Lessons with Mr Steve
Thor Sigurdsson teaches under the name Mr Steve.
Mr Steve is a Juilliard graduate with over 30 years of Performance and Teaching experience. For 13 years he was Principal Cellist of the Florida Philharmonic, and many of his past students have gone on to careers in music performance and music education.
He's a current member of the American String Teachers Association (ASTA), the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA), the Michigan Music Educators Association (MMEA), and he's also a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) which presents the annual Grammy Awards.
~ He teaches All Ages and Levels: Pre-K, Elementary School, Middle School, High School and Adult.
~ He's Suzuki-trained to begin children as young as three on their journey toward a lifelong love of music making.
~ Video Archives of both Lessons (for individual study) and Practice Sessions (for feedback) are available at a tiny additional cost.
~ He provides his students Frequent Student Recitals to demonstrate their skills and accomplishments.
~ He offers Competitive Rates, and Scholarships are also available based on both financial need and lesson commitment.
Building Musical Skills for a Lifetime
One key aspect of Mr Steve's teaching style is an expectation that his students shall regularly participate in recitals. He finds this to be an outstanding motivator for practice.
In addition, he (optionally) offers his students the opportunity to review video footage of both their lessons and their practice sessions. Goto www.collabramusic.com to check it out! This is, of course, a sizable time commitment for him as a teacher as well, since he also commits himself to critiquing his students' practice sessions, and thus offering them free “in-between-lessons” instruction. For students willing to undergo this level of personal scrutiny, he guarantees they’ll be even more inspired to hone their practicing skills and thus to improve at a much accelerated rate. They go the extra mile, and so does Mr Steve. It’s a win-win!
Beginners can often find that learning cello and bass is easier when they’re able to watch and listen to each other within a small group. In addition, they gain invaluable team participation skills which will often motivate them to pursue youth orchestra and summer camp experiences.
Students are highly encouraged to put together groups of their friends and schoolmates with whom they know they’ll enjoy learning.
For students who don’t currently have access to a pre-set group, Mr Steve coordinates with other interested families to create classes that offer students of similar age and level the opportunity to learn in a group setting. Fun is priority one!
Group classes are also videotaped (www.collabramusic.com), and students are highly encouraged to view parts of their group classes in between sessions with the intention of noticing details of technique they may have missed during actual classes. Watching also helps them to begin identifying themselves as performing musicians - a classification they’ll value for a lifetime. Lastly, witnessing themselves participating in a group vastly increases their individual confidence and self esteem.
Music Theory, Ear Training and History (included with both individual and group lessons)
Mr Steve has always prided himself on the focus he puts on teaching students to hear music with more skill and intention, and to talk about music in a more educated way. Getting these requires specific knowledge and training, and they’ll constantly be applying these skills within all their other school activities.
Lastly, he's passionate about sharing the personal stories of the lives of the great composers with students, showing them how these ordinary people were able to overcome extraordinary challenges with hard work and discipline to create immortal masterpieces that continue to shape our world.
Optional Video Archives of Lessons and Practice Sessions (requires a very affordable subscription with Collabra Music)
Mr Steve works with the web-based video service, www.collabramusic.com. Collabra has come up with an outstanding resource for music students and teachers. It's his firm belief that this service, while certainly not for everyone, can add an immeasurable amount of additional benefit to lessons and practice sessions. Students are offered the optional opportunity to use a laptop, phone, or webcam to videotape a lesson, earmark sections for particular emphasis in study, and then they're encouraged to go home and videotape portions of their practice sessions, for which Mr Steve (at no additional cost) will offer his 'in between lessons' feedback. This is an outstanding motivator for many students, as they're reminded to apply knowledge and skills that they may otherwise forget to use in their practice. Highly recommended!
