• What in Berlin is Paul Brody up to? besides selling Becky's Violin Purses?

    News from my brother, Paul Brody, on the other side of the World

    (about the Spoken Word and Melody)

    My brother, Paul has been hired by...
    Well, I asked my brother to tell us about his new project for the Pierre Boulez Auditorium (Artistic Director:  Daniel Barenboim) where he is hired to be a feature sound installation artist, and got an earful as follows! (For specifics about Boulez work click HERE.)

    Trumpeting and Composing through Stories 

    When Paul Brody was struggling to get a grade higher than a D in his high school English class he hardly imagined that would have a job experimenting with language. Words were something that were difficult, and generally brought a lot of red marks when the teacher returned his essays and tests.

    Now Brody is 56 years old. He still feels Californian although he’s lived in Berlin, Germany for almost a quarter of a century. Brody is an internationally acclaimed composer, radio producer, and sound installation artist. To most people these three actively seem wildly different. But Brody puts them all under one category, which is his self proclaimed ‘sub-genre.’ That is the world between spoken word and melody.

    The red marks from his high school English teachers have changed into notes, frequencies, vocal gestures, and melodies. And the mistakes Brody might have made on his tests have even been assigned an artistic value which Brody calls, the aesthetic of misunderstanding. His latest projects have included composing for a theater piece based on the people who worked as interpreters for the Nuremberg Trials. What was it like to be the interpreter who had to translate during those long weeks? The through-composed composition functioned as another translation that left the words and embraced the speechlessness of it’s unfathomable tragedy. The state theater, Munich Kammerspiele housed the documentary music theater piece.

    Brody has extensively explored using the voice as a compositional base. His work at the Jewish Museum Berlin uses interviews with people about how they see their place in their chosen home of Berlin. Brody’s special composition technique shows that along with words, the voices-melody both accompanies what we say but also carries it’s own independent narration.

    Brody is currently working on a sound installation based on Yiddish blessings and curses for the Candian Language Museum. In April he will also be guest artist speaker at the University of Rhode Island and Artist in Residence at the University of Virginia.

    Back in Berlin he will be a feature sound installation artist at the Pierre Boulez Auditorium (Artistic Director:  Daniel Barenboim). (For specifics about Boulez work click HERE.)

    He is also developing a sound installation for the Anton Webern festival.

    Brody has also toured extensively as a trumpeter and played and recorded with such greats as John Zorn and Jelena Kuljic.

    For more information and exciting listening examples please check out his website: www.paulbrody.net

  • Dedicated Music Teacher Dr. Michael Eisenberg Connects with Violettes

    Music Teacher Enters Talented Students in Songwriter Competition



    Music teacher Dr. Michael Eisenberg is another outstanding teacher whom I am introduced to thru my work with Violettes. Learning of the Violettes Composition and Songwriting Competition for Youth thru Linked-In announcements, he encouraged 4 students enter. The contest was a goal to produce. Dr Eisenberg currently teaches music, music history, chorus, music theater, and French at Veritas Academy in Flushing, New York.


    1.  Violettes: Teaching is generally a job with long hours. Have you received any awards for your work?

    Dr. Michael Eisenberg: I was named a Montalvo National Teaching Artist Finalist for excellence in arts ed and I was selected for the Carnegie Music Educators Workshop in 2013 to the present. My high school choir was invited to sing at Placido Domingo's retirement gala at the Met as
    well. Thank you for all the amazing help you have given to my students*.

    2. Violettes: All your students entered the Songwriting Division. Is your background in voice? Tell us about your music background or history.

    Dr. Michael Eisenberg: My principal instruments are piano and harpsichord but I have been involved in singing since high school and have studied voice and currently sing with the Brooklyn Tabernacel Choir and the New York Festival Singers. I love singing and believe it is critical to students’ experience with music.

    3. Violettes: What kind of classes do you teach and do you have certain methods that you use to bring out the best in your children?

    Music teacher, Dr. Michael Eisenberg Students of Music Teacher, Dr. Michael Eisenberg: Carlos Gomez, Taziyah Bryant and David Mercado


    Dr. Michael Eisenberg: I have taught for 4 years with the NYC dept of Ed and prior to that with the Metropolitan Opera Guild and Lincoln Center Institute as a teaching artist. I have taught many different kinds of courses from voice and chorus, to band and keyboard, to strings and orchestra to general music. It is my experience that the more students take ownership of the content and instruction the more they connect and enjoy it. When they have the chance to create and shape the music they are performing they respond in a much more enthusiastic and organic way.




