My Plan

One of the main reasons I came to SMU was to study with a certain violin professor.  Since I graduated from high school early, I had the option of waiting to go to college for a year.  However, I knew that I could not wait.  I really wanted to start consecutive lessons with this professor.  Now that I am here, I plan to make the most of these great lessons and learn all that I can to prepare me for what’s coming next.  So, what is coming next?  After graduating from SMU, I plan on attending a music conservatory to get my masters in violin performance.  My dream and goal is to become a violin soloist.  However, I believe soloists can’t only be good at performing solo repertoire.  It is important to be very flexible in your abilities, the types of repertoire you play, and to be someone you would want to work with.  That is what I want to acquire here at SMU.  Being in the orchestra is introducing me to many new works and teaching me the importance of professionalism.  Learning new pieces with a deadline and the importance of being on time is something that definitely applies to what I want to do.  Over the next four years, I also want to do chamber music.  This will not only allow me to learn more new repertoire but teach me how to work well with other musicians.  I think that there is a difference between being a great soloist and being a great musician.  Even if you are great at your instrument, what would it matter if no one wanted to work with you?  Finally my music classes such as theory, musicianship, music history classes will also aid me to understand the music that I love to perform.  I truly hope that I can become the well-rounded soloist and musician that I want to become by being at SMU.  Achieving these short-term goals at SMU will enable me to be prepared for the next step in my future in music.

My Skills

I think that I am a strong performer.  I know how to prepare myself for a performance.  I get excited, but I don’t get very nervous and I enjoy performing.  I think I’m a good at practicing.  Over the years, I feel that I’ve gotten better and practicing better in shorter periods of time.  I am also a strong sight-reader.  Belonging to several orchestras since I was seven, I was trained to read music fast and accurately.  I still definitely need to work on managing my time better.  I currently have one to two hour gaps between certain classes that I wish to use better.  I feel that once I am able to use those time slots to the fullest, I will be using my time wisely and efficiently.  Another skill to acquire would be to get over my shyness and be able to speak out.  I find that I have a hard time starting conversations or speaking up in class.


Incredible performances motivate me.  They make me want to practice and excel in my abilities.


My teacher motivates me.  My weekly lessons always give me new things or goals to strive for.  I am motivated to play well in my lessons.


Wanting to perform well definitely motivates me.  Performances are hard for everyone, and I believe that it is up to your practice to truly be prepared for a performance.  There are so many unforeseen events that could happen.  I am motivated to work hard to be prepared for the unexpected occurrences in performances.  I play the violin to perform on stage.  I absolutely love the feeling of being able to finally have this goal that I have been working so hard to achieve become a reality.  My want for performances that I am completely happy about motivates me.  Now, from personal experience, I understand that a “perfect” performance is hard to come by.  I put the word perfect in quotations, because I believe that there is no perfect.  In my mind, there is always something that can be changed to make different or better.  I am motivated to get as close to that “perfect” performance that we all work very hard for.


New pieces motivate me.

I love learning new pieces; however, I absolutely hate the in-between stage of kind of understanding a piece and somewhat being able to play it.  I hate not being able to play something.  It frustrates me when I can’t play a piece freely and how I want to play it.  I definitely need to work on being patient with myself.  Right now, it is very black and white.  I either don’t know the piece, or I know and understand it well.  I need to learn that the grey area is very important in music.  It is the repetitive and rigorous practice and effort that in the end will truly allow me to excel in my instrument.



I am VERY easily distracted.  I will find the smallest and most irrelevant things to waste my time on.  My phone and my computer definitely distract me.  I feel that I’ve gotten better at it, because if I were to keep the same procrastinating habits as before, I have no idea how I would survive the busy schedule of college.


Overall, I love feeling motivated.  It’s hard to always feel that way, but I strive to find motivation everyday, because I believe that when a person is motivated, that is when you truly excel in your craft.

My Values

I value music, my family and friends, experience, and success.



