Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Pop & Movie Music Recital – Live Video

Monday, December 5th, 2016

What a great recital we had today! Here is the live video from Facebook for you to view as well as a group photo of the performers. More pictures coming soon!!

Congratulations to all my students on an excellent recital performance today!!! I’m so proud of you guys and had so much fun making music with you.

Thanks to everyone that helped make today’s recital a great success!!

Photo Credit: Roselynn Photography15327377_10212008583389214_4244013746035167528_n

Pop & Movie Music Recital

Friday, December 2nd, 2016


Pop & Movie Music Recital – Sunday December 4th at 2:30PM

Join us for our Fall Studio Recital: Pops and Movie Music. Sunday Dec 4th at 2:30PM, Bethany Baptist Church in Salem OR

This Event will also be LIVE on Facebook!

Selections include, A Thousand Years, Fur Elise, Star Wars, Chariots of Fire, and Coldplays “Viva la Vida” played as a string quartet!

Come enjoy a relaxed afternoon of music, cookies and cocoa. These students have worked hard to prepare this music to share with you.

Violin Lesson 7 – Third Finger Notes

Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

I know, you’ve already been playing with your fingers on the strings in your Five Note Scales! But now we are adding them to our note reading and using them in our songs. By adding these 2 third finger notes, we will have 6 notes to use in arranging/composing songs!

Keep practicing your Five Note Scale Exercises! They will continue to be helpful in establishing a great hand frame foundation. To be honest, we never stop practicing hand frame! I still focus on hand frame in my own practicing. This week we are going to get a little more creative and include Rhythm Scale Practice with our hand frame exercises. The rhythm will be done with the bow, you will still finger the Five Note Scale in the same order. Keep those flashcards going too!

Take note of the Time Signature I will include on your sheet music this week. Remember that the top number represents how many counts are in each measure, the bottom number tells what type of note receives one beat. Today I’m going to be teaching you about Key Signatures.

Answer Keys for Lesson 6

How did you like the worksheets for Lesson 6? If you need more practice with Note Spelling, just print the worksheets off a couple times for repetition. I mixed the notes up pretty well so this really should give you an excellent start! Here is the answer key so you can check you work:

Crossword Answer Key

Note Spelling Answer Key

Fingers on the Strings

Okay! You ready for some more interesting songs this week!? Now that we have all 4 open strings PLUS our 2 third finger notes on the strings, we are going to be able to play a lot more interesting music. Get ready to practice! As things get more complex, a little more time commitment is sure to be demanded. BUT, it will be more enjoyable, I promise! I’ll try to go easy on the rhythm this week, and add that in the mix next week. After all, we still have to learn about sixteenth notes!

We have already played these third finger notes within our Five Note Scales, but now we are really going to adopt them as our own, learning their location on the staff very precisely, and hopefully naming them off on a flashcard very quickly and easily. I really want you to wrap your mind around these new notes as we add them.

First we will add the third finger on the A – String = D. Here is a visual for all the fingers on the A – String in relation to their home on the music staff.

Fingers on the A String

Next we will also be using the third finger on the D – String = G. Here is a visual for all the fingers on the D – String in relation to their home on the music staff.

Fingers on the D String

Just as you checked your intonation of fourth finger with the open string to the right, now you can check your third finger intonation with the open string below, to the left. Time to really establish muscle memory for these third finger notes! Hopefully hand frame muscle memory is already kicking in for you which will make this so much easier.

Sixteenth Notes

“Not another note value!”, you say. Well, yes. Yes, actually there is another note value. A few more to come actually. But hopefully they are all starting to make sense together. Most beginners are a bit intimidated by sixteenth notes, but there is no reason to be! These are not fast notes, unless you are playing a fast song, which we don’t need to do right now. As long as you are playing a slow-medium tempo, sixteenth notes aren’t that fast at all.

The sixteenth note is a black dot with a stem and TWO flags/tails

Sixteenth Note Flashcard

As you probably figured, a Sixteenth Note is half the value of an Eighth Note. So a sixteenth note receives 1/4 of a count. This means that 4 sixteenth notes fit inside of a quarter note. Also, 2 sixteenth notes fit inside of an eighth note.

Sharps & Flats, Accidentals

Accidentals. Why are they called that!? I have no idea. No, they didn’t accidentally put these notes in the music. What are they? Now that I do know. Accidentals include sharp (#), flat (b), and natural signs. They change the pitch of the note to a higher, lower, or natural pitch.