    4. Violettes: Tell us about the school where you teach? Do you have any fun stories about working with teen age children?

    Dr. Michael Eisenberg: Veritas Academy is an innovative Renzulli-design school where students are encouraged to use their individual strengths and creativity to connect to curriculum. We are located in Queens, NYC which is the most ethnically and linguistically diverse community per capita in the US and the world. Our school is located in the oldest NYC high school campus in a beautiful neo-Gothic building.


    5. Violettes: Tell us about any music ventures that you have outside of teaching.

    Dr. Michael Eisenberg: I am currently working to present some concerts with voice and keyboard in Milan and throughout western US focusing on the musical world of Leonardo da Vinci. I recently curated an exhibit there on Leonardo’s designs for musical instruments. Last summer, I participated in an NEH workshop in Germany on teaching Bach to high school students.

    6. Violettes: Do you have any hobbies that you like talking about?

    Dr. Michael Eisenberg: I love to ski and to speak foreign languages and get to know other cultures. I also love to read and of course perform and make music.

    Music Teacher Music Teacher Michael Eisenberg with his students


    *Violettes by Becky pairs professional volunteer judges with the students to give them encouraging constructive feedback for their music. Junior Composition Judges; Senior Composition Judges; Songwriter Judges are from the Knoxville Songwriters Association.


                                                          Go to Violettes by Becky Homepage Here.

  • Trumpet Players with Music Gifts

    Trumpet Players: Paul Brody on Adam Stinga



    "Eight Countries, Six Languages, Two Trumpet Players, One Band"


    In 2013 Adam Stinga, one of the greatest trumpet soloists of our generation, was told by doctors of the Republic of Moldavia that he would survive his lung cancer but never perform again. Less then a year later, I was standing next to Adam on stage in Warsaw with the band the brought us the together as a trumpet section, Alan Bern’s The Other Europeans.

    The story of Adam’s treatment and recovery parallels the story of our band, individuals from different cultures working together to find a common language.

    The Other Europeans is a fourteen piece group consisting of some of the most accomplished Klezmer and Roma musicians today. (Roma is the correct word for people often mistakenly called Gypsies.) We explore the intersection of two kinds of music that shared a rich cultural exchange before they were almost destroyed by war, the Holocaust, and immigration. We are from eight different countries, share no single language, and our rehearsals bounce among Russian, Romanian, Hungarian, German. English and French.

    Enjoy an introduction to their sound in this video. Trumpet Players Paul Brody (left) and Adam Stinga (right) stand side by side.


    With the help of the manager of a German pop star who heard the band play at Yiddish Summer Weimar, Alan Bern found one of the world’s leading lung cancer surgeons, an Albanian doctor based in Germany, and brought Adam in for an examination. Instead of removing an entire lung, the surgeon would use a technique he developed which involves removing only a small part of Adam’s lung and reconstructing that with Adam’s own tissue. The doctor agreed to work for a minimal cost and invited his best team, which consisted of an Egyptian anesthesiologist and Turkish nurses. Adam’s Moldavian insurance wouldn’t pay treatment out of the country so Alan Bern set up an online fundraising campaign, prompting musicians from all over the world to give concerts and solicit donations.

    I used to play more quietly than Adam out of admiration, shy respect. Now I play softly out of joy. Like watching the path of a humming bird flying though tree branches, my ear follows his Moldavian embellishments winding through melodies. Maybe he takes a few more breaths between phrases than before his operation, but I still have the feeling that every note from his silver horn is music history in the making.

    My listening has changed entirely with the realization that this sound could have disappeared from our group, and what put Adam back on stage with The Other Europeans strangely mirrors the band itself: crossing country borders despite difficulties, an improbable array of culturally diverse people working together, every one of whom would have been considered a ‘non-person’ just two generations ago in Germany.

