Violin/Viola Lessons

Welcome to my violin and viola studio, teaching Suzuki and Roland (traditional) methods to students ages 5 through adult in the Salem, Oregon area.

I specialize in training young violin students ages 5-10, using the Japanese method developed by Shinichi Suzuki. I believe that talent is developed and nurtured rather than an inborn ability. With a supporting parent and a good, nurturing teacher, every student can learn to play the violin well. You are never too young or too old to twinkle!

About

Andrew began playing the viola in 4th grade at Brush College Elementary School in Salem, Oregon. He studied viola privately with Daniel Rouslin, Claire Keeble, Sister Xavier Mary Courvoisier, and Leslie Straka.

Andrew studied Suzuki violin and taught under the supervision of Shelley Rich for 4 years at the University of Oregon. He holds a BA in Music from Whitworth University and a Masters in Music from the University of Oregon, studying viola, voice, conducting, electronic music and music technology.

Andrew plays violin, viola, 5-string electric violin and performs as a conductor, vocalist, and composer. He resides in Salem with his wife, Liz. <return to top>

Tuition

$30 per 30 minute lesson.
$40 per 45 minute lesson.
$50 per 60 minute lesson.

Lessons are once a week for 30 minutes. Advanced students may take longer lessons. Convenient payments of lessons for one month at a time, due at beginning of each month. 24 hour cancellation is required or student will be held responsible for that lesson. Unless due to uncontrollable circumstances, continually missing lessons is not acceptable. <return to top>

FAQs

SHOULD MY CHILD TAKE VIOLIN LESSONS? - That depends on your child. Have they been asking to play an instrument? If taking lessons is your idea and not your child's, then it probably won't work out. It is best to expose children to music not through music lessons but by taking them to music concerts, festivals that have music, listening to CD's, watching videos about the different instruments, etc. Most children get interested in playing an instrument when they have friends that play something or see other kids perform at school talent shows.

WHAT IS A GOOD AGE TO START LESSONS? - The answer to this depends on 1) is your child asking for lessons? and 2) do you have the time and energy to commit to this? Children are capable of different things at different ages. Younger children have less fine motor skills and very short attention spans. Older children have more coordination and have developed increased attention spans from attending school on a daily basis. Taking lessons at a very young age requires more time and patience from the adult who will work with the child practicing at home. If taking lessons at 5 years old doesn't work out, remember, you can always try again at 6 or 7. You'll be amazed at how much more coordinated and focused they are in just a year or two. It is very difficult for teenagers to start an instrument due to the increase demands of school and social activities. If you and your child decide to take lessons, both of you have to make sure lessons fit in your busy schedules! If you are an adult looking to take lessons, you will find that it is not "too late" to learn the violin. Good music instruction breaks down the complexity of playing an instrument into small, achievable steps. This is the key to success at any age!

HOW MUCH TIME WILL BE SPENT PRACTICING? - That depends on the level of the students. Beginners have less material to cover and shorter attention spans, so 5-10 minutes is normal. The practice session will increase in time as the student has more material and develops a longer attention span. It is best to practice a little bit every day versus playing an hour once a week. The goal of practicing is to create habits that become automatic. How did your child learn how to talk, walk, even hold a cup? It was done on a daily basis where you tried, tried again, with much encouragement and enthusiasm. If you use this approach to practicing, you will have excellent results!

SHOULD I RENT OR BUY AN INSTRUMENT? -Read more on instruments below. <return to top>

Instruments

WHERE TO RENT A VIOLIN - Violins come in different sizes (1/16, 1/10, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 4/4-Full Size) for the different sizes/ages of children. It is best to rent a violin for 3 reasons: 1) If the student decides to quit after 2 weeks; 2) Children have growth spurts and need a larger instrument; and 3) Children can drop/bang their instrument causing costly repairs. Rental violins have insurance coverage included in the rental fee that will cover repair costs. Most parents wait until their child needs a full size violin (4/4) before buying an instrument. Local shops that rent violins to students in the Salem area include: ABC Music, Uptown Music.

WHERE TO PURCHASE A VIOLIN - If you are a beginning violinist, it is rare to find a small sized high quality instrument. Usually beginning instruments are built sturdier and have an adequate sound. Here are some local shops to look for violins: David Kerr (Portland), and Henry Strobel & Sons.

Here is a really good web site on violin care and maintenance, with some buying tips at the end.

SIZING A VIOLIN - You must bring your child to the Violin Shop in order to get the correct size violin. Someone in the store will have your child hold the violin and stretch his/her arm to measure the proper length of the violin. If the child has no bend in the elbow and looks like he/she is straining, the violin is too big. Often times, students are in between two sizes. As a rule of thumb, it is better to go smaller than larger. DO NOT let the violin shop convince you to go larger. Sometimes they do that because they don't have the other size in stock and are scared of losing your business. A good violin shop will take your name and call you when it becomes available. <return to top>

Accessories

SHOULDER REST - This is a device that hooks under the violin where the violin touches the shoulder. This accessory is necessary to help the person hold the violin properly. Many devices are available. The size and shape of the student's body will determine which one is best to get:

Zaret Shoulder Rest -Available Sizes: (small to large) 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 4/4 Smallest size (1/4) is best for Very Small/Young Children and Short Necks.

Kun Shoulder Rest - Super adjustable, great for all sizes (especially smaller than 1/4). As student gets bigger, it expands to fit larger violin. When purchasing, check to see what size violin it fits. Available in lots of pretty colors.

Sponge - Yep, a kitchen sponge or a foam car waxing pad are some of the most common shoulder rests for small violinist!

ELECTRONIC TUNER - Visually lets you tune your child's instrument. Easy enough that the student can learn to tune his/her own instrument.

MUSIC STAND - There is a multitude of music stands online or at the music stores. They come in different colors, some are fold-up and portable, others are solid metal and sturdier. The first few lessons do not require a music stand. This is a good item to let the student pick out as a way to encourage their enthusiasm for playing the violin.

PRACTICE MUTE (optional) - Practice mutes are made to quiet the violin down so you can practice in apartments, at night, etc. I have never seen one for a small violin except for this one, Heavy Practice Mute, Rubber - 1/4 - 1/16 violin, small. <return to top>

Tips

Bring a notebook to every lesson. This is the best way to remember what to work on during the week or to help as you review pieces.

A parent is required to be present for every lesson. Normally one parent is present for the lessons, but if the other parent can accompany the student once in a while, it is a great help to your child.

After purchasing your Suzuki Book and CD, use it! Listening to the CD is a vital part of the music education your child is receiving. Use the Suzuki Books to make notes for practicing at home.

Always bring all your materials to every lesson. Make a special bag or backpack to keep everything together.

If you get stuck between lessons, give me a call or write me an email. This includes if the violin gets out of tune, I can help you tune it over the phone! <return to top>