Violin Teacher - Any tips on finding one?

March 27, 2017 at 11:22 PM · From my time lurking around this website I can't even say anymore how many times I've seen the words "get a teacher".

For all you violinist who started out as an adult and took lessons. How did you find your teacher? And what is a normal rate for lessons? I live in Toronto, Ontario by the way.

I looked in kjiji, craiglist and actual music schools. Would music schools be better than an individual offering violin lesons?

Also, as a beginner, would I be doing 30 minute, 45 minutes or 1 hour per lesson? And would this be a weekly thing or can be a bi-weekly thing?

You experiences would hopefully help me in figuring out how much money and time to a lot for lessons.

Thanks in advance!



March 28, 2017 at 12:02 AM · The first thing anyone on here is going to need to give you advice is to know how often you practice? Assuming you're a busy adult I'd probably guess that it isn't as much as you would like to.

March 28, 2017 at 12:10 AM · Best way to find a teacher is contact your local symphony orchestra, university music department, or local conservatory and ask for a teacher who has experience with adult beginners. Going rate here is $40 to $50 per hour. A beginner needs only 1/2 lesson weekly. Another option is to take lessons from a college or conservatory student music major; this should cost half what a pro would charge. Some adult beginners like to have a sample lesson with several teachers to see how their personalities click. Best of luck to you, Vicky!

March 28, 2017 at 01:22 AM · Contact Elise Stanley. She is a professor of neuroscience at the University of Toronto. She knows a few good violin teachers in that area, or can at least suggest who you might call next.

A one-hour lesson is pretty standard for an adult, even a beginner, unless you're limited by funds. Especially in an urban environment you don't want to drive an hour each way to have a half hour lesson. In your first few lessons there might be less playing, but more learning to hold the violin, talking about how to tune and care for your violin, discussing what your expectations are, that kind of thing.

I suggest you start by renting a violin.

Welcome to one of the grandest adventures on planet earth.

March 28, 2017 at 01:24 AM · Thanks for the tips Erin. I might have to look into that local orchestra and conservatory idea.

Bailey. I'd say I practice maybe an hour a day for 5-6 days a week. I normally do this when I get home from work and on weekends, except on days when I have evening plans. Not sure what that frequency translates to. How often do students who take the exams practice? I can imagine they practice long hours.

March 28, 2017 at 01:53 AM · If you do that, consider taking two 30-minute lessons a week instead of a one-hour lesson. More frequent feedback is useful.

March 28, 2017 at 02:02 AM · I could ask my own teacher (I live in Toronto).

He charges 80 an hour, but teaches so well that it is a bargain for the time you get (equal to 2-3 lessons with a 'regular' teacher). :)

I can also get you set up with a nice rental at a great price via my top luthier that lives a 15 minute walk from my house. :D

Pm if interested.

March 28, 2017 at 02:05 AM · For beginners, I'd say that 2 30-minute lessons a week is superior to a single 1-hour lesson.

This is because beginners are more likely to misinterpret information during the lesson and have it gradually get more blurry over the course of a week.

But if corrected every 3-4 days instead of every 7, they're able to correct the misinformation before it becomes a habit.

More advanced players need longer lessons because the density of information and the training regimen increases, so for a teacher to both listen to what the player has done over the week, assign etudes, scales, and sections, and then actually DEMONSTRATE how to do those correctly, often takes an hour and couldn't possibly be done in 30 minutes.

March 28, 2017 at 01:46 PM · I'm an adult beginner; welcome to the journey!

I take one-hour lessons weekly with a teacher who, I'd say, isn't necessarily professional, but for my level it's good enough and worth the (very) cheap price. (I found her on kijiji, by the way. Be careful, though.) Maybe when I'm more advanced, I'd switch to a teacher who is professional.

I don't think it's worth it, for adult beginners, to take two half-hour lessons every week. Then you spend 15 minutes reviewing from last lesson, and there's barely time to learn anything new. For a child, I can see the benefit; but for myself, I'd feel like it's a waste of time and money.

I once missed a lesson (and had two weeks in between), and for a change, I felt like I had the time to actually advance in what we had learned two weeks earlier.

March 28, 2017 at 01:56 PM · Having a couple lessons a week as opposed to one keeps you accountable G. A.

When I know I'm not going to have a lesson during a certain week I have a tendency to procrastinate my practice sessions.

March 28, 2017 at 02:29 PM · $70-$100 CAD/hr is not unusual in Toronto. RCM lessons are $105/hr from what I see (with ~50% going to the teacher from what I last heard).

RCM offers bi-weekly lessons, but that would depend on the teacher as well. Once a week is probably a good target for a busy adult, once every two weeks a practical necessity for some. Twice a week is unimaginable for many including myself.

March 28, 2017 at 02:59 PM · Thanks everyone for your suggestions and for sharing you experiences. I don't think I'm ready to shell out $70-$100 a lesson at this point in time. I did look at the RCM website (since my work is 5 minutes walking distance) but their fee is too high. I'll have to find something cheaper. I know the quality won't be the same but I don't think I would benefit much having a professional with lots of experience teaching me at this point.

I'm not really too into just "playing" during lessons. My sole reason is so I don't develop bad habits and learn to do things right from the start.

And the search continues!!!

March 28, 2017 at 05:52 PM · I think when Vicky referred to "music schools," this can include both universities and mommunity music schools. If you take lessons from a private teacher at home, you can negotiate times (e.g twice a week), but if you're taking lessons at a local community music school, you may only be limited to once a week with 30-minute, 45-minute and 1 hour options, but I could be wrong about that. Best thing to do is contact the school.

