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Jenna Anderson - GRS Violin


My name is Jenna Anderson, and I have been a member of the Grand Rapids Symphony since January 2016. I moved to Grand Rapids with fellow musician and bass player in the symphony, Mark Buchner, in September of 2014. Prior to moving to Grand Rapids, I was living in places that I knew would be short-term. Grand Rapids is the first place that I can take a breath and call home, and I am really enjoying getting to know this town and the people in it!


I could never imagine a life without teaching. I love working with my students and their families. My students’ imaginations, creativity, and humor is inspiring. I especially love when they say to me, “Miss Jenna, I can’t do this." It’s my favorite lie. Helping them overcome challenges and show them all the amazing things they can achieve with some hard work is my greatest joy. But my favorite thing about teaching is buying toys and stickers and singamajigs and games and then using them in class so that they can be tax write-offs. I like to think of myself as 60% kid, 40% adult.

I enjoy trying to figure out how “play” can also be “work." When I was in the midst of finals and preparing a recital during my time at the Cleveland Institute of Music, I felt compelled to also spend some time playing the video game Donkey Kong Country. I didn’t play a lot of video games as a child, but I watched my brother play and would often strategize about how to complete a level. I understood how to complete the tasks but lacked the coordination to do them. I fell down many cliffs, and was killed by all the enemies. GAME OVER. Dr. Suzuki’s words echoed in my head: “Knowledge is not skill, knowledge plus ten thousand times is skill.” So I would practice my violin for an hour, “practice” video games for an hour, study for an hour, and repeat. I went into my Suzuki pedagogy final with a certain manic over-caffeinated-graduate-student look in my eyes and announced, “I have reached a new level of understanding. The Suzuki books are EXACTLY like Donkey Kong. You start out just trying to get to the end of the piece and avoiding the enemies, but the better you get, the more hidden passages you find. NUANCE!” I believe my teacher said something along the lines of, “Go home and sleep, you crazy person." I wandered off, content with my newfound wisdom. If I ever go back to school, that will be the topic of my dissertation. Still now, when I’m stressed about a performance or audition I will put in some serious focused effort into a game. Before my audition for the Grand Rapids Symphony I got a lot better at Mario Kart. Also, my spiccato and intonation improved, I guess. 

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