Comments from Retreat 2022
—I feel that it is valuable to observe sessions about the group and individual lessons, The IU String Academy in action, attending every lecture session, watching concerts/performances and master class for participants – in short, ALL aspects and how this workshop has been formulated was excellent! To be honest, this workshop has allowed me to see and experience the theory put into action. I also feel that this course allowed me to self-assess the extent to which my individual pedagogical strategy, activities, and day-to-day lesson plan aligns with how my students will be able to acquire, connect and transfer the skills to their instrument and music performances.
—What, if anything, would you add/subtract from the schedule offerings?
None. It was perfect!!! I think the schedule offerings were well planned and balanced.
—Was the private lesson/group lesson format valuable/sufficient?
Super!!! I didn’t expect that with such a short amount of time, I would be encouraged to learn how to play at least some of the foundational techniques of violin playing. I’m grateful that I was surrounded by great mentors and was taught by a very accommodating teacher, Mr. Jim Przygocki.
—Having the opportunity to learn from this workshop was invaluable as it helped me reflect and learn how to tailor my instructions to identify and meet the individual needs of my String students. This workshop has shared me the tools to teach in different ways based on student’s learning profile, interest, and level of readiness. Furthermore, being exposed to these new approaches, ideas, and tools in teaching string instruments has helped me better understand how to give corrective feedback to support students in their growth and development.
—I’m from the Philippines, and I must say that it’s worth taking the risk to travel during these challenging times to learn from magnificent mentors in this workshop. Not only that this workshop has the most generous, kind, and welcoming expert teachers I’ve ever met. I will forever be grateful to all of them!
—Thank you so much for organizing and for all your teachings! It is GREAT and very very helpful.
—The materials in the notebook are very very useful. thanks to all of you for doing this extra work! I am really very grateful for having (had) this chance of learning from wonderful teachers to expand my vision of playing and teaching.
—I have watched all the videos now and found them so helpful. I don’t think anything should be subtracted.
—Your (Brenda’s) chin rest/ shoulder rest information is very useful, and I have been browsing websites to try and find the best options for myself and my students.
—The beginner lectures from you and Jim reinforced the necessity of a good solid foundation from the start, and the great importance of relaxation of left and right hands, fingers and particularly thumbs. Jim’s egg box suggestion is brilliant, and I have a good number of students who will benefit! Rebecca’s vibrato exercises are invaluable and really work for me. Tense vibrato is easy, but warm, relaxed vibrato requires practice, focus and time.
—Mimi’s shifting explanation and demonstration was so useful for me and I know that time spent on practicing this way will bring results. Sherry’s bow strokes demonstration was excellent, and her scales video was very useful to me. The British grade exams require students to perform many 2 and 3 octave scales, arpeggios, bow strokes/ technical exercises as well as difficult repertoire. Sherry has such amazing natural technique, and makes every bow stroke look and sound so easy… and perfect intonation too. If I could achieve a small percentage of the talents of all of you, and pass this on to my students, I would be so happy!
—Thank you to everyone!
—The most valuable aspect of the teacher’s retreat for me was the early beginner material and the young students that came in. Another very valuable aspect are the handouts from the instructors; so much information that will keep me busy with valuable resources!
—The private lesson and group format I felt it was very valuable. I enjoyed both the private lessons and the group lesson. The group lesson allowed the opportunity for us to bring up concerns that others may share about students or teaching and explore it in a smaller group setting.
—This was my “refresher” retreat. I attended in person in 2008 and have always wanted to return, but family and work did not permit it. The hours were such that I could watch mostly live stream. I truly appreciated the video when I could not live stream due to my teaching schedule. Thank you for having the videos available until September 1.
—Thank you for offering this online. Absolutely no regrets. I would do it again!!!
—I’m loving both the videos and the handouts. It is absolutely thrilling to me to watch such thoughtful and thorough pedagogy. I will be doing my upmost to try and attend the Retreat in-person next year.
—I have found each presentation so far to be a very valuable study of violin pedagogy, covering almost all aspects of violin study. I found each presentation to meet all my expectations for being informative, and thorough. The handouts for each presentation are also a valuable resource to have and are excellent reminders of the main points of each presentation. Thank you so very much for making the retreat presentations available to auditors and for giving auditors the time in July and August to view and study them. I felt that the retreat would have definitely been worthwhile attending in person, and I know I missed out on the full and enriching in- person experience. Perhaps another time I may be able to have the in-person experience.
—The clinicians were incredibly informative. There were a lot of golden nuggets to be taken from this online adventure. I am not sure that I would subtract anything. I tend to feel it needed to be longer. I think the question the clinicians could have been longer as well as working intermediate.
