Welcome! It's an honor to work with my students and their families. The kids work hard and learn well, in the context of a balanced life. They graduate from the studio with a strong foundation for whatever they want to pursue with their instruments in the years to come.
All families who want to do the work of learning an instrument are invited! I strive to make my studio a safe and productive place for people of all learning styles, backgrounds, identities, orientations, and family structures.
I believe in supporting kids and teens by respecting them in two balanced, complementary ways. I hope to ground our relationships in a nurturing respect that welcomes the kids' personalities, learning styles, and needs for connection and support in the moment. I also want to honor their developing capabilities. In order for the students to be able to experience the satisfactions of success, I know that they will engage with a healthy degree of challenge, struggle, and growth in their learning. I respect my students in the belief that they can do it.
I'm not "a Suzuki teacher" in the strictest sense, but Shinichi Suzuki’s philosophy of immersive learning and step-by-step mastery, supported by an encouraging parent, is the greatest influence on my teaching style. My outlook was profoundly shaped by my teacher-training courses through the Suzuki Association of the Americas with Ronda Cole, Carrie Reuning-Hummel, Martha Shackford, and Linda Case. I attend regional Suzuki institutes as often as possible to observe visiting master teachers in action.
My own experience studying and performing early music -- pre-classical repertoire that lies outside the musical canon I'd grown up with -- also influences how I teach. Recognizing that today's music students will have an unprecedented degree of choice in the kinds of music available to them to play in their later lives, I like to incorporate diverse styles and cultures in our studio repertoire. I also introduce some knowledge of music theory and history so that my students will have more tools to understand our modern, pluralistic musical landscape. I like to think that this approach is valuable whether the students continue in later life as amateur or professional players in any genre, or simply as curious, thoughtful listeners.
The usual age range in my studio is around 6-17. Starting as a beginner around 6-8 years old is most common, though beginning at a younger or older age happens too. Students do need to be able to function cooperatively in group classes. There are often openings for transfer students (kids who are already playing).
Kids and families who look forward to participation in student orchestras and classical chamber music programs, and who welcome our forays into traditional music, will get the most enjoyment out of our repertoire.
My students have enjoyed positive experiences and leadership roles in the excellent orchestra programs at Hamilton, Washington, Eckstein, and Jane Addams Middle Schools. They have had fun playing at Vivace Chamber Players and other classical-music camps, my own Early Music Youth Academy camps, and various traditional-music courses.
I love working with new students whose families are eager to build music study into their family routine as a happy and successful part of life. Here are some commitments for parents to consider:
- What will the challenges be for you in helping with daily practice?
- Are you willing to create an immersive musical environment by playing our repertoire CDs every day and attending live musical events several times each year?
- Can you commit to regularly attending lessons, group classes, and performances?
- Are you able to manage a home schedule that makes time every day for your child's practice?
All kid and teen students share a common repertoire, which they master and develop over time, reviewing it by heart. Violinists play most of the pieces in Suzuki books 1-4 along with material from fiddler Mark O’Connor’s student progression of multicultural American music. After Book 4, when students have begun playing their first concertos by Vivaldi and Bach, I like to see them developing and articulating their own musical interests. Students interested in pursuing more advanced classical music choose their own repertoire among sonata movements, concerto movements, and showpieces in various styles until they feel ready to seek an advanced teacher who will be a good fit. Students with a strong interest in any traditional fiddle style, at this level, will want to seek additional learning opportunities in fiddle workshops and/or lessons from a specialist.
Students at all levels enjoy musical variety and sight-reading practice in our two annual studio enrichment projects. In the autumn we rehearse a concert of seasonal chamber music focused on Christmas, Chanukah, and general classical-music festivity. Each summer we prepare for our popular autumn family fiddle potluck by exploring traditional tunes that may range from Irish/Scottish, American old time, Scandinavian, blues, and jazz to klezmer, mariachi, tango, and Indian classical.