Catherine Boyd Violinist

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Love Letter to the Suzuki Violin School

Dear Suzuki Association of the Americas,

A tweet is not long enough to answer your question, "What were the highlights of your Book 1 violin teacher training?"

So I decided to make a blog post and share it with everyone.

I started with Gwen Runyon at age 5, at the old TCJC (now TCC) music school building in Hurst, Texas. Gwen was the first teacher to bring Suzuki into the Dallas-Fort Worth area, from what I understand. Everything about her was so patient, loving, and kind. I still remember my foot chart (my feet were outlined with a green marker with the name "Cathy" on it), the "Pan-Da" placement of the bow on the string, and the "twinkle tapes" on my bow.

Learning the violin was very effortless, painless, and easy with Gwen. The wonderful story about teacher training in the DFW area was that so many of the teachers knew her and loved her (Irene Mitchell, Susan Baer, Jenny Burton, Charles Krigbaum). They all had a similar experience of working with her, that she was loving and sweet with them, too. She passed away a few years ago, but I am so proud to be part of her legacy to teach children to play the violin with a loving heart.

The teacher who trained us, Judy Bossuat-Gallic, was actually very close to Dr. Suzuki. We worked very hard for her, so we moved through the required material very quickly and were able to hear some wonderful personal stories about Dr. Suzuki.

I actually wrote out a 13 part violin arrangement of Ash Grove as a present for her, because I was so moved by her devotion and hard work (we did not rehearse, but you get the idea):


I was also highly impressed with the Book 1 students that we observed all week. When I started at age 5, Suzuki was also just starting up in my area, so the students were not very advanced for a little while. The senior students are VERY advanced in this program. The final concert was stunning! And every child, no matter their circumstance, or what the outside world might perceive as a "disability", is treated like a prince or princess. DFW WOW is a fantastic place to study, all the way from the youngest ones to the most senior teachers.

I am pleased to report that the love from Dr. Suzuki is very much alive and well. People were much more impressed with the Suzuki teacher I had when I was 5 years old than with the "super fancy" one I had in high school. I'd say their priorities seem to be very much in order.

And if I can be half the teacher that Gwen Runyon was, I'd say I'm doing very well. I'll set up a studio here in Somers Point, NJ, for now, then probably move to the DFW area sometime next year to be close to my grandparents.

Thank you for keeping the love alive.

Love,
Catherine Boyd

Monday, October 7, 2013

Blue Electric Violin, Pinterest Links, Modern Song Requests (Top 40)

By popular request, I'm going to post a current overview of more modern songs and Pinterest links here as a reference. There will be a lot of information on this post, so please bear with me.

Recent highlights of 2013 include a Metallica cocktail hour in May (my other favorite song to play is "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction), purchase of a blue electric acoustic violin for outdoor weddings, and some great recent reviews:


I brought a tent to the Seaview in Galloway, NJ a couple of weeks ago to keep my 9/21/13 client happy:


The lady on the right is my guitarist (also mandolinist and violinist), Susan Salmon. We are very serious about taking song requests; we feel that we offer an unusual service that can really make your day special. We are focusing a lot lately on current Top 40 hits. Please bring all your song requests to us!

1) I just purchased a blue Barcus Berry electric acoustic violin. It's perfect for beach weddings. If a solid-body electric instrument or the amplifier fail (which never happens, but I have to be prepared), you wouldn't be able to hear me play. So I always have to bring a spare acoustic instrument out on the beach. If the amplifier fails, this violin will still be heard because it's acoustic, too! Check out this 6 second video of "Here Comes the Bride":


You can hear this violin all the way up the beach. Plus, it's blue!

2) Here is the general overview of traditional classical ceremony music:


a) My most common request is "classical wedding music that's not Here Comes the Bride." Here's a Pinterest board for that!:


b) Here is my wedding from my 10/5/13 wedding (Latitudes on the River in Forked River, NJ), which included songs from Usher, Beyonce ("Crazy in Love" was the recessional!), The Killers, and Maroon 5:


c) Here's my 9/1/13 Ram's Head Inn wedding (Galloway, NJ), which included Bad Company and Soul Collective:


d) Here is a selection of Beatles songs for my 4/13/13 Valley Green Inn wedding (Philadelphia, PA). The bride walked down the aisle to "Hey Jude," and her name is Judy! I am on overload still from how great that was:


e) Here is a selection of light-hearted songs for 5/19/13 (inside a lovely Cape May rental house), which included the Muppet Show theme, All I Want is You, You Raise Me Up, Home (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes), and All You Need is Love (Beatles recessional):


f) Here is more serious classical, opera, musical, and popular music, from my 5/18/13 Cape May wedding (Grand Hotel):


g) Here is my upcoming 11/2/13 wedding in Cape May (Southern Mansion). Highlights: Beach Boys "Forever" for the bridal processional, Adam Sandler "I Wanna Grow Old With You" for the recessional, Phish, Bruce Springsteen, and Chicago


Thank you for visiting my blog!

