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Ruth Kuefler

Recharging those batteries

July 24, 2009 at 11:42 PM

First off: some good news! We sold our house and are finally moving from Topeka to Lawrence! I've been commuting a good 30 minutes each way to school the past couple years, and starting in August, I'll be living just blocks away. So excited!


In other, slightly less thrilling news: this summer has been different for me. Instead of going to a summer music festival, I decided to stay home, take a little break, and save some money. I'm glad I did, because it has turned out to be a surprisingly productive summer.


The first thing I did was revamp my teaching studio. My students were needing a little boost staying motivated to practice, so I decided to try a summer reward system. I give them a chart each week where they record how much they practice each day, and whether they listen to their pieces. Based on how much they do, they can earn different prizes each week. I also  made charts, printed on colored paper, to hang in my studio. It has little boxes for all the pieces they are learning, and they get a sticker in each box as they complete a piece. I thought it would be helpful to show them in a visual way the progress they've made. Another thing I've been wanting to do for a while is repaint my teaching studio. I teach in a music store, and the paint job is a little miss-matched and in need of freshening. So next week, I'm put my handy-woman skills to good use. Wish me luck! :)


Another thing (which I'm still working on) is having plenty of fiddle tunes and other pieces on hand to supplement their Suzuki songs. I've been using this free online notation software called noteflight ( ) to write out fiddle tunes for my students. It's pretty easy to use once you learn the shortcuts, looks nice, and the price tag is sure nice. :) You can customize whether your music is publicly viewable. I have mine set so that if you sign up and search for "rkuefler" you should be able to find my pieces. Feel free to print anything you find useful.


I'd really like to get some new students in Lawrence this fall. I teach at a music store in Topeka, but in Lawrence I'll be teaching out of my home, so I need to think of creative ways to advertise. My dad helped me update my website, and I've made business cards and some posters. I've also tried listing my studio on places like One idea I had was emailing all music/orchestra teachers in the Lawrence public school district to send them my resume and let them know my studio has openings in case any of their students are interested in private lessons. Next week I'm also going to hang posters and talk to the local music stores. If you have any more tips for expanding a studio, please, let me know!


Lately I've done a good number of wedding gigs (one of the boons of taking up viola), but usually in other people's quartets, some of which have been a little disorganized. I'd like to be in charge of some of my own gigs, so in addition to updating my website, I requested to be listed on the gig referral list at my school. I'm also putting together my own gig books: 3 ring binders with all the sheet music in plastic protectors. I finally finished all the quartet parts, with the binders divided into classical, wedding, popular and holiday music. Now I'm working on a binder of just violin duets. I've copied selections out of the "Fun for 2 Violins" series, which has nice arrangements of classical pieces. I also found some horn duets on IMSLP which are pretty nice (some of them go below the violin's range, so you have to sort through them). I also plan on copying my Telemann Canonic Sonatas — fun, well-written duos which I have played for many a gig.


I'm glad I've had this summer to invest a little into my teaching and performing. These investments have taken some time and money, but they are just that: investments. I feel excited to begin the new school year recharged and all ready to go. :) Please, if you have any tips for my studio or gigging, let me know! I'm always grateful for the wisdom of my fellow v.commies. :)

From Andrew Paa
Posted on July 25, 2009 at 2:41 AM

Interesting, I've been working on creating a studio, but I never thought to email area public school teachers.  Since it's summer, I was told I probably wouldn't get many calls but it's been ZERO so far.  I'll have to try what you did.  It's good to real a blog from you again, I always enjoy them.

From E. Smith
Posted on July 25, 2009 at 3:00 AM

I also enjoy following your blogs! Good luck with your new studio space. Will your students from Topeka have to find a new teacher or will they be able to remain with you? 

From Ruth Kuefler
Posted on July 25, 2009 at 3:31 AM

No, I'll keep teaching in Topeka too. I've been at the same store for 4 years now, and will be in the area at least 3 more years as I finish my degree. I had a weird thought the other day, that if I keep the same students, they'll all be teenagers by then! Crazy! :)

From Royce Faina
Posted on July 25, 2009 at 2:23 PM

You mentioned emailing the teachers/musicians or sending a resume..... I maybe a lil'old fassion and if email is acceptable go for it, but a snail mail resume with a cover letter would catch my attention if I were a teacher.  And if possible personal contact, meet with them if you could!  It takes time, but to call thgem/leave a message, see when they have 5 minuets and meet them personaly.

I wish you success! ;) And I hope that something here proves usefull.

Kind Regards,


From Corwin Slack
Posted on July 25, 2009 at 10:05 PM

 I realize that I "am not in Kansas anymore" when someone reports that they sold a home to avoid a 30 minute commute. 

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on July 26, 2009 at 8:27 PM

I'm glad you're having such a productive summer.  I've tried calling area school teachers, posting signs at local community centers, libraries, and even in laundry rooms at my condo complex.  I designed some brochures of the right size to fit in violin cases and crowded bulletin boards and had them printed at Kinko's on bright yellow paper.  I put my business card on bulletin boards of local music stores.  None of this worked.  The only thing that worked was registering on  I'd say the market is probably different in the Washington DC area from what it's like in Kansas.  Good luck with all your new endeavors.

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