Born in Cebu City, Philippines in 1990, raised primarily in Phnom Penh, Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries, and pursuing further education in the United States of America, Hopengrace ("Penny") is a Global Nomad currently situated in the Greater New York City Area.
She started taking music lessons from her mother at the age of four and learned to read music at the same time she started to read storybooks. From the age of ten, Hopengrace took violin lessons, during her parents' rare furloughs, from Mr. Frederico Regner, a World War II veteran returned from the United States. While in the Philippines for a combined year of junior and senior level high school, she took violin lessons from Mr. Marc Hamlet Mercado and Mr. Rodelio Flores. Hopengrace has also taken coaching from Ms. Princess Christine Ybañez to prepare for competition in the Solo String (Bowed) category of the 14th National Student Convention in which she won 2nd Place.
In 2007, Hopengrace received a Presidential Scholarship from Tennessee Temple University (TTU). There she studied violin under Mrs. Laura Minor (B.Mus. Vanderbilt University, MA Music NYU). She also took piano from Mrs. Carolyn Kemp (BS Mus.Ed. Baptist Bible College, MA Mu. Ed. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga) and voice from Dr. William Knowles and Mr. Michael Mays (BS Mus. Perf. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, MA Church Music Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary).
In 2008, as a member of TTU's Weigle Concert Choir, Hopengrace had the privilege to be chosen to sing with a combined choir in Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium with the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra under the baton of Dr. David Thye, Principal Conductor-in-Residence of MidAmerica Productions. She became a member of the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Youth Orchestra (CSOYO) in the fall of that year and continued performing with them for three seasons. She also participated in the special orchestra for the annual Chattanooga Boys' Choir "Singing Christmas Tree" concerts at the Tivoli Theatre. In 2010, world-renowned violinist Midori chose CSOYO as one of two youth orchestras for her annual Orchestra Residencies Program, and Hopengrace had the rare opportunity to perform with one of her inspirations in concert.
Hopengrace became a registered Suzuki Method Violin Teacher with the Suzuki Association of the Americas on July 2011. She has also trained in Orff-Schulwerk.
During her travels around the world, Hopengrace struggled to keep her art alive. However, she has often been complemented for her distinctive strong, full-bodied tone and adaptability. Her range varies from Baroque to Modern. She plays on a John Cheng 1737 "King Joseph" Guarneri model violin with both wood and carbon fiber bows.
Hopengrace welcomes students and employment while she prepares for entrance in a Master of Music in Performance program. She hopes to start on that new chapter of her life in the fall of 2013. Inspired by the impact of Venezuela's El Sistema program and her own experiences during her travels, Hopengrace hopes to use her talents to enable or build similar programs both while she teaches and in the lands where she was raised.
*** Lesson Details ***
“Play with heart. Play with living soul.”
— Dr. Shinichi Suzuki
As a teacher, my goal is to instruct as well as inspire each student to reach for his or her highest potential. I hope to give each student the tools to progress so that one day they can be their own best teacher, and play with a sound and style that is uniquely their own. Most importantly, I hope to instill a desire to learn and a mindset that the art of violin playing is fun and that it is just as we call it--playing. My teaching abilities range from beginning through advanced levels. Students must have a desire to learn and commit to daily (mindful) practice.
I am a Suzuki Violin teacher. This means that I am trained to work with even the youngest of musicians in a nurturing , fun and challenging way. Dr. Suzuki believed that it was important to develop a noble character in all children through the mastery of a musical instrument. He also believed that all children were capable of this mastery if the environment is saturated with music and love. My students enjoy playing the violin because they are given the tools they need to play beautifully and to make progress on their instrument. Each lesson will focus on proper set up and posture, technical work and musical direction/ideas that will inspire them to carry on their work throughout the week. I demonstrate quite a bit in the lessons, as I find it is the most effective way to communicate in music. However, I am only with the student once a week, therefore much of the lesson is geared towards helping the parent and child understand what his/her home tasks are, and how to carry them out successfully. 10 minutes of mindful practice is worth an hour of careless work.
“There is no born genius. Education is the way to develop ability.”
— Dr. Shinichi Suzuki
Parental support and involvement is key to any child’s progress, especially at the beginning stages. Parents of young beginners are encouraged to take a few lessons before starting their child on the instrument. Parents serve as a practice coach/partner during daily home practice sessions and are required to attend and participate in their child’s lessons. Listening to recordings and attending live concerts are strongly recommended to increase musical awareness and enthusiasm in the student.
In spite of my rigorous Suzuki training, my unorthodox learning experience has taught me the value of being flexible and using methods that work best for a specific individual. I am not averse to seeking and applying a new method (eg. traditional, Masterclass, O'Connor, etc.) if the situation calls for it.
What should be expected from a Teacher/Student relationship?
I think a student should expect their teacher to give them honest, thoughtful feedback. Just enough that they can manage the information at that time. The teacher should give detailed instruction on ways the student can improve, without destroying the students sense of self worth or spirit. On the contrary, the teacher must always find a way to see the student as having great potential. This way, no matter how limited the current level of ability may be, there is hope for growth. Even without saying it, the student will feel the teachers' attitude towards him and may become that person (for better or for worse). The student should expect to be challenged, encouraged and inspired by their teacher. The teacher should expect that the student and the parents commit to daily practice, and have a desire to improve. The student must apply his/her teacher's feedback while always searching within himself for ways to develop. Mutual respect is key.
*** Studio Equipment ***
living room, baby grand piano, couch, two chairs, residential area, street parking
*** Travel Equipment ***
My own violin, music stand, and teaching books. I expect my students to provide their own instruments, music stand, and student books.
*** Specialties ***
Suzuki, Orff-Schulwerk, classical, film, fiddle, world music, new age, popular, contemporary classical