Uptown Violins

Dallas - Wichita - Kansas City - Springfield

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!

Music Mom!

I don’t want this music to die. The older people are passing it on to the younger generation so the younger generation can pass it on to the next generation.
-Vy Higginsen


     This past month, I had the privilege of playing two exciting concerts of two distinct genres on two different violins in two separate states the same week. Needless to say, this required a lot of planning and practice! At the first concert, I enjoyed performing in Kansas City for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s Third Thursday event, in which the museum showcased its newly renovated European wing, including the French Impressionist gallery. For this gig, I performed on my electric violin alongside my mother and sister Sheree. I loved having the opportunity to sing French songs by some of my favorite French artists, including French legend Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose.” To prepare for the gig, I watched old footage of the star performing her iconic work, noting everything from vocal inflections to wardrobe selections. I even watched Marion Cotillard’s brilliant performance of Piaf’s life in the movie La Vie En Rose. Poor Edith was raised in a brothel, having been abandoned by her alcoholic mother, who wanted to make it as a singer. Sadly, her parenting skills resembled those of her mother, abandoning her own daughter who ended up dying very young.

     For the second concert, I shifted from French pop to first violinist of my local quartet. We performed in a formal chamber recital, featuring Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 1 in F Major, Opus 18, No. 1. I know it’s cliché to name Beethoven as one of my favorite composers, but his works are such masterpieces it is impossible not to! I have always admired his courage and perseverance, in spite of his many obstacles. While preparing for this concert, I delved a little into his life as well. Most people think of his deafness as his biggest obstacle, and rightly so. However, I was amazed to discover his perseverance to succeed in music in spite of his many family obligations and struggles. Like Edith, he was the child of an alcoholic wanna-be-singer, in this case his father, and from a young age he had to help support the family. This included helping raise his two younger brothers, since his mother had died at an early age. Later in life he even raised his nephew after the death of the child’s father. Beethoven took his child-rearing responsibilities seriously, while still maintaining his musical responsibilities.

     As a mother of a budding two-year-old, I am fascinated by the family life of the artists whose works I perform. I feel better knowing that even the genius Beethoven himself had to balance his family and work life! Having needed to practice a lot this past month to prepare for these gigs, I had to figure out how to pull this off with a two-year-old in tow. That said, I this month I digress into a musician mommy blog to give a behind the scenes glance at the real life of the parent musician, as well as some helpful tips!

  1. Prepare a cage you can crawl into to protect your amps, mics, pedals, music, instrument, and sanity from a busy two-year-old who would like nothing more than to literally push your buttons and “play” with your interesting “toys.”

  2. During rehearsal, if you enlist your colleague’s six-year-old to babysit, be prepared for elaborate artwork to appear all over your child’s face when the two-year-old finds a stray marker.

  3. Turn off movies about famous musicians’ lives before your child wakes up from the nap, as most of their stories seem to revolve around drug and alcohol abuse and promiscuity…

  4. Buy your child her own cheap violin so that she can imitate you, and hopefully not break your own instrument that’s worth more than your car.

  5. Start using your fortissimo voice if your child comes near your instrument.

  6. Have your child color on old sheets of music you no longer need, until he decides to color all over the score you are currently working on. Then resort to letting him watch his favorite cartoon while you finish your practice session. Your focus will hopefully improve (or possibly deteriorate) as you try to block out the distracting cartoon ditties from your ears.

  7. When you have exhausted all of your energy and resources, finally ask your spouse, significant other, friend, or anyone you can find to watch your child so that you can have a few minutes of focused practice time.

  8. In spite of all the craziness of raising children in your unconventional life as a musician, know that someday they may learn to appreciate the wonderful world of music you have given them, and wonder if maybe they, too, will pass on this crazy life to their own children.


French Impressions

"J'aime les images presque autant que la musique."    

(I love images almost as much as music.)

-Claude Debussy

     Imagine you are going on a vacation to visit the French countryside, where you discover a small bed and breakfast off the beaten track. Your host greets you and welcomes you to her home, and you look around, noticing the décor of the cottage. The brick floor first catches your attention, as you’re not accustomed to seeing it inside. Paired with the toile drapes and the wrought iron furniture, you almost feel as if you’re sitting outside rather than in the interior of a home. A fresh scent of lavender reaches your nose as you gaze at the loose floral arrangement in the corner of the room, next to the patterned plates hanging decoratively on the wall.