    What Clark Terry is to jazz and Maurice Andre is to classical, Adam Stinga is to Roma music. And while carrying a trumpet on one’s back is a fairly light endeavor, the tradition that we represent while playing, from how we climb a scale and trill to the very sound coming from our breath is a full world. Despite the surge in popularity in Balkan brass bands and Roma music, there is still much to discover by listening to Adam Stinga. (www.theothereuropeans.eu)

    Paul Brody

    Trumpet Players, Paul Brody Paul Brody Author, one of Trumpet Players in "The Other Europeans"


    trumpet Players, Music Gifts Paul Brody, Adam Stinga Trumpet Players, Paul Brody (right) writes about Adam Stinga (left).       Photo by Pawel Mazur (Concert in Krakow)


    Another Musician story - brought to you by Violettes by Becky. Please check out our Gifts for Music Lovers and buy some.


  • Young Violette, The Violettes Band & Young Violettes

    Looking for Young Violette, Young Violettes, The Violettes Band or Violettes by Becky?

    You are looking for Young Violette? There are many music groups by that name.

    Top Handbag brands, Guitar Purse, Gifts for Guitar Players, Guitar themed gifts Sign up here to Win Guitar Purse
    gifts for him, custom wallets Custom Wallets on our Gifts for Him page.

    Now, we would love for you to tell us which Young Violette or Violettes you were actually looking for. Please leave a comment below (at the bottom of this page).

    1. The Violettes Band is from Minneapolis: Their Genre is (ethereal) Pop/Rock.  The same artists also play under the name Softshow adding Eastern and classical elements to their music.

    The band members are singer/keyboardist Sarah Khan, singer/drummer Scott Haughawout, guitarist Mark Ilaug (also playing sitar in Softshow), and bassist John Ancell (playing cello in Softshow). The Violettes' self-released, self-titled debut album, released in October 2004, combines aspects of the two outfits. 

    2. There is also Violette , a French singer songwriter, living in New York, who's genre is Pop Jazz. Also find a video with one of her songs directed and edited by the ADC Young Guns winner, Brad Hasse (aka Bandonio) below.

    Perhaps this must be what everyone is looking when searching for Young Violette or Young Violettes because it is recent?

    3. Let me introduce Violettes by Becky to you. Many people are finding our web site looking for one of the above. They are all music related. Absolutely everyone needs to buy gifts, so why not check out our music gifts for music lovers. They are all designed and finished by Becky in TN, and the Guitars, Ukes and some of the leather fiddles are hand painted by Becky and her artists. For the home page click on the photo below.

    It's not too early to look for Mothers Day Gifts or even a Fathers Day Gifts. The purses/Gig bags are conversation starters wherever the owner goes. If your Mom likes to talk about her child who plays guitar...this gift will give her endless fun. Use them like Spring Gifts Baskets, and fill with a poem, CD, Concert Tickets and chocolates. As Fathers Day Gifts, we make custom leather wallets, or we can paint the Guitar Bag Black with Initials or most any Logo. And as gig bags, fill with spare strings, mic wires, picks, rosin, metronome, eye glasses...

    4. Last of all, I found something quite sweet looking for Violettes sites. It is a writers web site with a story about young people and a rock band called Violettes. Anyone can read the stories on this site and make comments. Maybe you can read this story and encourage the young writer to continue. Unfortunately, I just spent quite a bit of time looking for this and can't find it again! maybe i'll try another time.

    I hope that you will consider ViolettesbyBecky.com as a great source for gifts. And I hope that I have pointed you to what you were searching for.

    Please let us know in the feedback below. Tell us both which Young Violette you were looking for, and if you will put Violettes by Becky on your Bookmarks list. Buy your Music Gifts Here.

    Sincerely ,

    Becky Chaffee



  • Wren Harrington Creates  "GPS" for International Song

    Wren Harrington - Vocal Stylist with Jazz Tinged Music


    Wren Harrington gives us a "GPS" for International song. She is "a vocal stylist who sings Latin and jazz tinged American songbook and international standards". She is one of my awesome Violettes owners, but she has a much bigger claim to fame than that. The once exclusively opera singer now explores more musical styles. She demonstrates this in her new recording, "Light Travels", in which she explores the riches of popular Latin American, Brazilian, Italian and American classics from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s . In "Light Travels", she shows her sophisticated palette of vocal colors in addition to expert fusion of jazz and global musical styles.


    1. Violettes: Can you tell us where the idea for your new album, “Light Travels” comes from or how the song collection was selected? Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your new album?