  1. The Sharp (#) is not a hash tag. You might have to re train your thinking on this matter! 🙂 When you see a # sign in front of a note, it raises that note by 1/2 step. On the violin, this is a width of about 1/2 inch. This is why you see 2nd finger (C# and F#), in the diagrams above, close to 3rd finger and more space between the other notes.
  2. The Flat looks like a lowercase b and lowers the note by 1/2 step.
  3. Then we have the natural sign which cancels out a sharp or a flat and moves the note back to it’s natural pitch.

Accidentals Flashcard

Key Signatures

Rather than putting accidentals all over your sheet music, we use something called Key Signatures. You could think of these much like a family’s last name. The notes within a Key Signature are all related to each other, they go together. You will find the key signature on each line of music, unlike the time signature which only appears on the first line of the music.

Worksheets and Music

Now for the fun stuff! I made a couple songs for you to play using all the open strings, plus our third finger notes. COMING SOON: You can find the sheet music below, and the play along video on my YouTube Channel.

I’m taking the next two weeks off from teaching private lessons and plan to FINISH THIS ONLINE COURSE!!! If you are following, please comment to encourage me! 🙂 Summer isn’t over just yet, and this is a summer course, so let’s finish this up while it’s still Summer!

Violin Lesson 6 – Five Note Scale

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

My apologies for taking so long to get this lesson blog posted for you! I have accepted a side job that has taken some extra time learning the hoops. Let’s see if we can get back on track here! In this lesson we are going to learn how to play the Five Note Scale on all 4 strings!!

4th Finger Muscle Memory

You’ve been practicing bringing your hand up to the violin, setting up all your fingers using the baby wave, and then checking the intonation of 4th finger with the open string to the right. I hope you are establishing great muscle memory habits as you practice this!


We are getting quite a little collection of flashcards! Keep reviewing them regularly. If we are able to build concept upon concept, hopefully nothing will feel overwhelming. We are moving through a lot of material in just 10 weeks time. My hope is that by the end of the course, you will be able to play some simple melodies.

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Review Test Answer Key

How did you like the halfway review test? Did it challenge you? Was there anything you didn’t know the answer to? Let me know in the comments. Here is the answer key.

Answer Key

Hand Frame to Five Note Scale

Oh this is exciting! Now you are going to practice playing with all 4 fingers on each string!! We have gone over the names of these notes a few times, and how to walk up and down the staff to figure out the names of the notes. It is not super important to know their names as you play them this week, but I would definitely start practicing them. The more you familiarize yourself with naming the notes now, the easier it will be to read sheet music for a tune when we get there in a couple weeks. That is why I have created a couple worksheets to help you learn to read the note names.

This is part of the reason I am getting behind with posting these lessons weekly! I am writing all of this material as we go and as we build, I have more and more content to create. 🙂 So please be patient! This is the first time I have created a course, and the first time I’ve tried to create this type of content; flashcards, sheet music, worksheets, and quizzes. That is part of the reason this course is free! 🙂 We are learning together.

So, with your left hand frame set, go ahead and play the Five Note Scale down the A-String. 4E, 3D, 2C#, 1B, 0A. Keep your fingers hovering just above the strings as you life them off!! This is such an important habit to develop!! You should maintain the hand frame shape as you play. If you can do this well, you shouldn’t struggle too much with intonation.

I’ve put together a sheet of music for the Five Note Scale Exercises on all 4 strings. You will notice that they always go from top (4th finger) to bottom (open string). I did this on purpose as it will help you establish good technique and posture in the left hand. Please DO NOT walk back up the scale YET. 🙂 We will get there, but I want to teach your muscles some good habits first.

Eighth Notes and Eighth Rests

Time for one more note value! The eighth note. You should notice there is a mathematical pattern the note values follow. The whole note is the longest, 4 counts. Cut that in half and we have the half note, 2 counts. Then in half again we find the quarter note, 1 count. Now we are going to cut the quarter note in half and find the eighth note, ½ count. Here is a flashcard visual of the music math for you.

Eighth Note Math

Time Signatures

You will find the time signature on the left hand side of your music, right beside the treble clef. These guys can seem confusing at first but it is important to understand what they mean.

The top number specifies how many counts/beats are in each measure. The bottom number defines what type of note receives one count/beat. Let’s take 4/4 time signature, the most common, for our example.