    This French scene is one Kerri Parr tried to recreate for guests at the HopeNet Docent Society program in Wichita, KS, this past weekend. A Renaissance woman herself, Kerri gave the presentation on French country décor, French gastronomy, Parisian tourism, and French music. She and Allison prepared a gourmet French meal, including a soupe aux poireaux et pommes de terre (a rich leek soup made with butter, potatoes, chicken stock, and a dollop of crème fraiche), as well as a French salad of bib lettuce with an easy homemade vinaigrette, consisting of Dijon mustard, shallots, white wine vinegar, and olive oil. Next, they brought out a tasty cheese plate with a variety of fare, including a creamy port salut from the French Loire Valley, a Normandy Boursin cheese spread with herbs, a compté from the Franco-Swiss border (similar to Gruyère), and the ever popular Brie. To conclude the meal, Kerri served her dad’s famous mousse au chocolat, an egg-based recipe for decadent chocolate lovers, which he learned while taking a cooking class in Paris.

    Between the décor and the food, Kerri strove to create a uniquely French impression on her guests, similar to that evoked by Monet’s Water Lillies or Debussy’s Arabesques. She performed the violin transcription of Debussy’s famous La fille aux cheveux de lin (The Girl with the Flaxen Hair) from his first book of Preludes, which had been transcribed for violin shortly after it’s original composition for piano. The piece was inspired by a famous poem, as well as a well-known image of a girl who embodied innocence and naïveté. The work exemplifies French charm and elegance at its finest. Debussy himself was inspired by French Impressionist artists, including Degas, Monet, and Rodin. Instead of implementing traditional chord progressions, Debussy focused on creating musical “colors.” When one of Debussy’s critics compared his works with those of Monet, he replied, “You do me a great honour by calling me a pupil of Claude Monet.”

     Kerri loved Debussy’s work so well that she even walked down the aisle to La fille aux cheveux de lin at her wedding! She concluded the musical portion of the program with the 1990s pop song “Sympathique,” a song ironically written by the American musical group Pink Martini, which became so popular in France that the chorus line “Je ne veux pas travailler” (I don’t want to work) became a theme of French protestors for numerous strikes!

     Continuing in Kerri’s French vein, Uptown Violins will be offering another opportunity to enjoy French music at the opening of the newly renovated European galleries, including the Impressionist wing, at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City. The event will take place on Thursday evening, March 16th, and is free and open to the public! Surrounded by the beautiful artwork of Monet, Caillebotte, Morisot, Pissarro, and Renoir, to name a few, we will feature works by several French composers and artists, including classical composers Camille Saint-Saëns and Erik Satie, as well as pop artists Edith Piaf and Patricia Kaas. Come join us for a belle nuit at the Nelson-Atkins, s’il vous plaît!

     Kerri Parr lives in the Dallas, Texas, area, and is a co-founder and principal member of Uptown Violins. In addition to her frequent musical performances, Kerri is a French teacher and school counselor at Texas Christian Academy. Kerri earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Violin performance at Baylor University, and studied private lessons under Dr. Eka Gogichashvili. She served as Concertmaster of the Baylor Symphony, and performed with the Waco Symphony for three years. In 2010, Kerri was one of the students selected to tour with the Baylor Symphony in Belgium. In August, 2016, she graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary with a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling. A true Renaissance woman, in her free time she enjoys French cooking, listening to new French artists, including the Parisian group L.E.J., going on dates with her husband Forrest, and playing with her Golden Retriever Annie.



10 Things You Need to Know in Order to Date a Violinist

"A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit, and a violin. What else does a man need to be happy?"

-Albert Einstein

February is here, and with it the season of love! Maybe you enjoy everything romantic, and I'm not just talking about the musical time period! I recently read a hilarious post called "8 Things You Need to Know Before Dating an Organist," which inspired me to write this blog. 


1. You need to live on European or South American time: Dinner starts whenever we have finished teaching our students, practicing, or meeting with prospective clients. It may be later if we have rehearsals or a concert. Better yet, just plan on cooking for yourself! As my violin teacher Aunt Valerie said to her husband, it's a YOYO night. "You're on your own!" 