    Ms. Harrington: Thanks so much for your kind words! To quote the press release, “Light Travels” is a collection of jazz infused not-so-standard tunes from the American Songbook, Latin America, Brazil, and Italy of the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. I’ve been interested in Latin, South American and Italian music for a very long time, and feel that the prolific songwriting of the 30s-50’s of the Americas and Europe was particularly rich. I also love our American Songbook (Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein, etc.) and feel that good songs, regardless of language or musical idiom can cohabitate really well on a concert or recording. If they share beautiful melodies, lyrics and potential for deep emotional expression, then they do well together! I have performed on a number of occasions with different musicians in Mexico and Italy, and wanted to record something that would in essence, be the “GPS” for international song.

    2. Violettes: You have traveled the world. Do you have interesting stories from your music adventures in various countries
    Ms. Harrington: There are so many. Here's one.

    Many of my performing experiences abroad have occurred because of crazy timings. One such occasion took place on the island of Procida, a small island off the coast of Naples, Italy. I was vacationing there with my teenage son and we were staying in a beautiful bed and breakfast. I was in my room one day, humming the tune of a song called "Senza Fine", which is a song by Gino Paoli, and was a big hit in the 60's. I hear a knock on my door, and the owner, Vincenzo was all excited and said "wow, you sing that song, I love that song - listen, my cousin is the mayor of the island, and we have our Sagra del Mare festival concert next week. He's in charge of the talent for the concert and I'm SURE he would love to have you sing that on the concert." So I said - well - "OK - sounds fun. Just let me know the details". I didn't hear anything for a week. It was the day before we had to leave the island and I was taking one last swim. All of a sudden, I saw on the beach Vincenzo, waving his hands madly and motioning for me to come ashore. I was worried - I thought that perhaps something had happened to my son, or the hotel was on fire - I didn't know! Vincenzo said "you must come with me NOW because my cousin the mayor and his staff want to hear you sing "Senza Fine" because they think they want you to sing at the festival." I was dripping wet - sandy, and only had my sarong. I told Vincenzo it was impossible to come because I was sopping wet, wet hair, and that was no condition to do an audition. He BEGGED me to come anyway and motioned towards his Vespa. "PLEASE, hop on my bike and I'll TAKE YOU TO HIS OFFICE, it is imperative!" Probably because I was feeling the abandon of being in another country, or maybe it was just the craziness that I loved that made me hop on the back of Vincenzo's bike and roar off to the mayor's office to do the audition. Of course, you can imagine the awkwardness that I felt, walking into a formal office with streaming wet hair wearing only a bathing suit and a sarong and seeing a long table surrounded by Italian politicians in suits and singing a song. But I did - and the next day, I performed "Senza Fine" with an orchestra in the "Sagra del Mare" festival concert on a floating stage at the marina of Procida Island. The Sagra del Mare Festival is a festival that commemorates the island's reverence for the sea and all that it means to the life of the island. It was a huge honor for me to sing because I have been visiting this tiny extravagantly beautiful island for many years and feel a real sense of belonging to the people and culture there. All because I was humming in my hotel room!

    3. Violettes: What languages do you know. Are you fluent in the languages or mainly fluent in the language often used in opera. (If that makes sense). Which language is your favorite?
    Ms. Harrington: I speak and read Italian and Spanish and have working knowledge of French, German and Portuguese. I love all languages, but Italian is my favorite. Maybe because I learned it first and sang many operas in Italian, but I truly do love the musical nature of spoken Italian, and especially, Neapolitan, which is the unofficial language/dialect of the area in and around Naples, Italy.

    4. Violettes: I have always loved improvisation on any instrument. But I don’t often hear vocal improvisation. Do you do vocal improvisation when you sing jazz songs? If so, at what point in your career did you learn this?
    Ms. Harrington: Ella Fitzgerald, Betty Carter, and Sarah Vaughan were HUGE vocal improvisers and you’ll fall in love with their amazing improvisation! Personally, I don’t do too much heavy improvising, and don’t consider myself a scat singer, but I do some improvising with the melody of songs that seem to invite it. I started out as a classical singer and relied exclusively on what was written - so I have to work on improvising. But it’s something I’d definitely like to do more of!

    5. Violettes: You do acting and musical theatre in addition to Opera. Are you involved in teaching, giving clinics or any other kinds of music projects?

