I’m Caitlin Smith, Creator Of Practice Pizzazz.
I’m Passionate About Making Violin Practice Fun!
I’m a professional violinist who teaches, performs, and researches. Practice Pizzazz was born from my experience teaching violin for 15 years and playing violin for over 25 years. I love what I do.
I have two degrees in violin performance, including a graduate degree from the Royal Academy of Music in London, one of the best music schools in the world.
And I have taken Suzuki violin teacher training courses for all ten books, plus extra Suzuki pedagogy classes. (Check out my Suzuki teacher bio here.)
But if you had known me as a kid, you would never have believed it.
I started playing violin as a rambunctious four year-old. I’m the youngest of five in my family, and I was the last kid at home during the day while my older siblings were at school. I was driving my mom crazy, so she put me in violin lessons.
My parents and teachers were loving and patient, but practice (the dreaded “P” word in our house) was a constant source of frustration.
From ages 4 to 11, I slowly plodded through Suzuki Books 1, 2, and 3. Emphasis on slowly—and sometimes painfully.
Around age 12, I caught the vision of being a violinist and started working hard, almost overnight.
By age 16, I had finished the Suzuki books and was morphing from the little kid who pestered her parents to a passionate musician. (I don’t pester you guys anymore, right, Mom and Dad?)
Fast forward several more years
I have performed in concert halls all over the world, from Budapest’s Liszt Academy to Beijing’s Poly Theater. And I took my violin studies all the way to London, where I rubbed shoulders with some of the best musicians alive today.
I love lots of things besides the violin.
Here are 4 nuggets about the person behind Practice Pizzazz. Feel free to laugh at me or with me!
1. I am one of the top 10 Harry Potter fans in the United States.
And no, I did not make that up! When Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince came out, I was one of 10 winners of a national essay contest called “Why I Love Reading Harry Potter.” I wrote about how I was an expert lock-picker because I would break into the bathroom at home (the only room in our house with a lock) to steal the newly released Harry Potter book from my brother, who would lock himself in the bathroom to try to read our one copy in peace.
Yes, I’m serious.
Not only did I write this essay, but I also went on national television and told the whole country!
2. I was once bitten by a penguin.
It sounds cooler than it was. It really hurt. The penguin’s name was Rolo, and he was a bit of a bully.
3. I love pugs.
I love how their faces are so squishy and cute, and I love how they can never sneak up on you because they breathe louder than an industrial lawnmower.
When I was getting my masters in London, I would go to monthly meet ups for pug owners (and pug-owner wannabes like me). These meet ups were at Green Park, right outside Buckingham Palace. Every month, I pencilled this into my schedule: “Play with pugs at Barkingham Palace.”
4. I’m married to a mechanic.
My husband is an aircraft mechanic in the United States Air Force. He also does photography as a hobby, so he’s the cameraman and editor behind the Practice Pizzazz videos.
Okay, enough chit chat about me!
Practice Pizzazz’s library of free resources, including
- Bite-sized violin tutorials
- Engaging and effective practice games
- Activities that help connect kids to the violin away from the instrument
- Things that make your life as the practice parent easier