Petria Russell blends motivation and fun with violin practice

Four years ago, Petria Russell started playing a tube slide to acquaint herself with the violin. On it, she practiced rhythm and built up muscle tone she’d one day need for the real thing.

Petria Russell

Petria Russell

Four years ago, Petria Russell started playing a tube slide to acquaint herself with the violin. On it, she practiced rhythm and built up muscle tone she’d one day need for the real thing.

The practice paid off.

Today, the fluency with which the 10-year-old Dieringer Heights Elementary student plays Vivaldi’s “Concerto in D Minor” matches her confidence.

“I like playing music that’s challenging,” Petria said. “I like orchestra class with the violin teacher.”

For Petria, that fun is measured in the hours she practices each week – both in private lessons and in a group orchestra setting that includes students older than herself.

“In group training she’s motivated by the other kids,” said her mom, Sue Frederickson.

The discovery of the violin as Petria’s instrument of choice is largely credited to her mother’s encouragement. “I chose it because developmentally it’s the instrument that can most stimulate the brain cells,” she said.

She investigated the Suzuki method of music education, taught worldwide and named for Shinichi Suzuki. She learned the master musician had not only played with Einstein but that children who gained skills with the violin also developed strong math skills and trilingual language skills.

“He believed that every child had the ability to learn a musical instrument,” Frederickson said. “The Suzuki Method is taught worldwide.

“There’s a lot of memorizing and ear training involved,” she said. “If Petria knows a tune, she can play it.”

Playing with such fluency and passion hasn’t come without paying her dues – she practices 45 minutes a day in addition to taking both private and group lessons once a week. And she doesn’t stop there – she also swims with the South Sound Titans swim club, sings in the school chorus and skis each weekend with her family.

She also plays the plays the trombone in the school band, although, “I really want to switch to tuba,” she admitted.

Despite the full schedule, Petria said she enjoys studying the violin and is working on the Toreador song from the bullfight scene in the French opera, “Carmen.”

“It’s challenging,” she said with a confident grin.

Petria’s talent has led to public performances, which have included her school’s annual variety show one month ago, the Festival of the Trees in Tacoma, Wash. and entertaining staff and residents in skilled nursing facilities.

She summed up her affection for the violin simply: “It’s just really, really fun.”

Reach Judy Halone at jhalone@courierherald.com or 360-802-8210.


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