Starting to Teach Violin!

April 30, 2022, 9:11 AM · One of the things I've started taking on since the start of the year has been private teaching at a music school near where I live! I started teaching piano lessons in the neighborhood this past fall, and have continued those both around the neighborhood and at the music school this spring. However, in addition to piano, I have also started teaching the violin for the first time, and I thought I'd write a little about these first few weeks.

Currently, I have three violin students: one has just started, so I'm teaching the basics with the Essential Elements 2000 book - same one I used when I started! The other two are both in middle school, working out of Suzuki Book 2. I'm working on preparing them for a recital in a couple weeks given with groups of students.

So far, the things my teachers have told me I do well or need to work on have been my strengths and weaknesses when teaching. I've found the easiest thing to help my students correct is intonation, as I can start to catch them if they're drifting a bit flat and have them restart the measure to try and correct that. Intonation is always a tricky road, especially when they are still relying on the tapes and the tapes unstick and they haven't gotten them replaced yet, but with a lot of repetition and muscle memory, they start to get the hang of it.

The most difficult thing for me to teach is everything to do with the bow. When I first started private lessons, my teacher had to work to undo a habit I had built of moving my bow shoulder, causing the bow to skew towards the fingerboard at an angle. For my beginner student, just starting learning, I made it my goal to make sure they have a straight bow from the start, and so far I think I have succeeded in that. Trying to articulate (ha!) how they should do different articulations has been difficult as well. I think spending some more time on my own with a certain bow-stroke could help me work out the exact mechanics of it I could then pass along to my students. At the same time, because they are all so new to the instrument, I realize I don't necessarily have to push the same kinds of skills my teachers at college would expect. For now, I just want them to get a feel for it and to have fun, and we'll naturally build more skills as we go into higher levels.

I am excited to hear my students in this upcoming recital in May, even if it feels a bit rushed from my perspective - I haven't gotten to know them for a full semester! I think the fall-winter semester will go even better, as that will be my chance to spend several weeks working on other pieces and their skills before December. I think I'll have a lot more violin teaching experience under my belt to write on at that point, too!


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