In my lessons I offer personalized instruction according to the needs and desires of the student. My teaching philosophy centers around the idea that traditional violin-based folk music ("fiddle") can be used as a tool to learn and refine the techniques required to play the violin.
I believe learning to play the violin can be a rewarding, intuitive and maintainable experience for a person of any age, and that no prior musical experience is necessary. I welcome beginning and intermediate students of all ages at my studio in downtown Olympia. I am also available as a coach for students of orchestra and string ensembles.
My teaching methods include: The Mark O'Connor Violin Method, Playing by Ear, Reading Music, Suzuki Method, Improvisation Techniques. I hold a degree in Pedagogy: Education and Teaching Methods, from the Evergreen State College (2003).
Obtaining a Violin
For beginning students of all ages I strongly recommend renting a violin from an accredited violin shop, not a general music store. There are many reasons for this.
In the recent years, there has been an increase in scam/fake violins sold over the internet, as well as in general music stores (as opposed to violin shops that have trained violin makers). These instruments are called "violin shaped objects”, or VSO's, and make learning violin virtually impossible due to their limitations and poor construction. All too often, students arrive to their first lesson having already purchased one of these instruments only to discover that it is not functional, and will need to be replaced with a real instrument in order to study violin.
The initial price tag of an instrument like this may seem alluring, but VSO’s are a cost liability to their owner. Because of their cheap construction, they are prone to damage. Most violin repair shops will refuse to repair this type of instrument, so the owner is left to buy a new one each time something goes wrong. Another red flag for these purchases is that they are often not returnable, because the retailer is not willing to guarantee the quality of the product.
If you are unsure, please contact me prior to purchasing a violin for yourself, your child or your loved one. In lieu of gifting a violin as a Christmas present, please consider a gift certificate to your local violin shop for rental or purchase.
For more about how to identify a VSO, please read this article, and again, please consider renting initially:
Please rent a violin from an accredited violin shop (RL Ray Violins or Applebaum Violins are two local options).
For Children: Your child must be present at the time of rental so they can be fitted for the appropriate sized instrument.
Violins are sized specifically for the age of the student, and a child who starts playing at 6 years old will generally go through five different sized violins before reaching the full size instrument. Children generally change violin sizes about once a year, sometimes faster.
Renting is the most economical option in this regard, as it is $25 a month and you are renting to own the instrument. You can switch out the instrument anytime as the student grows.
For Adults: Most adults use a “full” sized violin. The violin shop can help select an instrument and shoulder rest to fit your body.
Individualized lesson programs are offered on the following schedule*:
30 minute lesson: $35 ( Weekly, for children ages 7 to 10 years old)
45 minute lesson: $45 ( Weekly, for adults and children ages 11 and older)
60 minute lesson: $60 (Weekly, for adults and children over age 12, or Twice Monthly for adults)
*Ocassional Drop-in Lessons are available, space permitting, for Adults who have a minimum of 3 years of violin experience. One-hour lessons only.
Group Classes and Summer Camps
Beginning Group Classes for Adults (ages 16 and older) are offered periodically in Olympia, WA. The class meets once weekly for a month and is a great introduction to the instrument. For more information, and to register for an upcoming course: click here
Kids' Fiddle Jam: occurs monthly and is open to chidren who are enrolled in private lessons at my studio. This monthly session is a time for students to practice playing music together as an ensemble, and to refine the skills learned in private lessons.
Olympia Kids' Fiddle Camp: A week-long event in August for children ages 6-13 of all levels to experience fiddle music from around the world. Co-directed with Deb Collins, please visit the camp website for more information
Please contact me for rates and availability
Live Music for Private Events
I am available to play for weddings and other events, and would love to customize a musical program for you. Please contact me for a quote.