lessons make you smarter? Read about the "Mozart Effect."
are the lessons and with how much frequency?
Can the lessons be in my
Are the lessons
private, group or classroom-style?
How long will it take to
learn the violin / my first song?
What's a good age to
start? OR Is it too late to start or continue?
equipment does one need to start?
where can I acquire an instrument and supplies?
there performance opportunities?
What about Suzuki / Is
reading music important?
do you mean by a 'system' or 'school' of violin playing?
" The Mozart Effect "
A growing body of research is showing that early exposure to music
enhances a child's brain development, improving everything form math to
language skills. A study at the University of California at Irvine, for
example, indicates that early childhood music study improves spatial
reasoning. Children in the study who had taken music lessons dramatically
improved their ability to draw geometric figures, copy patterns of colored
blocks and work mazes. Furthermore, they showed a 46 percent increase in their
spatial IQ, which is important to higher brain functions such as mathematics.
There is conclusive evidence that youngsters who have studied music for four
or more years through high school fare significantly better on the SAT than
their peers. Students with a musical background score 51 points higher on the
verbal part of the SAT and 39 points higher on the math portion than students
with no musical training. Merely listening to music may have a beneficial
effect. A study at the University of California at Irvine suggested that
listening to music might somehow enhance the brain's ability to perform
abstract operations immediately afterward. The study found that college
students who listened to Mozart's Piano Sonata K448 for 10 minutes scored
eight points higher on a special IQ test than those who did not listen to it.
The phenomenon has come to be known as the "Mozart Effect," although the
researchers suspect that listening to any complex musical piece would produce
"South Florida Parenting" - January 1997
"Math and Logic"
At UC Irvine, Gordon Shaw suspected
that all higher-order thinking is characterized by similar patterns of neuron
firing. After eight months (of music lessons), the researchers found, the
children 'dramatically improved in spatial reasoning,' compared with children
given no music lessons, as shown in their ability to work mazes, draw
geometric figures and copy patterns of two-color blocks. Shaw suspects that
when children exercise cortical neurons by listening to classical music, they
are also strengthening circuits used for mathematics. Music, says the UC team,
'excites the inherent brain patterns and enhances in complex reasoning tasks.'
The Musical Brain
|What we know: String Players have a large area of their sensory cortex
dedicated to the fingering digits on their left hand.|
|What we can do
about it: Sing songs with children. Play structured, melodic music. If a
child shows any musical aptitude or interest, get an instrument into her
"Newsweek" - February 19, 1996
Lessons are 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or an hour long.
There is much involved in just the preparation of the instrument prior to
playing. Tightening the bow, applying rosin to the hair, installing the
shoulder rest (a device that aids in holding the violin properly), tuning the
violin, etc. All these activities make a difference in the final product of
excellent playing. I give my students complete details and assistance in this
preparation. Then, of course, is the actual study and mastery of technique and
interpretation; all facets of violin playing must be refined. Violin
playing is a fine art; it requires a proper amount of lesson time.
Most students require one lesson per week. I have
discovered, however, that beginners profit greatly from two lessons per week,
half an hour each lesson.
It's akin to learning to ride a bicycle; the more chances at success
that are provided, the sooner one will succeed.
Yes. I can drive to the following areas: Fresno, Clovis, Kerman, Madera, Woodward Park.
There is an added fee for lessons at the locations more than 5
miles from our home to cover time and travel.
I teach private, group and classroom style lessons. In small group
and classroom-style lessons, there is less time to correct bad habits of all the
students. All students are different. However, in semi-private
groups, there is the opportunity to work on duets, and become proficient at
playing with others.
Most students can learn a simple song by rote in about thirty
minutes. They can generally learn to play a song from reading music by
the second month. However, to reach one's potential as a violinist
a few years, depending on the talent and practice habits of the
individual. Violin playing is a big world. There is much information to
and much to master physically as there are many things going on beneath the
surface. We hear beautiful music but the violinist is actually
many actions and thought processes at once. For example, when reading and
playing a piece of music, the violinist is carrying out the following mental
and physical processes:
Playing the correct notes including correct string and finger
Playing the notes in tune. This includes position (how high up on the
instrument to place the left hand) and interval (whether fingers are placed
touching or apart).
Playing the notes for the correct duration (rhythm)
Playing the correct style; each composer is interpreted differently
depending on what period of music history he lived. (I teach all
styles/interpretation of music.)
