Violin and Viola Lessons

In-person or virtually, improve your skills and musicianship by taking lessons

Photo of a violin

Violin & Viola Lessons

I teach violin and viola lessons to students of all levels, from the beginners to the most advanced college level.

My teaching studio is in Okemos/East Lansing area in Michigan. If you live in Midland or Alma, please see below. I also could arrange lessons online via Zoom.

Each lesson is 25 minutes or 55 minutes in length, and typically scheduled once a week.

What Does Music Mean to You?

What is your goal in music?

What does music mean to you? What is your goal in violin and in music from taking lessons? These are questions that are often overlooked by students. They might have thought "Hmm, it would be nice if I know how to play the violin", or "I need a violin teacher so I can keep up with my school orchestra." Though these are all perfectly good reasons to start taking violin lessons, they are lacking a vision in the long term. And this is typical because they do not know what they are getting themselves into, they haven't experienced yet how deep and rewarding music can be.

Playing the violin is not about getting the notes right. It is not about moving your bow up and down and moving your fingers as fast as they go.

Music is a lifelong learning experience. The longer you play, the more you appreciate. The more you think about it, the more depth you see in music.

You do not have to be a world-class violinist to appreciate the art of violin or music. You will learn to see and hear what is beyond the notes in music if you are always searching for the meaning of the notes composers put down on a piece of paper. And that's where the real fun begins! When you start to hear character, color, and atmosphere through the notes, you will start to make music. Music will start to resonate with your heart, and what you want to express through music becomes special and personal.

Photo of a violin

Teaching Method and Style

Methods

While there are certain etudes that I give to many of my students such as Schradieck, Sevcik, Kreutzer, Rode, and Dont, I do not go by any particular violin "method" in my lessons. Rather, my lessons are catered to each student's individual differences and characteristics.

Every student has his/her strength and weakness, and they are not always the same among the students. I carefully look at what needs most attention on each student, and come up with the best approach that I could think of based on my knowledge and experience as a violinist and teacher, so the student can overcome the difficulty in the most efficient manner. That means I may have several students work on the same piece, but what each student will get out of the piece could be slightly different; one student may need some work on rhythms and intonation, while another student should learn how to play more expressively.

Detail matters

My lessons are detail oriented. I seldom make broad musical suggestions without going into details as to how to execute them. Many of my suggestions and instructions are very specific, often targeting only one measure or even one single note, pointing out specific techniques in order to achieve the tone quality, articulation, phrasings, or whatever else we are after. I do, of course, make general comments and broad musical suggestions from time to time. I do so when I want my students to learn how to think critically, and/or I know my students have enough knowledge to figure out on their own.

Developing practice skills

I often ask questions for my students during lessons. They go something like this:

  1. What kind of feelings do you get from playing this passage? Ideally, how would you like it to sound?
  2. What can you do to make that happen on your instrument?
  3. What kind of technique do you employ and how are you going to use the technique to execute what you hear in your head?
  4. Why do you think the technique you chose is appropriate?

By asking questions like above, students start to think about how exactly they are playing every passage, instead of just trying to get the notes and rhythms correctly with some sort of immature musicality thrown in. By repeating this thought process week after week, students will eventually learn how to think in a critical and academic manner when they approach a piece of music. This leads students to developing good practice habits and well-structured, intelligent musical decisions. Students will learn how to practice efficiently to accomplish their goals.

Close up photo of a violin bridge

Adult Students

I enjoy working with adult students who want to learn how to make music with the violin as a hobby. My approach to adult students is different from how I teach younger students.

For adult students, I focus on having fun playing the violin more so than when I work with younger students. I can certainly give my adult students disciplined work but I am also fine with more relaxed approach so they will just enjoy playing at the level they want to be. I am happy to give my adult students scales and etudes, but if they don't want to do them I would not be terribly against it. I would suggest a particular etude If adult students are struggling with a certain technique, but it is up to them to decide whether they would want to go through with it. If they decide not to, that is fine by me. I would rather the student enjoys playing the violin, than he/she feels like it is a chore to practice.

I also play duos with adult students more often during lessons than younger students. Again, this is about appreciating the joy of making music with others than perfecting a technique.

Requirements

Requirements to be in my studio are as follows.

I will gladly accept students of any level as long as they fulfill the requirements.

Students in Midland and Alma

Besides teaching college students at Alma, I teach violin and viola lessons to a limited number of younger students who live in Midland and Alma at the College.