This page based on questions I frequently get. If you have a question you think should be answered here, let me know!
What’s the best age to start lessons?
Any age! But, different ages will learn differently:
Preschoolers learn in small steps at a time, with lots of repetition, games, and parent involvement. The advantage of laying a foundation this young is that the knowledge will become innate as their brains are still developing; however the process of learning may feel slow. (For reference, it’s usually best to find a teacher that specializes in young children if you want to start this young.)
Young elementary can be a great age to start as the minds are still “sponges” but there is a bit more focus and the growing ability to follow directions and self-motivate. Older children may find techniques less “natural”, but often can progress more quickly since their logic and thought patterns are more mature.
Adults are on the other end of the continuum–they may struggle at first with the unfamiliar positions and terminology, and may not “peak” as high as a student who started younger, but their reasoning and self-motivation give them unique advantages as well.
For parents wanting to give their children lessons, I usually recommend to spend the preschool years just doing lots of music–singing, dancing, clapping, listening to all sorts of things. Then when they begin to show more focus and self-motivation (usually early elementary), instrument lessons can build on the musical foundation that’s already been laid.
What equipment do I need?
As listed on our Policies page–
Students need to have the following at each lesson:
-Instrument, bow, and case of good quality and in good repair
-Soft cloth for cleaning instrument
-Individualized “setup” equipment (chinrest, shoulder rest or pad-can be determined at first lesson)
-Tuner/metronome (phone apps work well or ask me for recommendations)
-Lesson notebook (will be provided)
Students must also have an adjustable music stand to use for home practice.
Renting is often the best choice for beginners, because you can trade up as you grow, and usually get free maintenance and a percentage of credit when it’s time for you to purchase a full-size. However, check out the Instrument Guide to help determine what’s the right choice for you!
What’s involved in the free introductory session?
This “session” is, first, about getting to know each other. I want to learn a bit about you, your personality, interests, learning style, and what your goals are in your violin study. You want a chance to get to know me and make sure that the learning relationship will be a good fit.
After that, for beginners, it’s a chance to get a headstart on all the new aspects of playing the violin! We’ll make sure your instrument is the right size and talk through its setup and care (so please do have an instrument-we can talk about this over the phone ahead of time!). We’ll look at expectations for practice, pace of learning, and how much parent involvement is needed. I’ll do my best to answer any questions you might have. There won’t be any actual playing this lesson–there’s too much else to do! That will come in our first “regular” lesson.
For students who’ve already played, I usually ask to hear a couple pieces (so bring your music!)–something you feel is easy for you and something that is challenging. I’ll assess your strengths and weaknesses, and I’ll want your opinion too: on what you feel is easy or hard for you, on what you think you need and want to focus on, and if you have any goals in the short- or long-term.
By the end of the lesson, every student should have a rough map of what their lesson path will look like, and have their questions answered. You’re always welcome to follow up with a phone call or email if there are other questions, and I’ll let you know if I have any concerns.
Why are there different lesson lengths than most places I see? What’s right for me?
The “standard” beginner lesson length at most any music shop or school you’ll walk into is 30 minutes. However, as I taught I would regularly find us hitting the 30-minute mark right in the middle of a great concept and wanting to stretch the lesson a few extra minutes. After a few years of adding space between lessons (so I didn’t get the whole studio backed up!) and reading up on what other private teachers do, I decided to adjust the baseline. My studio’s standard lesson “slot” is now 40 minutes. That enables about 35 minutes of instruction, with a little wiggle room either way, and a little cushion to chat and transition between students. I’ve taught this way for about 3 years now and it has been working well!
I do also have a short-lesson option for 25-30 minutes (with an adjusted fee), reserved for young beginners with shorter attention spans, as well as an hour-long option for advancing students.
coming in the future…
What is Suzuki? Are you a Suzuki teacher? (Spoiler: The short answer is no, but I’ve learned a lot from them!)
How should I be involved as a parent?
How much should I be practicing?