Over Thanksgiving break, I got to catch up with one of the most recent additions to the Music Time Staff, Jody Reguero. Jody has a unique story that sets her apart from the rest of the Music Time team – her experience is one that many parents can relate to. Jody took a long break from music to raise a family. Once her kids grew up and left home, she returned to the instrument that she set aside at age 17, and became more successful and skilled than ever before!
How did you first get started in music?
I just came home when I was in the 5th grade and asked if I could play violin. There’s no musical anything in any of my family – anything! So my mom said OK, and off we went! I took violin in school and they got me a private teacher. My teacher thought there might be some talent, but it didn’t develop much, then I quit. I was just busy with life. I didn’t play in college, then I raised my family. And then here I am, this middle aged person. I would take my violin out of the closet every six months, since I liked to play it. So then eventually the kids are gone, and I thought, “Well what do I want to do? I want to take lessons! I really want to learn how to play this thing!”
Wow, so how long of a gap did you have in playing?
From about age 17 until about 45ish. I would be talking to people, and it would come up. I’d say, “Oh I used to play!” And the violin would come out sometimes. I don’t want to say it was comical, but it more or less was. I mean, I could still play, but whatever skills I had developed, I had of course lost.
For you then, the tipping point was when the kids left home?
I had played in a youth orchestra from about 15 to 17, so I knew I enjoyed that, but it was short-lived. When I’m scrambling taking care of kids, working, husband’s finishing college, you’ve got to say that you can’t do anything besides family. So I just put it away.
So you first went to private lessons when you decided to get back into violin?
Yes, I had a wonderful teacher named Tatiana Miroshnik. She’s from Russia, quite a gifted teacher. She happened to live right near me in Fremont, one of those things that was just meant to be! I was really serious. I was seeing her twice a week. I really wanted to play, I wanted to learn! We actually have a trio group that I joined with her, once I got good enough to do that.
You play in a group with your teacher?
The music that’s written for the trio is rearranged by the violist, so she makes sure it’s all balanced out for our abilities. We’ve got quite a repertoire! We have classical, Christmas, some pop, wedding music, love songs, whatever. We used to get together once a week to be ready to play for benefits, dinners, weddings, whatever. It’s been up and down with my teacher’s health recently though.
And you play in an adult orchestra as well?
I’ve been involved for about 10 years with the adult orchestra in Castro Valley. What happened was that there were a lot of professionals that had left music. They couldn’t go play in the symphony, so they were lost musicians, in a way. A few of them got together (they happened to be eye doctors) and brainstormed. They founded this, and they found Josh Cohen to direct it. He’s an amazing musician with a big heart, and he just wants to help people with their music! He’s been conducting this class, giving us extremely wonderful repertoire to play.
And as far as teaching, did you say you first started teaching your grandkids?
I was taking my grandkids to their lessons actually, I was not their teacher. I gleaned a lot of things from my teacher. She was the one who said, “you could teach!” She was always encouraging me for more throughout the years – she wanted me to go try out for the Fremont symphony! With my grandchildren though, they had about half a dozen Suzuki teachers over the years. I would always take them to lessons because I would love listening to how the teachers were working with them.
What sort of differences did you see between the Suzuki teachers working with your grandchildren and your teacher?
The Russian style is everything you’d imagine. It’s no nonsense. “I’ll see you next week, and this will get practiced. And you will get it right.” My teacher said that when she started college, the professor said to her, “When did they start letting the average students into the conservatory?” Yeah. She’s 46 or so now, I first met her when she was about 27. I remember I came home from my first lesson crying. I told my husband, “She’s young!”. He says, “So what?”
Did you know what you were getting into? Did you seek out a teacher that would push you?
I didn’t know what I was looking for, I just knew I needed something. I took my violin out and I played for 6 months solid with tapes and my old music before I jumped into saying that it’s something I really want to do. I asked, “Are you going to listen? Are you going to try?” And I really do.
Did you spur of the moment decide to go back, or was returning to violin something that you thought about for a while?
I had thought about it for a couple of years because my kids were getting to be adults. I had time before the first two left to when the last one left. I had a year or two to think about it. I really, really wanted my music!
As far as teaching, have you been able to blend the various styles you’ve seen and worked with?
I would like to be super strict, but the last thing that I want to do is to get someone frustrated and not wanting to play at all. You don’t want to do that. There is so much competition right now, whether it’s an adult or child, with other things your hands can be doing! They would all rather have a phone or a game in their hand. The last thing I want to do is discourage kids from wanting to take lessons.
Since there’s a lot of parents out there in your position, having previously played an instrument, but currently not practicing – do you have any comments about how you successfully made a comeback?
It’s pretty amazing. I’m still in shock! It’s just, if you love something, that’s the bottom line. If you have a love for something, then you just want to work at it. The unfortunate thing is that sometimes we accidentally put things aside when we shouldn’t have. Some people say, “well if you loved it, then you wouldn’t have put it aside.” But other things just take priority.