Since my last post we've all been brought to our knees by COVID 19. I know that many have suffered unimaginable losses and still others are suffering long terms effects of the virus. Fortunately we are resilient beings and we figure out the best balance for our families of safety and activity going forward. There are so many things to be excited about, traveling in the summer, further professional training, musical performances, and new music and video projects in the works. I'm excited to be in touch as always, please send me a message and say hello or tell me what you are up to!
As you may know, everything went to Zoom during lock down periods of the pandemic, but over the 2021-22 school year we were able to be about 75% in person, and now I feel that Zoom has become a really useful tool for teaching especially for families that have moved farther away but still want to study with me. I'm delighted to continue teaching Suzuki violin and guitar and am welcoming new students on T-W-Th for the 2022-23 school year.
In 2021 I continued my professional training with Elise Winters and her Kaleidoscopes program for introducing the violin to new students. Many of you have already begun learning violin with this new methodology that features folk songs, Solfege ear training, piano, and starting in cello and then 3rd position. This combination of approaches has made a world of difference for developing a wonderful set-up for the position of the violin (which is anything but natural), and which dovetails so nicely with the Suzuki method and repertoire.
In June of 2022 I trained with Susan Montzka McDonald for Book Four of the Suzuki repertoire. This training really bumped up my practicing several notches and encouraged me to improve my playing on this challenging repertoire that includes the Bach Double Concerto, and several Vivaldi and Seitz concerti. I love the Suzuki book trainings not just for the preview points, but also because I get to meet so many other teachers around the country who share their insights on teaching and working with young people. I really love being a teacher and being a part of the teaching community! See and share my bio on the Suzuki Association of the America's site here!
The Suzuki Music Program of LA
The pandemic offered many challenges over the past few years, and for SMPLA, the changes were dramatic! With the lock down, we shifted immediately into group classes over Zoom. Our students were happy to be able to still "play together" while staying home, and I know that the SMPLA teachers quickly figured out how to teach productively within the Zoom format. Finally for the 2021-22 school year we were able to be in person again!! Fortunately wearing masks kept us all safe and we never had an outbreak within our community. Hopefully in the 2022-23 season we will be able to go back to performing in rest homes, at the mall during the Holidays, and also at Bach in the Park in March. SMPLA is revving up for the season with a summer Picnic and Play-in music jam in the Van Nuys Sherman Oaks Park on Sunday August 28th at 4pm. I hope you can come! Registration is now open for the 2022-23 year.
Peach & Spoon
Yes, over the past few years I have done what many music artists have done while stuck at home, which was to create new music! If any of you are watching the P&S IG page, you will see that I am learning how to make some content there to start to promote the new release of children's music. There is certainly a learning curve there as I discover new tools and formats, but I welcome your "follows" and "likes" and this will be the best place to learn about the music and the video (YES, the VIDEO!!!) when it all comes out! I'm really excited (as you can tell) about the video that we are planning to shoot in the Fall! Can't wait!!!
Over the 2021-22 school year, I was the music music specialist for the Palisades Preschool in Santa Monica. It was wonderful to be in person again with the children and teachers. We wore masks all year and had very few Covid outbreaks. This year I facilitated writing a song with the Sunflower class aptly called "We Are The Sunflower Class". I also helped the children in the Lavender class develop another original song, this time about Puff the Sea Dragon. There are several videos on my P&S IG page of this song, the watercolors of the characters the children created, and finally I recorded them singing the song, and created a video with the help of a few amazing parents in the class who are also animators. The final video is really something special, and I'm so glad I can share it with you, please check it out, it's so very sweet!
This group of extremely talented women kept going during the pandemic, meeting, singing, practicing and learning over Zoom. It was a really wonderful way to stay in community even during lock down. Nevenka created and released a few videos over the last few years and several outdoor performances too. Check us out on this edition of Kirbie's Gold, a YouTube series featuring John Carroll Kirbie as he performs with and interviews various local talents, it's really fun! Our mentor and teacher Tzvetanka Varimezova actually returned from Bulgaria to sing with us at our last performance in May, and you can watch the footage from that concert here. Also check out a ten minute documentary on Tzvetanka and Nevenka here.
I'm sending this email to let you know how grateful I am for your support! And although it's been too long since I last wrote one of these news update emails, I want you to know I'm still thinking about you! Thank you for attending any of my performances in 2019, or just clicking on a link I may have posted. Feel free to get in touch and say "Hello"!
This year I was a bit compromised with a frozen shoulder for several months, but am now almost fully recovered and am able to tickle the strings like I used to! Also, I was married in May 2019, and took a fantastical honeymoon in London and Paris to celebrate with my husband Stephen Clark! In 2020 you may find my name written like this: Molly White Clark! Yay!
I'm grateful to all my students and families. Every day I get to participate in their learning, and I learn from them in return. I offered some new challenges for my students this year that many met with eager joy. Learning to play in guitar ensemble, for example, takes dedicated daily practice, and sometimes the watchful eye of a parent who might also be learning how to read music along with their child. In 2019, I started teaching several students via Face Time when they moved to a new city or country, or when they were too sick to attend in person.
This year I started learning more about teaching mindfulness through a program called Mindful Schools, a robust program training teachers to teach mindfulness to children, while also learning more about current science and research on mindfulness. I will be integrating these ideas more and more into my studio teaching in 2020. Here's a short video in which the brain scientist Dan Siegel, uses the hand as a model for the brain as he describes how to talk about difficult emotions with children.
Suzuki Music Program of LA
2019 saw the end of my first year and the beginning of my second year as Co-Director for this non profit program. In addition to offering high quality group music education, we also have a performance schedule. This year our performances included the LA Jewish Home for the Aging, the Avant Garde Senior Living & Memory Care, and for the fifth year in a row we participated in the Bach in the Subway world-wide event, celebrating JS Bach's birthday in March. I'm so grateful for this position: I get to watch and encourage young people as they find their joy in music and offer it up as a gift to others. Recently at one of the rest homes, a resident leaned over as we were setting up, to say "I love you!" Simple as that! Please get in touch if you would like our violin groups or guitar ensemble to play at your event.
Peach & Spoon
I'm excited to report that the Peach & Spoon Adventure curriculum written for pre-schools, was again brought into public pre-schools in 2019, through the wonderful work of Create Now, a non-profit organization that empowers youth through arts education and mentoring. This time my friend and colleague Elena Degl'Innocenti taught the curriculum, and 150 children took home the Peach & Spoon CD (which you can purchase here)!
New songs are in the works for a second Peach & Spoon album. I am fortunate to get to try these songs out in the best laboratory possible: Pre-Schools!!! I can't wait to share them with you in 2020!
Creative Song Writing
2019 was a year of work-shopping new songs. I'm happy to say that the Bushwick Book Club LA has been revived (each participant reads the same book and then writes a song inspired by the book), and I was able to participate in three events! Feel free to join in any month yourself by signing up on the Instagram Page. Here's a compilation video from the event at Stories Cafe in September. This Sunday January 5 will be the first event of 2020 at Molly Malone's at 7:30. See you there!
I am so grateful also to Christian Elder for asking me to score his short film called Polyvore. I look forward to encountering more such opportunities in 2020!
I have enjoyed performing with this diverse group of women fro the last 15 years or so. The Nevenka Eastern European Folk Ensemble performed two shows to full audiences at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Studio City in April, and then at Remo Auditorium at Cal Tech in September, as a part of the Pasadena Folk Music Society's monthly series. Here's a video of concert highlights. Look out for more videos to be released in 2020!