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Musical Community

 Our May 2012 Newsletter is out! It contains information about the upcoming recitals.
PAES in Gresham on Wednesday, May 30th
At our West side Sylvan location on Thursday June 7th
And at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center ballroom on Saturday June 9th at 11am.

We also have information about our summer lesson schedule and our two weeks of summer camp at the Catlin Gabel School July 9-13 and August 6-10.

Current students should also receive this newsletter by snail-mail, so please do let us know if you don't see a hard copy in your mailbox.

As always, we'd love to answer any questions you might have. 503.308.8863 or .

Musically yours!
-Dr. Miriam English Ward

Peer Pressure Wins Again...

This has been a fascinating summer, musically, for me with my boys. There were lots of rehearsals and fantastic chamber music performed within their earshot. Several kids concerts were a big hit, as were some laid back church events involving both a playground and my viola & violin. I thought for sure these were perfect scenarios to pique the interest of Toby, age 4. His brother Isaac is still just 2, so I figured he was still more of a sponge than anything.

I should have known better. Isaac has taken the proactive role practically from birth, and it turns out that music is no different. The first time he grabbed my hand to march me upstairs declaring, "Go to work, Mama. Play the vi-lin now," I thought he meant he wanted to hear the theme from Bob the Builder for the zillionth time. Nope. He would not leave the studio without "playing" himself.

Fantastic as that was, what really has me smiling is that Toby had followed us upstairs and directed me to, "Do the Mr. Violin voice." That boy is now the proud owner of a foot chart, and knows how to use it. He can find his ear with the end button and holds the bow on his bow hook with the instrument in rest position. This is nothing short of miraculous to me; Toby is a young 4 year old boy. He has messed around with the violin a few times but he's easily frustrated if he thinks he's made any mistakes so he generally prefers other things so far, and I'm cool with that.

I know it was seeing Isaac have a "lesson" that got Toby going, and I have no qualms about continuing to use that. Isaac gets a mini-lesson (it turns into drawing with colored pencils in less than 60 seconds on most days), and that puts Toby in the mood for his own session. Many of my students have paired up over the years to have joint recitals, mentoring relationships, practice partners and plain old violin buddies. I remember my own years in school orchestra, youth symphony and all the festivals along the way. There really is nothing like the camaraderie of peers to inspire, goad and energize an interest in music.
Let's use it!

Here's a video of Toby with the foam violin we started out playing. It helped me avoid getting tense and saying, "No!" or "Wait, careful with that!" in these early lessons. He didn't seem to really mind that it doesn't make its own noises. As you can see, he provides those happily enough.

Haiti Benefit Concert from our friends at Classical Revolution

Mattie Kaiser, organizer of Classical Revolution PDX, sent me this email today:

Dear Revolutionaries,

It is time to use our power for good...

January 24th at 7pm at the Kennedy School, Classical Revolution PDX and friends will perform free benefit concert to raise funds for Haiti Relief. We're are still ironing out the details, but are seeking any corporations and individuals willing to provide donations and/or matching funds. We are also interested in those willing to donate goods and services for a silent auction to be held that night. Please email us if you can support our efforts in any way.

If you would like to help out or donate anything to this cause, please contact Miriam or email Mattie directly at Otherwise, please do attend the concert!

Another excellent agency with personnel already on the ground in Haiti is Doctors Without Borders.

Inspirational Violinist

I just have to tell you about one of my students. Bailey is a wonderful young musician who has practiced diligently in addition to concentrating and putting lots of effort into her lessons. But it's not just her skill and enjoyment of the violin that makes her a great young lady to teach. Bailey has a generous and exuberant sprit that spills over to the people around her.

This week she came in with a sweet new hairdo, having donated 13 inches of her gorgeous red hair to Locks of Love, "a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis."

Thanks, Bailey- great lesson this week.
~Dr. Miriam English Ward