Uptown Violins

Dallas - Wichita - Kansas City - Springfield

Bon Voyage!

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

–André Gide

The summer season is upon us, and with it comes one of my favorite pastimes, travel! Growing up in the Peterson household, our parents instilled in us a love of both music and travel. Our motto was work hard and play hard. Our family vacations ranged from mountainous dude ranches and historical cities, to peaceful lakes and exotic beaches. We always loved these trips because we could discover exciting new places as a family. I still remember Brittany and Kerri singing camp songs at the top of their lungs while water skiing together. Our family not only put on musical shows, we were also the stars of the lake when it came to water skiing. My dad showed off for us by turning around on trick skis, then he and mom slalom skied together, managing to hold hands and kiss without falling down! To top it all off, we kids could all slalom ski together at the same time, even if only for a minute or two.

My senior year of high school I had my first taste of international travel when I toured Europe with my mom and high school choir. Not the typical high school socialite, I was a nerdy, overly studious 18-year-old who preferred learning French and art history to partying with my friends. As a result, I was particularly excited to visit France where I hoped to put my four years of high school French to good use. My moment arrived while we were singing in Notre Dame. Instead of the romantic experience we had expected singing in one of the most famous cathedrals in the world, we were squeezed in tightly amidst construction cranes and machines, and were constantly interrupted by the loud clanking of workmen. After much scowling and gesturing on the part of our director, I finally walked over to the workmen, gathered as much confidence in my high school French as I could muster, and said politely Il est difficile de chanter avec cette bruit (It is difficult to sing with this noise.) Taken aback by this French-speaking American teenager, the workmen stopped their clanking long enough for us to finish our concert!

After this first international experience, I was hooked. Throughout college and graduate school I traveled every chance I could! My freshman year of college my orchestra travelled to Cost Rica where I spent a week with a musical Costa Rican family. Although my Spanish was minimal at the time, I still did my best to speak it with the family in order to learn as much as possible about their culture. The following year, I returned to Paris to study abroad, where I met a French cellist named Camille. She was scheduled to stay with my family in Kansas for a chamber music camp a couple of weeks later. As fellow musicians, we hit it off immediately! She did laugh at me for using the formal vous with her while accidentally saying the informal tu to our waiter. When she came to the States I had my revenge when she confused squirrels with sharks, talking about “the horrible squirrels that bite people in the sea!” Needless to say, we learned a lot from each other. When I moved to France a couple of years later, she allowed me to stay with her while I looked for my own apartment, and she frequently took me to her hometown of Orleans to visit her family. This became my home-away-from-home. Her father was a puppeteer by trade (a profession I never knew existed), and her mother a music theory professor at the local university. They were some of the kindest, most interesting people I had ever met. Brilliant, witty, and excellent cooks, I spent hours at their dinner table talking music, culture, and cuisine!

  When I returned to France a few summers ago, my husband and I had the chance to hear Camille perform Berlioz’ oratorio L’Enfance du Christ with the Orleans Symphony. This work is not often played, so it was a pleasure to hear it performed live in its entirety: one-and-a-half hours straight!

That same trip I had the opportunity to perform a recital in Paris entitled “An American Taste of Paris,” featuring “Nocturne” and “Cortège” by Lili Boulanger, the first movement of Debussy’s Violin Sonata, and Franck’s Violin Sonata. The two short pieces by Lili Boulanger captured my attention because her sister, Nadia Boulanger, is the famous Parisian pedagogue who instructed many American composers, including Aaron Copland. Lili, however, is alleged to be the sister with true talent, but she died tragically at the young age of 25, leaving behind a much smaller but still impactful legacy of beautiful music. The Franck had special meaning for me personally because my mother had performed it at her senior recital in college. For the highlight of the program my pianist and I performed the world premiere of a work by Paris-residing Mexican composer Esteban Zuñiga. He and I have been friends for years, having met him while I lived in Paris. He wrote the work specifically for us. It was such a wonderful experience to work with him in person, and to see how music truly can bring together people from around the world!

As I begin the summer, I look forward to more of my favorite pastimes, traveling and teaching French and music camps throughout the Midwest! This summer Uptown Violins is leading camps in Dallas, TX, Wichita, KS, Springfield, IL, and Kajjansi, Uganda. Stay tuned!