—I would have loved to have been able to see the viola etude 2-hour section as well as the violin etude work. Again, this was an incredible opportunity to see you in action. I have always wanted to go and see this retreat in person, but time and my limited funds would not allow it. The additions were a treasure!! Especially since there are so many editions of each piece. I have a rather extensive library, so it was very helpful to know the books and pieces. The practice charts were incredible as well as the online suggestions. I am still going through the information and probably will for quite some time.
—I really cannot thank you and your colleagues enough for the recent Teacher’s Retreat! I have written some quick feedback below in answer to your suggested questions. I have been teaching for many years but even so, I have found so much useful stuff in here, which is already starting to filter into my thinking, and definitely into my ways of thinking about teaching. I have always been very ‘addicted’ to teaching and I notice how much more thought I give to things, and how much more I think I personally should strive to improve, than many of my colleagues. In recent years I have actually found it quite difficult to find courses etc. which significantly add to my knowledge and inspiration levels – joining ASTA led me to Mimi Zweig (of whom I had heard but knew nothing more than her name). Now through being offered this Retreat, I have found you all (because I joined the String Pedagogy site, so it was through Conolly Strings I think that I heard about the retreat). You are all VERY special people, and I am constantly in awe of how much information you are able to store in your brains – and how consistent you all are.
—Could I say a personal thank you (to Brenda) for your own session on the first day – you are a hugely entertaining speaker and your realistic approach to pupils is quite hilarious and so true! I gained a lot by watching your session.
—Discussion of the detail of what we are aiming for at each stage technically – it’s being aware of the gap between what we as players know, and what our pupils do not yet know – eg lift this finger here, keep this one down here, watch out for tension here etc. I don’t currently use the Suzuki Books, but I am thinking I might because of the logical build-up of skills – I do actually use something extremely thorough and logical, so I can cross-apply much of what comes from Suzuki, but obviously it isn’t all in exactly the same order. For me, this level of detail is so important precisely because it is not the way I was taught at all. Like so many in the UK (and perhaps in the US too, I don’t know) I was left to flounder, to guess, to join the dots up myself, so fail constantly and never know how to achieve consistency in shifting, intonation, sound, etc, relying only on my (luckily fairly quick) ear which mostly only identified that I was continuing to fail, miss shifts etc and never how to NOT miss!! The idea that there are systems and exercises to build these techniques has not come to me until recently – AFTER 20 years of teaching at least (and after a lifetime myself of feeling utterly frustrated in my own playing). Now that I am learning these systems, I have taken significant steps forward in my teaching, and in my own playing. And although I have always enjoyed teaching, now in my 50s, I am having the best time teaching I have ever had.
—Discussion of repertoire – this is SO IMPORTANT and yet the last time I raised this question at a string teaching conference over here in the UK, organized by a high-profile organization which jolly well should have known better, I was told “Oh we don’t need to discuss repertoire” and my question was dismissed out of hand. (Since then, I gave up asking any more questions, decided not to do any more of their conferences and instead spent the money on joining ASTA, through whom I got to hear of Mimi, and since then I feel I have finally found what I am looking for – and what a reassurance to find I was asking perfectly good questions!
—I found the retreat very valuable. I watched about half the classes via live-stream and the rest I’m working through the vides and so glad to be able to do it this way in my own time. Although it’s always more exciting to be there in person, I have no regrets at signing up for the online experience. The notebook was fantastic – thank you!
—Thank you for all the work you have done to bring this retreat to all of us no matter where we are.
—Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! The retreat was extremely helpful and encouraging. I left the retreat with better teaching tools, more effective teaching philosophies, and the courage to implement them. Dinner at Mimi’s made a perfect end to a meaningful, substantive week and leaves me with a beautiful memory. I am very grateful for your willingness to provide the retreat.
“This is Jane Baird from Scotland! I attended the course in person in 2018 and this year, I’m doing it again as an auditor. It’s such a worthwhile course and I’m glad I’m revisiting it after some more teaching experience. It’s so important to recap on all the basics as well as the more advanced principles. Both help my teaching and my own playing! Some things that I didn’t fully understand the first time round are making more sense now. All of you have such amazing knowledge and playing skills. Please say hi to everyone from me. Seeing you all on screen makes me wish I was there in person.”
“Learning how to play with freedom of motion and how to teach it was very important for my own process.”
“I was blown away by the generosity of the teachers in sharing their wisdom and insights, and found the whole retreat to be incredibly valuable.”
“I loved being able to hear sessions from all of the String Academy teachers.”
Most valuable…..”the overview given in lectures of Suzuki Books 1-8, by allowing a broad picture of all, step by step.”
Most valuable…..”Illustrations of how to weave excellent technique into the student’s level of repertoire and etudes.”
“I had a great time! It could be a bit longer….no complaints.”
“Most valuable for me were my own lessons and observation of student lessons that allowed us to see/experience the theory put into practice.”