Music Around Milwaukee – March 2015

It’s time again for the monthly round-up of music events around Milwaukee. As always, these events are good opportunities for kids to go hear some great live music! And just FYI, I’m playing in the pit orchestra for Shrek the Musical, so that would be an especially great show to come see! 😉

Friday, March 6th @ 7:30pm – Shrek the Musical at Wisconsin Lutheran High School

Saturday, March 7th @ 7:30pm – Shrek the Musical at Wisconsin Lutheran High School

Sunday, March 8th @ 1:30pm – Shrek the Musical at Wisconsin Lutheran High School

Sunday, March 15th @ 3pm – FCS Symphony Sundays “American Masters” (info here)

*FREE* Saturday, March 21st @ 10am & 12:30pm – String Academy of Wisconsin Spring Concerts (info here)

Saturday, March 21st @ 8pm – Concord Chamber Orchestra “Comfort Food” (info here)

Sunday, March 22nd @ 1:00pm, 3:00pm, 5:00pm, & 7:00pm – MYSO’s Davidson Chamber Ensemble Program Recitals (info here)


Music Around Milwaukee – February 2015

Every month I do a little round-up of family-friendly music performances in Milwaukee. These are great opportunities to see live music and are geared toward younger audiences in programming and often price (yay, amiright?). Sometimes these shows are even FREE! I hope you find something fun in here to attend this month!

Sunday, February 8th, 2pm – MYSO Dynamic Debut (info here)

Friday, February 13th, 7pm – MYSO Flute Fanfare (info here)

Saturday, February 14th, 6pm – MYSO Symphonic Spectacular (info here)

Sunday, February 15th, 2pm – MYSO A Celebration of Strings (info here)

Sunday, February 15th, 3pm – FCS Symphony Sundays “Seascapes” (info here)

Sunday, February 15th, 7pm – MYSO Rhapsodies and Resonance (info here)

Saturday, February 28th, 7:30pm – MYSO Classic Cadences (info here)

Practice – My One Little Word for 2015

You may have heard this already, but apparently, in order to reach an “expert” level in a certain task, a person must spend 10,000 hours of intentional practice at said task. I’ve been playing the violin for almost 23 years and you know how many hours I’ve got under my belt? By the conservative estimates I made, I’m somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 hours. I may be closer to 4,000 or even just slightly over if I decide to be generous with myself. This was mind-blowing to me. This is an activity I’ve been doing my whole life! This is how I make my living, and I’m not even halfway to expert. So my biggest and most lofty goal this year is to practice 500 hours.
This is how I decided my word for 2015. Practice.
So what do you think of when you hear that word? If you’re a musician like me, perhaps it’s all the hours you’ve spent in your life with that instrument. If you’re an athlete, maybe it’s all those free throws you’ve made or miles you’ve logged during early morning runs. Practice comes in many forms.
This year, I’m going to practice. And not just my violin. I’m going to practice writing, most of which you’ll be able to read here. I’m going to practice photography by doing a 365 Photo project and posting all of my pictures on Instagram (so follow me over there 😉 ). And I’m going to practice spending time with my Savior by reading through the entire Bible this year, along with a whole bunch of other people. 
Those are just a few of the ways I’m hoping to practice life this year. The big ones, anyway. I really want to focus on building lasting habits that can serve me well in all the different areas of my life. Yes, I have some other goals that you will probably be able to read about some more later on, but practice will be my priority over the next 12 months.
Do you have a word for 2015? What are some of your goals?

Music Around Milwaukee – January 2015

Every month I post a summary of music events in the Milwaukee area. These events are geared toward students, so they are often more reasonably priced, or in some cases, FREE! Take advantage of these wonderful opportunities. As always, contact me with info about your own event if you’d like to have it posted.

Saturday, January 24th @ 9 am – MYSO Jazz Heritage Festival (info)

*FREE* Thursday, January 29th @ 5:30 pm – MYSO Progressions Winter Wonders (info)

Saturday January 31st @ 3 pm – MYSO Rhythmic Revolution (info)

On Being Forced to Slow Down

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“Graditude” is a word that gets thrown around the internet a whole lot these days. And I have absolutely no issue with that. I want to be a grateful person. I want to raise my child to be a grateful adult and not an entitled jerk.

I don’t find it hard to be grateful when things are good. Who does? I don’t even always find it hard to be grateful in uncertainty or sadness, even though it’s easy to fall into the “woe is me” trap. But if I’m completely honest with myself, one circumstance where I find it extremely challenging to be grateful is when I’m sick. Or when someone in my family is sick.

