Musing about teaching & life


Jacob Litoff said: Sep 2, 2011
 Violin, Cello, Viola
Millis, MA
48 posts

ON a trip to Japan
2 decades ago
I watched this great man
turn the violin and the bow

into many gorgeous tunes
that when played by the young
their notes they filled the rooms
with songs so beautifully sung

Suzuki he did teach
More instructors there did too
those words sweet as a peach
Were really very very few.

Sometimes those kids played great
But got strong words of dismay
This made me contemplate
Was this the only way.

The kids sure practiced very hard
Their mothers by their side
Allowed no playing in the yard.
For mistakes moms whipped their hide.

the playing sure did rise
to levels very high
Those teachers seem so wise
Their results above the sky

But when I came home again
Yes to the USA
The teachers used a different pen
Yes they taught a different way.

The boys and girls made awful sound
Made me want to plug my ears.
Those teachers surprisingly found
Almost anything but tears.

They praised the students many times
With words that were so sweet
They seemed to say that rotten limes
Were very nice to eat.

But then they’d pick one tiny thing
the kids could sure improve.
Try to get the string to ring
Or get the tune to move.

While the kids they had so far to go
So much that must get better
Mostly praise instructors show
With a very happy letter.

With this huge supply of compliments
At levels still so low
Can their desire for improvements
Ever truly grow?

Or will they view the violin
as nothing but a game
And never do much practicin’
or ever strive for fame.

Or will it bring such cheer and love
Each time a tune they play,
That keeps them working hard enough,
and still has them playing today.

The same ideas do apply
to planet earth and life
When we stare up at the sky
Wanting love and not the knife.

We can sit around and praise the world
For the little that its done
Ignoring all the war and crime
and just saying that life is fun.

Or sternly we can work quite hard
at making life rise higher
Be dismayed in our back yard
Aim to end all war and fire.

I hope someday we sure do find
that nice point in between
Yes some way that’s kind
and not to yang or yin

Must exist in love and harmony
Show friendship for each other
With nature we must live and see
beauty we cannot smother

I hope the day it does arrive
when peace does here return
For such a time we all do strive
and strongly we do yearn

The path that we must wander on
To get to such a destination
Will take an awful lot of ponderin’
and lots of contemplation

Diane said: Sep 2, 2011
Diane AllenViolin
244 posts

When faced with a choice:

“Is the glass 1/2 full or 1/2 empty”

I would choose 1/2 full! I prefer that outlook on life! Attitude is everything.

“For mistakes Mom whipped their hide”??? Really?

That opens up an entire other area for your poetry. Is “whipping their hide” nurturing???

Thanks Jacob for sharing this and stirring up thoughts.


Videos of student violin recitals and violin tutorials.

Jacob Litoff said: Sep 2, 2011
 Violin, Cello, Viola
Millis, MA
48 posts

‘whipped their hide” is just figurative. But if the kids didn’t know the vivaldi concertos by memory by the age of 4 or 5, if the kids didn’t know the mozart concertos by memory by the age of 8 or 9, and if they didn’t know the mendlessohn concerto by the age of 12 and the bartok violin concerto by the age of 14 or 15, the parents wouldn’t let them play violin any more. It was a waste of their time and money if the kids didn’t show at least a sign of progress at least that fast. All the parents did was push for the kids to get better. Even now, with most of my students being from asian families here in the USA, frequently a parent will ask me not to compliment the kids. They just want the kids to know how to get to higher levels as fast as possible.

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