How to Start a Music Studio: Part 1

My amazing mother!

As a violin teacher, one of my goals is to pass on my love of music to the next generation. My biggest inspiration, as both violin teacher and performer, is my own mother, Allison. Growing up, she taught my sisters and me how to play the instrument. When we were older, she taught us how to teach. Now that several of us have private studios of our own, she is our go-to person for all pedagogical questions!

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of spending the week with her, so I took the opportunity to gather some of her studio tips that I find helpful. I hope you will as well!

Ashley R. : How did you begin teaching violin?

Allison P. : I started after college graduation and after marrying my husband, Stacy. I was performing with the Wichita Symphony, but I considered it important to begin my teaching career as well. It was an excellent way to make a little extra income as a recent college graduate.

AR: What is the first song you teach your students?

AP: I begin with “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star and Variations” from the Suzuki Method. The song emphasizes the basic technique of how to bow on the string. We don’t even start with the left hand. Instead, we work on right hand bowing. I also use Mr. Frosty for my youngest students. In this short piece, the students use pizzicato to pluck each of the four strings. Another song I enjoy for young players is Saw See, See Saw to practice changing strings.

AR: How do you set up recitals and performing opportunities for your studio?

AP: I think performing opportunities are very important. Why practice if you don’t get to share your music? It’s great for the students to learn how to stand up in front of a crowd and to deal with nerves. I try to do at least three recitals a year in my home. Growing up, my mother, an accordionist and pianist, would conduct piano recitals in our house. We had a platform stage with a piano, and then a lower area for guests. When I began my studio, I tried to replicate the cozy feel of the home recital. I also take my students to senior homes and other venues to provide additional performances. My older students participate in contests, so it is important they perform their solos multiple times before playing in front of a judge.

Adapted from my original post, February 7, 2020

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