progressivism, and she is denied. However, she is eligible to serve as his assistant, a job to which she reluctantly agrees.

     During their weeks of collaboration together, Rebekah helps the Maestro write his symphony that the orchestra will perform for the opening of the new opera house in Nashville. Rebekah resigns herself to being grateful she can contribute to the performance in some way, even if she cannot perform on stage. The plot continues to follow their relationship and careers, with several twists along the way.

     As a musician, I found Alexander’s depictions of our kind to be pretty spot-on. She described the perfectionism, creativity, passion, irritability, and intellectualism of the conductor’s personality, a combination of characteristics which often apply to people of this profession. I had to laugh, and slightly grimace, as I saw a bit of myself in these depictions. I must admit that the spouses of musicians really are saints to put up with us! As a violinist, I loved Alexander’s descriptions of the importance of the instrument in our lives, how it allows us “to capture the strains of the soul’s deepest yearnings and desires.”

     I especially enjoyed her inclusion of a musical playlist, which allowed readers to listen to the songs described in her story. I am a predominantly auditory person, so listening to the selections of Mozart, Chopin, and Beethoven deepened my appreciation of the text, giving me an auditory component to accompany the literary page. This fusion of the arts exemplified Alexander’s ability to tap into the romantic ideals of the 19th century when the blurring of lines between all forms of artistic expression was revered.

     Although the book is predominantly presented as a sweet, inspirational romance, it addresses several serious themes throughout the story, including sexism in the workplace, the shift from slavery to servant hood in the lives of African Americans after the Civil War, physical abuse, musicians’ proclivity towards substance abuse, the difficult effects of degenerative disease in one’s profession (a Beethovenian component), and the role of faith in these circumstances. I thought Alexander handled these issues with wisdom and delicacy.

     I personally found this to be an enjoyable, captivating book, and would highly recommend it for both musicians and non-musicians alike looking to find the perfect summer read. I am including the link to the book, as well as the author’s website for access to the musical playlist.




Pizza Practice!

Practice only on the days you eat.

-Shinichi Suzuki

As the school year comes to a close, students are busily trying to fit in all of their end-of-the-year activities jam-packed schedules, and often one of the first things to go is their daily practicing. Regular practice is a discipline that requires a lot of motivation, as well as perseverance. As music teachers (and parents of young music students), it is our responsibility to help our young pupils stay motivated!


I was very proud of my studio this past weekend when they all performed their solo pieces, as well as a couple of group songs, at a local senior living facility. I believe it is important to give even our youngest students the opportunity to perform their pieces for others. For me personally, as well as most musicians, the act of performing is a reward for good practice in and of itself. This is often true for our students, too! If they have an upcoming concert, they are noticeably much more likely to practice. However, young pupils (especially elementary school children) often need additional rewards to help with the daily practice routine. As a result, we at Uptown Violins enjoy implementing practice contests with our students.

This past month I conducted a “Pizza Party Practice Contest” leading up to our recital. At the beginning of the month, I gave each of the students a stack of construction paper strips, and for every day that they practiced, they taped it, forming a link on their construction paper chain. If each student could practice at least four days a week, then the entire studio could earn a pizza party (a little positive peer pressure can often be effective). Furthermore, if they could all practice five days a week, then they would additionally earn a dessert pizza! Every week they enjoyed watching their chain grow longer and longer, which inspired them to keep practicing. I am happy to say that they earned both the pizza party and a tasty cookie pizza, too!


Another practice contest that we found to be popular has been the sports contest. We have adapted it for various regions, depending on which sport is most popular in the area. I live in central Illinois at the intersection of Cardinals and Cubs territory, so I decided to conduct a Violin World Series last October. In this four-week Violin Fall Classic, students were asked to practice at least four days each week in order to advance to the next round. For example, if they completed the first week, the Wild Card, they received a sticker and advanced to the Division Series. If they “won” their Division series with their required practices, they got a candy bar from me and advanced to the League Championship. If they “won” their league championship, they could pick out a fun toy/game (determined by the parent), and advanced to the World Series. If they “won” the World Series, they could go out for a fun celebration! I also offered a Series MVP prize for the student with the most practices, as well as a Bonus prize for the students who correctly selected the winning team when they filled out their practice chart at the beginning of the month. (This was also a great bonding opportunity for the student and their parents, especially the sports aficionados!)

britt pic 3.jpg

The Violin World Series can certainly be adapted to other sports as well. Brittany originally developed it as a March Madness practice contest due to the popularity of basketball in the region, with rounds Sweet Sixteen, Elite Eight, Final Four, and the Championship Game.

I hope these ideas can inspire parents, teachers, and students to keep practicing!