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Laurie Niles

New Hands

October 7, 2005 at 6:43 AM

The world turns, and the studio changes.

This week my most advanced student left for another studio, and I met my newest beginner.

I was sad to lose a student of five years, though I could recognize that it was time for her to be getting some different viewpoints. She's a lovely young lady, and I'll miss her. Her mother, who was truly full of gratitude and diplomacy, said in parting, “Maybe we'll see you some time when you are performing, and you won't even know we are watching you.” I'm too sentimental to accept that kind of statement with dry eyes!

But though change can be difficult, it is a good thing. In the same week that she left, a number of people called, and for the first time in a long time, I was able to accept some new students.

Today five-year-old Maggie arrived before me with a mop of curly, blondish hair and a somewhat quizzical look on her face. After 10 years of Suzuki, I'm comfortable with very young beginners, and I enjoyed the fact that I'm now well-versed in my own way of doing things. It allows for a bit more leeway.

I was ready for her with an assortment of seemingly non-violin-related items: ribbon, markers, a file folder.

While her younger sister ran in circles, Maggie studied me with some skepticism.

“We're going to start every lesson with a bow,” I informed her, guiding her to where she should stand. “And we're going to say a funny word, which means 'hello' in Japanese. 'Konnichiwa.' Can you say that?”

She looked at me mutely.

“You will,” I smiled. “I know you can bow, so let's do that.”

We did.

I took her over to my chair and asked, “Now, do you know which is your right hand, and which is your left?” Most five-year-olds don't, but some do.

She looked at me earnestly and said, “This is my right hand,” raising her left, “and this is my left. And this,” raising her right hand, “is my right hand. This is my left. And this is...” She continued to raise each hand, renaming them each in turn.

“You know,” I interrupted. “I'm left-handed myself. I get very confused about which is which. We're just going to call one your bow hand, and the other your violin hand.” I took out a piece of purple ribbon, which matched her purple skirt. “Just so we can tell, I'm going to tie a bow on your bow hand.” She watched as I tied, then admired her wrist.

I then drew her a foot chart, and gave her a bit of work for her violin and “bow” hand to do as she placed her feet. Then we sat on the floor and clapped some rhythms. She did well, matching the claps to the vowels. Just one clap for the word, “Twinkle,” but it didn't take too much to get her to do two.

By this time she was wearing a wide smile and clapping with great enthusiasm.

We're on our way!

From Karin Lin
Posted on October 7, 2005 at 10:53 PM
That is really, really sweet, Laurie...about both your students. :)
From Pauline Lerner
Posted on October 8, 2005 at 6:51 AM
Laurie, I always feel sad when I lose a student I get emotionally involved with each one. I've talked to other violin teachers, and they feel the same way.

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