2. Plan an escape room where you can block out the noise of beginning violin students. Uncle Brian had an entire room where musicians were not allowed to enter and bother him. (We broke this rule frequently.) This room may be your study, basement, or if these are still too close, the garage (my husband's favorite place to hide.) 

3. You have a large role to play at home recitals: Vacuum the house, set up at least 25 chairs, keep your own children quiet, clean up, and prepare a special treat for the guests. My uncle was famous for his green lime sherbet punch at the St. Patty's Day recitals. Following in this vein, I was impressed at one of my recent recitals when my husband decided to roast marshmallows with the kids in our backyard. He also scored points by setting up a beanbag toss to play with the students and their siblings while I chatted with the parents! Creativity is key! 

4. Sometimes date night means dressing up to go sit alone at a concert where your spouse is performing. It may be sad to sit by your lonely self, but at least you can see your talented spouse on stage! You can always brag that you are with one of the violinists. If you behaved well at the concert (not too much texting or scrolling on your phone), you might get to grab dessert with your special someone afterwards! 

5. Don't touch their instrument until you have been together at least a year; maybe two, or perhaps five. After that, you will probably become their roadie for all concerts, in which you will be expected to carry the instrument, music stand, music bag, and possibly an amp and microphones. You will most likely be asked to serve as photographer, videographer, and sound engineer as well. 

6. Be adaptable. This may mean traveling with the violinist across the globe for a concert or gig. I will always remember leaving my husband with my friend's dad in France while I had to play a wedding, and although the two didn't speak the same language, they decided to go to the hardware store together to pick out tools. Apparently music isn't the only universal language! 

7. Get used to sitting alone at church. The moment your organist or praise team director discovers your spouse plays violin, he or she will probably be playing in the balcony or on stage more than sitting with you in the pew. 

8. If your significant other is female and top-notch at playing, you should not refer to her as ever having served as a mistress when you meant to say "concert mistress." Just say "concert master," and your life will be easier. 

9. Become familiar with the parts of the violin. What may seem scandalous to you might not be as bad as it sounds in the violin world! 

10. Be their biggest fan. Nothing says you love your violinist more than telling them how wonderful they performed at a concert. (Even if they missed their shift to the high note...) Violinists want to know that you appreciate their music, because it's a huge part of their identity! 

I want to take time to thank the men in our lives: Dr. Stacy Peterson, Dr. Robert Rescot, Mr. Ben Lutz, and Mr. Forrest Parr, as well as our Uncle Brian Sullivan, for the countless hours you have given to serving the musicians in your lives. Although you work behind the scenes, we could never do it without you! 

A Day in the Life of a Music Major

“I read the news today … about a lucky man who made the grade.”


It takes a special kind of person to be a music major. And when I say special, I mean you can’t be embarrassed by clapping rhythms in the hallway, singing “Queen of the Night” in your dorm room (much to the chagrin of your roommate), or realizing that you should have clarified whether your 9:00 lesson meant 9 a.m. or 9 p.m., because both were viable options. With the start of the New Year, high school seniors across the country will be deciding which major to choose, so we asked sophomore Christy Peterson to shed light on her experience as a violin performance major.


AR: How would you describe a typical day for you?

CP: Busy! I have a lot of classes, so I start at 8 and don’t usually get done until 4 or 5, and often have rehearsals at night, too. Many of my music classes only count for one credit hour but require several meetings per week. As a result, I don’t have many large breaks during the day, and the ones I do are usually dedicated to practicing. But I like to hang out with my friends when I get the chance!


AR: What does your coursework entail?

CP: At my university, I have orchestra three days a week, and I rehearse with my string quartet the other two days. I also have a private violin lesson once a week (sometimes very late at night) as well as a private piano lesson. In addition to my performance classes I take music theory, musicianship (where we work on rhythms, solfège, and music dictation), as well as general education classes. Upper classmen take four semesters of music history.


AR: What has been your favorite class so far?

CP: I really loved Theory IV! I have always enjoyed math, so the 20th century atonal music really appealed to me. Instead of being chordal like the previous eras, 20th century classical music is linear. You have to use all 12 notes in the chromatic scale before you can repeat any of them. You can use a matrix to change up the order of the notes like composers Schoenberg and Webern. (It may not always sound good to the ear, but it is fascinating to study!) To me it feels like a giant Sudoku puzzle! Check it out: http://www.carolingianrealm.info/Music.php?MusicID=29


AR: What kinds of performing opportunities do you have?