Benefits of Studying with Mr Steve
A list of 8 Benefits (not specific to music) one can obtain by studying cello or bass with Mr Steve:
2. Self Esteem
3. Quality and Attention To Detail
4. Motivation for Hard Work
5. Critical Thinking and Frustration Tolerance
6. Dealing with Nerves and Stress
7. Knowledge Retention
8. Task Completion
1. Increased Accountability
After each lesson, students are given a specific list of goals they are expected to pursue during that upcoming week's practice sessions. Each lesson includes a detailed review of which listed items were most/least successfully addressed during that week's practice. Reviewing video footage of both lessons and practice sessions, while completely optional, is highly recommended as motivational a tool. All of these build a stronger sense of personal accountability, something they’ll use in all their educational pursuits.
2. Better Self Esteem
Feeling the excitement and satisfaction of achieving planned-out goals is a huge priority. Each student attains their own specific set of skills and knowledge, and no two students' skill sets are ever the same. Understanding this fact helps build a healthy sense of competitiveness, where the bulk of the competition is with one’s self. If a student is showing up to a lesson with that week's practice progress emblazoned on their memory, it is guaranteed that the student will experience increased self esteem.
3. More Attention To Detail
Success in music lessons is unachievable without increasing one's emphasis on improving quality and focusing in on subtle details. Learning to expect higher and higher standards is a life lesson with endless applications.
4. Self Motivation to Practice
Every lesson is able to be videotaped, and each significant portion of that week's lesson can be bookmarked to remind the student why they should pay particular attention to it. Then, the student is invited to videotape each of their practice sessions to demonstrate (to themselves and to Mr Sigurdson) how they are approaching each of those highlighted points.
5. Critical Thinking and Frustration Tolerance
Every step of progress in learning a musical instrument is accompanied by frustration. This is normal. In fact, it's highly unusual for any student to practice effectively without learning to cope with disappointment. That's precisely why daily practice offers such lifelong benefits.
6. Handling Performance Stress and Anxiety
Everyone feels nervous, more or less, when doing something difficult, right there in front of someone else. Learning an instrument provides ample opportunities for learning how to manage the stress everyone must endure while making mistakes. Just think of how many times we're all compelled to say "Sorry" when we do something imperfectly. Now think of how often we all want to say "Please don't apologize" upon hearing someone apologize for a mistake. Feeling unapologetic after making a mistake is a skill that often needs developing, and music is the perfect way to hone that skill. Of course, this also involves expanding one's overall capacity for patience.
7. Retention of New Skills and Knowledge
Learning how to play a stringed instrument like the cello or bass involves honing one's ability to make things stick. More than just in music, this also applies to better retaining skills and knowledge from schoolwork as well.
8. The Joy of Completing a Task
A significant part in the learning journey is one's ability to acknowledge the attainment of milestones, and few experiences offer more immediate access to that attainment than hearing the applause of one's parents, friends, and peers after a recital performance. In addition, hearing the voice inside one’s head saying "I did that!” is an indelible memory that a young person will recall often, especially during those extremely challenging times when they're tempted to quit prematurely.
Important Note from Mr Steve: Nothing is more important than practice discipline, and it's his opinion that "success" within the practice room is mainly based on overcoming the challenges highlighted in their previous lesson. In other words, the value of a given lesson is increased dramatically by a student’s willingness to focus on each of that lesson’s specific issues, rather than just “winging it” and relying on one’s own ingenuity. Aside from that, it’s imperative to remember that actually achieving a flawless performance should NEVER be the goal. One's standards of practice discipline mustn’t be tied to an unrealistic ideal, as that inevitably results in stress, anxiety and frustration. It's crucial for students and parents to understand this point, as it's the #1 REASON that students quit prematurely. Never let unachievably high standards cloud one's vision of the overall goal: to express daily discipline in order to make things just a LITTLE better than they were before that practice session. Students will begin to recognize this as a recipe for success at any human endeavor. Playing a stringed instrument well is not easy, and requires patience and perseverance. Making just a little improvement is always a reason to celebrate - but only if you’ve been trained to properly identify and value these small but meaningful amounts of progress.
Other life skills promoted through performing on a stringed instrument - particularly while participating in Orchestra and Chamber Music :
~ Social Skills, Cooperation and Team Building (getting along)
~ Aptitude for Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM)
~ Commitment (overcoming hesitation)
~ Leadership (taking initiative)