Love,
Catherine


Playing a 10th wedding anniversary celebration in Cape May NJ:












(P.S. - Here's a 6-second video of One Atlantic in Atlantic City, NJ, taken so you can get an idea of what the venue looks like:


7/13/13 (Friday the 13th) Beach Wedding in Ocean City, NJ

I know, I know. I need to keep up more with this blog. I'll write another post coming today, with a short video and a bunch of Pinterest links. 

Sometimes a wedding is so precious to me that I don't even know what to say. This is one of them.

First of all, Donna and Ryan wanted 80s music for their ceremony. So right there, we've already got a party going on. Secondly, it was on Friday the 13th, and they really played up the theme (I saw some custom-made Jason hockey mask wooden jewelry). Thirdly, Donna really did something very special for me, which I'll mention again at the end.

Here's the song list:

Prelude music: 
Footloose
Bohemian Rhapsody
Vogue

Arrival of officiant: Keep Your Hands to Yourself by the Georgia Satellites 
Groom's Processional: Somewhere in Time
Bridal Processional: Jersey Girl
Medley during readings: 
True Colors/Islands in the Stream

Recessional, cue intro guitar riff at actual kiss: Prince's "Kiss"

Post-ceremony dance on the beach: You're My Best Friend by Queen

Killer, right? Here are a couple of photos of the wedding:

The officiant dances during prelude.


Congratulations, Donna and Ryan!

I told Donna about my own wedding in May 2009, how I ordered a bunch of antique handkerchiefs. One of them had blue embroidery on it, so I carried it during the ceremony and reception and was very sentimentally attached to it. I must have put it down and the catering staff must have thrown it away, because it was missing at the end of the night. When Donna met me, she gave me another antique handkerchief with embroidered raised blue flowers. Even as I type this, I'm in tears. Donna, I carry this handkerchief with me everywhere I go (it's a little wrinkled because it lives in my handbag); I feel that it's even better than the one I lost, and that it carries good luck and the joy of everything that's good in my life. Because it's from you.

Love,
Catherine

Love, in the form of a well-worn handkerchief.
(P.S. - From Donna, here's Bohemian Rhapsody on the beach:




Friday, November 30, 2012

Boyd Salmon Duo available for Christmas Caroler events

I had some great fun recently, getting together with my main guitarist, Susan Salmon. We made some fun little Christmas videos so we could go out in the world and get some holiday party and event work.

Now the fun part: using all my SEO resources to get the word out! So really, this post will be half Christmas music discussion and half SEO joy. I really enjoy doing this stuff.

We're looking for some extra jobs this month in the greater Philadelphia metro area, as well as surrounding local parts of New Jersey and Delaware. Here are all the ways to get in touch with us and hear our music!

1. Pinterest link with all four videos:


2. Such a pretty tumblr:


3. Because I enjoy befriending google, here is our Google+ page:


4. Updated LinkedIn profile (I'm considering an ad on LinkedIn, too):


5. My fun youtube channel:


6. A tweet to connect you to my twitter activity:


7. My webpage for the Boyd Salmon Duo:


Thank you, everyone, and have a happy and healthy holiday!

Love,
Cat

Monday, February 20, 2012

6/11/11 Bollywood wedding at the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia PA

My groom for this wedding inquired about Bollywood music for the cocktail hour. He hired a string trio (two violins, one violin who can also play guitar, and cello), asked me to score 9 Bollywood songs for string trio, and asked for Western classical music for the wedding ceremony.

The song list (and please note, some of these songs took 13 hours a piece to write out):
  1. Ek Ladki
  2. Tujhe Dekha
  3. Hoton Se
  4. Chandi Jaisa
  5. Jai Ho
  6. Kabhi Kabhi
  7. Aapki Nazro
  8. Chaiyya Chaiyya
  9. Yeh Dil
Also of note: when I showed up for the wedding ceremony, the officiant asked if we had any traditional Indian classical music for the fire ceremony. The groom forgot to tell me about this. But wait, it ends well! Now, I studied South Indian (Carnatic) music for 10 years, and my teacher JUST cleared me to play in public (that's just the way it is in that tradition), so I sat down cross legged near the altar when the fire ceremony was about to start, detuned my violin, put coconut oil on my fingers, and played 10 minutes of the Chakravakkam raga for them.

The cocktail hour was an even mix of songs from my MTV fake book (the other violinist switched over to guitar sometimes), and the Bollywood songs. We had the crowd DANCING to acoustic music!

Every year, I end up with one big wedding that's the wedding of the year. I have to say, this wedding plus Lori's daughter's wedding (see next post) make it a magical year of TWO huge weddings! If you want Bollywood or classical Indian music (South Indian, aka Carnatic violin), I've got that too! I can't think of any other musician in this geographical area who can do both the music arrangements and traditional Indian classical music. Plus, we had a BLAST!

