Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to some of the frequently asked questions that parents or potential students ask me when enquiring about lessons.
If your question isn’t answered here, please feel free to contact me. I will do my best to answer it as quickly as possible.
"My son/daughter wants to learn an instrument. Should we start with the piano or violin?"
I get this question a lot. The answer lies in a case by case basis depending on a lot of factors. For example:- how old the child is and their fine motor skills, what kind of musical ability they’ve displayed so far etc.
If the student is still quite young (age 5 or younger), I often encourage a student to start with the piano first and take up the violin a little later.
The skills a child learns playing the piano prepares and accustoms them to the discipline. It also gives them the fine motor skills required. On top of that, it also trains the child to hear the musical tones and intervals they need to learn the violin where correct intonation is harder to achieve.
"My child is 6 years old and a beginner. He's really into sports so we aren't sure if he'll stick with the piano yet but we'd like him to be able to play. Can you help us decide whether we should buy an acoustic piano or an electric keyboard?"
An acoustic piano is always by far the best and preferred choice over a keyboard. Sometimes parents are understandably hesitant to invest in a piano right away. In these cases my suggestion for young beginners (if purchasing or renting a piano isn’t an option) is to initially purchase a quality full-size electric keyboard or digital piano with weighted keys and pedals.
The digital piano is preferable over the keyboard. It comes closer to the feel and sound of an acoustic piano. It is therefore better for developing musical expression and avoiding bad technique habits that are difficult to break.
However, after about 6-12 months, investing in an acoustic piano or high quality digital piano is essential for progress to continue. This also helps me provide the best quality education for your child.
In my experience, students and parents often find that playing the piano quickly becomes such an enjoyable and rewarding activity for the whole family that investing in a piano is a natural and logical next step.
The discipline and coordination a child learns through playing piano are also necessary and valuable skills for sporting activities, so the two compliment one another.
"How do I know which size violin to buy for my child before starting lessons?"
I am always happy to help size up a child for his or her violin. If your child is younger than 9-10 years, it’s likely that you will need to rent a violin until s/he needs a 3/4 or 4/4 (full size) violin. The violin size needed will change as your child grows up.
Violin shops offer programs allowing students to change violin sizes at no extra cost. They also allow you to apply the rental fee towards the purchase of a violin down the road.
"What kind of curriculum do you follow and which method books do you utilize?"
I use a variety of method books depending on the age and skill level of the child. These are not limited to the following:-
For piano, ‘Wunderkeys Piano‘ is a great program that I teach for 3-5 year. This is taught either individually or in a group setting. ‘Piano Adventures by Leonard” and “Music for Little Mozarts’ are other good programs I use for ages 4-6.
After kindergarten I use a combination of Alfred, Leonard and Aaron method books together with a large variety of classical to modern repertoire and studies. Adult piano students use specialized books.
For violin, from around age 6 I utilize a combination of ‘All for Strings ‘, ‘Strictly Strings’ and ‘String Builder’ among others. Preschoolers ages 3-5 use a combination of curricula that I have taken from various method books. I incorporate these into a program that I have designed myself over the years.
While there isn’t a written curriculum, I cover the areas highlighted below throughout the year. They are designed to teach students a broad range of skills that lay the foundation for a lifetime of musical enjoyment.
- Performance and musicianship skills
- Music vocabulary & Terminology
- Rhythmic awareness and Pulse Development
- Sight-playing skills
- Keyboard and Violin awareness and Technical Skills
- Applied written Theory skills Aural (Listening) skills
- Historical Literacy and Music Appreciation
"Is there a extra charge for books, recitals or competitions/exams, or is this included in the price of tuition?"
Tuition does not include other expenses. Students must purchase their own books and sheet music which I order as needed.
On occasion I will lend out materials from my personal music library to supplement the student’s repertoire. However, it is best for students to have their own copies. This allows them to annotate the music, and they can keep it to play for their enjoyment later.
Competition and exam fees are the responsibility of each student. The fee for these varies, but there is a significant discount by way of my national and state teacher association memberships.
I also usually hold 2-3 formal recitals during the year which the students are required to participate in. To help cover the cost of these, there is a $20 recital fee per student, or $35 fee per family.
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