Ready to get started with lessons?
1. Please read all the information below- the FAQ's will give more information about lesson content.
2. Read the "Obtaining a Violin" section for rental information to select the correct instrument for yourself or your child.
3. Once you have an instrument in playing condition and are ready to schedule a lesson, please include your availabilty for lessons in your email.
Thank you so much for your interest, I look forward to hearing from you!
Lessons- Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is the difference between a "violin" and a "fiddle"? What is best for a beginning student to learn? In regards to the physical instrument, there is no difference. "Fiddle" can be used as a nickname for violin, or to denote a particular style of music played on the violin (Irish Fiddle, Bluegrass Fiddle) as opposed to classical music. I consider myself a "fiddle" teacher and player, in the sense that I play and teach fiddle music. When a student is first learning to play, the approach of a classical violin teacher and a fiddle teacher may be very similar; the foundation and techniques required to play the violin are essential and compulsory before specializing in a particular style. For children, I primarily use the Mark O' Connor Method during the first two years. This curriculum is analogous to the Suzuki Method used by classical teachers for beginning students, which also uses folk music to introduce fundamentals of classical violin playing.
*For beginning students enrolled in school orchestra programs, our lessons will focus on learning the pieces assigned by the student's orchestra teacher, as well as improving sight- reading and music theory skills.
2. When and where are lessons offered? All lessons are taught at my studio in West Olympia, near the West Olympia Food Co-op. General hours for lessons are Mondays- Wednesdays with start times from 10am to 7pm. Saturdays are offered twice monthly for adult students depending on interest level. Please specify your availability within this time frame in your intial email.
3. Can I come meet you before starting lessons to see if you will be a good match for me or my child?
The first lesson is a chance for us to determine if I am the right teacher for you or your child. If either of us feel this is not the case, I am happy to make a referral to a more appropriate activity or another teacher. In this case, the lesson will be charged at the drop-in fee of $35 for 30 minutes (children) or $60 for an hour (adults).
I do not offer complimentary “meet and greets”. I feel that the best way to determine if my lessons are right for you or your child is to take a lesson. As such, the student must rent a violin prior to the first lesson to be able to get an accurate feel for lessons. Please see the “Renting a Violin” section below to select the appropriate sized instrument for the student.
4. A) I found a student violin at a garage sale/ on Craigslist or Amazon/ at Goodwill
B) My friend gave me a violin
C) I inherited a violin from a family member
...will this work for lessons?
Unfortunately it is unlikely. Please read the “Obtaining a Violin” section below before scheduling lessons or purchasing a violin.
5. I’ve always wanted to play the Viola. Can you teach me?
Sadly, no. I don’t know how to play the viola. Viola and violin are related, but it is best to receive instruction directly from a viola instructor. Many violists play violin as well, if you would like to study both instruments. Please contact RL Violin Shop for a Viola teacher referral.
6. Is it ok for me to sit-in on my child’s lessons?
Yes! An adult is required to attend lessons for students under 10 years old, and welcome to attend after that. Parents are an integral part of their child’s music education. Observing lessons will help you understand how to best help your child practice.
7. My child and I are both interested in learning violin- can you teach us together? My two chldren are both interested in learning violin- can you teach them together? My partner and I are both interested in learning violin- can you teach us together? I do not teach multiple children or children and adults together in a combined lesson format. The reason for this that I find adults and children of different ages (especially young ones) learn at dramatically different speeds and require different areas of focus that are best served in separate instructional periods. However, parents who observe their child’s lessons often find they are able to pick up enough information to begin playing themselves.
For Adults, I offer a group class each summer at the Olympia Center. It is a great way to start out with fiddle in a supportive environment.
8. My 5 year old child is really interested in violin and loves music. Would you consider teaching them? I only accept students in the age groups designated on this website. There are a variety of resources designed for younger children, both for violin and music in general. Before starting instrumental lessons of any kind, I would strongly recommend a general music class, like "Music Together." Classes are a great way for children to garner a musical foundation, and for them to practice the listening and concentration skills required for instrumental study. If the child is specifically interested in violin, "Suzuki" violin teachers start children as young as 3 years old. A violin shop can provide a referral. Regardless of the method of instruction, it should be taken into consideration that children are not developmentally able to practice on their own until they are at least 10 years old. Until they reach this age, constant parental involvement both at lessons and in home practice will be necessary for the child's success.
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. If you already have a violin, please take it to an accredited violin shop prior to scheduling your first lesson. If the shop deems that it is not in playing condition, or it is not possible to make the repairs, a rental instrument will be necessary in order to begin lessons.
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.
Monthly Tuition for 2019-20 School Year:
Ages 8-11: (Weekly 30 minute lessons, plus 4 lessons for use during summer):
Ages 12 + : (Weekly 45 minute lessons, plus 2 lessons for use during summer):
45 minute lesson: $45/ lesson ( Weekly)
60 minute lesson: $65/ lesson (Weekly or Twice Monthly )
*Ocassional Drop-in Lessons are available, space permitting, for Adults who have a minimum of 3 years of violin experience. One-hour lessons only.
*Beginning Group Classes for Adults (ages 16 and older) are offered summer quarter only 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
Jam Sessions and Summer Camps
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.
Fiddle and Art Camp: A week-long event each summer for children ages 7-13 of to explore string folk music and art. Co-directed with Hilary Morris, 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.