Violin Lesson Philosophy & Expectations

1. Private Lesson Expectations 

A. Parental involvement with lessons. 

  • I invite all parents (especially those with younger students) to be involved not only with the lesson but in the practice time at home. Even if you do not have a musical background, you can help at home based on observations you see in the lesson.
  • Students will progress more quickly when they have the parental support in the lesson & at home.

B. Practice time at home.

  • I am very realistic in my expectations of practice time. However, if you do not have time to practice during the week, then you do not have time to take music lessons!
  • I set weekly goals for each student to achieve – not based on practice time, but based on progress.
  • Students are awarded for their practice time with either the Practice Chart for reaching their weekly goals OR with the Practice Challenge to practice EVERY day.
  • The Practice Motivator handout provides creative ideas for practice time at home. Ask me for one or you can find this on my website!

C. Come to your lesson prepared.

  • Don’t forget the violin!
  • All music needed for class
  • Notebook with all copied music & handouts 

2. Lesson Structure.  I structure my lessons as a model for how I expect students to practice at home.

A. Warm-ups/Basics and Scales are an important part of practice time to build a solid foundation & improve technique (most listed on Daily Basics sheet as explained below).

B. Daily Basics sheet (Intermediate-Advanced students)

  • A list of techniques & skills that the students learn throughout lessons.
  • This should go in the FRONT of your notebook! Students should continue practicing them as warm-ups at home even though we do not go over them in lessons.

C. Review Songs that were previously learned with a daily routine.

D. Current/New songs require more attention. Specific instructions will be given as suggestions on how to practice & improve the new songs. 

3. Communication

A. Email is the primary way I communicate with students/parents to inform you of lesson plans, current events, changes in schedule or reminders. 

B. Mymusicstaff.com is an easy to use web-based software for managing my violin students. It allows me to centrally manage student contact information, schedule, lesson notes, and to communicate with students and parents. With your login information, you will also have access to your student’s information.

C. Phone/Text is used when needing a quick response. 

4. Composers (excludes pre-school students).  Each semester I introduce a composer to the students to study.  Recently, I have included composers Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Haydn.  My goal is to expose the students to the composers and to an appreciation of music history. 

A. Fact Cards will be given every 2 weeks with the opportunity to memorize facts about the composer.  The fact cards will be compiled at the end of the semester into a booklet that the students can keep.

B. The Music Listening List gives a list of some of the famous pieces written by the composer.  I present these pieces in class as a way of exposing the student to the music and encourage the student to listen to them at home as well.

C. Playing the Music. 

  • Intermediate and advanced students learn how to play music written by the composer both individually & in group settings.
  • Students learn to play with techniques that the composer used in his music. For example, Beethoven was very “moody” in his music, so we learned about using dynamics (volume).  

5. Group Classes (SOPA ONLY)

A. Classes are offered 3-4 times per semester for all students at different ability levels. I encourage participation for student motivation & for the experience of playing with others. 

B. Fee is $12 per class.

C. Advanced sign-up is required at the beginning of the semester. Any non-emergency cancellation made within 24 hours of the class will be charged.

  • You DO NOT have to commit to all of the classes in order to participate.
  • Students who participate in 3 out of the 4 classes offered will have the opportunity to perform with the group in the recital.  

6. Recitals

A. North Shelby School of Performing Arts offers 3 recitals each year (December, March & May) as well as a Nursing Home trip in December.

B. Hilltop Montessori School offers 3 recitals each year (November, February & May).

C. I encourage participation in the recitals not only as a motivator to practice, but also for the experience of performing! It is also a rewarding experience for the student when they succeed in the performance.

D. I normally spend half of the semester preparing them for the recital so they have a good experience performing, but it also depends on the practice time spent at home preparing! 

7. Pre-school Students (Age 4 – 6)

A. The Pascale Method begins with a solid foundation of basic technique during the first semester of lessons.

B. The Pascale method is immediately followed by the Suzuki method.

C. Communication between the parent(s) and teacher is essential to minimize the confusion of how to practice with the student at home. It is recommended that the parent attend as many lessons as possible to establish this.

D. Establish a daily practice routine from the beginning. 

8. Intermediate – Advanced Student Opportunities

A. Honor Strings Festival is offered each fall to students age 6-18. A teacher recommendation for placement is required.

B. All-state Orchestra is a higher level opportunity for advanced students to play in an orchestral setting. Students will compete through an audition process with students from all over the state before being selected to attend.