Philosophy: Violin has always been my "happy place," and I'd like others to come to enjoy it as much as I do. Your child's enjoyment of their instrument is important to me, and I treat each student as a special individual, respecting each one and celebrating each success along the way. Learning the violin is hard work, but it's fun work! My aim is to create a nonthreatening atmosphere in which music is looked at as a language through which one can communicate in a variety of ways. Mistakes will be made; there's no doubt about it. But I believe that we learn through our mistakes (at least I do), and errors should be looked upon as opportunities to learn.
Parental involvement in young students is necessary as students need daily encouragement and an environment in which to practice and listen to good music. There is no way anyone can improve on anything without putting in time. I also believe it's important for students to learn to practice efficiently; Smart practicing will lead to improved results. I like to think of the parent as being the "practice partner" in a child's early phase of taking lessons. If a student doesn't seem to be making much progress, it is probably because of the lack of practicing or not practicing correctly.
The violin is a challenging, beautiful instrument, and it's actually comprised of two instruments, if you consider the violin and the bow separately. There are many various preparatory activities prior to putting the two together. In the beginning stages, it requires lots of patience to take the time to lay a solid framework for playing the violin well. Correct posture with relaxed muscles, balance, bow hold, and left arm placement are so very important. Young violinists are eager to hear themselves play, and they will, but it takes some time to get to that point. Please trust me in saying that it takes much repetition to gain skill. It's very easy for students to give up if they think it's taking too long to learn something. But hard work will eventually pay off.
There are many acceptable and effective methods to approach the teaching of the violin. I incorporate ideas from the Suzuki method as well as traditional methods. Focused listening to well-played violin music is an important facet of both.
Playing an instrument is a commitment of both time and money, and private violin lessons are an excellent investment for your child. Learning the violin teaches discipline, commitment, focus, self-confidence, a sense of accomplishment, pride, and an appreciation for the arts.
Materials needed: 1) A properly-sized working violin/bow/case for your child, 2) rosin, 3) a soft cloth for cleaning violin, 4) a shoulder rest, 5) a tuner (many apps are available) and 6) a hard-sided 3-ring binder for handouts. After the first month your son or daughter will need 7) a book which I’ll give details about at the time. As time goes by, a metronome will be needed. For your home, you'll need 7) a stand on which to place the music. It is not necessary to bring the stand to the lesson. *I use Suzuki books (and their corresponding cds) as well as other supplementary music.
If your child is not positive about taking violin lessons from me, I suggest requesting a $10 “Intro Lesson.” This would be a 30-minute get-together during which time we’d start to get to know one another, play some musical games, and talk about what’s involved in learning the violin. In the case of a youngster who's already played for a while, I'll ask her/him to play for me so I can determine a starting point for future lessons. This first "intro-lesson" is just a helpful way to make sure there is a good fit between the student and myself. If the parent or teacher feels that it is not a good fit, either can opt out by notifying the other within 3 days by text or email.
If we both feel we can have an enjoyable working relationship, we will work together to find a mutually agreeable weekly time slot for lessons. For younger students, I find that a 30 minute lesson is adequate, but for older and more advanced learners I recommend a 45 minute lesson.
As I teach violin to young children, I expect a parent to be an active observer of the lesson, watching carefully so that during practice times at home, skills from the lesson are reinforced. As a child grows and gains more independence, the parent will have the option of sitting in a nearby room during the lesson or dropping the child off for the duration of the lesson. If this is the case, please be prompt in picking up your child at the correct ending time of the lesson.
As mentioned above, regular practice is a requirement to be a successful violinist. As the student begins to enjoy the music being produced, he/she should be motivated to continue practicing and thus improve little by little. On the other hand, sporadic, inconsistent practice results in frustration for everyone and limits the progress that is possible . Students under the age of 7 should practice 10-15 minutes 5-6 days per week. Students 8 years old and above are also expected to practice 5-6 days per week but for 30-40 minutes each practice time. Yes, practice takes diligence and commitment, and yes, I believe it's great for kids to be involved in a variety of activities, but the benefit of committing to consistently practicing violin will pay off in the long run. Parents have the responsibility of making sure that regular practice is built into the family's schedule.
Before a student leaves the lesson they will have written notes from me in a spiral notebook. The student is expected to look at what I wrote at home during their practice sessions. Students should bring their notebook to each lesson.
Please come to the lesson 5-10 minutes before your time slot. That way, we can start right on time and make the most of our learning time. If another student is still in their lesson when you arrive, please wait quietly until it your turn. Each student is entitled to his/her privacy during lessons – please work to extend to one another this important courtesy. Cell phones should be silenced or put on vibrate to avoid disruption to the lesson. Students are expected to arrive with clean hands and trimmed nails (nails must be trimmed short to maintain proper form and avoid scratching the instrument). Please have your child use the restroom before, not during the lesson. If you are late for your lesson, you are not guaranteed your full 30 minutes. I will assume you are not coming if you are more than 10 minutes late to your lesson. Unless there is some very unusual circumstance for a no-show, you will still be charged for that lesson. If there is a sibling along during the lesson, it is the parent's responsibility to supervise him/her quietly during the lesson.
If something comes up and you can't be at your lesson, notify me by text, email, or phone at least three hours before the scheduled lesson. We will then try and find an alternative time. If I need to cancel a lesson for a personal reason, arrangements will be made to make it up to you. If you decide you want to discontinue lessons, I would appreciate at least 2 weeks' notice. I, the teacher, reserve the right to refuse to do business with anyone for reasons I deem necessary. The student and student's guardian(s) expressly release and discharge the studio and instructor from liabilities for any and all claims and demands, known and unknown, presently existing or which may arise in the future.
Students are expected 1) to come to their lesson prepared with all necessary materials, 2) to be courteous and respectful towards the teacher and her property, and 3) to be motivated to work hard in learning. Students and parents can expect that I, too, will be prepared to guide the violinist.
There will be a performance during the Christmas season as well in the spring. Occasionally, I will try to schedule a "concert" at a nursing home. This gives students goals to work towards, and it's always rewarding to see their progress.
I absolutely agree with this philosophy, as stated by Turid Gaedeke-Riegel, "Teaching is a journey; not a destination. The best teachers are lifelong learners, continuing to attend workshops and learn from other master teachers. The best teachers constantly evaluate and re-evaluate their teaching in terms of what is/is not working for the student. The best teachers keep up their playing skills and play in some type of ensemble. Most of all, I believe a good teacher is caring, patient, empathetic, kind, positive, and encouraging, knowing when to push a student and when to back off. The development of a personal, caring relationship between teacher and student is key. The ability to laugh, smile, and be human is so important!"