Spring Studio Recital 2016

June 10th, 2016

Fantastic job to all the students who participated in the Spring 2016 Studio Recital on May 22nd! Everyone did so well. So much hard work went into this event, many accomplishments to be proud of. Thanks to all who attended, encouraged practice, and helped out with the recital. Many hands were involved to help make this recital special.

Please check out the studio Facebook page or YouTube channel for more photos/videos of the recital.

Big thank you to Roselynn Photography for the photos.

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Preparing for the First Music Lesson

February 23rd, 2016

5Oh my goodness! So exciting!!! You’ve found the right teacher and signed up to begin music lessons! What an incredible journey you’ve already begun. Being well prepared will show the teacher just how commited you are to this new endeavor.
What to take with you to your lesson

Show respect for learning by thinking ahead. Take some time to go over those notes you quickly jotted down while you were talking with the teacher. Anything specific they mentioned you should bring along with you? Here are some suggestions to get you started, depending on your situation.

  • If you are beginning from ground zero, bring the following:
    • Cheerful Attitude
    • Instrument and accessories (Shoulder rest, rosin, extra strings, metronome, tuner, etc.)
    • Notebook
    • Anything the teacher specified, including payment
  • Beginning instrument for the first time but you have other musical background:
    • Bring the music you have worked through, show your musical foundation to your new teacher.
    • Instrument and accessories (Shoulder rest, rosin, extra strings, metronome, tuner, etc.)
    • Notebook
    • Anything the teacher specified, including payment
  • Resuming lessons after taking a break from the same instrument:
    • Bring music to show your musical foundation
    • Prepare a binder of music you would love to play in the future, even if it is far beyond your level. This will show the teacher what direction your musical goals are pointing.
    • Instrument and accessories (Shoulder rest, rosin, extra strings, metronome, tuner, etc.)
    • Notebook
    • Anything the teacher specified, including payment
    • Be open minded and ready to accept new ideas of posture and technique!

What to expect from the teacher

If you have never met before, the teacher will be trying to learn you as a new student. Be patient! There are a lot of technical and (sorry – I hate to say it) political details to deal with at that first lesson. Most teachers do their best to stick to business, cover the basics, and get down to teaching. They want to send you home with something inspiring to practice during the week. They may hand you a few papers to read through at home in regards to policies and operations of the studio. Please be sure to read these and ask questions if need be.

Your teacher will need to examine your instrument to be sure it is in good working order. A violin will need to be tuned, which can take a terrible amount of time if it is not well maintained! If you want to be prepared in this area, take your instrument to your local music store prior to the lesson and have them look it over. Take care of any maintenance issues they suggest.

If you are resuming lessons, your playing level and musical understanding will determine what music books would be best for you. Your teacker may have you play several selections, from scales to pieces, to try to get a feel for your musicality.

First music lessonWhat might be expected of the student?

A beautiful attitude, eagerness to learn, a listening ear, and respect for the teacher! That just about sums it up! 🙂 Be prepared by bringing all the materials listed above. You may be asked to sight read, or copy cat the teacher on a couple basic ideas. You will likely be pushed out of your comfort zone, as that is how we grow, so be prepared for that.

What might be expected of the parent?

Parent involvement is so important in children’s music lessons! I love for parents to sit through the lessons and actually take notes so they can help their child practice at home. Even if they are just there to listen, it is important for them to know what is expected of the student during the week. Sometimes it works great for Mom or Dad to learn right alongside the student. (I don’t reccomend group lessons, each individual should have their own private lesson) Children learn very well by watching those around them. They will want to practice when they see you practicing.

During the lesson, the parent should do their best to sit and listen, without offering much input. The teacher has to learn how to work/interact with your child and it might take some time and patience from all sides.

What questions should you ask?

Be sure to understand everything the teacher has assigned for practicing. If they wrote the assignment down for you, be sure you can read their writing and understand what their notes mean. This is how you will know what is expected of you at the next lesson! Also, be sure to read and understand any studio documents given to you.


Dream Instrument or Piano First?

February 15th, 2016

Or Piano First

A question I am asked over and over again by parents. “Should I let my child start out on their instrument of choice or is it best to begin with piano lessons for a solid musical foundation?”

My answer vaires depending on the age, personality, and instrument preference. Piano does indeed provide an excellent music background. A year or two of piano lessons under your belt will make learning a 2nd instrument easier by leaps and bounds. Music theory is built on the piano keyboard, taught from a piano perspective. This is highly due to the fact that the piano is an effective visual aid in understanding musical concepts.

