This is a picture of the window of the Burlington Violin/Vermont Violins store in Burlington.
It’s significant because this store has gone all in on non-classical violin related stuff. here’s another picture of a display:
Cool! Electric violins and a Regina Carter Quintet poster. I spoke to a young student (high-school age) who was working there. My first question was, “Are local teachers excited about the Lindsey Sterling effect and all the different things you can do with a violin?” The answer was a simple, “No.” He went on to say that he quit the school orchestra because it was too limiting.
That’s REALLY bad news. When I speak to teachers I know around here, in Connecticut, they all say something to the effect of, “All the young kids want to do is be like Lindsey Sterling.” This is not said with a smile, but a sneer. That’s even worse news.
Lindsey Sterling herself should be a beacon for these teachers. She plays really well. She talks openly about the power of practice. She dances along with her playing, emphasizing the power of rhythm and groove in music. She talks about how she tried to get on America’s Got Talent, and failed, as the judges said she wasn’t good enough. How she looked critically at herself and saw they were right. How she doubled down on her practice regime and ultimately became who she is today. A kid making a huge effect on string playing. A kid making a cool 25 million an year.
Everything about Lindsey Stirling should be a positive message for string students. A message that teachers should be taking advantage if to inspire more kids to stick with strings, learn great technique, so you can be like Lindsey. or Regina Carter, or any of the other monsters in the string world.
The message to string teachers, both private and school, is clear. Get on the bandwagon, or watch classical music die. You may be thinking that teaching the repertoire of Lindsey Sterling is bad for classical, but no, it doesn’t work that way. People discover music that speaks to them through a variety of ways. And if you develop really competent string players, they’ll discover what they want to play as they’re exposed to various pieces. You have to teach it ALL.
The goal is to get kids playing so they’ll have a lifetime of creative outlets, be better rounded adults. They might play in a local civic orchestra, or they might play in some old-time band at local fairs. Maybe just have fun with a garage-band that plays open mic nights. What they play is irrelevant, it’s that they play.
How many studies show that the brain develops faster as a child when studying music? Who knows, every month another one comes out confirming this. So what good are you as a teacher when you turn kids away from music by a forced repertoire of 300 year old pieces? Sure, there are a lot of good lessons in classical music, but mix it up.
I know many teachers feel pressured by parents to get their kids into regionals, or all-states, so they have a better chance of building the high school resume so they’ll get into that better college. However, what impresses a college more; looking at some kid who got stuck in the same grind, or perhaps some creative genius, who not only played different repertoire, but maybe formed a small band, put it on video, stuck it on Youtube, maybe developed a website for that band, and tried to market themselves.
If I’m a college admissions officer, now I see a kid who not only has the dedication to practice and get good, but also has the drive needed to succeed in college, who knows how to channel creativity. I can admit some sheep who played Mozart 357 times, or I can admit the kid who has some intellectual firepower. Pretty simple choice. Sheep turn into lamb chops, the others run the restaurants that serve the lamb chops.
Think big, teachers, the future of string playing depends on it.