About the Studio
Please note: My studio and waiting list are now full and I don't anticipate any openings in the near future. I may be able to recommend some other teachers in the area, please email me if you're interested!
The studio consists of about 20 students ages 3 and up. Lessons are held weekly at my house in Fredericksburg, VA. In addition to private lessons, we get together every other Monday for group lessons where we play as an ensemble, perform for each other, and have fun with our instruments. We have 2 recitals each year in addition to a number of workshops and festivals.
In beginner lessons, the student takes the first part of the lesson time and goes as long as he/she feels comfortable, and lessons end before the student becomes fidgety. It may be 5 minutes, it may be 25 minutes, depending on individual attention span. I play musical games and keep instruction enjoyable and lighthearted, never pushing beyond the child's limits. Young beginners will begin on a pretend violin, usually a sponge or box, to prevent early bad habits by training motor skills and specific motions without the distraction and weight of a real instrument. Once the student lessons are finished, they color or read quietly while the parent receives instruction. Parents use the rest of the lesson time to discuss the Suzuki philosophy and its application, and learn how to play the violin themselves so they will become good "home teachers" and understand how to help the child. Every child's favorite and most effective teacher is his/her parent! Eventually, as the student's attention span grows, we will phase out the parent lessons and the student will assume the entire lesson length.
While I recommend beginning formal lessons around age 5, I fully welcome older beginners as well. I tailor the method and my teaching style to meet each individual's needs. If your child is under 3 years old or isn't ready for formal lessons yet, it's never too early to begin preparation! I recommend listening to violin music even as early as the womb, especially that of the first few Suzuki books, which the child will eventually be playing. I also highly recommend (and sometimes require!) a semester or two in one of the local music and movement classes. I teach Music Together classes Thursday mornings in downtown Fredericksburg. It's a great no-pressure opportunity to explore music and prepare for lessons. While you're waiting, you should buy the Suzuki book 1 CD (Preucil recording) from Shar Music and start listening to it every day. Also, start attending lots of concerts in the area to get as much early exposure to classical music as possible!
Interested in lessons? Here's where to begin:
- Are you ready for the commitment? I recommend you ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your young child emotionally ready? Is he/she cooperative? Are you able to get your child to accomplish something, even on resistant days? Do you have LOTS of resistant days? Is he/she potty trained yet?
- Has he/she achieved "Basic Music Competence" (can your child already sing in tune and match a beat?) It's not an absolute requirement because Suzuki lessons are designed to foster this ability, but students who have already achieved it tend to move much faster through the repertoire and are more motivated because of it. If your child has *not* achieved BMC and is under 5 years old, please consider Music Together classes first!
- Do you *and* your child have the time? How many other activities are you both involved in? Is your child becoming well-rounded or exhausted? Are YOU exhausted? We are establishing good practice habits right from the start, so Suzuki lessons absolutely require daily practice, and until the child reaches about age 9 or 10, practice is done with the parent. Parents attend lessons and take notes so they can help at home, so one parent should remain the "practicing parent" and "home teacher." Parents of beginners under 10 years old take an 8-week course to learn how to play the violin themselves, so they will be better at-home teachers! Students also attend group lessons about every other Monday in addition to their private lessons. Finally, parents are responsible for providing a musical environment for their children, which means playing the Suzuki CDs every day and attending as many concerts as possible. For these and many other reasons, I recommend parents who are expecting a baby wait before starting the beginner program.
- Are you in this for the long haul? I view the Suzuki program as a major committment and life decision for everyone involved, and I hope to take each one of my students all the way through high school. Suzuki violin can be one of the most rewarding and inspiring parts of a child's life, so this is probably not the best program for a student who simply wants to try violin for a year.
- Do you have any interest in the violin? Notice, the question is not "does your child have any interest to play!" Young children may have been inspired to play the violin, but if the parent is not 100% involved and enthusiastic, the program will fail! Similarly, a young child may not even know what a violin is, but if the parent conveys their excitment and dedication, the child will absorb the parent's energy.
- Does this fit your budget? In addition to lessons (check my Scheduling & Tuition policy sheet, link below, for my rates), please keep in mind you will need to purchase or rent a good quality instrument that requires yearly maintenance, and you will need an assortment of shoulder rests, books, flash cards, etc.
- Are you famliar with Dr. Suzuki's Talent Education philosophy? Please read about Suzuki's Talent Education philosophy as much as you can. You can find information in the tab to the left and at the Suzuki Association of the Americas page. You don't need to be sure about the Suzuki Method to begin observation (see below.) This is the best way to get more information!
- Check my fees and available lesson times.
- View the Scheduling & Tuition Policy Sheet 2008-2009 (Microsoft Word) to view my lesson fees, schedule, and makeup policy.
- My studio and waiting list are now full and I don't anticipate any openings in the near future. I may be able to recommend some other teachers in the area, please email me if you're interested!
- All students need to be available to attend group lessons every other Monday night during the school year, in addition to their private lessons.
- Before beginning lessons, parents and children observe other students' lessons and attend as if they were part of the program. The minimum requirement for beginners is 4 private lesson observations. Group lesson observation is encouraged but not required (group lessons do not take place during the summer.) Transfer students who have been taking violin for a year or more should observe at least 1 private lesson and have a "trial lesson" at $20/half hour.
- Your child should attend, but he/she doesn't need to stay attentive the whole time – you can bring some quiet activities to work on.
- You should start your observation right away, even if you're on the waiting list, and observe regularly until a lesson time opens up. When a time becomes available, I will first turn to students who have already been observing for some time.
- You should try to see someone about the same age as your child. Contact me to see which students I recommend for you.
- I highly recommend observing more than the minimum requirement! The more you watch, the better idea you will have of how things work. The students who do the most observation are the ones who pick up how to hold the violin and bow, make a good sound, and listen well just by watching!
- You will want to call or email me the morning you come to observe, so I can let you know if the student gets sick at the last minute and can't make it.
- All observations are free of charge.
Once the parent & child have met the minimum observation requirement, regardless of studio availability, the parent comes (without the child) for a half-hour, free-of-charge meeting to cover all loose ends. We use this time to:
- Talk about a lesson time and possible start date
- Talk about the Suzuki Method and what to expect
- Acquire all your materials
- Talk about violin purchase/rental
- Go over my policy sheet
- Answer any additional questions you may have