Love,
Catherine

11/4/11 Wedding at Lucien's Manor, Berlin NJ

This is a story about a mother's love and devotion.

When Lori called me in May 2011, she wanted to learn the violin well enough to play for her daughter's wedding on November 4th. My childhood blessing is that I had some of the world's best teachers (Robert Davidovici, wherever you are, THANK YOU), and I feel comfortable that I can pass on what they learned.

Lori hid the lessons from her daughter for SIX MONTHS. She practiced an hour every day in secret (her daughter was still living with her at the time, so this wasn't always easy to do). As Lori and I became friends, she made some funny decisions. She introduced me to her daughter as a friend, but told her I was a social worker. Also, she asked her daughter to invite me to the wedding as a guest, since she decided to hire me, a harpist, and a guitarist colleague to play the wedding ceremony and cocktail hour. As I got to know her daughter, it was increasingly difficult to keep the stories straight.

Anyhow, for six months, Lori worked on this song: Gilmore Girls theme song. Every week, I gave her one major task to perform. Like I said, she practiced for an hour every night. Since Lori never studied music or performed in public before, my primary focus was to teach her every mental trick I knew about staying calm and centered under pressure. I literally taught her everything I know.

On the wedding day, the harpist and I played for Lori's daughter. I don't remember when she finally realized I was there, but there was some cursing when she hugged me later on. The spotlight was on her mom Lori. The guitarist and I backed her up during the cocktail hour. We gathered everyone around.

Lori is a star. She played the song better than the seasoned pros accompanying her. Her daughter was crying tears of joy at the sacrifice her mom made; at ALL the sacrifices her mom made throughout her life. As for me, this wedding, and Lori's performance, ranks in the top 10 events of my humble life.

I'm happy that I can pass everything I've learned on to other people, and I'm grateful for Lori's friendship!

Love,
Catherine

(P.S. - I really don't have to do this, and it's unsolicited. I ate cocktail hour and reception food at Lucien's Manor in Berlin, NJ. They remodeled their place, and it's beautiful. The food is really, truly amazing. The family selected it because the value for the money is the best in South Jersey. I am happy to recommend their services to everyone. -CB)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

2/18/12 Military wedding in South Jersey

Hi everybody!

I really need to get busy with the blog postings again, since a LOT happened this year.

First, though, I'd like to take a moment to write about the wedding I played yesterday in South Jersey. The couple was a military couple on a budget, and they had a Catholic wedding ceremony planned. At first, they were just planning on a simple ceremony, but one of the moms interjected that they really wanted to see a full Catholic mass. The switch to a full mass happened a week before the ceremony.

Now, there are two things to know if you have a Catholic mass.
1) You really need, at minimum, a pianist/organist and a vocalist.
2) All the mass formats changed in November of last year, and none of the music used since the 80s is officially valid now.

I swung by a dear pianist friend's house yesterday morning (we've done several Catholic masses together) to pick up the new music that she uses in her masses now. When I showed up at the church, however, the priest had a COMPLETELY different, and also brand new, mass in his hands. Back to that in a minute.

My bride really wanted Pachelbel's Canon with violin and piano for her walk down the aisle. Since they were a military family, and on a budget, I offered to bring my piano tracks on a laptop, and connect the laptop to my battery powered amp. When they switched to the full Catholic mass, I suddenly became a singer for them also.

Now, I'm not an opera singer type by any means, but I've had enough lessons and experience that my voice can sound pretty and Celtic Woman for you, and I know how to make my vowels pretty for church. When the priest gave me the BRAND NEW mass, several things went through my head:
1) I was a symphony player when I was 16
2) I can sight read on the violin perfectly, but not as well with vocals
3) If I play the violin and sing at the same time, I can absolutely pull off singing this mass.

So that's what I did! I was at the church super early anyway, so I ran through the whole mass once. I played prelude, violin against piano tracks. I played and sang AT THE SAME TIME through the mass, and didn't miss a single note (thank you, all the violin and vocal training). I made notes with the priest for all my cues, and watched him like a bird on a wire. I think he was laughing at my intense focus; I landed perfectly on every cue. For the Ave Maria and recessional, again I played the violin against piano tracks.

Happy bride, happy priest, happy me!

Yes, I am always happy when I meet a challenge. If I had trouble with any aspect of yesterday's wedding, I would have just played the violin the whole time, but I knew I could do it.

Like I said, the usual structure in a Catholic mass is piano/vocal/side instrument, with a music director working closely with the priest. But I really try to do my best if a couple is on a budget.

My friends want me to mention that my direct competitors would not be able to do this. I'm still buzzing from delivering, from doing well, and from making the bride happy.

Love,
Catherine