dear students, music

Playing Mozart

Happy Monday morning students!
Last week MPR posted a music exploring the structure of a theme and variations in music. They picked Mozart’s arrangement of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star as their example. As violinists, it is one of the first peices we learn – but do any of you know who wrote it? Did you know that Charles Bradlee borrowed the melody in 1835 when he wrote the Alphabet Song?  Most people think that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed the melody, but he actually borrowed it from a french folk song that already existed and arranged a Theme and Variations around it.  When composers write a theme and then want to make it fancy, its fairly common to have only two or three variations – but Mozart wrote twelve.  (They are all really pretty, but I think that number five, and number seven and maybe number 8 are my favorites.)

I found a video on Youtube that has the twinkle song in D major (starting on our open D string) that you can try play along with.  Even if you learned Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star a really long time ago, its still fun to try play along.  Pay close attention to the metronome’s beat before you start so you can match the tempo. When you’re finished, go back to the MPR music lesson page and use their guidelines to composing you’re own variation of Twinkle and we can go over it in our lessons this week. I can’t wait to hear what you create!

Practice well this week!
Miss Cara

music, StayHomeMN

Finding hope outside the box

Hello friends! Life had been changing at all kinds of crazy lately, and I’m starting to think about it in terms of “before” and “after”, although we haven’t really got to after yet . . . we’re still somewhere in the middle if COVID-19. Intentional perspective in my narrowed world is becoming increasingly important. Maybe it is in yours, too. With each change, each directive the state leaders issue trying to contain the spread, its easy to feel like we’re being pushed into smaller and smaller boxes: reducing the size of public gatherings, working from home, and finally today (for Minnesota) sheltering in place. I’m an introvert, so I will admit that I’m not stressed (yet) about being at home for more hours than normal. I really love the people I live with and I’ve got a home to-do-list that is longer than I am tall. I also have a pile of library books the size of a small child weighing down one end of my desk – between reading, lesson preparation, and projects there is no reason for boredom to be part of my reality at any point in the next two weeks.
However, taking a stay-cation and needing to stay home to help reduce the spread of a virus are two different things and I can see the potential for even the strongest of introverts experiencing a little anxiety and stress by the smaller world.

So when a coworker emailed me a link to a creative project the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra posted on YouTube, I intentionally saved it to share with you just before the weekend. Their mini gift to the world – which was not a quick five minute project, but hours of collaboration and editing – is an inspiring example of thinking outside the box to deliver hope and joy. I was inspired by how they chose to think outside the box to figure out how to stay connected with their fellow musicians and then extended that connection in order to share their gift with the world stuck at home. They could have seen it as being stuck, too, but they decided to find freedom in the boundaries and their world grew.

So go watch their cover of Beethoven’s 9th – I don’t think it was an accident that they picked the movement known as Ode to Joy. While you listen, think about how you can use your gifts to bring someone else joy. Let me a comment and share your ideas – because God gave us unique and different gifts so we could be stronger together.

dear students, music, practice, Uncategorized

Top Five Practice Tips

Dear Students,
Congratulations – you did it!  You survived the first two weeks of a new school season and rolled through all the changes that happen at break-neck pace – new teachers, new classmates, new classrooms . . . all of the New Things All at Once . . . with in-process renovations.

I thoroughly enjoyed our first week of lessons – reconnecting with those who studied with met last year, and those who are just starting.  We are going to have so much fun this year!  To help us all stay on the same page I’ve put together a list of five practice tips to give us a good foundation to build on.

  1. Make practice part of your daily routine – just like eating breakfast and brushing your teeth before bed.  Find a time of day that you can consistently practice during, and ask your family to hold you accountable.  It might be right after you get home from school; or as soon as the dinner dishes are done; maybe even in the morning before school.  Find something that works for your family’s schedule do what is necessary to make it stick.
  2. Keep your instrument and books in the same place – that way you can find everything right away when you’re ready.
  3. Eliminate digital distractions – don’t practice where the TV is on, or audio stories are playing.  Leave phones/iPods/iPads in a different room so you’re not tempted to pick them up during your practice time.  This time is about practicing your music.
  4. Set a timer – it will take a while for you to get comfortable with the practice length we set during our first lesson.  If you sent a timer, you won’t have to check how much time you have left, and pretty soon instead of taking forever your timer will go off sooner than you expect.
  5. Maintain realistic expectations – and have fun!  Itzak Perlman didn’t become a world class musician over night – you and I are no different.  Practicing an instrument is really hard work.  Even if you understand the concepts we talk about in our lessons right away, it takes time and repetition to train your body to consistently perform the motions correctly.  You’ll enjoy it more if you give yourself grace to make mistakes and then try again.  Anything worth doing is worth doing well – and music is worth the effort, so enjoy your journey through it.

Practice well this week!


I’ve decided practice is practice, and progress is progress.  Hailee Maunu



dear students, music, Uncategorized

Music Students: Measuring for an Instrument

Dear Students,

I feel like I blinked and missed summer . . . but fall means school starts . . . which means it is almost time to begin lessons!  Now is the perfect time to dust off your instruments – even though I know you practiced every day this summer 😉 – and brush up on your scales.

Find your music bag and make sure all your books are still there.

And maybe ask your mom or dad to measure you, just to make sure your instrument still fits well.

To measure for instrument sizing:

  1. stand up straight!  Extend your left arm straight in front of you, palm up.  (Make sure your shoulder doesn’t move up toward your ear, or push out toward your hand)
  2. with a tape measure, measure from the middle of the shoulder (between the top of the shoulder and the collarbone) to the middle of the palm of the extended hand.

18.4″ – 20.4″ = 1/4 size

20.4″ – 22.2″ = 1/2 size

22.2″-23.5″ = 3/4 size

23.5″ = 4/4 size