March 28, 2017 at 06:46 PM · Vicki, et al.,

My experience is quite old (over 40 years ago) I started with the phone book and called various teachers asking if they teach adults. I got passed from teacher to teacher till I finally found the one that I worked with till he died.

What I found most important was that he wanted to know what my goals were. That set us on the path that has led to where I am today - very satisfied with what I learned and not bothered by what I didn't do (particularly recitals and concertos). He also taught me that it is next to impossible to teach anyone who doesn't "really-really want" to play the instrument (apologies for the Spice Girls reference). He turned away a lot of potential students but had a cadre of us who still play to this day (most of them much younger than me and one eventually took over the community orchestra we played in back then). Some even went on to conservatories and professional jobs.

Be wary of the teacher that has a one-size-fits-all approach, particularly with adults.

Personally, I'd look to some of the community orchestras in your area because the musicians there are probably doing exactly what you want to do and know who is the best to bring you along.

March 28, 2017 at 08:02 PM · $70-$100/hour! Wow. It's amazing how high of a price some teachers charge.

Looking forward to becoming ya rich violin teacher in the future ;) (smirk) It won't take long to pay back for my affordable lessons that I have now!

March 28, 2017 at 08:49 PM · Agree with Anne B. Once you get serious about violin playing (which it sounds like you are, committing to practice an hour a day!)'s very important to have a qualified teacher who can teach you the proper way to play the violin. You don't want a teacher who fails to catch/ correct your bad habits - this will cost you in the long run (too much tension and pain to play, bad sound production, re-learning fundamentals, etc. etc.) The best teachers will be $$$ and won't always agree to teach adult beginners, but well worth it if you can find one and if violin playing is truly your passion. I often look for young soloists from within the area I live (those who've won violin competitions) and look at who they studied with. You won't do too bad with those teachers :)

March 29, 2017 at 12:34 AM · If you agree, I might be able to get my teacher down to 50-60/h. :)

March 29, 2017 at 12:48 AM · Vicky, I have a contact I can share with you -- a graduate music student and teaching assistant recommended by a violin professor at UofT. I'm not sure about availability, but you could find that out or perhaps other recommendations from this person. Contact me by email for details if you're interested.

March 30, 2017 at 12:16 PM · Thanks everyone for your offers. I guess wasn't really clear on what my location preference is. I actually live on the east side so I was focusing my search more on areas of Scarborough and Markham. I'm not discounting areas downtown close to the UofT but I' prefer something closer to home as that will be more convenient for me not to mention that I won't have to lug my violin case to work.

March 30, 2017 at 12:26 PM · G.A., the cost of lessons is dependent on the cost of living. What seems like a lot of money to you isn't necessarily a lot of money in a high COL area.

March 30, 2017 at 12:59 PM · To be fair, the rate of $50 to $100 a hour is reasonable. The training of a violinist starts at the age of 5. To get to a point where one can teach advance repertoire, she would have gone through a minimum of 15 years of intense training, most likely more!

March 30, 2017 at 02:48 PM · I wouldn't say she played for 15 years or more. There's lots of successful players who start at 7 or maybe even 10.

March 30, 2017 at 09:49 PM · I surely shouldn't mention how much I pay per hourly lesson :)

But on a serious note, I'm thankful I found my current teacher which works well for my current stage. I hope the OP and all others in search for a teacher find one that works out. Don't feel like you're stuck with one for life, though!

The training of a violinist starts at the age of 5. ... There's lots of successful players who start at 7 or maybe even 10. Now that's encouraging. Not that I'm planning on becoming professional, but still. Just good enough to play with other musicians and possibly teach some beginners.

April 2, 2017 at 02:30 PM · "I'm not discounting areas downtown close to the UofT but I' prefer something closer to home as that will be more convenient for me not to mention that I won't have to lug my violin case to work."

I wouldn't recommend getting an inexpensive and conveniently located teacher in a suburb as a general strategy for finding a good teacher. Of course those things matter, and have to be worked out to some extent. I'd suggest an ultralight case, even one which doesn't offer as good protection as a sturdy plywood one as an option to consider for teachers closer to your work, assuming you find one with an available time slot after your workday. Also, some teachers give lessons in multiple locations -- including their homes, which might happen to be convenient for you even when they have a formal studio downtown.

As you mentioned Scarborough, I suggest getting in touch with members of the Scarborough Philharmonic. They have a website and a concert coming up in May. They're accessible and should have some information for you.

I made a trek up to Markham during something of a snowstorm to hear Leila Josefowicz play (and of course it was worth it), so know there are music facilities and interest there, but that's the extent of my knowledge of the area.

April 2, 2017 at 05:11 PM · When I said "going rate here is $40 to $50 an hour" it must be remembered that I live in a relatively low cost-of-living area.

Google search turned up something called "Heritage Music Academy" in Markham, Ontario. And something called "Hanway Music" which supposedly offers lessons in Markham and Richmond Hill.

And there are teachers in your area through "Beethoven at Home."

People here are talking about weekly or twice-weekly lessons. But truly, if you can only afford a lesson every other week, then that's what you should do.

April 2, 2017 at 08:53 PM · Hi everyone. Thanks very much for your thoughts and suggestions. I believe I have found my teacher! I did a trial lesson yesterday with him yesterday and I liked the way he explained things. He's actually farther away from downtown. His studio is the opposite way from downtown so I can drive from home to his place. We were also able to work out the schedule so it's all good.

As to if his method will be effective for me in the long run there's no way to find out until I actually do a few lessons but so far for the trial lesson it was good for me.:)

April 2, 2017 at 09:14 PM · That's great! Good luck, enjoy, and don't forget to ask questions.

Just don't make deals with him. My teacher hates that :) It's part of the package that comes with accepting an adult beginner as your student.

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