****************************************************************************************

First Fridays with Uptown Violins is hosted by Ashley Rescot, Director of Public Relations. Ashley received her Bachelor of Music from Baylor University, as well as minors in French and English. She taught English as a Fulbright scholar in France for a year, and then obtained her Master’s Degree in French Literature at the University of Kansas. She has taught French to all ages, including a Maman et Moi baby French class, as well as collegiate French levels I-IV. She teaches her own private violin studio and performs throughout the Midwest. Research interests include the relationship between music education and language acquisition, as well as the connection between music and other forms of artistic expression.

All Aboard the Rhythm Train!

“Everything living has a rhythm. Do you feel your music? ”

-Michael Jackson

As a violin instructor of many young children, I believe it is important to use resources that appeal to the age demographic I teach. In addition to the Suzuki series, I use The Rhythm Train books with my young protégés. If you ask any of my beginner students what is their favorite part of the lesson, they often say “Rhythm Train!”

The Rhythm Train series is written by Dana (Bowen) DeKalb. It is a wonderful resource for young musicians because it gives them a chance to become familiar with fundamental note values, ranging from quarter and eighth notes at the beginning of Book 1, to triplet, eighths and dotted quarter notes in Book 2. Clapping rhythms gives my students a sense of accomplishment, even on their first lesson when they don’t yet know how to play anything on their instrument (let alone how to hold it!). It also allows them to sit down and rest their often-weary legs! The Rhythm Train appeals to children because it is full of adorably illustrated animals, with each animal representing a different rhythm. For example, when students see a quarter note they simultaneously clap and say “dog.” I also typically follow-up by asking them to give the traditional note name and how many beats it gets. Even the youngest beginners are able to clap difficult rhythmic passages, including dotted eighth sixteenths, due to the creative animal names. In addition to clapping, my mother Allison has the kids stomp their feet to the rhythms in order to use their whole bodies, not just their hands. With time, as they become more comfortable with the rhythms, she teaches them to use traditional numeric counting (1-e-and-a) instead of the animal names in order to prepare them for orchestral playing. My sister Brittany suggests adding the metronome at this stage as well for students to practice keeping a steady beat.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Dana about The Rhythm Train series, and she gave me some useful background information on the project. She invented the concept while living in Alaska and expecting her second child. She said the “bull moose” (used to clap the half note) was inspired by the many bull moose she saw near her home! She had already been using animal names to teach rhythm to her students but thought it would be fun to use them in a book with pictures. She collaborated with her illustrator and graphic designer, Aaron Bowen, to come up with the cute, cartoon animals that help bring the books to life. The train cars are meant to resemble measures on the staff, allowing for easy legibility. The Rhythm Train compliments the Suzuki Violin series well, as it covers most rhythms encountered in Suzuki Books 1-3. The books are useful to teachers of any instrument who would like a creative way to teach rhythm to young people. Even my one-year-old daughter loves looking at the notes and pictures and trying to clap along!

During her interview, I asked Dana if she had any additional creative uses for the books. She said that besides simply clapping each page, students and teachers can practice clapping different lines at the same time in order to simulate ensemble playing. Clapping from the books is an excellent exercise to do at group lessons. For example, in her “chase” activity, one student starts clapping the first line, and the second begins once the first student moves on to the second line. Parents and teachers can laminate the flash cards at the end of the book so that students can make up their own trains. This has been a hit with my studio at group lessons, especially with my Pre-Twinklers! Teachers can also set up various stations during the lesson, using The Rhythm Train as one station among many in order to help students move around the room. I have many beginners this spring, and I am looking forward to using several of these new ideas at my summer music camp!

 

Dana DeKalb is the director of the DeKalb Suzuki School of Violin. She has conducted Rhythm Train classes at both the Ottawa Suzuki Institute and the Parsons Suzuki Institute, and they have been used at other Suzuki Institutes as well. The Rhythm Train can be purchased from Shar Music and Young Musicians. Her books are dedicated to her three children.