    Ms. Harrington: I actually don’t do much opera anymore, unless I do a reading of a musical that is a “crossover” legitimately sung musical (borderline opera). However, I perform in concert and in musical theatre, and am a voice teacher and teach classical singing technique as well as popular styles. I have a handful of dedicated students whose ambitions range from having opera and musical theatre careers to jazz and cabaret careers. I feel that the hallmarks of good singing stem from a solid background in classical singing (proper breathing, zero tension, focused placement and good intonation to name a few.)

    I have a number of projects in the works. In addition to performing myself and working on new material for performing and recording, I’m producing an “opera-in-the-schools” outreach program called “Oper-Addicts”, which will introduce kids all over New York City (and maybe the Northeast region) to the joy of opera and musical theatre and give kids an opportunity to experience the beauty and healing nature of music and drama. There will be 4-5 young opera apprentices and a pianist who will travel to schools all over and perform mini-operas and musicals. Eventually it will become a creative workshop for children, who will have preparatory materials beforehand and will be invited to participate. Very exciting!

    More about Ms. Harrington at www.wrenmarieharrington.com.

    Wren Harrington, Jazz Singer, American Songbook Wren Harrington Introduces us to International Song in her new album, "Light Travels"
    Wren Harrington, American Songbook, jazz singer Wren Harrington with International Song











    Enjoy listening to Wren Harrington and samples of her album, Light Travels.

    It would be a great Christmas gift for an International Song fan and even a jazz singer fan!

    ################ AMERICAN SONGBOOK ################################

  • A Collision of Music and Science with Susan Eddlemon

    Susan Eddlemon, a Gem of a Teacher 

    Violin Player, Susan Eddlemon, taught my daughter music lessons for several years. I found Ms. Eddlemon to be a high tech violin teacher and frankly, classy. Ms. Eddlemon’s studio had a video camera mounted on the wall, videotaping my daughter in rehearsal for immediate review. In addition, she provided slowed down piano accompaniment tapes of violin pieces for home practice. This was so valuable for a violin player. As for classy, ballroom dancing is one of her hobbies, and she knows how to look elegant! Ms. Eddlemon currently plays in the Knoxville and Oak Ridge Symphonies in Tennessee.


    1. Violettes: You with your husband, Scott, founded the The Isotone Concert Series, a Collision of Science and Music; which performs at venues like the Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge. The performances usually honor a scientist and their research. The compositions often utilize science equipment such as Gieger Counters or the Van de Graff Generator. Scott composes some of the music. You also perform commissioned music. Can you get grants to get the music commissioned for such a unique idea? What is on the horizon for this Series?

    Susan: Were planning to present a concert in New York City’s Symphony Space next season featuring highlights from previous concerts presented in Oak Ridge at the Museum and at the Pollard Auditorium. We have received grants to do the commissioned works from local sources (and other). This season we’re planning a concert for two percussionists, violin, and cello featuring the music of NYC composer and arranger Larry Spivack dedicated to the men and women who developed and operate the Sallation Neutron Source in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

    2. Violettes: I believe you listen to the science DVD’s from the Great Courses Company.  Many scientists are also accomplished musicians. From where does your interest in science stem? Did you have trouble choosing between music and science, or were your parents scientists?

    Susan: My husband Scott’s father, Joseph, first worked for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory before starting his own sales company, Pulcir, Inc. Scott works for his father in nuclear instrumentation sales for health physics and research, cancer treatment systems, and pharmaceutical refrigeration. The Eddlemon family counts Oak Ridge as its native soil! Science has been a part of their background both educationally and professionally. Scott and I both trained as musicians in our youth and young adulthood; Scott’s scientific proclivities emerged when we returned from living in Canada to the U.S. in 1989 and he began working for his father in nuclear instrumentation sales.

    3. Violettes: As a Violin Player, you have the distinction of being the first woman Ph.D. in performance violin from Juilliard School. Do you have any stories from this experience?

    Susan: In 1973, as a student enrolled in the Professional Studies program at Juilliard and as a Master’s graduate there, I won the school’s concerto competition. As a result of that and the Tully Hall performance of the Dvorak Violin Concerto with the Juilliard Theater Orchestra in Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center, I was invited to enroll in the School’s new Doctor of Musical Arts program. At the time I was unsure whether to return for yet more years of study; so I took a year off travelling with the Boris Goldovsky Opera Company.

