Over the years I have found that students from 6 to 60 look forward to their lessons and learning when they enjoy the music!

That may seem obvious, but there’s a lot of “method” material (some very entrenched in our society) that is lacking in both a truly musical or technically nourishing process. You may be happy to learn that just emphasizing repetition is not the magic formula to becoming a musician!

The students who don’t want to put down their instruments are the ones who have a satisfying connection with the music and are allowed to be creative within a musical structure. This is far more enjoyable than learning lines or phrases with an emphasis on just rote practice. Repetition will happen - when there's motivation!

So...since practice time is essential, how can a teacher help a student look forward to it - and stay doing it longer?

I have sought both music and methods that capture hearts, while allowing for me to train a solid muscle memory.  One wonderful method I have used for over 25 years in my studio has been the VIP Rainbow Tones series. The color books and beautiful CD accompaniments have been a great choice for the new beginner of any age, full of variety and skill building.  

I am now also using Mark O’Connor’s Method for Strings to the studio for its emphasis on creativity within structure, and because it teaches so much through a genre that needs a bigger “voice” in our country – American Classical Music! It complements the Rainbow Tones series beautifully and expands the outlet for a student’s creativity. Players should be encouraged to express their own voice very early on, along with having the tools to do so, and this is emphasized from the very first little fiddle piece.

And everyone LOVES fiddle music! Frankly I have found no better question that will light up a player's eyes then "hey, wanna learn a fiddle tune?" Every classical bit of training they will need can be started right there, and "Boil 'em Cabbage Down" gets them on that track from the beginning. As a participant in Irish music sessions in the Portland area, it's a given that Irish/Scottish traditional tunes are learned here also, plus understanding some of the style differences. I am currently preparing a workshop geared towards classically trained string players who wish to play Trad, while not sounding quite so Baroque!

But the emphasis both in these books and in my studio, is to encourage a well rounded approach to playing the violin with solid early technique and - most importantly - a lifelong love of music. Students will discover their own path in that journey if we let them.