Student Handbook

Updated: Nov 13, 2021

Lesson Information:

  • Every student's first lesson is free!

  • All lessons will be given at the instructor's apartment unless arrangements are made for another location.

  • Students must be at least 3 years old, but no experience in music performance is necessary.

  • The instructor will provide all learning materials, but students must purchase an instrument, bow, case, rosin, and other instrument accessories.

  • The student, regardless of age or level of playing, will have some liberty in choosing repertoire and setting musical goals; this is to foster the student's individual investment into the learning process.

  • Students are expected to spend a minimum of 2 hours each week playing or practicing the instrument; any less, and it becomes impossible to maintain basic techniques.

  • If the student is accompanied by a parent or guardian, then the parent or guardian is expected to see that this 2 hour commitment is met outside of lessons. The parent or guardian is welcome to attend lessons. Parents are encouraged to provide support and input at home to supplement studio lessons.

  • If the student is an adult, or unaccompanied minor, then the instructor and student will briefly assess goals and weekly progress at the beginning of each lesson.

  • Students are allowed to choose a variety of playing styles to learn, including improvisational styles, folk styles, fiddling, classical art music performance, etc., but the instructor's expertise is in art music performance.

  • Advanced students are encouraged to develop basic keyboard skills in order to analyze scores of chosen music or hear the repertoire in another form. This helps to familiarize the student with musical scores, develop the student's collaborative skills, and encourage a broader and more complete appreciation of the music in its entirety.

  • The instructor will, if desired, assist in developing keyboard skills in lessons, or offer separate lessons in piano at the same price.

  • Group lessons are not offered.

Communication and Etiquette:

  • The instructor is accessible by email, text, or calls; texting is preferred.

  • Contact information is listed at the bottom of the website's home page.

  • Payment must be made at the beginning of each month for a total of 4 weekly lessons, and cancellations must be made prior to monthly payment in order to receive a refund.

  • Although students are required to play for at least 2 hours each week, it is strongly recommended that the student practice an hour or more each day in order to make measurable progress. This will help the instructor assess areas of improvement and need.

  • Students or parents of students are encouraged to purchase a metronome to help with practicing music in a specific tempo.

  • Practicing strategies will broadly include assigned repertoire, scale and etude books, and a variety of specific exercises which the instructor will provide upon observation.

  • Playing the violin is not easy, but it is great fun! The easier playing becomes, the stronger a student's desire will be to dive into exciting new repertoire.

  • Students are encouraged to share their needs, set boundaries, and offer feedback about teaching style, communication, etc. This openness helps the instructor and student to establish mutual respect and empathy.

  • The studio is a judgement-free zone, and if critical feedback makes a student feel uncomfortable, the instructor and student (or parent) should discuss how to best address the student's needs.

Payments, Policies, Etc.:

  • Each student will schedule a weekly lesson time for the month, and payment for the 4 weekly lessons is required at or before the first lesson of the month.

  • Payments are best made online, but the instructor will accept cash, checks, credit or debit cards, or payments made through Cashapp or Venmo.

  • Cancellations must be made 24hrs prior to the lesson in order to arrange a makeup lesson, excepting emergencies and other extenuating circumstances.

  • Note that if students are unable to schedule makeup lessons, refunds for missed lessons will not be offered.

  • Only one makeup lesson is permitted each month.

  • If a student is sick, symptomatic, or has been exposed to illness, then lessons can be arranged via Skype, Zoom, or another online platform.

  • If weather does not permit travel, lessons via video chat are strongly encouraged.

  • Locations for lessons not offered at the instructor's home will be determined by the student or parent, and travel fees will be calculated at a rate of $0.65/mi; these fees will be included with each monthly payment and will not be refunded.

  • If the student or parent wishes to purchase supplies from the instructor, such as instrument accessories or learning materials, a bill will be calculated and given to the student or teacher in person.

  • All copies of teaching materials will be given to the student; these are not required to be returned.

  • Hard copies of teaching materials may be loaned to the student, but they must be returned upon completion of the material.

Instrument Maintenance/Repair and Learning Materials:

  • A variety of online resources are available for learning materials and instrument accessories, including, (where scores and parts for most music can be found, given that those works are in the public domain), and YouTube.

  • Boulder has a music store at 3101 28th St. called Woodsongs, where a variety of materials are also available (technique books, scale books, etude/study collections, fiddle books, books with popular tunes, and instrument accessories including strings, rosin, shoulder rests, etc.)

  • Woodsongs also sells violins, though there are many vendors online and around the world. These vendors have strengths and weaknesses, and their prices can vary dramatically, so the instructor will assist the student or parent in finding an instrument based on need and affordability.

  • Instrument repair is offered through a variety of luthiers in the Boulder and Denver areas. Denver Violins is a fantastic place to have a bow re-haired or an instrument repaired by award-winning instrument makers and luthiers. Woodsongs of Boulder also offers some basic services.

  • The instructor will assist in routine maintenance, such as changing strings, adjusting shoulder rests, or chin rests, etc.

Strategies and Tips for Success:

  • Playing the violin requires a great deal of multitasking. The best practice strategies, generally, are those which target specific technical skills, such as bow strokes, left hand finger patterns, rhythms, etc.

  • Repeating a challenging task helps develop muscle memory so that each action can become more natural, or even subconscious.

  • Practicing a difficult task slowly or with a metronome helps develop attention to detail.

  • Attention to detail helps to refine the student's sound and eliminate unwanted sounds or impurities in tone production.

  • Though more practicing is almost always better than less, it is recommended that students take a 10 minute break each hour in order to relax the hands and fight fatigue.

  • This pause also helps the student to return with a fresh perspective and maybe even an epiphany about a technical problem.

  • Listening and watching great players is critical in the learning process, as it strengthens the student's ability to observe and imitate.

Teacher's Encouragement:

Playing the violin is like having a voice with 10x the human register. What makes the violin difficult, that is, the precise control that it requires, is also what makes the violin so expressive. When basic techniques have been mastered, a violinist's playing can be wonderfully personal and expressive. This is why string instruments are often compared to the human voice. I wish for my students to find their own voices in the violin; then they can sing their hearts out!

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