Music Lessons

Imagine sound— beautiful sound— echoing through the hall(s) of your home. Imagine being able to express your emotions with dolce minor full of overdone vibrato when feeling confused melancholy or hard martelé when you want to show how strongly you feel about something. Imagine impressing your little brother or sister (though he or she would hardly admit to being impressed) with how fantastically you can play that current popular song. You could do that— everyone could do it— if only you learn how.

I began playing music 22 years ago, began studying music 19 years ago, and am going into my 14th year of teaching this 2018. I specialize in the violin primarily but did consider the piano and voice as my other major instruments at certain points and studied them appropriately.

If you are interested in violin lessons, piano lessons, lesser-known-instrument lessons, or would simply like to inquire about something, please contact me with the age and playing level of the possible student and the instrument the student would like to take lessons in.

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I know what to do at the piano: I put my fingers on the keys, right? Do I need music lessons for that?
Do not forget to curve your fingers!

What instruments can I take lessons in?

In 2018 and 2019, I instructed in the violin, piano, voice, cello, and harp. In 2017, I instructed in the violin, piano, voice, harp, and flute. In 2016, I gave at least one lesson on the violin, piano, voice, guzheng, erhu, and drum kit. In 2004, I only taught the violin and piano.

Obviously, the violin and piano are my primary instruments. I do play a variety of other instruments but do not specialize in them, other than voice, and I specialize in opera singing, and the harp, for folk harp only. I am willing to help students get started on my non-primary instruments if they cannot find any specialist in a reasonable distance or if it is more convenient because a sibling already takes lessons with me, but please be aware that I will be unable to accompany you to the highest level of playing if it is not the violin. I do think that it is best if you can find a specialist to study your chosen instrument with from the beginning.

A rather pretty Lyon and Healy Prelude by a less impressive piano in a room at a teaching studio where I give music lessons.
Out at a studio, the harps have to be regulated before being played, too.

What happens in the music lessons?

In a typical lesson, I begin with scales and/or exercises, because I believe that a solid grasp of individual small concepts form a solid foundation for stringing together all the ideas for performance pieces. Etudes may follow as a longer, more advanced and interesting version of the basic exercises. Finally, we work on performance pieces, or “repertoire”. Anything done during the lesson is something that should be considered when practicing.

For beginners, music lessons are slightly different. The exercises are simple bowing or fingering exercises. The time an older student might use for etudes are spent on posture, which is one of the more difficult things to unlearn if one establishes bad habits. We may also put down the violin at times and spend a little time clapping rhythms, reading rhythms out loud (ta, ti-ti), or singing the melodies. We focus on producing pleasant and interesting sounds with our instrument first while learning to read notes, so some songs may be taught by ear.

I expect the student to practice a minimum of 15 minutes a day, regardless of their level of expertise. For a 4-year-old beginner, this might be broken up into 3 chunks of 5 minutes each. An 8-year-old should be able to only break it into two chunks or do it all in one sitting, and a teenager should be able to do it in one sitting. Other than for the very young, a student should be practicing every day for at least the same amount of time as the length of their weekly lesson to improve.

Lesson Details

Music lessons are held in Pittstown near Clinton, New Jersey. I am in the 08867 zip code and I am conveniently located about two minutes off of I-78.

Lessons are 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or 1 hour long. The length of the weekly lesson needed depends on the student’s maturity, attention span, and current playing level. Beginners only need 1/2 hour; beginners tend to benefit from a longer lesson only in the sense that someone is watching their practicing.

I teach and have taught both children and adults. I have taught children as young as 4 years old (both violin and piano) with mixed success. In my experience, success at that age has been very correlated with significant parental involvement (as in the parent sitting in on the lesson and/or being involved with practice at home) and the child’s own interest in playing the instrument. I strongly recommend that the parent consistently sit in on the lesson when the child is 3-5 years old so that they know what the student is learning and can help remind the student of what to do when they are at home.

I also offer live video lessons through Skype, but my preference is for in-person lessons. I prefer not to give video lessons to beginners because of the difficulty of correcting posture through video chat.

Music Lesson Rates are:

$25 per half hour
$50 per hour

There is a $10 travel charge per lesson if you wish me to travel to your home.

Students pay by cash or check at the time of the lesson.

The “My Students are Awesome” Part

My students have auditioned into the New Jersey State Youth Orchestra. One of my former students (as in, I literally only taught her for 1 1/2 years beginning from when she was about 6 years old) is currently attending the Moscow Conservatory. I have a 9-year-old who plays only for fun but plays fabulously through all styles of classical music and has almost perfect intonation.

However, anything my students have achieved or could potentially achieve is because of their own efforts primarily. The key to their success is discipline powered by motivation. I try to motivate students to learn and I try to teach self-discipline, but the students need to be willing to accept it. My successful students put in the effort to practice sufficiently between lessons. They listened to my criticisms of their technique and applied the advice on corrections. They came to lessons willing to listen and ready to learn.

I mean, I could say that my students’ achievements are because I am practically perfect in every way and give great guidance in my music lessons. However, I believe, perhaps because I was once one of those so-called child prodigies a long time ago when age had not yet graced my brow and have experienced everywhere from average to truly great teachers, that these particular students could have done just as well, if in different ways, studying with any other teacher with similar knowledge, resources, and experience. I believe that a student’s success is created by some combination of the student’s own self-discipline and ability to stay motivated, the teacher’s ability to adapt to the student and offer guidance accordingly, and the parents’ support.

I may have students who do me credit, but it is more to themselves the credit is due.