    The following spring I presented the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with the Elkhart (Indiana) Symphony, with no coaching or teacher nearby! It was my first experience taking full responsibility for my own performance! It frankly scared me sufficiently to cause me to decide to return to School and study several more years! For years I wondered what that performance had actually sounded like, since the whole experience had shaken me so!

    Several months ago this year a Board Member from the Elkhart Symphony contacted me saying he had unearthed a reel-to-reel recording of that performance and wanted to send me a copy. He insisted that it was very inspiring to him and he had distributed it to several of the other board members. Of course, I approached the hearing of that disc when it came in the mail with a great deal of nervousness! but I was amazed at what I actually done on that recording! How could some performance that turned out that well feel so terrible!

    4. Violettes: Tell us about your Ballroom dancing.

    Susan: We have suspended our study of Ballroom because of lack of time and money! but we look forward to reviving it in coming years. It still remains a companion to our musical interpretation and background. In my studio there is a picture of a couple dancing at a ball - as a reminder of the partnership of the masculine traits of leadership, initiative, cognition, and order with the feminine traits of intuition, nurturing, responsiveness, and release in musical study and performance. In ballroom, the man always leads, and the woman always responds to the lead.

    5. Violettes: As a violin player, do you have any new projects on the horizon?

    Susan: At this later stage of life, I find there are a few compositions which I have yet fully to study and perform - the greatest of which is surely the Chaconne of Bach. With three grandchildren to visit, travelling with husband on business, sitting for five different regional East Tennessee orchestras, and tending to the Isotone Concerts, learning and playing the Chaconne alone would be an accomplishment!


    Scott and Susan Eddlemon, founders of the Isotone Series, are graduates of the prestigious Juilliard Music School in New York City. Sue is an accomplished violinist, the first woman to earn a Ph.D. degree in violin at Juilliard and former concertmaster for the Oak Ridge Symphony Orchestra.

    Music and science, Susan Eddlemon, Julliard School A Collison of Music and Science with Susan and Scott Eddlemon

    Another www.ViolettesbyBecky.com Interview.

    Violin Player Please support Violettes' work with purchases this Holiday Season.



  • Unique Chamber Music Curriculum for Children by Alison Maerker Garner

    "Musical Minds" Series -New Music Curriculum for Children 

    Both my children had the good fortune of having Suzuki lessons from the very fine musician and teacher, Alison Maerker Garner. Ms. Garner is involved in so much more than teaching Suzuki students. She has taught Music and Movement using Orff, Dalcroze and Kodaly methods in addition to producing fine violin recordings available on CD’s. She is currently publishing a Chamber Music Series music curriculum for children titled “Musical Minds”. "The volumes develop audiation through symbol, art, language, and movement applied to performance". They include music activities for kids starting with preschool themes on up to older advanced musicians.

    Interview with Alison Maerker Garner

    1. Violettes: You were a child prodigy in music with the luck to be educated by William Starr, Founder of the Suzuki Association of the Americas, amongst others. You travelled internationally with his Suzuki group at age 6 and played twice for Mr. Suzuki himself! What stands out in your memory in those years? Link to Alison's Bio.

    Alison: The closeness between parents, teachers, and students. We were truly a family. As an only child, my early Suzuki experiences were critical to my social and emotional development. Being part of a community dedicated to nurturing the talent of every child provided a sound foundation for me from which to grow. That is the original vision Suzuki had…nourishing the child spiritually and emotionally through music talent education.

    2. Violettes: You didn’t speak until age 8, similar to several other prodigies such as Mozart. Were your parents in terror over your lack of verbal skills, or did they understand just how much must have been developing in your head at that time? How did they discover your musical gift? Does this childhood scenario contribute to your interest in children’s musical development?

    Alison: Truthfully, I was never a prodigy. I showed great interest in dance, art, and music from an early age, and immersed myself in all three since I can remember. Neither of my parents were musicians---my father was a nuclear physicist and my mother a bio-physicist---so my passion for the arts mystified them. I began violin and dance at four primarily because my parents felt I needed the discipline, but also because I demonstrated a love for them.
    My parents did worry about my unwillingness to speak English. I talked fluently at two and three, but in my own language. My mother understood it, so why speak anything else? Once I started school a couple years later (around 5 and 6), I had to speak to be understood and rapidly did so. I don’t think my slowness in acquiring language was a sign of intelligence. It was more likely I was obstinate and a bit lazy. My mother did march me to a doctor or two over the course of several years thinking I might be stupid, but they all felt I would talk when I wanted to, and that’s exactly what happened.

