From The Banner


Music to Our Ears

By Jeff Waxman

In the enchanting world of music education, a dedicated mentor can make all the difference in a student’s journey. At Montessori School Bali, we are fortunate to have a true maestro guiding our young talents through the intricate and melodic path of violin mastery. With a passion for nurturing the next generation of musicians, our school’s violin teacher, Catherine, is more than an instructor; she is part of the MSB family and has been since 2003.

Check our interview with Catherine below to learn more about her and her passion.

Can you tell us about your journey as a violinist? How did you discover your passion for the violin?

I had a passion to learn the violin from a young age and asked for a violin on my 4th birthday! My Father was a violin teacher so I probably wanted to be like him. When I eventually got lessons at age 7, I immediately fell in love with playing. My Father was always complaining about his job, so I didn’t have any desire to become a violin teacher, until I stumbled across the Suzuki violin method. Suzuki believed that if children hear and learn to play fine music, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. And they get a beautiful heart. He believed, “The heart that feels music, will feel people.” He felt it is in our power to educate all the children of the world to become a little better as people, a little happier. I was and still am on a spiritual journey to find purpose and Suzuki violin method resonated perfectly with this.

How long have you taught at Montessori School Bali?  What motivated you to become a violin teacher here, and what has kept you going for so long?

I’ve taught violin at Montessori School Bali for 20 years. I was invited to teach a small group of extended day preschoolers by one of the classroom teachers. I taught in their classroom and after observing the lessons for a year she felt it benefited the children and I was invited to teach the whole school. I love the joyful energy of young children and love keeping the joy of playing the violin alive. My daughter attended the school from age 5 up until age 15 so this was an added bonus and one reason, I have continued teaching at MSB.

Can you describe your teaching philosophy or approach to violin instruction and how do you see it connecting to the Montessori method?

I believe children learn best when they are having fun so I include a lot of games in my lessons. I have developed games for holding the bow, games for learning to read music and games for learning a new piece!  My lessons involve a lot of movement, so body, mind and soul are stimulated. Learning to play the violin is difficult. It requires effort, self -discipline and concentration. These are qualities that a Montessori education also values. In today’s world, where children are bombarded with messages of instant gratification, it’s especially important for the children to see how putting in effort, pays off in the longer term. The children see firsthand how those who focus in the lessons and practice get better at playing the violin.   Suzuki believed that with the right environment and circumstances anyone could learn to play the violin. The Montessori approach also focuses on providing the right environment for children to excel.

Montessori education focuses on taking your time and doing things carefully. To make a beautiful sound on the violin requires sensitivity and taking your time. It requires you to be in touch with your soul, being mindful and giving your full focus. My lessons are also social and I encourage the children to help each other and resolve conflicts as they arise. We also discuss how to avoid conflicts arising! When the children play together for school concerts this fosters a sense of community- another very important aspect of Montessori education.

How do you tailor your teaching methods to meet the MSB students’ individual needs and learning styles of your students? Do you have tips for students to stay motivated and engaged in their violin studies? 

I teach in small groups so this makes it easier to adapt to the special learning needs of different children. I am intuitive to the children and don’t push them when I observe it is not the right time to. But I do require that they remain present and put in effort.  The way to excel at anything it life, is to spend more time doing that the activity. I encourage any child that enjoys the violin to buy a violin so they can practice at home or consider booking a term of private lessons. Suzuki says only practice violin on the days you want to eat!

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