Among her tips and tricks for teaching violin, Andrea Levine relies on advice from one of her former teachers as she drills bowing, switching positions and other important fundamentals.
Longtime Settlement faculty member Arthur Judson Distinguished Faculty Chair Lee Snyder was one of Levine’s teachers during high school, and she carries bits of his wisdom around with her every day.
“I keep a list on my phone” of his advice, she says. “So much of what I learned from him has influenced my teaching.”
Take this one, for example: “The only way to do it right is to do it right.” This tautological tidbit is demonstrated in Levine’s insistence on preparation and memorization; she estimates 90 percent of her students perform music from memory during recitals and performance hours.
How about this one? What does “Rhythms fix everything” mean? Under Snyder’s teaching, “rhythms” is an exercise in varying the speed and length of notes in repeating a certain passage. “You trick your brain into thinking it’s harder than it really is,” she says.
What Levine imparts to her students goes beyond borrowed wisdom, though. Levine is a very active performer, recently named one of Philadelphia’s top young musicians by the website Billy Penn. She plays in the Pennsylvania Ballet Orchestra, among other ensembles, and runs a wedding-music business, Miss Musique. “I play about 50 weddings a year,” she says. A list of her repertoire runs the gamut from the ubiquitous Canon in D to Fleetwood Mac and the Rolling Stones.
Because of her frequent performances, she says, “I can relate to students who struggle with memorizing.” That said, she always encourages her students to join ensembles and to play with others, both in chamber music, which she has taught at Settlement, and in orchestra.
Apart from the thrill of performing, the musical moments Levine enjoys most is the moment of recognition when a concept she teaches truly sink in.
“I’ll try a different way of explaining it, and then it finally clicks,” she says.
Here’s hoping some of those moments inspire her students to keep their own lists of remarkable musical insights.