Top 4 = four counts/beats in each measure

Bottom 4 = quarter note receives one count/beat.

So there are 4 quarter notes, or the equivalent, in each measure. Now let’s use a more complex time signature such as 3/2.

Top 3 = 3 counts/beats in each measure

Bottom 2 = the half note gets ONE count/beat.

So there are 3 half notes, or the equivalent, in each measure.


Alright! That pretty much covers it for Lesson 6!! I’m excited to move into the next few lessons! They will be a lot of work, but we get to dive into some exciting things!!

I’ve created several worksheets for you this week. I hope you enjoy the variety, let me know what you enjoy most about these worksheets!

Five Note Scale Exercises

Note Spelling Worksheet

Crossword Music Puzzle – Lesson 6


Violin Lesson 5 – Left Hand Frame

Saturday, July 30th, 2016

We’ve made it halfway through the 10 week summer course!! Just 5 more weeks and we will be playing simple melodies. Today I’m teaching you to play with fingers on the string for the first time! That means we need to talk about left hand frame. Find the video of Lesson 5 here: Summer Violin Lesson 5 – Left Hand Frame

Note Values

First a quick review of some things we’ve already learned. By now you should know quarter notes, half notes, and whole notes. I gave you some sheet music to practice with all the note values mixed up. The duet part I arranged for Auld Lang Syne also included these different note values.

Combining Swinging the Elbow with Hand Frame

So you’ve taken the first step to a good left hand frame in lesson 4, beginning with your hand relaxed at your side, waving from the largest knuckle of your fingers as you carefully bring your hand/arm up to the level of the violin. You’ve also been practicing rotating your shoulder joint to move your hand the distance from the G-string to the E-string. Now that you have spent some time concentrating on teaching your muscles these movements, you are ready for the next step.

Violin Left Hand Frame

FullSizeRenderThis week I want you to practice slipping your hand under the neck, pull your left elbow in to push your fingers beyond the G-string. All the while, continue the waving motion to encourage a soft and relaxed hand frame.

Now, think of your fingers as an accordion fan. Reaching forward with the index finger, back with the pinky, fan your fingers out gently. (Remember, keep waving!) Slowly tap, tap, tap your fingers over onto the G-string until they are in position. Spacing as shown in the photos:

  • Nut to index finger – about 1 inch
  • Index to middle finger – about 1 inch
  • Middle and ring finger are Best Friends! – about 1/2 inch
  • Ring and pinky finger – about 1 inch.

The idea here is that the little finger, our weakest finger, should be the most comfortable. Our index finger, much stronger, is the one that should be doing the reaching, if there is any reaching needed.

Let’s think for a moment about the names of the notes that would be on the G-string. All the notes in music are named after the first 7 letters of the Alphabet. Therefore music goes forward and backward, up and down the music staff, following this pattern: A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A. I want to point out that A always follows G to start over again with those letter names. So with our open string being G, the fingered notes are as follows: 1A, 2B, 3C, 4D. Hey! Look at that; the 4th finger on the G-string is the same note as the Open String to the right. This makes it very easy to know if we are pressing 4th finger down in tune.

Extra tip: You can also use a Tuner to check your intonation. This is very helpful in tuning your violin as well. This is the one that I use: Tuner/Metronome

Left Hand Frame Spacing

Front view of finger spacing

This week, I’d like you to try to place your hand, using our hand frame approach, on each of the four strings, drawing sound with your bow while 4th finger (and all the others too!) is pressed down. Check your intonation with the string to the right each time. Try to establish muscle memory for the location of the 4th finger notes. Next week, we will try playing the other fingers as well! How exciting, more and more notes each week! You really playing music on your violin now!

Learning about Rests in music

It is time to learn the Rests that coordinate with the Note Values we have already learned. This weeks sheet music will include the note values and rests together.

The quarter rest (1 count) reminds me of a lightning bolt. Or even Bolt himself! 🙂 I actually have a piano student who brings Bolt with her everywhere! He comes to every lesson, and the recitals too. Rabbit trail I know, but I bet you won’t forget what a quarter rest looks like. 😉

Half rests (2 counts) and whole rests (4 counts) can be confusing, they are a mirror image of each other. I think of the half rest as a black top hat. It sits above the line because it is light, only 2 counts. The whole rest is upside down, hanging below the line because it is heavy, 4 counts. That is how I have always remembered which one is which.

