Frequently Asked Questions
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. I also strongly believe that learning to read music is an important skill for all musicians, and work with my students consistently on reading in the foundational years. After the student has developed a solid foundation, the approach of a fiddle teacher and a classical teacher look different. Fiddle teachers like myself focus on teaching traditional fiddle music and the different genres in this style (Celtic, Old-Time, Klezmer). In contrast to classical music which is primarily learned by reading music, we often learn pieces by ear and from recordings or videos, in addition to studying the written music.
*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.
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.
It's not too late to learn to play! While violin is a technically- difficult instrument, there are many people who learn to play as an adult, and it is not necessary to have a musical background. While it is true that children are "sponges", there are many advantages to being an adult learner, and many musical skills that adults learn quicker than children.
Unfortunately it is unlikely. Please read the “Obtaining a Violin” section below before scheduling lessons or purchasing a violin.
I do not teach multiple children or children and adults together in a combined lesson format. Adults and children of different ages (especially young ones) learn at dramatically different speeds and require different areas of focus according to their developmental phase 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.
I prioritize children over 8 years old for lessons. However, I am willing to consider a younger student, pending availability and an introductory lesson. This lesson will help us to determine if violin is appropriate for the child at this time, and for the parent to get a sense of how they will need to support their student during the lesson. 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.
If the student is not yet ready for private lessons, 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.
Lessons are currently offered online via Zoom Conferencing, or in person with COVID precautions. Masks and vaccination are required for in person lessons. All in person lessons are at my studio in Northwest Olympia near the West Olympia Food Coop.
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 on the contact form.
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 “Obtaining a Violin” section to select the appropriate sized instrument for the student.
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.
All tuition rates are a flat-monthly amount. You pay the same amount each month, September-June (kids) or year round (adults), regardless of the amount of lessons there are in a given month.
These rates are calculated based on a pro-rated formula. For youth students, I count up the total amount of lesson days we have in the school year. ( I do not include school holidays or vacations in this number, as we do not have lessons on those days, so I do not charge for them) . I also add an extra 2 or 4 lessons (depending on the age and preference of the student) to the total number of lessons that you may use during the summer time.
(Example: If the school year starts on September 13, there are 39 lessons total in a school year, including the 4 summer lessons. Lessons are $36 (30 minutes) or $50(45 minutes) each. I multiple the rate times 39 and divide by 10 months (September-June) so that the rate is the same each month. In July and August, you may use your pre-paid summer lessons on a schedule of your choice. If you wish to come for more lessons than the amount you have pre-paid for, you can pay per lesson at the above rates.
Adult tuition rates are calculated using the same formula as above, but are based on a 12 month schedule. Adult students who wish to come on a more flexible schedule during the summer may do so.
*Please note- the rates listed on the website are an average- your rate may be a few dollars more of less each month, depending on the day of the week of your lesson (Mondays in general are slightly cheaper because there are more school holidays on Mondays, and therefore less lessons in a calendar year)