CP: These first two years my performances have primarily been orchestral. We usually work on four sets of music per semester. My favorite concerts were the Children’s Concerts in the fall! The kids don’t usually get exposed to orchestra music, so this is a special opportunity for them. They loved our Star Wars movie music this past fall, especially when Darth Vadar and a Storm Trooper came out on stage and staged a battle with our conductor. Another of my favorite concerts is our annual Christmas concert. For this event all of the choirs join the orchestra to perform some of our beloved Christmas songs.

I play in studio and chamber music recitals as well, and am looking forward to participating in a chamber music competition this winter. The winning ensemble will have the chance to perform their piece in Carnegie Hall in May! Performance majors are also required to play a solo recital their junior and senior years, and music education majors perform one recital their senior year. These recitals give students a chance to show off what they have learned during their time at school.


AR: Are you involved in any extra-curricular activities?

CP: Yes, I like meeting people in other fields of study as well, so I joined the sorority Chi Omega. I enjoy going to our formals and Take-A-Date functions, like the one to Six Flags! Our philanthropy is with “Make a Wish Foundation,” which grants wishes to kids with severe cancer. For example, sometimes they bring in a famous baseball player to meet a child, or the kid gets to go to Disney world. One way we help raise funds is through our Chi-O chili cook-off competition. We collaborated with the Fraternity Kappa Sigma, and together raised over $50,000!


AR: What has been the best part of college for you so far?

CP: I am a very social person, so I like making new friends. In college there are so many opportunities to meet new people, especially on a big campus! As a freshman I ran around the football field with the other first years before our home games, which was a lot of fun! I also really love my church and Bible study. Our pastor is excellent, and always helps us to better understand what it means to be a Christian.


AR: What are you looking forward to the most this New Year?

CP: I will have my first opportunity to play in the opera pit this month, so I am excited to try it out! I am also looking forward to participating in the sorority/fraternity production of SING, where we all perform a mini musical. This summer I get to attend a music study abroad program in Austria, which will be a once in a lifetime experience!


AR: What advice would you give a prospective music major?

CP: Go to class! Use good time management to schedule practice time, as well as plan breaks to avoid injury. Branch out to different styles, like jazz improvisation, and meet as many different kinds of people as you can!


AR: What products would you recommend for a new music major?



1. Buy a quality instrument. Most strings shops will let you try out several at a time to see which one is best for you.


2. I highly recommend the BAM violin case! It is much lighter than other cases, and great if you need to carry your instrument around campus! http://www.musiciansfriend.com/accessories/bam-high-tech-contoured-violin-case/472705000001000?cntry=us&source=3WWRWXGP&gclid=Cj0KEQiAhZPDBRCz642XqYOCpb8BEiQANUcwT9vx1XI8yphfbRH1KSOjyl24tYQnAIJ9H2bCLB9huUEaAiVz8P8HAQ&kwid=productads-adid^156403583515-device^c-plaid^140857971141-sku^472705000001000@ADL4MF-adType^PLA


3. Build your own music library. I suggest the following for starters:

 Don Juan violin part: http://www.sharmusic.com/Sheet-Music/Violin/Excerpts-47-Parts/Strauss-Richard---Don-Juan-Op-20-Violin-1---Kalmus.axd#sthash.F2pDLZ6B.dpbs

Brahms symphony No. 4 violin part: http://www.sharmusic.com/Sheet-Music/Violin/Excerpts-47-Parts/Brahms-Johannes---Symphony-No-4-in-e-minor-Complete-Violin-Orchestral-Parts-and-Excerpts---Kalmus-Publication.axd#sthash.ibIuOgSr.dpbs

Bach’s 6 Sonatas and Partitas : http://www.sharmusic.com/Sheet-Music/Violin/Unaccompanied/Bach-JS---6-Sonatas-and-Partitas-BWV-1001-1006--Solo-Violin---edited-by-Ivan-Galamian---International-Music-Company.axd#sthash.Tv2AEg54.dpbs

 Paganini’s 24 caprices: http://www.sharmusic.com/Sheet-Music/Violin/Unaccompanied/Paganini-Niccolo---24-Caprices-for-Violin-Op-1---Solo-Violin---edited-by-Carl-Flesch---International-Music-Company.axd#sthash.KJ3NpKB8.dpbs

