Every time I put my violin down for some time it somehow manages to come back to me. The last time I decided that I wasn't going to play violin was when I went to college. I was diving and I knew I wouldn't have any time to practice or play so I thought it was better to leave it at home. I figured some day I would pick it up again but probably not while I was in college. A year went by and after joining three more activities I realized that there was no time for diving. I found time to be a radio DJ, a tour guide, and a member of an all female a capella group though. Around November of 2006 a few of my girlfriends from LNO (Ladies' Night Out, the a capella group) were talking about how singing in bluegrass ensemble was a lot of fun. I thought it sounded great so I decided to see what it was all about, thinking that I would sing in a band. Of course, Andy Carlson, the director, had a different idea of what I would be doing in the ensemble.
I had met Andy two years before during a workshop at my high school with his group BassFiddle. He was buddies with my high school orchestra director and they had a fun fiddle workshop. I had already found out that I was accepted to Denison when Andy came so we chatted a bit. I explained that I probably wouldn't have time to fiddle at Denison as I would be diving but he insisted that I try and join the ensemble because he often sees great musicians who are athletes get lost in their athletics and miss out on the chance to play. Well, I spent my freshman year diving but sophomore year when I was sitting in the rehearsal room being introduced to everyone Dr. Carlson asked the group to give me a warm welcome and asked them if I should play the fiddle since he knew I played violin. Everyone whooped and hollered and there was no acquiecing the request. I didn't have my violin so I borrowed a friends crappy one until I returned home for break to get my own. I spent the next two years in bluegrass ensemble and some pretty fun stuff came from it and I loved being part of such a big (and growing) musical family but most of all I fell in love with music again.
Flash forward. A little over a year after graduating I made the decision to head to South America. I decided on Cusco, Peru because there were English teaching jobs and possible guiding jobs. I let my violin because there was no way I was going to be able to fit it on a plane without having to pay for extra bags. I re-packed twice to get everything down to the essentials. I made my way to Peru and taught English for 6 months. I did, however, join a band in October. I also met Angela, one of my bandmate's daughters when I first got to Peru and we chatted about violin because she taught violin at a music school near San Blas. I thought it was cool but didn't give it much thought. We would occasionally see each other when she came to gigs the band would play but other than that she stayed pretty busy and I did my thing with teaching and then moving to a hostel for a few months while in transition. About 3 weeks ago, I was randomly looking on the Expatriate in Peru facebook page and saw an advertisement for a violin teacher in Cusco. It looked familiar because I had gone to a Qantu concert before to see Angela and support her in December. I didn't give it much thought but I did think it would be kind of cool to teach if I could. The universe had to have been listening because the following day Angela called me and asked if I would like to teach for Qantu. She knew that I studied Suzuki and if I was interested I could come to group class and then play a bit for them. I was a little hesitant because I was still waiting on the Experiment in International Living Abroad job (which I didn't get, or I assume I didn't get because they never got back to me. It's all good because it is for the better!). I decided to check it out. After figuring out where they were located I hung out and participated in the Camerata which is their orchestra. Afterward, I had a meeting with Elena, the secretary and Flor, the director, who both showed me so much enthusiasm (and a bit of desperation) that I couldn't say no. I told them I would think about it and sleep on it before accepting because at that point I wasn't sure if I would be leaving the country for the summer job. The following day I got an email from a violin student's parents who practically begged me to come teach. She explained (an reiterated what Elena and Flor told me) that Melissa was leaving soon for Holland and that Angela would soon be leaving for the conservatory in Lima and there are almost 50 violin students who desperately need teachers. I was more than flattered that everyone had so much interest in me especially since I am not certified to teach Suzuki which is important. I do, however, have the experience of taking classes til I was 16 in the Suzuki method so I guess I have that going for me. I am always flattered that they have faith in me to be a good teacher. Lord knows I am going to do everything I can to become a great violin teacher even if it means taking a 4 day bus ride to Buenos Aires.
In order to get certified to teach Suzuki violin classes I need to take a philosophy class first before I get certified in each book of music. Every January there is a Suzuki Festival where teachers can take certification classes and there is no jumping around. Philosophy first, book 1, book 2, etc. Unfortunately, one can only take two classes during the festival so that means if I don't get a philosophy class in first, I will only be able to get certified in book 1 at the festival next January. To advance faster, I am heading to Buenos Aires Argentina for their annual Suzuki festival and to get my philosophy class in. I am SUPER excited! I have wanted to go to BA since I got to South America and this is a great reason! Granted, I will be spending about a week on a bus in total but I will make sure to spend a few extra days there before or after the course so I don't make the trip just to be in a class. I want to explore a bit! I also need to see if I can stay with someone. I have a few porteño friends that I made while at Yamanya and a former co worker from Maximo who might host me. I would be delighted to stay with friends over staying in a hostel.
So now I have 9 students with my youngest being 3 and my oldest 18. It's quite a range but it's awesome and I am beyond excited to be working with kids again and it such a different and awesome way. I never EVER thought I would be teaching violin because I thought all violin teachers had to be professional players and have a major in music. Of course, it is quite helpful and I definitely want to take more classes and learn more about general music theory, but not necessary. The universe has a way of telling me that I am supposed to be doing things and this was definitely a sign that I am in the right place right now. Peru is perfect for me at this moment in my life and I am going to aprovechar (Spanish for take advantage of).
My most difficult task right now is learning all the music langauge in Spanish. A few fun things I have learned:
negra - quarter note
blanca - half note
redondo - whole note
corchea - eighth note
semicorchea - sixteenth note
anacruza - pick up note
tonalidad - key signature
compass - measure
I would say that recuperating the classes that students missed in May has been a bit of a hassle too but not terrible. Thank goodness I only have 9 students right now. I got all the students of a teacher who lives in Colla which is two hours from Cusco. She decided to stop teaching so I immediately started with 9. Not bad! I really want to do well and give them good advice and help in their quest to learn to play the violin.
This is an opportunity I would never have had in the States. I am going to take full advantage of it and continue in my own studies and practice and who knows, if things go really well, I may even go back to school for music! Wouldn't that be awesome? Oh, the possibilities!
On a final note regarding possibilities, a man came into the restaurant yesterday and asked for the girl who plays violin. His name is Abel and he is the director of a chorus in town and he also plays in a quartet and they need a violinist. The group plays weddings and gigs around town and the Sacred Valley. I went to his studio to practice tonight and after sight reading through Judas Macabbeus, Pachabel Canon, and the Wedding March, he asked if I could play a wedding in Ollantaytambo next Saturday. I told him sure! I would love to! The pay isn't that much but I think it would be a great experience and we will see what happens!
Life is good and I am so excited for what is to come including my trip to Buenos Aires! Oh! I almost forgot. I played in a concert that Qantu put on last Tuesday. It was a teacher's concert and we all shared a piece. I played the Ashoken Farewell written by Jay Unger and best known for being in a movie called The Civil War. It was really fun and I felt like a part of the Qantu family. They are really great.
I guess the next step is to change my profile for this blog saying that I was a former English teacher who is now teaching Suzuki violin in Cusco! I will try and get some pictures up soon of the institute and where I am working now.
Let the adventures in Cusco continue!!!!
This photo was taken to put in the next brochure for Qantu. Yay for violin teachers. Angela is in the middle and Melissa in on the right.