    My interest in music education comes from my own experience as a musical child and my training. The Suzuki Method developed my ear and skill for music, but it didn’t develop my mind. I believe we are innately musical, but express that ability in vastly different ways. For example, note-reading was barely touched on when I was coming through the program, so I felt I was way behind in theory, orchestra, and chamber music skills. What I realized later, is that I had such a highly developed ear for music that the other skills came easily. It was simply a matter of putting a label to a concept I was already intimately familiar with. I want my students to have the opportunity to explore their musical gifts in many ways early on, such as performance, improvisation, composition, arranging, reading, analyzing, and listening. Not everyone takes to performance. There are many other ways to be musical.

    3. Violettes: How is your new “Musical Minds” publication different than what currently exists on the market? (I don’t think there is any other chamber music curriculum for children on the market?)

    Alison: Musical Minds is a response to my own experiences as a student, performer, and teacher. It has within it the multiple ways a student can discover his/her musical self. Current research in cognitive science, memory, and particularly the work done on mirror neurons emphasize that multi-sensory, imitative, and memory-based learning is the most effective for long-term recall and creative thinking. Musical Minds is founded on that premise.

    Volume 1 introduces the concepts of rhythm, melody, tempo, form, and dynamics through sensory experience: visual art, movement, singing, conducting, listening, feeling, and playing. Pre-reading symbols are introduced for young violinists, violists, cellists, and pianists as a way to name concepts learned. Volume 2 is for intermediate violin, piano, viola, and cello students. In volume 2, I use chamber music as a focus to develop both aesthetic and artistic facets of music performance. In presenting a musical concept, I introduce it first in isolation and then within the context of a musical work. For instance, a rhythmic pattern is prepared through imitation, memorization, improvisation on that pattern, placing it within a form, reading, writing it down by ear, composing a simple tune with the pattern, listening/reading/playing the pattern in a folk tune, and listening/reading/playing the pattern within a piece. Only then can it be integrated into a work to be performed, placing it within the context of form, history, theory, dynamics, melody, texture, and tempo. The literature is accompanied by six CDs that rehearse the concepts with the student and illustrate them in poetry, rhyme, folk music, and the chamber repertoire. Manipulating all these musical elements in a chamber group is an added challenge, and my Musical Minds Volumes 3 and 4 set up ways students can learn to listen/study/practice chamber music by themselves and in a group. I haven’t seen such a book on the market that not only brings together language, visual art, and movement to teach music, but does it with chamber music as its goal.

    To find out more, visit Alison's web site.

    Music Curriculum for Children, preschool themes,  music activities for kids Chamber Music Curriculum for Children                                                                                                                         Includes music activities for kids starting with preschool themes on up to older advanced musicians.


    Please read more about this series at this LINK.

  • Violettes Meets Song Writer, David Lauver, Part 2

    Song Writer, David Lauver, uses Talent as Volunteer 

    Mr. Lauver is a long time volunteer for youth education causes. Volunteering for Violettes' Youth Songwriters Competition, is just another way that he gives back. This is a continuation of Violettes Meets David Lauver, Part 1. Thank you again from Violettes by Becky.

    Violettes: You work for many months each year planning a fundraiser for scholarships at the University of Tennessee and Pellissippi State Community College. Tell us about this.
    Mr. Lauver: As a member of East Tennessee’s Society of Professional Journalists, I help write and perform in the “Front Page Follies.” This annual scholarship fundraising roast brings together some 250 state and local leaders to laugh at themselves for a good cause. I’ve chaired the script committee for more than 30 years—writing satirical skits, songs, and parodies that poke fun at newsmakers and news events.
    Proceeds from the Follies have funded more than $50,000 in scholarships at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Pellissippi State Community College. Each year’s scholarships are named for an outstanding East Tennessee print or broadcast journalist. Our 2014 scholarships were presented in honor of WBIR-TV anchor Robin Wilhoit. The show’s scripts and videos preserve a unique “pop culture” perspective on the events that have shaped East Tennessee for more than a third of a century.

    Violettes: What is your personal songwriting story? Has anyone in KSA written hits recorded by a star?

