Private Violin Instruction

I have some openings for private violin and viola lessons during the school day for the upcoming year.  I teach all levels, from beginning to advanced/college-prep.  I live in West Michigan, between Holland and Zeeland.

 

Teaching Philosophy

When families decide to have their children study an instrument privately, they make an investment in their child’s total learning process.  Children embark on a long term process to learn the technical and musical aspects of playing an instrument.  In learning these skills children learn to listen, think, and solve problems.  They develop fine motor skills and coordination.  In lessons and ensembles, students learn to work with other students and adults.  In performance children learn to concentrate and focus in the presence of nervousness and distractions.  All aspects of musical study contribute to a student’s maturation, development, academic intelligence, and sense of self-confidence.

 

I believe that the ideal teacher/student relationship is a mentoring relationship.  In the teaching role I first seek to get to know the students: what their interests are, what they like to do, how they learn best, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and what images they best respond to—what makes them “tick.”  With this individual knowledge, then, I can challenge students when they need a push, be gentle and encouraging when they are struggling, speak in words and images that resonate with them, demonstrate techniques and musical styles when necessary, find music that is well-rounded yet appealing to individual students, and help them grow into confident people, learners, and musicians.  I work hard to help students learn problem-solving skills and creativity as well as violin techniques.  I have a background in ministry as well as music, so I make every effort to connect with students individually, nurture and mentor them, challenge and encourage them, helping them to grow as people, students, violinists/violists, and musicians.

 

Past Student Achievements

  • Winner, Holland Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, Spring 2001, Spring 2005

  • Participation on “From the Top,” a program on National Public Radio featuring the nation’s top high school students, Spring 2003

  • Admission to highly competitive undergraduate music programs (University of Michigan, Cleveland Institute of Music, Oberlin Conservatory, Indiana University, Lawrence Conservatory, Michigan State University, Western Michigan University)

  • Consistently high ratings in district and state level solo & ensemble competition

 

Expectations for Students

At minimum, students will practice, 5-6 days per week, the length of your lesson time.  (For example, students taking a 45 minute lesson will practice 45 minutes, 5-6 days a week.)  You are encouraged to practice more—you will make faster progress.  I also expect that you will divide your time among scales, etudes/technical studies, pieces, and orchestra music as we determine in your lesson.

 

When you have a bad week (due to lots of homework, family obligations, etc.) and are unable to practice this much, please tell me at the beginning of your lesson.  This will make your lesson much less frustrating for me. If you have too many of these weeks, we will need to re-evaluate your commitment to lessons.  But I understand busy weeks—I have them too!

 

I strongly encourage students to participate in student community orchestra programs (as appropriate to age and ability level), such as string orchestras, youth orchestras, school/home school orchestras, and chamber music groups. Students’ participation in these groups indicates a high level of seriousness about playing the violin.  In these groups, the students learn from directors and other students.  Having a peer group with similar interests keeps students motivated to learn and grow.  I feel strongly that my work as a teacher supports local student orchestras. I am happy to help students with their orchestra music—it is as important that they become good orchestral violinists/violists as solo performers.

 

I expect that students take advantage of solo performing opportunities.  As students participate in my classes and recitals, they will not only gain experience, but they will also teach, inspire, and learn from other students.  Students’ participation in Solo & Ensemble allows them to be evaluated by outside judges.  At the high school levels, this can open the door to other opportunities, such as the Michigan All-State Orchestra and Concerto Competition.

 

Finally, please note that all these are expectations, not requirements.  I am open to dialogue in any of these areas, but we will work best with each other and be happiest with each other if we are on the same page regarding expectations

 

Parents’ Involvement

I encourage parents to be highly involved in their child’s learning process.  Since you are paying for the lessons and bringing your children to lessons, I assume this is a priority for you and your child.

 

As parents, you can help your child learn how to budget his or her time so that practicing becomes a priority.  Your children are all busy individuals with many talents and interests, and it is difficult for them to fit everything into their schedules.  They will be most likely to achieve their goals on the violin/viola and in other areas with your involvement and help.  If I do not feel they are practicing enough, or that they are not covering all the necessary areas, I will give them a Practice Time Chart for you to sign before each lesson.

 

You can help me by talking to your children about their lessons and their violin/viola playing.  Ask them what they are working on (pieces and technical challenges such as bow hold, vibrato, shifting, or left hand position), and how their practicing is going.  Ask them if they feel I am teaching them appropriately to their age and ability level.  Am I pushing them too hard?  Not hard enough?  Do they like the music they are playing?  Do they seem to be connecting with me?  Then please let me know if you and your child have any concerns.  I try to tailor my approach to each student, but if I am not succeeding, I need your help.  Let me know if I should be more or less structured, if I should push more or less, if I need to be more encouraging or demanding, or if I need to adapt my tone in lessons.

 

I encourage you to foster your child’s interest in playing the violin/viola by taking him or her to concerts.  The Holland Symphony Orchestra, comprised of local musicians and teachers, performs eight concerts each year in Holland.  Student discounts are available.  The Holland Symphony Youth Orchestra performs two or three concerts every year.  The Grand Rapids Symphony performs concerts in Holland and Grand Rapids.  The West Michigan Symphony plays in Muskegon.  There are many free concerts and recitals at Hope College and other universities.  There are free concerts at churches and libraries.  I have information on most of these, and sometimes extra tickets.

 

I care a lot about your children.  I don’t take many students, so I am able to invest a lot of time, thought, and energy into those whom I select to teach.  I view my role as not only violin/viola teacher, but also mentor and guide.  It is important to me that your son or daughter grows as a well-rounded, creative, and disciplined person who has a clear sense of who he or she is, and playing the violin/viola can contribute greatly to all this.

 

Please feel free to contact me at any time to discuss their child’s progress and any other concerns.  I will also contact parents regarding any concerns or issues that I do not feel are resolved during the lessons.

 

Cancellation Policy

Please give me as much advanced notice as possible if you need to cancel a lesson.  If you are sick on the day of your lesson, call me as early as possible in the day.  Sometimes I can do some last minute rescheduling.  If you do not show up for a lesson and do not give me advance notice, you will still be charged for the lesson. 

 

About Me

I studied at Interlochen Arts Academy, Oberlin College/Conservatory, Rice University, and Western Theological Seminary.  I also pursued training at Music Academy of the West, Santa Barbara, CA (Summer 1993) and Meadowmount School of Music, Elizabethtown, NY (Summer 1991 & 1992).  Currently I am the concertmaster of the Holland Symphony Orchestra and the Principal Second Violin of the West Michigan Symphony, in Muskegon. I have given many solo recitals, have appeared as a soloist with the Holland Symphony Orchestra several times, and appear regularly on the Free@3 Concert Series (formerly Herrick Library Concert Series), the Chamber Music Festival of Saugatuck, and at Hope College.  I enjoy free-lancing in the West Michigan area, and play at many weddings, funerals, and other functions.  I volunteer as an ensemble and sectional coach at schools and youth orchestras in the area.  I teach children and adult classes regularly at my church.  I am married and have three young children.

 

References

Available on Request

Contact me below if you are interested in lessons
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