Friday, October 25, 2013

Practice Challenge Day 50- Mr. Ryan Checks In

CYM Practice Challenge Award Winners Fall 2012

Hi Everyone,

I'm nearly to day 50 of my practice challenge, and I promised that I would check in and let you know what my experience has been.  Here are a few things I've noticed:
I need variety!
Sometimes I will have a string of days when I distinctly hear my brain say "Ugh!" when I begin to practice my recital pieces.  
"What?!" I cry, "but you love this piece!  YOU were the one who picked it!"  But my arms gradually lose their strength, and I realize I am dragging my feet.  Finally, my practice grinds to a halt.  
"This won't do," I say to myself, "I have to practice something!"  So I choose one thing at random to learn in a piece I'm not supposed to be playing.  Miraculously, the strength in my arms comes back, and I learn the new thing very quickly.  Why does this happen?
In school, I took a class in the kinesiology department call "Skill Acquisition Strategies".  In that course I learned about Hull's Resistance Theorem, which states that the brain builds resistance to doing the same thing over and over.  The more you do something, the more the resistance increases.   

The resistance decreases when you take a break or change to a different activity.  
Perhaps this explains why I can't practice some days.  I do want to learn, but it's hard because my learning is always "same old, same old"!  Now I try to notice when I drag my feet--that's when it's time to work on my "hobby" piece.  However, more often than not I find myself going back to one of my many dozens of old pieces (review!) and using one of these old pieces to accomplish my current practice goal.
The length/quality of my practice sessions is uneven.  
Yes, it's true.  Some days I am very busy, or I just don't feel like it.  Other days I am going very strong.  
If I may say so, life is too short to drudge through practicing.  Mere drudgery goes against the spirit of Dr. Suzuki's philosophy.  Therefore, I define a practice session for myself and for those students of mine who practice every day as "calm, focused attention on one thing."  Almost without exception I have "calm, focused attention" on much more than one thing, but not always.  I prize the quality of my musical work, and only a little bit is better than none at all.  Remember, "skill equals knowledge plus 10,000 times" but also "when the child looks up, the lesson is over!"  
I have had near misses.  
On two days out of my fifty, I have only practiced five minutes each.  Those days were exceptional--for exceptionally poor planning!  I was very busy, hadn't eaten, hadn't slept, and left my practice sitting until the very last thing I had to do that day.   

What a list of errors!  Fortunately, a list like the one above is very handy...just do the opposite of what is on the "things NOT to do" list and you'll be fine!
I need a goal.
I have known for years that I need a goal for my practicing, or it seems pointless.  Right now my goal is getting ready for my recital.  After that recital, however, I will need to find a new goal!  
I have improved a lot!
I'm not the same cellist I was back in September.  I have a new approach to making a beautiful tone and using my vibrato and bowspeed to shape the music.  My intonation is also much better.  In fact, I'm spoiled with all this improvement.  I don't want to give it up, and so I am glad to practice.  
I'm not working my tail off.   
Once upon a time, I bought a large bucket of ice cream and kept it in the freezer.  After a week, I opened the ice cream and found that it was half gone!  I learned my friend had been eating two spoonfuls a day, hoping I would not notice.  He was very surprised he had eaten so much ice cream by himself!  My practice challenge reminds me of that bucket of ice cream--rather than jamming the spoon all the way down in the ice cream (and bending it in the process) I feel like I am taking only two spoonfuls from the top each day.  I don't get sick from eating too much (although I need a different flavor every now and then) and pretty soon the whole bucket is gone!
Happy Practicing, Everyone!

CYM Fall Ensemble Rectial Saturday, November 2.... In review!

Mr. Mark and Mr. Danny's Guitar Group sets us off to a great start!

The Beginner's Bow is a special moment for our new students.

Cellists under Mr. Ryan's direction.

Rachel Spear and Manus McGinnis do the Race Car Boogie.

We celebrate the achievements of our Practice Challenge Award Winners!

The tall and the small make up CYM violins.

Chamber Quartet led by Ms. Elisabeth.

Kelly Friday and Isaac McKinley finished out the afternoon with Beethoven's 5th!

Congratulations are in order to our students for their excellent performances at CYM's Ensemble Recital this past Saturday, November 2nd. Saturday's recital set such a wonderful tone for this upcoming concert season and we couldn't be more proud or excited for our students and their families. Bravo!

Fall Ensemble Recital on Saturday, November 2

Coming up on Saturday November 2 at 3 pm is our first all school event of the season– the Fall Ensemble Recital at Marshall Middle School! All CYM students, families and friends are invited to attend. The recital features most CYM instrumental students showcasing progress made in group classes and independently. 

ECM families, please bring your Toddler or Twinkler for a chance to hear and see the different instruments in action!
Group classes after 12:00 noon are cancelled that day. Families are encouraged to attend the recital and affected classes or lessons will be re-scheduled. 

All performers need to arrive at Marshall Middle School by 2:30 pm in order to have their instruments tuned and to find their assigned seats before the concert time. The dress for all performers is black pants or skirts, white tops, or black dresses. All skirts and dresses should be at the knee or below, and no sneakers or flip flops on stage please.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

CYM Strings at PSO's Fiddlesticks Spooktacular!

CYM Violins, Celli, and Guitars are featured performers for the pre-concert activities at this Saturday's PSO Fiddlesticks Spooktacular! Our students will be performing mini-concerts featuring spooky selections like Hedwig's Theme from Harry Potter, Spooky Twinkle, and Aunt Rhody Goes to Egypt.

Performers should arrive at Heinz Hall no later than 9:30 am. Pre-concert activities commence at 10:00 am. Those who have purchased tickets through CYM should meet Ms. Leah in the lobby to receive them upon arrival. Performers will need to wear their green CYM polo shirt and khaki or black bottoms. Those staying for the concert may bring a costume to change into for the concert afterward.

We can't wait to enjoy the fun!

Monday, October 14, 2013

CYM Field Trip to Pittsburgh Opera's The Magic Flute

 Join us on Sunday, November 17th as CYM families enjoy a group outing to see The Pittsburgh Opera's presentation of Mozart's The Magic Flute at the Bennedum Center. We have a special ticketing and seating opportunity as well as a pre-concert Q and A and backstage tour. 

Call to RSVP your family's tickets to this excellent show- reservations must be received by November 1st!

Friday, October 11, 2013

String Workshop 10/12/13 Cancelled

The String Workshop scheduled for
Saturday, October 12th  
has been cancelled and will be
re-scheduled at a later date.

Sorry folks, we hope you can join us next time!