    Song Writer Featuring KSA lifetime member Kim Williams induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, pictured with recording artists Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks

    Mr. Lauver: I wrote my first song when I was in high school, but really didn’t know much about the craft of songwriting until I joined KSA, the Nashville Songwriters Association International, and the Songwriters Guild of America. What I’ve learned from those resources has helped me to express myself more effectively and create songs listeners seem to enjoy. I’ve been fortunate to be a five-time finalist/performer in the national songwriting competition at North Carolina’s “Merlefest,” and in 2014 I had the first-place gospel/inspirational song in the Great American Songwriting Contest. I’ve also performed on radio and television broadcasts and at Gatlinburg’s Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival, Maryville’s Foothills Fall Festival, and Nashville writers’ nights and showcases.
    Several of my songs celebrate the people, land, and history of this region. I’ve provided original tunes for special events at local landmarks, including Knoxville’s Historic Ramsey House; the “Marble Springs” home of Tennessee Governor John Sevier; and Clinton Highway’s iconic “Airplane Filling Station.” My song “Freedom Rolls,” which pays tribute to the rescue workers of September 11 and East Tennessean’s response to that tragedy, was performed as part of the 2002 community remembrance ceremonies in Downtown Knoxville.
    Our biggest KSA “success story” is Kim Williams, who in 2012 was elected to the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Kim, a Rogersville native, is a lifetime member of KSA who gives back to the group by conducting songwriting workshops each month. He has written songs found on CDs, tapes, and videos that have sold more than 154 million copies.
    Kim’s song “Three Wooden Crosses,” recorded by Randy Travis, was named Song of the Year by the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music, the Christian Country Music Association, the Gospel Music Association and the Nashville Songwriters Association International. With recording artist Garth Brooks, Kim wrote a string of hits that Brooks took to the top of the charts. Those No. 1 songs include “Ain’t Goin’ Down ‘Til the Sun Comes Up,” “It’s Midnight, Cinderella,” “Papa Loved Mama,” and “She’s Gonna Make It.”

    Thank you Mr. Lauver for all that you do.

    Song Writers KSA photo information board highlighting meeting schedule


  • Mark Rubin and his Folk Music

    Folk Music meets Violin and Guitar Purses and gifts Mark Rubin, Folk Music Extraordinaire, loves the Violin and Guitar Purses as Gig Bags & Gifts

    Handbag Full of Folk Music with Mark Rubin

    Mark Rubin is a great American folk musician. On stage, he’s a force of nature. Off stage, he’s an expert in American Folk traditions. Following in the footsteps of Pete Seeger and Carl Sandburg, he is a collecter of songs and regional history. He is equally at home as an advisor to the Smithsonian Institute and camp director for the Folk Alliance International as performing with bands such as the Bad Livers and Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars.

    Originally from Stillwater, Oklahoma, Rubin moved to Austin, Texas in the 90’s to help form the legendary trio, the Bad Livers. The band caught the folk music world on fire by putting a punk attitude in bluegrass. They crossed genre boundaries by playing acoustic music at rock festivals and punk music at country venues.

    Pulling on his family roots, Rubin traverses from country music to klezmer, playing festivals such as the Ashkenaz in Tornonto, Warsaw Singer Festival, Yiddish Summer Weimar, and the Cracow Jewish Culture Festival. Some of the groups featuring him are Frank London’s Brotherhood of Brass and the Boban Markovic Orkestar. In 2011 he was featured discussing klezmer music and performing in The Broken Sound, a documentary film about Alan Bern’s Roma-Klezmer Project, The Other Europeans.

    In 2014 Rubin recorded his first solo album. It was created in collaboration with a radio documentary project about him, sponsored by WDR in Cologne, Germany. The recording features him as a songwriter as well as an interpreter of traditional material. On the album, he sings and plays bass, violin, tuba, mandolin, and banjo. The album features a number of Austin folk musicians who have collaborated with him in the last years. In the documentary, he speaks about the idiosyncrasies of Southern American culture in relationship to his musician’s lifestyle.

    In 2013, as a silent protest to Austin’s rampant gentrification, Mark Rubin moved to New Orleans.

    To learn more about Mark, please visit his web site at: www.markrubin.com

    Mark Rubin meets Violettes by Becky

    In June of 2014, I met Mr. Rubin, and he just loved our Violettes Music Purses and gig bags. As articulate as he is, we recorded his spur of the moment heartfelt presentation of them. See the video below. We are happy that he endorses Violettes By Becky!



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