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Teaching Method

My intention as a teacher is to give the student, whether child or adult, a lifelong relationship with the violin.  I give great attention to providing a solid foundation in technique as a ground for exploration of the many voices of this instrument.

I use the Suzuki method as the core of a structured approach to developing skills, and supplement that with scales, music theory, notereading work at the appropriate time, and other additional material.  I introduce fiddle tunes which match the level of playing the student has attained, and which reinforce the techniques they are learning.

I teach to the student, and adjust my approach to the learning style of each person.  It is my joy in working one-on-one that I can get to know people and bring out their unique strengths.  My goal is that a student be comfortable learning by ear as well as reading; most people favor one over the other and I encourage them to build up their weaker skills in order to enjoy playing in different settings.  I stress accurate intonation and devote time to listening carefully to pitches and to tuning up the ear.  Listening is an activity of the whole person; I talk about relaxation of the body and mind in order to hear and make music with comfort and ease.  I want my students to appreciate the beautiful sound of the violin no matter what they are playing- a scale, a minuet, a fiddle tune, a concerto….

I give students the opportunity to perform, and in addition to group classes, I coach a fiddling group we call “Exuberance.”  We explore many different styles of fiddling, discuss chords and scales, try out some improvising, and have a great time enjoying the tunes.  Exuberance performs at folk festivals, dances, children’s museums, street fairs, art openings….any festive occasion.  The group is versatile and loves to play different kinds of tunes.  Accomplished adult musicians accompany the group and add fun and interest to practices.

I have studied Brain Gym® and the Alexander Technique®.  Both of these systems involve awareness of the whole body in the process of learning and activity.   In lessons we work on body awareness, relaxation, good alignment, and efficient relaxed movements.  We also move to wake up the brain and to help in playing.

Students who are primarily interested in fiddling are encouraged to work through the Suzuki books as well.  The foundation in both left and right hand technique is invaluable in approaching fiddle tunes.  But as their skill level increases, more and more fiddling is incorporated and the students are encouraged to listen, go to concerts, and play with others at jam sessions or other gatherings. 

The close wedding of dance and fiddle tunes is important to me, and we work on strong rhythm and actually playing for dancers.  I dance a lot as well as fiddle and it is my joy to share that with my students.

My wish is to have the students take great joy in their music, and to have it in their lives as they grow and change.