A young child with a short attention span is rewarded with success very quickly on the piano. They are able to begin playing tunes they recognize, such as Twinkle Twinkle, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and Lightly Row within the first month of lessons. The simplicity of the piano allows a student to sound good just as soon as they are able to get their fingers in the right place and press the keys in a certain order.

When learning a stringed instrument, it takes a bit of extra attention to posture and technique before a student is going to pull a strikingly beautiful tone from their instrument. Brass and woodwind instruments present a similar challenge due to embouchure, and air flow. Most students are ready for full size instruments when they have reached 5th grade. Music stores offer instrument rental programs and trade in policies to accomadate a short term need for smaller instruments for younger students.

Enthusiasm is something I love to take advantage of as a teacher! When a child has a sincere desire to play the violin, it is worth it to them to endure a little extra “pain” to achieve their dream. This helps us get over that initial hump, getting through the nitty-gritty mechanics of the violin.

We would all love for our child or student to be the next blooming prodigy. Starting at a young age, with a good teacher and parental support is essential for a student to meet their full potential. Let’s not pressure them and force our dreams on them though. Rather, let’s expose them to opportunities, with guidance, and let them blossom into the beautiful person they were created to be. If your child is a little older, maybe 8 yrs or older, I say let them pick their instrument. They are mature enough to have the patience to accomplish a more difficult instrument and they will appreciate the freedom to make this choice based of their personal taste.

In conclusion, my simple answer to this question is this: If it were my child, I would start them off with piano lessons around age 4 or 5 for early musical development. As they grew older I would encourage them to pursue a 2nd instrument of choice. Personally, I would keep my child in music until they were at least 12 years old. By then, a mature decision can be made in regards to continuing music. “I wish I never had music lessons!!” said no adult I know, ever!

Protected: Violin Method Book – Step 1

February 12th, 2016

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RV Dining Room Makeover

February 11th, 2016

Well, we haven’t found an “RV Dining Set” that works for us. We had one for a while but felt it was much too bulky. We sold that and have kept our eye out for just the right table for over a year. In the mean time we use folding tables and step stools for chairs. Needless to say, we are happy to have a dining table and chairs again! This is what we settled on.




First Five Steps to Violin Lessons

January 24th, 2016

Would you love for your son or daughter to learn to play the violin? Where do you begin? How do you find a teacher? What questions should you ask when you are interviewing teachers? How much expense, equipment, and time commitment is needed to begin this life changing experience? So many questions! My hope is that you can find some of the answers in this blog post.

1. When is the right time for my child to begin violin lessons?

As soon as they show interest is a fabulous time! Catch them while they are excited and use that energy to get them through the baby steps.

Maybe this is all your idea. Perhaps you think playing the violin would be a great experience for your child but they haven’t shown any interest yet. You need to decide how young you want to expose them to lessons. Expose them to music (take them to an orchestra concert or a local studio recital) to encourage their interest. Every teacher has a different age recommendation. Some start as young as 3 years! Personally, I recommend somewhere between ages 5 – 7 years old, depending on maturity.

2. Does the teacher or the violin come first?

Please find the teacher first!! You can thank me now fellow teachers. 🙂 Every teacher has experience and recommendations to offer you in regards to this big decision of finding the right instrument. Buying a violin is a tricky task! There are some pretty crummy violins for sale on websites like ebay, if you don’t know what to look for, you could end up just having to buy a second violin once you start lessons.

As for expense, you will be looking at about $200 for a full violin setup.

3. Where do I look for a teacher?

Ask the music teacher at your local school for a recommendation. Drop in at your local music storm, they usually keep a master list of all the private teachers in the area. You can find teachers in your area by searching websites like TakeLessons.com, Learning Musician.com, or the Oregon Music Teacher’s Association. Do you know a musician? Ask them if they have a collegue they would recommend.

4. What am I looking for in a teacher?

It is so important to find a teacher that can connect with your child on many levels. Most teachers will offer a free trial lesson or an interview so you can get to know each other a bit, interact, and see if you will be a good fit for each other. Not only will your child learn music from this person, they will learn life from them! A teacher is a role model, what kind of role model do you want your child to have?

You want a confident teacher who can think on their feet. Teachers often have to come up with different perspectives on a point in order to teach a principle.