Kreutzer Etudes: http://www.sharmusic.com/Sheet-Music/Violin/Etudes-47-Studies/Kreutzer-Rodolphe---42-Studies---Violin-solo---edited-by-Ivan-Galamian---International-Music-Co.axd#sthash.Yab5u7sB.dpbs

Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto: http://www.sharmusic.com/Sheet-Music/Violin/w-47-Piano/Tchaikovsky-PI---Violin-Concerto-in-D-Major-Op-35---Violin-and-Piano---edited-by-David-Oistrakh---International-Music-Company.axd#sthash.GLH7p5Kz.dpbs

 Sibelius Violin Concerto: http://www.sharmusic.com/Sheet-Music/Violin/w-47-Piano/Sibelius-Jean---Violin-Concerto-in-D-Minor-Op-47---Violin-and-Piano---edited-by-Francescatti-Gretchaninoff---International-Music-Company.axd#sthash.5PqdJdfD.dpbs

Les Chansons de Noël

Here are the answers to Madame Rescot’s French Christmas music quiz from last week. How many did you get right?!? 

1. Les anges dans nos campagnes: Angels We Have Heard on High 


2. L’enfant au tambour: Little Drummer Boy


3. Le petit renne au nez rouge: Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer


4. Mon beau sapin: O Christmas Tree


5. Promenade en traineau: Sleigh Ride


6. Noël Blanc: White Christmas


7. Vive le vent: Jingle Bells


8. Un Noël d’Amour: Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas


9. Minuit Chrétien: O Holy Night


10. Pere Noël arrive ce soir: Santa Claus is Coming to Town


11. Au Royaume du Bonhomme Hiver: Walking in a Winter Wonderland


12. Joyeux Noël: The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting by an Open Fire)


13. Douce Nuit Sainte Nuit: Silent Night


14. Petit Papa Noël: French only


15. La plus belle nuit: French only

Joyeux Noël!

Minuit ! Chrétiens, c'est l'heure solennelle
Où l'homme Dieu descendit jusqu'à  nous.

-Placide Cappeau (1847)


As French and music teacher, French music has always held a fascination for me! This time of year, my mom, my sister Kerri (a fellow French teacher), and I enjoy sharing some of our favorite French Christmas traditions with each other. These include baking the traditional “Bûche de Noël” (Yule Log), drinking “Esprit de Noël” French tea, and listening to French Christmas carols. Last year Kerri and I taught the original French carol “Les anges dans nos campagnes” to our respective classes, reminding students that not all of our beloved carols are English in origin. “Minuit Chrétien,” (another French original) is my personal favorite, which I now love to sing in both French and English! (In my last blog I talk about its significance to our family, remembering my mother singing the English version for our many Christmas shows!)

If you want to mix it up a bit this Christmas season, try baking your own “Bûche de Noël,” sip on delicious French tea, and listen to the following Christmas carols in French! Enjoy the renditions of many famous francophone artists over the years, from the 1950s to the present, as well as some beautiful traditional gems. If you feel particularly ambitious, write down the English equivalent of the songs, and check back next Friday for the answers! (The last two are only in French.)

Tastes of Christmas

French “Bûche de Noël” recipe


Uptown Violins’ Favorite French tea



Les Chansons de Noël

1. Les anges dans nos campagnes : chanson traditionnelle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ap-zj7H23g

2. L’enfant au tambour : chanson traditionnelle 


3. Le petit renne au nez rouge : chanson d’enfant


4. Mon beau sapin : Tino Rossi


5. Promenade en traineau : Fernand Gignac 


6. Noël Blanc: Dalida


7. Vive le vent : Ginette Reno


8. Un Noël d’amour: Pierre Lalonde https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Z6GZc21QuM

9. Minuit Chrétien : Nicole Martin 


10. Père Noël arrive ce soir: Céline Dion


11. Au royaume du bonhomme hiver: Roch Voisine https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGnby1FHtcw&list=PLpdMoG1R00J5id0bAKFUg-19L0Nl-HaLM&index=3

12. Joyeux Noël : Marie-Élaine Thibert https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGWhyYwDTG0&list=RDcGWhyYwDTG0

13. Douce nuit, sainte nuit- chanson traditionnelle


14. Petit Papa Noël : Josh Groban : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jM1tfaM5y1o

15. La plus belle nuit : Marie Denis Pelletier 




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.