Cue the last week and a half. On Saturday night, Otto started coughing his croupy cough that he tends to get when he has a respiratory illness. A day and a half later, the kid was miserable. I could barely do anything to comfort him. We went to the doctor, which helped determine he did not have the flu, but didn’t really help us in any other way. “It’s viral. You just have to wait it out.” Thankful for no flu, not so thankful that my toddler was still so sick and crabby for the next several days.

Later in the week, Kyle and I got hit. Not as flu-like as Otto’s seemed to be, but miserable nonetheless. I was even in denial for a little bit. “No, I’m not sick. I can just drink all of the tea and take all of the supplements and I will be fine.” Well, I was doing great and then I thought I had it beat and stopped doing any of that stuff. So the next morning I woke up with a terrible sore throat and congestion.

This was the first time I’ve truly felt grateful for the kick in the pants to slow down. Advent, if you’re a Christian, is supposed to be a time of preparation and reflection about the first coming of Christ and also a reminder to be prepared for the second coming of Christ. If I’m honest with myself, I often make it about a million other things but that. I’m not a crafty person, so I don’t feel the Pinterest pressure to do all of the decorating. But I’m a very social person so I like to go and do as many things as possible. Christmas concerts, Christmas parties, etc. I so easily stuff my calendar that it’s a miracle I don’t get sick every holiday season with all my go, go, going. For the last week and a half, we’ve barely done anything. We sat at home, cuddled, watched Christmas movies, drank tea, and I worked my way through an Advent bible study. If I had been feeling good, the stillness would have drove me nuts.

One thing we actually still did was keep our plans to go out of town this past weekend, even with our illness. Otto was doing a lot better, and Kyle and I just figured we could handle it. And we did. And it was absolutely wonderful to have our first celebration of Christmas with Kyle’s family. The above picture was from a concert we attended (we still did some stuff) with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law this weekend. It was a concert of familiar Christmas hymns and songs during which the audience was encouraged to sing along. I couldn’t. I had no singing voice. If you know me, is a very sad thing. However, because I was still pretty sick and so exhausted from the illness in our house, I was so vulnerable and open to meditating on what was happening around me. What God was telling me through these hymns and the scripture that the lead singer spoke. I almost never get to pay attention to church services anymore since I’m trying to keep a little one from being too loud and disturbing others. This was a rare opportunity for me and I am so grateful for it.

So hopefully I can remember this the next time I’m ill. Which, let’s be honest, I’ll probably still be crabby, but I pray that I will be a little better, at least. And I hope I can remember this feeling of slowing down when it truly matters. Yes, Christmas parties and events are fun, but it’s okay to not get to everything. In fact, it’s easier to be focused on what Christmas is truly about when you don’t try to cram in so much and instead leave room for meditation and reflection. When you leave room for Christ.

Monday Quick Tip

Today’s quick tip is about practice charts. Whether you teach or take lessons using the Suzuki method or not, I think practice charts can be a great tool. I use two different kinds of practice charts in my teaching and practicing.

1. The Review Chart

I have put together a review chart that makes it really easy for my students to review all of the Suzuki repertoire that they know in one week. I give them the option of including the weekends or not including them. Either way, they get through all of the songs they know in a week just by playing what’s listed under the day of the week. This way, they are consistently keeping the music they’ve learned in their fingers. I also have them listen to everything on the day’s list, too. I even use this practice chart for myself because it makes it really simple for me to keep the songs under my fingers.

2. The 100 times/days chart

This is one I don’t use regularly, but rather when I have a student who is really struggling with something. This chart contains 100 boxes to fill in. If a student is struggling to fit in consistent practice, I have them practice for 100 days. If they practice every day, they’ll be done in 100 days. The more consistently they practice, the more quickly they finish. This also works well when they are struggling with a technique or learning a long. For example, I have them practice a bow hold or a phrase 100 times or I have them listen to a song 100 times.

The great thing about practice charts is that they are totally customizable. You can develop a practice chart for any sort of practice issue you can imagine. The possibilities are endless!

Around here…

I’ve been…

eating lots of homemade burrito bowls

drinking juice and club soda cocktails

listening to Hypnotic Eye by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

reading this book

watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix… what else?

enjoying Parenthood and wine nights with my mom

playing Beethoven Piano Trio No. 4

wearing sweaters and warm blankets

thinking about how I’m going to keep balancing all of my different roles

In the Blink of an Eye


This kid, you guys. He is just too much. He is changing every single day but I don’t always notice it. Today was one of those days, though, when I noticed it big time. In this post, I talked about the music class we go to with Otto. Since we started going, he’s mostly been his observant self. Taking everything in. Sure, he took his turns at the instruments when it was time, but not by himself. We took him where he needed to go, we were with him every second. But today was different. He was a little boy, not a baby anymore. He danced, played, walked to the teachers himself, giggled, and sang. I just can’t believe how much he has changed in only the last month. At the first class of the fall, he cried when we tried to set him down to walk by himself. Today, he wanted nothing more than to do it all on his own. I know he’ll still have times where he’d rather be in our arms than dancing and singing, and I’ll cherish that, too. But today was something else. I don’t wanna forget it.

