Frequently Asked Questions About My Violin/Fiddle Lessons

What are your fees/availability? I'd be happy to discuss my current fees and availability with you directly via email.

Where are you located? I teach in my home studio in North Central Austin, Texas near Highland Mall. I don't travel or teach online. I'm old-fashioned that way.

How long are your lessons? One hour. Show moreBecause I teach adults, I've found that anything less doesn't offer enough time to answer questions adequately and actually get to play and experience the concepts we're working on.Hide

How often do you recommend I come for lessons? I schedule lessons one month at a time Show moreat the end of the each month, but I don't require a minimum number of lessons per month. Most students usually come once a week. And for the first few months, I highly recommend that for regular feedback and creating a good foundation. I do have a very strict payment/cancellation policy that we usually discuss in depth at the first lesson, though.Hide

Why don't you teach kids? Well, I actually have taught a few kids. But I've specialized in teaching adults Show morebecause it was a niche I felt comfortable with and there wound up being a need. There are tons of teachers out there for kids and not as many for beginning adults.Hide

Is it too late or am I too old to start? Probably not. I've taught folks from about age 8 to somewhere in their 70's. Show moreIt is always possible that you could have a physical limitation or other impairment that could keep you from playing the instrument, but that doesn't have anything to do with age. If you start now, you could be playing soon. If you don't, then you won't.Hide

What is your teaching method? After teaching for about 20 years now, I've wound up creating my own amalgam approach that isn't based in any one methodology. Show moreI've studied with and learned from some amazing teachers and players over the years and have tried to bring what I've learned from them and other experiences to teach everyone in the best way I can teach them. What I do is a bit of a middle ground between Classical and Folk fiddle styles that will give you a fantastic basic foundation for whatever you wind up choosing to pursue. I also do try my best to tailor my teaching to your own personal style of learning, but it can take a few lessons to start to figure out what that means for each student. I do have a few overall priorities that I usually like to focus on, though, since I specifically teach adult beginners:

Learning to play in tune
Learning to use the whole bow and get a good tone as soon as possible
Learning to do things to avoid injuries (ie. repetitive stress)
Applied, not just learning theory, but playing it on the instrument
Learning to read music AND play by ear
Trying to have as much fun with the instrument as possibleHide

Are you a Suzuki Certified teacher? No, I have no affiliation with the Suzuki program. There are several local area teachers that are, though,and I'd be happy to point you in their direction.

Can I record audio/video of my lessons? Absolutely. I encourage as many ways to help you remember what we cover as possible. Show moreMany students use their phones to let me take pictures of them with the instrument, record me playing tunes, or for some of the great cheap tuner apps out there. Just please don't distribute them without my permission.Hide

How long can I expect to take lessons before I get 'good' or 'acceptable'? There's really no answer for that, unfortunately. Everyone is different. Show moreEveryone's expectations are different. Everyone learns at their own pace. Everyone has their own unique challenges. I can say that you'll probably be surprised initially that you won't sound as horrible as you might fear. And that the more you're able and willing to play (and the more bold risks you're willing to take), the sooner you'll start to feel more solid and comfortable. It's usually helpful to focus on enjoying the process of learning and exploring this new skill with joy and wonder.Hide

Where can I buy a good starter violin? I usually suggest to my students that rental is the best way to start (in case you find it isn't what you want to do after all.) Show more It's also important to find a 'friendly' instrument to learn to play on. Often, you need to spend much more than you'd think to purchase something that won't make playing more difficult (and therefore less motivating.) Buying an instrument should be an investment in your future as a musician. Personally, it's not about brands for me. It's about finding an old fiddle with character that suits you once you know how to play and what kind of music you enjoy playing. That's why buying up-front isn't to rent for a while, learn how to play some, then invest in an instrument that works well for you. I'm happy to suggest local rental options. We usually discuss this at the first lesson. Hide

Do I need to know how to read music or have previous musical experience? No. I can teach you how to read music and/or learn more traditionally by ear. I usually do both with most students. But, any prior musical knowledge is usually helpful.

I'm left-handed. Will you teach me how to play that way? While I have had students who have come to me playing their instrument left-handed, Show moreI've decided over the years that there are many reasons this is detrimental to their overall musical experience. So, if you choose me as your teacher, I'll teach you how to play it the way the majority of folks out there do.Hide

Do you teach other instruments? Nope, I'm 'just' a violin/fiddle teacher. I haven't ever learned to play the viola, cello, or bass (and I can just barely play the guitar.)

Can I buy a Gift Certificate for my spouse/friend? Sure, it's a lovely idea for a gift. Show more My primary concern with gift certificates, usually, is whether or not my schedule would mesh with the recipient's. I only have so many weekly slots and I often don't have just the right schedule for everyone. So, contact me and we can discuss my general availability to see if you think it would work. Also, keep in mind that there are a few other purchases that will usually be needed after the first lesson, in case that makes a difference for the recipient.Hide

And now for the BIG one....what's the difference between the fiddle and the violin? The most common question I get! Show more And there are so many different answers (many of them that are meant to be entertaining, of course.) The basic answer is, it's the same instrument. But what you play on it and how you play it might determine what you'd call it. There are historical linguistic reasons for the two words, too (look it up on Wikipedia.) And sometimes, people make alterations to their fiddles that Classical violinists would never consider doing (ie. flatter bridges, metal geared pegs, built-in pick-ups, etc.) But basically, they are interchangeable and you can call it whatever you'd like.Hide