 

***************************************************************************************************

First Fridays with Uptown Violins is hosted by Ashley Rescot, Director of Public Relations. Ashley received her Bachelor of Music from Baylor University, as well as minors in French and English. She taught English as a Fulbright scholar in France for a year, and then obtained her Master’s Degree in French Literature at the University of Kansas. She has taught French to all ages, including a Maman et Moi baby French class, as well as collegiate French levels I-IV. She teaches her own private violin studio and performs throughout the Midwest. Research interests include the relationship between music education and language acquisition, as well as the connection between music and other forms of artistic expression.

Just Foolin’ Around

“All music is folk music. I ain’t never heard a horse sing a song.”

-Louis Armstrong

The art of practical joking isn’t lost on the world of musicians. Contrary to popular belief, classical musicians are not always as stodgy and serious as they may appear! We like to play April fools jokes just as much as everyone else, and several composers loved writing jokes into their works.

The classical composer Joseph Haydn (1732-1809) wrote two works in particular that have entertained audiences for centuries with their humorous nature. His famous “Surprise” symphony shocks drifting audience members to attention with his loud chord near the opening of the 2nd movement, so don’t fall asleep next time you attend an orchestra concert, or you might be rudely awakened! Haydn’s “Farewell Symphony,” written in 1772, is an 18th century equivalent of video production employee Marina Shifrin’s 2013 “I Quit” video. Haydn wrote the “Farewell Symphony” because he and his fellow musicians had been forced to play unexpected overtime at their patron’s summer home, providing him with entertainment for his extended stay. In order to make a statement about their unfair working conditions, towards the end of the symphony the musicians left one by one, blowing out their candles as they went, until no one remained on stage. Similarly, Shifrin “I Quit” complains that it was 4:30 a.m. and she, too, was never allowed to leave her job. As a protest to her video production boss, she made a video of herself dancing to Kanye West’s song “Gone” and ended the video by turning out the lights and quitting her job. Way to rip off Haydn, Shifrin!

Another work I personally find entertaining (as well as incredibly challenging to play) is Eugene Ysaÿe’s “Obsession” from Sonata for Solo Violin, Op. 27 #2. Ysaÿe wrote a collection of Six Sonatas for Solo Violin in 1923, dedicating each of the six sonatas to a different violinist friend. Ysaÿe dedicated the second sonata to French violinist Jacques Thibaud. The work begins just like Bach’s Preludio from Partita No. 3 in E Major, but then shifts to a 20th century improvisatory-sounding passage, followed by more Bach, and then more of the latter. This pattern happens several times throughout the movement. While learning this work, my violin teacher informed me that this shifting between Bach and Ysaÿe passages was a parody on Thibaud’s frequent memory slips. Apparently he always worried about forgetting his place when playing Bach, so his friend wrote him a piece in which the whole movement sounds like a series of flashy memory slips! Perhaps next time I play Bach I will just add my own improvisation every time I lose my place, and claim I am inspired by the genius of Ysaÿe!

For our jazz lovers, the lyrics to Ricky May’s song “Just Foolin’ Around” from the 1987 album Just Foolin Around! A Tribute to Louis Armstrong, speak of musicians’ love for “foolin’ around” with different melodies they already know, and in the process creating new songs of their own. In May’s works he built on the legacy of Louis Armstrong. Ysaÿe built on those of Bach. Shifrin unknowingly followed in the witty vein of Haydn. We all have our inspirations that help us become the kind of artist we are today. However, before deciding which artist to imitate, make sure you have the right training. Otherwise you might look like Brett Yang from TwoSetViolin imitating violinist/dancer Lindsey Stirling. Then you will really look like a fool!

 

Links

1. Haydn’s “Surprise” Symphony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tF5kr251BRs

2. Haydn’s “Farewell” Symphony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjFeDk6Kr3U

3. Shifrin’s “I Quit” video: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newsvideo/viral-video/10344179/Is-this-the-best-way-ever-to-quit-your-job-Marina-Shifrin-resigns-with-Kanye-West-dance-video.html

4. Bach’s “Preludio” from Partita No. 3 in E Major: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KYRdRnnBYw

5. Ysaÿe’s “Obsession”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ut1H-3tE6jk

6. May’s “Just Foolin’ Around” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i5KXAs-mFM

7. TwoSetViolin’s Lindsey Stirling imitation: 

https://www.facebook.com/theviolinchannel/videos/1056354407771867/?pnref=story

***********************************************************************************************************

First Fridays with Uptown Violins is hosted by Ashley Rescot, Director of Public Relations. Ashley received her Bachelor of Music from Baylor University, as well as minors in French and English. She taught English as a Fulbright scholar in France for a year, and then obtained her Master’s Degree in French Literature at the University of Kansas. She has taught French to all ages, including a Maman et Moi baby French class, as well as collegiate French levels I-IV. She teaches her own private violin studio and performs throughout the Midwest. Research interests include the relationship between music education and language acquisition, as well as the connection between music and other forms of artistic expression.

