Photo by: Mary Jane Starke 2014
Ivan Galamian and My Philosophy in Teaching the Violin
Playing the violin is a passion for me-another language where I can sing through the miracle that is the violin. Excellence to the highest degree has aways been my goal since was a child. The discovery of the magic in performing well turned into a passion to convey to talented young people what I had learned.
Where did this passion originate? It originated in my early years from my parents who were extremely creative, musical, highly intelligent people who always had music in our home. Mother was always singing and my father was always teaching me so many things. Music was heard and very encouraged. They sacrificed everything possible to give me and my brother, Lawrence Foster, every opportunity possible to study with the best string teachers and to play on excellent instruments.
It was their devotion that made it possible for me to have the extraordinary privilege of studying seven years with the greatest violin teacher of the 20th century, Ivan Galamian. He was not only an incredible teacher but a deeply caring person. He was most kind and gracious to me, giving me the opportunity to study with him as a student at The Curtis Institute of Music starting as a sophomore in high school. He taught me how to have the most complete technique to make the music come to life and how to have the best of bow technique which created a very beautiful and powerful tone.
With his help, I later went on the The Juilliard School for my college degree, studying with him. I am deeply indebted to him for all he did for me as a violinist and for the example he set in how to teach as a master. What is particularly astounding about him was his interest in teaching children and in developing them from an early age. When I graduated, I analyzed all he did to form great violinists out of great talent and using that, I have been able to implement a very successful method influenced by him.
I love imparting the fundamentals of music and violin playing in a systematic, articulate, inspiring way to students who have an intense desire to know. Because of my passion, I committed myself to teaching primarily pre- college, exceptionally gifted students when I moved to Atlanta. I am dedicated to help then reach their highest levels of musicality and virtuosity in a nurturing and psychologically healthy environment.
As a former child virtuoso, I practiced five hours per day starting at the age of nine.This has helped me understand what a gifted child needs on every level to develop into a mature artist who is a whole person. I understand the discipline of daily practice, and the rigorous demands of the stage, helping my students through every experience of performing. But, I also understand that highly gifted, sensitive young artists need balance, fun and many forms of creativity.
I believe in inspiring young artists, igniting the fire within them so that they become driven from within themselves out of love for music. I strongly believe in positive motivation as a teacher rather than harsh criticism while maintaining strict rules and very high standards. I maintain precision in my own playing, practicing daily everything I teach, so that I can freely demonstrate.
For me, it is of utmost importance to build a thorough, systematic, complete left and right hand technique on the violin, and a complete repertoire. I help my students develop understanding of the music, with the various periods and styles; perfect intonation; exact rhythm; a beautiful, resonant tone; solid memorization; stage presence; projection of musical styles and sight reading. Practicing correctly and muscle memory are keys to extraordinary performing. All my teaching is goal oriented each week with every student getting assignments tailored just for them. I believe that all students must memorize everything they learn and perform several times a year on a recital. This equips them to be able to enter competitions.
copyright 2016 Sonja Foster