Music teacher in tune with music world

By Helena Rodriguez

Connie Sunday may be new to Portales, but the professional musician and teacher is making herself known in both local and national music circles.
Not only has she developed a roster of private students since she moved here from Albuquerque four months ago, but she is also mentioned twice in the September issue of “Strad,” an international string teachers’ magazine. To top that off, she launched East Mountains Music, a company specializing in musical supplies, and she continues to maintain her violin Web site, which has helped her earn mentioning in “Strad” magazine more than once.
The September issue of “Strad” lists Sunday’s violin Web site, www.geocities.com/conniesunday/. The magazine also quotes Sunday in an article titled “Educating the parent.”
In the article, Sunday, who teaches violin and piano, talks about how the mother of one of her former students was jealous of her child and, as a result, hindered her from doing her best.
Sunday retired from her job as a professional violin performer, a career which included being on the same stage as Smokey Robinson and other great performers, because she was ‘tired of living out of a suitcase.”
“I wanted to retire in a small, quiet place and I had a friend at Eastern New Mexico University who told me there were not very many violin teachers here, so I came,” Sunday said.
Although Sunday is retired, she teaches private music lessons to locals, including many home-schooled students and service people from Cannon Air Force Base. She is also a part of a quartet which plays at weddings and is a member of a newly formed chamber orchestra in Clovis.
Sunday has about 20 students, ranging from age 3 to a more mature woman who drives from Tucumcari to Portales every week for lessons in Sunday’s home studio where she stresses a “practice makes perfect” philosophy. Sunday also uses the Suzuki method, which she said is a child-centered way of teaching music.
Grace Quigg, who drives from Tucumcari for her weekly violin lessons with Sunday, said the 1 1/2-hour trip to Portales is well worth the drive. She has played the violin for decades and could not find a teacher in Tucumcari.
“Connie has a nice disposition. She is a performing artist. She can do circles around me,” Quigg said.
“My violin is 247 years old and aging, so I want to play it well, with respect to this violin. It’s a nice violin that shouldn’t be wasted, so I wanted a really good teacher,” Quigg explained. “What distinguishes Connie from other teachers is her technical and performance experience.”
According to Sunday, the harp is the most difficult instrument to play, followed by the violin.
“The most frustrating part about learning to play an instrument is developing self-discipline … It’s like sports. You have to practice every day,” Sunday said.
Although music lessons are challenging, Sunday also pointed out the benefits.
“Studies have shown that children who study music do better in math, academics and do better socially,” she said. “At big universities, children can get tuition waivers and orchestra scholarships.”
Sunday has two degrees in violin performance and has performed with various groups, including the Lubbock Symphony, the Memphis Opera and Tulsa Philharmonic. She has studied with noted violinist, Robert Davidovici.
On her Web site, http://eastmountainsmusic.com, Sunday lists names of professional musicians and teachers around the country. This enabled her to help one of her students from Cannon Air Force Base locate a music teacher in Singapore, where the student will be stationed in the near future.
Sunday’s violin page includes informative articles on violins and teaching violin.