The Red Violinist

“There is nothing more difficult than talking about music.”

-Camille Saint- Saëns

 

I realize the irony of this quote when writing a blog about music. However, Mr. Saint- Saëns, I will give it my best shot!

A year ago this month, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Wichita Youth Symphony Concert at Century II Concert Hall in Wichita, KS. With my husband on my left, snapping photos on his extended lens Canon, and my 4-month-old baby on my right, sleeping blissfully much to my relief, I settled in for the second half of the concert. The entire hall was packed with about 2,000 people in attendance, the concertmaster had tuned the orchestra and taken her seat, and I waited in excited anticipation for the star to arrive. Suddenly, a beautiful girl walked across the stage in a sparkling, floor-length red gown. Her golden curls cascaded gently over her shoulders, and she bowed gracefully to the audience. The members of the youngest orchestra sat in the front, gazing in awe at this high school senior, hoping that one day they could stand in her shoes. The conductor took his place on the podium, and the soft strains of Saint-Saëns’ “Havanaise” began to permeate he hall. The opening was sweet and nonchalant, evocative of a peaceful French countryside. However, the following section showed a fiery side to the young performer that defied her age. I watched as her fingers flew over the strings, one after the other in rapid succession. The French piece lent itself to drama, and the young star gave it the perfect blend of relaxation and passion. After an intense passage of tenths (large stretches for violinists’ fingers) and brisk 16th notes, she finished the piece with a happy, carefree melody that floated off into the distance.

With tears in my eyes, I climbed the stairs onto the stage as she took a bow. I walked over to present her with a bouquet of roses, and gave her a proud, sisterly hug. “You were wonderful!” I whispered. “I’m so proud of you!” She smiled as she took the flowers and walked graciously off stage. What a magical moment!

This concert held special significance for my family, because Christy, the star of our story today, is the youngest sister of we five. All of us came back to our hometown for this special occasion, along with our families, to celebrate Christy’s accomplishment. I couldn’t help but think back on my own senior solo several years ago (I won’t betray my age, but we’ll just say I now celebrate a yearly 29th birthday…), as well as those of my other sisters. We had all won this special opportunity to perform our solos with the orchestra, so the pressure on Christy had been immense. However, she rose to the challenge and performed her song with flair and finesse!

 

P.S. Interestingly, four of the five of us performed different works of Camille Saint-Saëns, including his Concerto #3 in B minor, 1st movement, 3rd movement, Rondo and Capriccioso, and the Havanaise. Kerri, the fourth sister, branched out to another French composer, Eduard Lalo, performing the 5th movement of his Symphonie Espagnole. They are all wonderful works, but as Saint- Saëns mentioned in his quote, words can’t fully do them justice. So if you get the chance, look  them up and take a listen!

****************************************************************************************

First Fridays with Uptown Violins is hosted by Ashley Rescot, Director of Public Relations. Ashley received her Bachelor of Music from Baylor University, as well as minors in French and English. She taught English as a Fulbright scholar in France for a year, and then obtained her Master’s Degree in French Literature at the University of Kansas. She has taught French to all ages, including a Maman et Moi baby French class, as well as collegiate French levels I-IV. She teaches her own private violin studio and performs throughout the Midwest. Research interests include the relationship between music education and language acquisition, as well as the connection between music and other forms of artistic expression.