October Goals


I tend to fail at goals. And not at setting them. No, that I can do. I’m perfectly capable of writing down some goals. I even get excited about them. “This is the time it’s gonna be different!” I think to myself. And I have never been right. Now, that’s not to say I never accomplish anything I set out to do. But the problem I have always faced with writing down goals is that I fail to check back in. I never look at the list again. Not once. So I forget what my goals even were in the first place.

This month I’m trying something new. I wrote them down, in pretty autumn colors, as you can see above and I posted them above my desk in my little office corner. And I’m going to post them here. I’m on this page all the time now with the 31 Days challenge. Plus, I’ve heard that making them public helps. We shall see.


1. A Bowl Full of Lemons 31 Day Purge – Kyle and I have been trying to get rid of stuff lately. We’ve been feeling really cluttered. I suppose it’s difficult not to when your child spends all his waking hours leaving things all over the floors in every room of your home, but alas, we want to PURGE. We’ve gotten rid of a few things, but I’m hoping this will offer guidance and make our efforts more focused.

2. 31 Days to a Handmade Christmas – There are so many amazing series to pick from on the 31 Days page (see Day 1 of my series for the link), but who really has time to read through all of them? I’m going to try to read through one or two a month for the next year, but I wanted to start with this one since I’d like to do our Christmas a little more frugally this year.

Personal Habits

1. Workout 4+ times a week for at least 20 minutes – I’d like to forget this goal completely and just have it say “stay active with my son,” but right now, it’s really hard to make that specific other than if I just said “chasing him around all day,” which I do anyway. As he gets older, I’d like to make our physical activity more of a family time, but for now, I think this is the only way I’m going to get myself to move. My mom and I started taking a Zumba class on Tuesday nights. That is giving me some good motivation during the rest of the week.

2. Eat breakfast – This is probably the hardest item on my list, and really should be the simplest. I have found that making a slice of peanut butter toast is the quickest and healthiest way for me to actually eat breakfast. I guess I just have to make sure I have bread and peanut butter in the house.

3. Asleep by 11pm – If eating breakfast is the hardest, this one gets second place. My kiddo is a night owl and when he doesn’t go to bed until 9pm a lot of nights, it’s hard for me to feel like I’m getting enough time to decompress from the day. I would really like to make it even earlier than 11, but that’s the most realistic time I can imagine right now, all things considered.


1. Finish FPU with Kyle – like most people in around our age, Kyle and I got out of college with a significant amount of student loan debt. We’ve been working really hard to pay this down lately (hence the frugal Christmas), but sometimes you just need a little extra inspiration. This class has given us that, plus it gives us a way to make sure we’re getting intentional time together, so that’s why it’s under relationship goals.

2. Have 2 date nights – This one speaks for itself. One should be easy because October is our anniversary month. Totally looking forward to it!


1. Working through Weeks 3-6 of “Teaching the Violin and Viola” Course – This is a class I signed up with through Coursera. I’m finding that I know a lot of the basic information, but in the discussions with the other students, I’ve gotten some really helpful reminders and good ideas. I’m not sure I’ll take another music course after this one. Perhaps a business class would be a better option.

2. 31 Days writing challenge – Again, speaks for itself.

3. Practice my violin at least 5 times a week – It’s extremely important as a violin teacher to keep my own skills up to a certain level. I review the material I teach and I also practice any new music I may be performing. I would just like to have my practice time be more consistent.

Well, there you have it. It’s a pretty long list. Hopefully this post will help me to keep my goals in mind throughout October.

Music Around Milwaukee – October 2014

Every month I like to put together a little summary of live music opportunities around the city geared toward a younger audience. Please comment or email me if you know of anything awesome that I’m missing!

Wednesday, October 15, 7pm – Frankly MYSO – Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra (info here)

Sunday, October 19th, 3pm – Symphony Sundays “All Beethoven” – Festival City Symphony (info here)

Wednesday, October 22nd, 7pm – Pajama Jamboree “Halloween with Peter and the Wolf” – Festival City Symphony (info here)