Frequently Asked Questions
What do I need to do to start my young child in Suzuki lessons?
1. Please contact me for availability and a full studio policy.
2. Observe at least one Pre-Twinkle private lesson or group class.
How early can I start my child on violin?
The youngest I begin teaching private lessons is age 4. Prior to this time,
if you are interested in having your child start music training, there are several
great options including: Dalcroze Eurythmics, Musik Garten, Music Together,
Kindermusik, and many more. Some schools of music in the D.C. area, such as
the Levine School, have their own early childhood music education programs .
Skills that you can expect to be developed include concepts like singing, dancing,
marching to the beat, and developing listening skills.
Will you travel to our house to give my child lessons?
No, lessons are taught at my home.
How much time do you expect students to practice each day?
The exact time is determined on an individual basis and in consideration of the goals of the child and family.
At the early stages, 20-30 minutes a day is typical. As a student advances, anywhere from an hour to several hours a day is appropriate depending on the level.
Do you provide a violin for my child?
I do not. However, it is not necessary for you to have rented a violin prior to your child's first lesson. I encourage renting a violin from one of the three local shops; Brobst Violin Shop (Alexandria), Foxes Music Company (Falls Church), or The Potter Violin Company (Bethesda). They will exchange the violin for a larger size as your child grows, and put your rental costs towards the purchase of a violin.
Does my young beginner start playing the violin immediately? Why or why not?
When I start a young beginner, they will not play on the violin immediately. During this time, we do Pre-Twinkle activities, which consist mostly of musical games. While I realize it can be difficult to delay this process, the reason is to set the child up for the most success going forward.
The games serve the purpose of: Matching pitch, feeling pulse, developing rhythm, hearing pitch direction, hearing musical intervals, learning how to hold the violin, learning how to hold the bow, learning how to sit still, learning the parts of the violin/bow and care of the instrument and more.
Once these critical skills are in place, the transition to the violin itself is easy and we've eliminated sources of frustration for the child and parent. My goal as a teacher is to set the child up for success and stop bad habits before they start.
What is the purpose of group classes? Why does my child have to do them?
Below are some of the reasons a group experience is important:
The group setting provides more motivation than just one weekly lesson
with a teacher, especially at a young age.
2. Faster progress
Kids learn from their peers, and benefit from making sure they are
keeping pace with the class.
3. Fearlessness and Poise in front of an audience
Performing in front of observers on a regular basis helps children
feel comfortable on stage.
4. Practice performing from memory in a group setting
A child in a group setting isn't individually singled out if he/she has a
memory slip in a performance.
This sets the stage for a positive, nurturing environment for the child.
The group provides reinforcement of skills learned in the private lesson,
and exposure to new skills yet to come.
Parents benefit from seeing the successes and struggles of other families in the studio. It provides a support network, and opens up the exchange of ideas.
7. Learning to play with accompaniment and with others
Performing in an ensemble setting is a separate musical skill. It requires the child develop advanced listening skills, ability to work with others, and sensitivity.
Students will hear pieces they have yet to play. In a book 1 class for example, a student will play pieces they know with the group, and sit out for the pieces they haven't learned yet. The group provides motivation and inspiration to improve.
In terms of recitals, how often do they occur and what fees are involved?
Much for the same reason as group classes, recitals are an important part of a child's musical growth and opportunity to show what they've learned. I hold two formal recitals each year in December and May, and one less formal outreach concert in March. For students studying during the summer, I also offer the opportunity to play a mini-recital at my home in late August. Fees are necessary in order to rent a space and provide piano accompaniment. Please contact me for current fees.
Do you only teach Suzuki repertoire for Suzuki lessons?
No. For the most part, the core of the curriculum is based primarily on the Suzuki literature, as Dr. Suzuki designed it as step by step pedogogical approach from the very beginning up through playing Mozart Concerti in Books 9-10. The shared literature is also a tool for group classes. That said, there are excellent supplemental pieces I use. Students also work on scales, note reading, etudes, and special technique exercises as they advance.
What are Book recitals and do you do them?
When a Suzuki student reaches the end of their current book, I like them to perform a book recital. This is a celebration and mark of achievement. The student practices with an accompanist, schedules a time for a recital, invites family and friends, and performs their entire book from memory with piano. At this point, they have officially graduated to the next level.
Book recitals set students up to have excellent practice skills, memory, poise, listening and ensemble skills. Students finish with a huge sense of accomplishment, and the earlier pieces are reinforced so they are easy.
Where should I rent a violin or have repair work done?
I recommend either Brobst Violin Shop in Alexandria VA, Foxes Music Company in Falls Church VA, or The Potter Violin Company in Bethesda MD.
Can you recommend some online resources?
What are youth orchestras and what are the local options?
Joining a youth symphony is a great idea for your child’s musical development. They meet once a week, and most students in youth symphony take private lessons, so your child will be around students who are serious about music. There are generally 4-6 levels in each youth symphony organization. Costs range from $300-$800 for the year and scholarships are available. Some local youth symphonies are:
The American Youth Philharmonic
Youth Orchestras of Prince William- The youngest group does not require an audition, so your child can start participating right away.
The Capitol Symphonic Youth Orchestras