Have you heard the teacher perform? Ask them to play a sample for you. Not only will this show you their proficiency, it will also allow your child to admire their ability and generate a desire for more.

Is this something the teacher does full time? Are they spreading themselves too thin by having too many students? Are they passionate about their music? You may ask if they are a member of any music teacher associations such as the Music Teacher’s National Association or the National Federation of Music Clubs.

5. Preparing for the first lesson.

Every teacher should give you a brief description of their expectations for the first lesson. For beginners, I recommend that you sit in on the lessons and take notes! There are so many little details to take note of in regards to holding the violin correctly. The teacher may jot some notes down as an assignment, but they are busy teaching! They can’t possibly write it all down. You need to know how to help your child practice at home.

Final Thoughts

Learning a musical instrument requires commitment. Teacher, parent, and child all need to be commited if this is going to be a success. I ask for a 6 month commitment from new students. This allows us time to cover the basis of the instrument and be able to get a good sense of enjoyment, or lack thereof, so that the student/parent can make an educated decision in regard to continueing lessons.

In the beginning, 20 to 30 minutes of daily practice will likely be expected. If your child is old enough to practice on their own, great! (But they might need a friendly reminder from time to time.) If not, you will need to be available to practice with them. You might just consider learning right alongside them!

I believe that playing an instrument can be a life changing experience! Everyone should have a chance to learn music at a young age, it forms us, empowers us, and gives us more life.

August Garden Update

August 10th, 2015

We are all feeling dry and hot this summer. As I was looking out the window this morning, I mentioned to Jonathan that the scenery looked like I was in California! Our beautiful garden is hanging on inspite of it all though, thank the Lord!

A panorama just before sunset two days ago. Green haven in the midst of the dessert, ha!

My mother-inlaw was thrilled to see my Pacific Statice flowers I grew from seed. They are a lot of fun. I enjoyed having lots of flowers throughout the garden this year. I hope to find room for even more color next year!

 The full garden as I headed over this morning for some updated photos.

 I do love the Sunflowers. I can’t grow enough of them!

This is a beautiful pepper but we are struggling to keep the majority healthy. Many of them are brown on the bottoms. It is sad after all that work. Hope they come out of it quickly andproduce many healthy peppers

 The pie pumpkins are getting ready to take over the walk path!


My green beans outgrew their trellis so I added an extension. Will save those high ones for seed.

 Happy to see this Brandywine tomatoe turning orange at last. This variety does not like something in the soil here so we really had to work to keep them growing.

Watermelon!!! No, not really. It’s called Orangelo. Like watermelon but it has orange flesh. Excited to try it!

 This is a jumbo melon…whatever that is. I have forgotten what the package said it would taste like. If we can keep the squrriels out, we should be able to taste some of these soon.

A freshpotof flowers Jonathan bought for me last month. 🙂

 Let those sunny faces make you smile!

Corn. Having a hard time getting enough water but ears are forming.

 Thinking ahead this year! These are my fall starts. Thankful again for the greenhouse. I could not have sprouted these without the sun protection the greenhouse provided. Now to get an area of the garden prepped for fall crops!

And another surprise from my sweet man. Jonathan bought these strings of flower solar lights for me to enjoy in the garden when I am out there watering at O-dark-thirty! We should call ourselves the midnight gardeners.

 They put off a decent amount of light too.

Now this guy REALLY puts out the light! Nothing like seeing your plants with artificial lighting, they look different. This big guy is like being out on the football field. Very nice!


The Chicken Cottage 4×4 – $900

August 10th, 2015

Cute as a dollhouse chicken cottage. Locking doors and windows, back panel removes for easy clean out, slide out floor for hosing off, great ventilation – suitable for 4-8 chickens. Base price is $600, with custom options.

Please enjoy a video tour on YouTube by clicking the image below:



Garlic harvest

July 21st, 2015


Harvesting garlic, braid for storage Watch on youTube!


July 11th, 2015

In search of raspberries, I visited a small farm just up the road from us. What a nice little operation of self-serve berry picking with friendly owners! I was a little disappointed to find that raspberry season is bacially over already. I did pick 3lbs raspberries, 4lbs of blueberries, and 5lbs of Boysenberries. Boysenberry jam was one of my favorites when I was little…but it is nothing like homemade. I would say my homemade boysenberry jam tastes like half raspberry, half blackberry. It is good, just not what I remember. After teaching half the day, and picking all these berries, I still had energy to make my batch of jam and put the leftover berries in the freezer.