Studios in Seattle at Bitter Lake and Everett, WA
Young violinists playing in an orchestra
Greenwood Violin Studio
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Greenwood Violin Studio

Sonette Steczina

Contributted by Sonette Steczina
(violin student of Beverly Gilyeart)

I trudged along this road for many years, until I had a beautiful and empowering revelation. I had reached such a high degree of proficiency, at moments, perhaps even perfection that practice became more than just correction of notes. The music came to life in the performance, expressing my emotions and my love for the piece. I began to connect more deeply with the music and with my own personality as well, by learning the true meaning of passion, dedication, and diligence. I am not sure these can be taught to someone, certainly not in one school year or two, yet they became part of my character through learning to play the violin. My teacher embodies these characteristics and she modeled them for me through the violin as her tool, without ever saying, “Today, we’ll learn diligence.”

Ten years later, still a student of the violin, I received the opportunity to become a teacher of violin music and performance. In teaching Katana, a fourth grader, I had to find the right balance between encouragement, motivation, steadfastness and strictness. As a teacher, I gained a new appreciation for my own teacher’s instructional methods and her dedication in guiding me toward excellence. In the process of learning “Mary Had A Little Lamb” with my student, we dissected the tune by measure, and I encouraged her to give equal attention to every note. Just as I had believed in my early years, my student insisted that she knew exactly what she was doing and that she was not making any mistakes. As I taught the mechanics, I tried also to teach what I had learned from my teacher: what it takes to achieve excellence in violin. Every nerve controlling your fingers, energizing your body and soul, has to work in unison to bring life and depth to the music. I could tell, that by the end of the school year, my student was beginning to understand that perfection comes only through practice.

Eleven years after beginning the study of the violin, the music and dedication I learned from my teacher have become part of my character. Perseverance for perfection, strength in musicality, and confidence in performance, each define who I am. The experience of teaching violin made me realize that, beyond mechanics, teaching the art, the depth, and the beauty of any subject is only possible when one truly exemplifies growth and passion.