Of course I value music.  I’m at college majoring in Violin Performance.  Music is everything to me.  There are only three years of my life that I haven’t been learning and exploring my instrument.  Almost every decision made in my life has been to help me achieve my goal and dream of becoming a soloist.  I’ve had to make many sacrifices for music as well.  However, there isn’t one sacrifice that I regret making, simply because I believe that every sacrifice was worth it.  I have no clue what I would be doing if not music.  I live for the satisfaction of a performance that I feel good about.  I live for the chill that runs up my spine when I hear an incredible symphony or performance.

I value music.  Very much.


My family and friends.

My family and friends are very important to me.  Now I realize that my dream career involves a lot of traveling and could result in me not being able to spend as much time with my family and friends as I would like to.  Again, this may be a sacrifice that I will have to make, but I’m sure I will find a way to work it out.



I value experience.  I mean, if I a) won a huge competition and got lots of money or b) got the opportunity to perform at an incredible venue for no money, what would I do?  This is a very easy question for me.  I would choose the performance at an incredible venue in a heartbeat, because I value experience.



I value success.  Success is very important to me, and I strive to succeed in everything I do, even if it my definition is slightly skewed.  For instance, if I finish everything that I set out to do in a given day, that is a huge success for me, considering my busy college schedule.  Now the ultimate success for me would be a career in which I am living my dream and experiencing new things, while having a steady income.  Wouldn’t that be splendid?

My Work Habits

To put it bluntly, I am a night owl. I feel that I work best at night. I am most focused when the sun goes down, and it is quiet. There are fewer distractions to bother me and to make me start procrastinating. My bad sleeping schedule definitely started when I was in high school. I have been homeschooled all my life, and I have never had a strict studying and practicing schedule. I just did my work whenever I wanted to do it. However, ever since I started college, I realized that doing so does not work. I have certain time frames and deadlines that I have to follow. I am trying to adjust to my new schedule by getting to bed and waking up earlier. I find that making a list and putting it in a visible spot in my room every morning helps me stay focused. I write the things that have to be done that day at the top, things that I should get done in the middle, and fun and less relevant things that I would like to do at the bottom. Doing this everyday allows me to stay on track and manage my time better. It enables me to easily determine what I have left to do in a given day, and decide whether or not I have enough time to go somewhere.

As for my practicing in general, I like to split my practicing up into sections. Practicing for hours on end is tiring and could result in injury. It is important for me to do something else for a while in between my practicing, so that when I come back, I am as focused as I was when I first started practicing. I feel that practicing this way allows me to practice better, in shorter amounts of time.

Overall, I am still in the process of being able to manage my time well and stop procrastinating. I believe that having a goal of what I want to finish in a day and writing them down where I can see it all the time helps me to get the most out of my studies and music.

My History

My name is Eleanor Dunbar, and I was born in San Pedro, California.  I am half-Japanese and have been home-schooled since kindergarten.  My parents decided to home-school me so that I would learn English and Japanese at the same rate.  As a result, I am bilingual and can read and write in both languages.  Another factor was so that we could travel without the worry of missing school.  My parents started me on the violin when I was three years old.  I wasn’t too fond of practicing when I was younger, but it is all thanks to my parents that I kept playing.  I think I was around the age of 11 when I realized that this was something I really wanted to do.  Violin playing became something to enjoy, and it has been fun ever since.

Since I started playing when I was three, I have no recollection of life without violin.  I took my violin everywhere.  Whether it be a camping trip or a family vacation to Japan, my violin was with me.  While I took my violin many places, my violin took me to many places as well.  Playing the violin has allowed me to travel to different parts of the world and perform in incredible venues.  I’ve got to experience different cultures and languages and meet many amazing people.

Violin has truly become my life.  I absolutely cannot imagine myself without the violin.  Practicing is no longer a chore for me, like it used to be when I was younger.  I enjoy challenging myself and finding new ways to improve because I believe that practice does not make perfect.  Practice makes progress.  My goal is to be a violinist that concertizes around the world.  I would love to continue experiencing new cultures and places.  I want the music that I make to touch people.  I hope to never lose the feeling that violin is fun.