FAQ

Will you travel to my home to teach me/my child? 

Most likely, no. However there have been occasions where I have made house calls, for an extra fee. Please inquire!

Where do I rent an instrument, purchase supplies, or go for repairs? 

Please refer to the Instrument and Supplies page under the Student Resources tab, and/or discuss with me for a personalized recommendation.

Are little violins made for children? 

Yes. Please consult your teacher and/or the rental shop for the correct size. Side note: I check for hand size/palm width rather than the more commonly used arm length, because I want the left hand to be able to reach all notes in first position without straining. Many students play on instruments that are too big for them. Violin is hard enough, let's not make it more difficult! 

Why do you encourage students to rent their violin rather than purchase? 

Quality matters, and rental instruments are much higher quality than the instrument you would likely be purchasing. Unless you are prepared to make an investment in a violin that is $1,500 or more, please rent. At most rental places, you can build equity towards owning a violin, and the shop covers insurance and maintenance, and sizing up is easy and painless. Fun fact: violins are considered "student" instruments until approximately $15,000. 

What supplies should I bring to my lessons? 

Violin, bow, rosin, music book(s), pencil, notebook for writing instructions... don't plan on remembering everything even if your memory is the best. Most people forget at least something. Better to save that space in your brain for something else. 

Why do you require sponges instead of shoulder rests? 

Several reasons. 

  1. I teach how I play, which is without a shoulder rest. The technique is different. 

  2. Shoulder rests are designed for adults and then scaled down to fit children. The               shoulder/collarbone/neck area of children is proportioned differently than adults, so shoulder rests usually lead to discomfort, tension, and poor posture. 

  3. Shoulder rests come in one-size-fits-all models. Each model is different, but if your shoulder rest and chin rest combination does not fit your body exactly, you will be uncomfortable. I can hear it in how you play and see the tension in your body, even if you are not aware of it. 

But I already use a shoulder rest and I'm comfortable. Do I have to switch to a sponge? 

If you are a child, yes. If you are an adult, we'll talk. 

How do I take care of my instrument?

Keep it in the case in a humidified temperature-controlled environment. Violins can crack or get open seams in cold or hot weather, so never leave it in your car. At home, keep your instrument away from heat/air conditioning vents and outside walls where the temperature can fluctuate. If you do notice damage, take it for repairs right away.

How often should I practice? 

Practicing is like brushing your teeth - it doesn't do much good if you only do it one day per week, even if you do it for hours on that one day. A good rule of thumb is to practice on the days you eat. I recommend task-based practicing rather than setting a timer. Strive for approximately 30 minutes per day, but even 5 minutes is better than no minutes. Keep in mind that establishing a practice routine is more difficult than maintaining one. If you travel often or take days off frequently, you will always be battling that "hump." If you practice more than 1 hour per day, take at least a 10 minute break every hour to prevent injury. 

 

Also, please use your brain when you practice. Practice makes permanent, not perfect. Turn off the technology and re-learn how to focus. Get out of the habit of always starting at the beginning of a piece and playing to the end. You know where the tricky parts are, so start with doing each of those 10x in isolation before putting them back in context of the piece. 

How often do you practice? 

It depends. When I was just starting at 6 years old, 20-30 minutes every day with my mom. As a teenager, approximately 1-2 hours every day. As a college student, 2-4 hours every day. Now, it varies based on my concert schedule. If I have a lot of music to learn, I practice a lot. If I don't then I practice about an hour per day. Any less and I can't play in tune or with good tone. 

How fast will I/my child make progress? 

That depends on you. If you practice daily and intelligently, listen to recordings of violin playing and the pieces you are learning, and attend regular lessons, you will progress rapidly. If any one of those things are lacking, you will progress at a slower pace. 

Why should I bother with the books on your suggested reading list?

It is always a good idea to educate yourself about anything you are consulting an expert about. There is only so much information that your teacher can give you each week. You can learn so much more from books. Also, if you are educated, you will not ever have to wonder if you actually have a good teacher, you will know that you are getting good information. 

I'm a parent. What do I do during my child's lessons? 

Be present. Pay attention to how I interact with your child. What words do I use to give instructions? How do I explain new information? What do I do when your child gets something wrong? Right?

My language, actions, and body language are intentional based on my training and experience. I am modeling for you as much as your child. 

If a discipline issue arises, let me handle it first. If I look to you for support, then please give it, but not until then. Your child cannot listen to both you and me equally, and during the lesson, he or she needs to be focused on me.

I'm a parent. My child plays and I hear 10,000 things that are wrong. What do I do? 

  1. Pick something to praise. There is always something that went well, even if it's inconsequential. 

  2. Ask your child what they liked about what they just played, and what they didn't like. As they answer, try do decide if they were spaced-out or focused on trying really hard to do a particular thing well, which meant letting everything else slide.

  3. If your child was spaced out, don't offer criticism, just have him or her play again, but this time direct their attention to one specific thing, like tone, putting fingers on the tapes, bow hand, etc. Keep bringing them back if they are spacing out. Praise them for focus when you can.

  4. If your child was concentrating really hard on an aspect of their playing, praise their focus and ask them to play again and this time think about that thing and ONE other thing that you want to improve. 

  5. Under no circumstances should you start listing all 10,000 things that went wrong. Imagine how you would feel if you had a performance review at work with your boss, and he or she told you everything you are doing wrong! Focus on one thing at a time, and never more than three things. 

  6. Talk to your teacher at the next lesson for strategies and priorities. All 10,000 things that went wrong are not immediate priorities to work on. Bow hand, violin posture, and beautiful tone are the essential places to start.