Correct volume of the music (Dynamics)
Correct direction of the bow
Correct pressure of the bow
Correct bow speed
Playing the note in context of the melody (the level of importance of
that note in the musical phrase)
Interacting with other musicians
Being sensitive to the conductor (his/her role is to unify the orchestra
in a common direction)
I recommend that students begin at age 5. I do have students younger
than 5 and am always willing to try a few lessons to see if a child
progresses. If a child is talented and/or mature, it is often possible
to begin early. I use a different teaching style for the very young that
incorporates a variety of activities.
It is never too late to begin, or continue what was started in the past.
There is much cognitive information and discipline that is required to play
the violin and adults usually have the advantage in these areas.
Violin: Must be of correct size (full-size, 7/8, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4 etc. exist)
for children under 10. Check with the seller/renter. Must have four
fine-tuners (small devices that allow one to tune the strings with precision).
Cost, $200 and up.
Bow: Fiberglass is OK but the hair must be horsehair. Cost, $50 and up.
Shoulder rest: A device that allows one to hold the violin properly
and with correct posture. I recommend the KUN shoulder rest. It must be
the correct size for the instrument. Example: a 1/2 size violin requires a
shoulder rest that will fit a 1/2 size violin. Cost, $15 - $30.
Case: used to protect the violin and bow. Cost, $50 and up.
Humidifier: Used to tell if the violin is safe to play, or is to dry
and close to damage. $8
Rosin: A tree sap product that makes bow hair sticky and makes string
vibrate. Cost, about $2.50 - $5.
Cleaning Cloth: Any soft cloth will do; for cleaning rosin dust off of the
Music Bag: A bag to hold your music, shoulder rest, and other
things that can't fit in your violin case. $10
Stand: For holding up music. Cost, $15 and up.
Electronic Tuner: For tuning the strings; vital time saver for beginners.
Must be a chromatic tuner. A chromatic tuner is able to tune all the notes, not just the instrument's four tuning notes. Cost,
about $40 - $240.
Electronic Metronome: A device that produces a 'beat' that the musician
can follow. Excellent in the development of accurate rhythm. Cost, $40 and up.
Extra set of strings: In case one breaks, there will be an instant
replacement. For students, I recommend Thomastik Dominant brand. If violin is
smaller than full-size, make sure strings are the correct size for the
violin. Cost, $30 and up.
There are two options; renting or buying an instrument.
We rent violins. If you want to know if violin-playing is for you, this is a
good way to go. If you use a local renter, I highly recommend that you inform the renter that you
must approve the instrument with your violin teacher prior to renting.
This will insure that you get a violin that is in good condition.
One can spend from $200 to $2,000,000 on an
instrument. The advantage is that one can usually get a better
instrument. When one purchases, however, it is often necessary to buy a
bow and case separately. For beginners, I recommend purchasing a "kit." A kit
usually includes a violin, case, bow and sometimes rosin and tuning pipes.
They may begin at about $250 and go up to $3000. When purchasing, I
highly recommend that you inform the seller that you must approve the
instrument with the violin teacher prior to your purchase. This will insure
that you get a violin in good condition.
We carry all supplies one will need for violin
lessons. Also, local music stores will either have items in
stock or can order them for you. I recommend using mail-order houses
such as Shar 1-800-248-7427 or Southwestern Strings 1-800-528-3430.
At the very least one can order a catalog and compare prices.
The Suzuki Method incorporates
rote into the study of violin. This rote
method makes it difficult for violin students to multitask (perform more than
one activity at once) when they eventually are required to read music.
Imagine that you teach a child to recite a rhyme from memory while holding
the text in front of them. If you then present that same child with a book
that uses the same words as the rhyme, he/she will not be able to read the
text. This is because they cannot read; it is an illusion. The same applies to
music making. Imagine if students in a school could not read. The
teacher would have to teach everything by memory and there would be very
little material covered. The same is true for music making. It is well worth
the time investment at the start of a child's musical development to teach
Suzuki students may sometimes play a song sooner but in the long term tend
to fall behind. Students who are taught to read at the onset acquire the
correct mental processes that allow them to progress quickly once they become
Parents often want quick results but should understand the importance of
reading the music that is played. Reading music frees the student to
play any music that they desire. It creates a sense of independence that
inspires confidence and success.
A School of violin playing is a
combination of two elements; the method (technique) of how one plays the
instrument and the overall philosophy of making music. The secret to a good
school is consistency; using the same method (technique) every time. When a
musical situation arises, one is then able to focus on the style/interpretation
of the music and not be hindered by insecure or indecisive technique.
Violin is an ancient art form and much can and must be learned from the past.