Becoming Uptown Violins

“Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.” -Sergei Rachmaninoff

 Music runs in our family. It’s in our blood. As a child, I remember going to Grandpa and Grandma Scheer’s house to practice for our Christmas shows with our Grandma Ruth, mom, aunts, and cousins. Filled with music and noisy children, this house never knew a quiet moment! As we played, a well-worn violin sat perched in a frame above us, as though presiding over the rehearsal like a wise old friend. Grandparents’ houses are always filled with family treasures that tell tales of the generations past. My mother Allison was one of 10 children who grew up in this house. The family performed as the “Scheer Delights,” often reenacting songs from The Sound of Music in which Allison played Marta, the next-to-youngest child in the von Trapp family. She fondly remembers singing Edelweiss with her father Harold, the stately Captain von Trapp. Valerie, the oldest of the 10 children, had taken up violin and taught it to many of her younger siblings, including Allison.

A generation later, Allison had 5 little girls of her own whom she imparted her love of violin. We kept our mom busy as she worked tirelessly to teach all of us the family trade. The “Scheer Delights” became the “Five Star Strings,” and we performed frequently at Christmas parties, church events, orchestra concerts, and violin recitals. Favorite songs included “The Syncopated Clock,” “Minuet” by Boccherini, and “Millionaire’s Hoedown.” We even brought back a few of the old Sound of Music songs! As the oldest of the five I played Liesl, much to the chagrin of some of my younger sisters who had to play the male roles of Friedrich and Kurt!

While Christy, the youngest, was still in kindergarten I left the nest to attend Baylor University to study music. Sherèe joined me shortly afterwards, and one by one the others followed suit. Now Christy is the last of the clan to attend our Alma Mater. Following graduation, Brittany and Kerri, the third and fourth sisters, moved to Uptown Dallas and started a new music business, Uptown Violins. It has now expanded to cities throughout the Midwest, including Wichita, KS, Kansas City, KS/MO, and Springfield, IL.

However, when I look closely, it’s not such a new business after all. Very recently, I discovered that our musical heritage dates back to my Grandpa Scheer’s grandfather. Apparently Granfather Panter McIlvain played the fiddle in a country band, performing for dances and parties in his town. He passed on his violin to his grandson, Harold, who gave it to his own children to learn. It now hangs in a prominent place in the Scheer home, looking from above on all the aspiring new violinists. I smile every time I see my one-year-old daughter imitate her mommy by clutching her little toy violin, trying to hold it under her chin. Perhaps she will be the sixth generation to espouse this trade, giving it her own spin as her predecessors have done. Rachmaninoff was right, “a lifetime is not enough for music.” The musical heritage of a Midwestern violinist still lives on a century later through the songs of his descendants.

In memory of the late Grandfather Harold Scheer (1922—2016), co-founder of the “Scheer Delights.”

 

****************************************************************************************

Director of Public Relations/ Principal

Director of Public Relations/ Principal

First Fridays with Uptown Violins is hosted by Ashley Rescot, Director of Public Relations. Ashley received her Bachelor of Music from Baylor University, as well as minors in French and English. She taught English as a Fulbright scholar in France for a year, and then obtained her Master’s Degree in French Literature at the University of Kansas. She has taught French to all ages, including a Maman et Moi baby French class, as well as collegiate French levels I-IV. She teaches her own private violin studio and performs throughout the Midwest. Research interests include the relationship between music education and language acquisition, as well as the connection between music and other forms of artistic expression.

First Fridays With Uptown Violins

With the start of the New Year, we are launching our new blog, First Fridays with Uptown Violins! You can check us out at the beginning of every month to read up on all things violin. Topics range from pedagogy and product reviews, to the relationship between music, the visual arts, and literature. You can catch up on some of our highlight performances, including playing at the Country Music Awards, giving a recital in Paris, France, soloing with the Wichita Youth Symphony, and even performing at the Dallas Cowboys Halftime show! Whether you are a fellow violinist or a music aficionado, we hope you join us First Fridays for some Uptown fun!

Director of Public Relations/ Principal

Director of Public Relations/ Principal

First Fridays with Uptown Violins is hosted by Ashley Rescot, Director of Public Relations. Ashley received her Bachelor of Music from Baylor University, as well as minors in French and English. She taught English as a Fulbright scholar in France for a year, and then obtained her Master’s Degree in French Literature at the University of Kansas. She has taught French to all ages, including a Maman et Moi baby French class, as well as collegiate French levels I-IV. She teaches her own private violin studio and performs throughout the Midwest. Research interests include the relationship between music education and language acquisition, as well as the connection between music and other forms of artistic expression.