Frequently Asked Questions

What ages do you teach?

All students are considered on an individual basis, regardless of age.

Do you teach fiddle?

If by "fiddle" you mean the violin, yes. A violin and a fiddle are one in the same. However, if you meant bluegrass, swing, Irish, Scottish or any other indigenous folk music, no. Sorry. Maybe someday I'll get brave and delve into blues, rock or disco, though. They're a little more to my taste. (Don't look at me like that. Disco had some rockin' violin parts.)

What styles of violin playing do you teach?

I teach Western classical violin and viola.

What methods do you teach?

Like most teachers, I teach my own "method," using other people's books to get the point across. I am first and foremost a Suzuki practitioner. However, I use whatever works for the student. I have also found the Royal Conservatory and Essential Elements 2000 series practical and easy to use.

How much are lessons?

Lessons are $48 per clock hour. So, one 45-min. lesson = $36.

Monthly invoice, 45-min. lessons: 4 lessons x $36 = $144.

What do I need to do to prepare for the first lesson?

If you already play, be ready to play something. Make a list of questions or problems you're trying to solve. The list can be general or specific, but you should have some idea of where you need to start and where you want to go.

If you are a beginner, bring your instrument and we'll start working on preparatory stuff. If your child is a Suzuki pre-twinkler, I'll let you know what to bring.

What kind of equipment do I need for webcam lessons?

You'll need a computer, a webcam and and a reliable high-speed internet connection (cable, DSL, T1 or higher). Beyond that, it's up to you as to what kind of "experience" you want to have. I'd be happy to talk with you further via the contact link at the top of the page.

What do I need to buy?

Beginners will need: small stickers, a pencil with a pocket clip, the requested rep book and CD (Suzuki revised volume 1, violin or viola, or Essential Elements 2000 book 1), and a 3-ring notebook.

Transfer students will need: a 3-ring notebook, current rep book, scale and/or etude books as assigned.

Other necessary items for practicing and maintenance include: good rosin, a tuning fork or chromatic tuner (or metronome tuner combo), a soft cloth for cleaning the instrument after practice, pencils, erasers, a music stand (for readers), extra strings.

Recommended e-tailers can be found at the Recommended Links above.

How long will my lesson be?

Most private lessons are 45 minutes long.

I also offer 60-minute splits (twice-weekly 30-minute lessons). I highly recommend these for beginners.

Weekly lessons of shorter durations are offered only to students registered through a school account.

How do I sign up?

Please check the Studio Calendar to make sure the lesson time you would like is available. Please read the Studio Policies. Then email me using the contact link above to receive a registration form. You will be billed for the advance deposit via PayPal and your first lesson will be scheduled on receipt of payment.

How do I pay for lessons?

All billing and payments are processed through PayPal. Local students also have the option of paying by cash or personal check, but PayPal is preferred.

For all new students, a deposit of one-half your first month's lesson fee is required to confirm your time. The deposit must be paid a minimum of 7 days prior to the first lesson. A second invoice will be sent for the balance.

What is the cancellation policy?

If you have to cancel a lesson: I appreciate a minimum of 24 hours, when possible, for illness. There are no refunds for missed lessons. All other reasons should be taken care of as soon as you know about it. New students may not reschedule the first lesson unless the required deposit has been paid.

If I have to cancel a lesson: In twenty years, I've had to cancel lessons maybe three times. In the unlikely event that I would need to cancel yours, I'll contact you via phone or email as soon as I know.

In cases of Des Moines metro school cancellations, I am home and will teach anyone who shows up. Let safety be your guide, however. Remote and school webcam cancellations will be based on the student's district policy.

Students are allowed one make-up lesson per semester at no additional charge (since you've already paid for it). Fall and Spring make-up weeks are built in to the studio calendar. Make-ups are "use it or lose it" lessons, and are only valid for the semester in which they occur. Regular lessons are not held during make-up weeks. Please click the calendar link above for this year's dates.

How much do I have to practice?

As much as it takes to do it well.

Practicing is generally considered to be essential to progress. However, no one can force you to do it. Either you will or you won't. There isn't much middle ground.

In my experience, the students who make the most progress and have the best understanding of the material practice diligently, specifically, thoroughly, and every day. Generally, for beginners to the end of Suzuki Vol. 2, this means a minimum of 45 minutes daily of of actually playing the instrument, plus at least the same amount devoted to listening. This means 90 minutes a day. Yeah, it's a lot of time, so make it count. But there is hope...keep reading!

Perhaps the worst thing you can do is underbudget your time. Spend the time now, doing things correctly and you'll spend less time later fixing mistakes. Your time is an investment in the future: careful, correct time management will ensure that you'll learn more and learn it faster. Be organized and know what you want to work on before you start. And don't let yourself get tired or frustrated.

I've been playing since 1975 and teaching since 1993. I often wish I had two, three or four hours a day to devote to practicing! Seriously. For me, 45 minutes is merely a decent warm up! But alas, life usually has other ideas and the warm up often receives exactly 2 minutes on my practice schedule, in fairness to the 45 other rehearsal spots that also need attention that day.

What works for me? Most of my practicing, whether it is solo or orchestral music, is done in chunks of 15 minutes or less. I use a timer to remind me to stop; if I don't, my powers of concentration will take over and the next time I look at the clock, an hour will have passed and I will be accidentally and embarrassingly late for something. There is no rule that says you must do 90 minutes of practice in one sitting without a breaK. Most teachers and professional musicians, as well as sports medicine doctors and physical therapists recommend smaller intervals -- usually no longer than 20-30 minutes -- interspersed with frequent breaks for stretching and resting. Beginners can start with two-minute (or one-minute, or 30-second) intervals. I do a lot of two- and three-minute intervals because they are incredibly efficient. You are not only a musician, but also an athlete! You must be willing to train like one!

A few last things you might find helpful: make a schedule and stick to it. Be specific about things to work on so you aren't tempted to waste time playing stuff you don't really need to work on. Figure as many things out away from the instrument as possible. Listen to as many different recordings as you can find. Research your piece on the Web -- know more about your piece than your teacher does!

Part of my job is to help you create a practice schedule that works for you. If you need help, just ask.