Here are some more Flashcards to add to your little collection: Lesson 5 Rests Flashcards

Reading the Treble Clef, Space Notes and Line Notes

As mentioned above, the music letter names are derived from the first 7 letters of the Alphabet: A B C D E F G A B C D E F G, etc. So it is easy to walk up and down the staff as if it were a ladder, or stair steps, in order to discover the name of a specific note on the staff. There are also a couple tricks to help us remember the names of the notes in Treble Clef.

Treble Space Notes

The Space Notes, from bottom to top, spell the word face.

Treble Clef Line Notes - Lesson 5

The Line Notes, from bottom to top, are the first letter of each word in the following phrase: Every Good Boy Does Fine.

Simple Tunes to Practice Rhythm

I’ve put together some sheet music for you to practice this week. I didn’t have time to make a practice video with backup music yet as I need to start working on Lesson 6. I will add this at a later time. For now, here is the music for an arrangement I made of Au Clair de la Lune, as well as some exercises I wrote for you. Enjoy and please let me know how you liked these in the comments!

Au Clair de la Lune – Open String Duet Part, Teacher melody part.

Red light_Green light Rhythms – Rests and Note Values, all mixed up.

Request a tune of your choice for a future lesson by commenting with the title below!

Halfway Review Test

Congratulations on making it to the halfway mark in the course! I am excited to be halfway done creating the course and I hope you are proud of your accomplishment as well!

It is time for some serious review. How much of these music facts and details have you retained? Let’s find out! I put together a simple review survey for you to test your music knowledge.


Create your own user feedback survey

Summer Violin Lesson 2 – Rocking the Bow

Tuesday, July 5th, 2016

Lesson 2 – Rocking the Bow!

Hope you enjoyed spending a bit of quality time with your violin last week! You should be feeling more comfortable handling your instrument by now.

Violin Lesson 2 – Rocking the Bow! just went live on YouTube. Head on over to the channel and check it out. If you watch closely, you’ll even get to see my kitty, Macchiato in the background. 🙂

Lesson 2


  1. You can still turn in your Lesson 1 worksheet by email or just check your work with the Answer Key.

  2. Keep practicing “Bird Landing on Shoulder” to establish excellent posture habits!

  3. How is the Rocket Ship bow hold game working for you? We will learn a new bow game next week!

Bowing on Open Strings

Bowing Open Strings

Now that you are familiar with the different parts of the violin, bow, and how to hold them, let’s play! The first step is to learn how to produce a nice solid tone from each of your open strings. I’m guessing you’ve probably gotten curious and already tried to pull the bow across those strings. Did you like how it sounded!? Most people envision cat fights, chalkboards, and the like when they first try to get a nice sound out of their violin. Be patient with yourself! Put some time in with these exercises I’m going to give you and you will be sounding great!

Exercise 1:

Give me a nice full bow stroke, starting from the frog and traveling to the very tip/point of the bow. Practice bowing in front of a mirror as it is very natural to bow in a bit of a U shape. Ideally, the bow will travel parallel, in between the bridge and the fingerboard. Repeat these bow strokes 10x daily on each of the open strings.

Airplane Wing

Have you noticed the bow bumping the other strings while you’re playing? Learning the angle of each string will help you produce a clean tone on each individual string. This is a muscle memory exercise, pause on each string for a second and memorize how it feels.

Exercise 2:

Much like an airplane flying through the sky, tilt your arm to a new angle for each string. You will notice the G – String is much higher than you would expect (watch that Right shoulder though, it should stay down and relaxed). The E – String is pretty relaxed, your arm almost hangs at your side as it normally would.

Sustain Bow

Bow control is key to playing the violin well. At this point, bowing probably still feels pretty awkward to you. That’s okay! But we want to get you comfortable and confident sooner rather than later. Depending on how much weight (from your arm, hand, shoulder) you rest into the string, you may get scratches and crunching sounds from the strings. Finding the right balance of weight/support, heavy/light bow is what makes a clean bow stroke.

Challenge: See if you can keep a solid tone from frog to tip, sustaining the bow for 30 seconds.

Open String Notes on the Staff

Reading the Open Strings on the Staff

Many people are very intimidated by learning to read sheet music. Honestly, all it takes is a bit of memorizing, repetition, and diligence. I have taught many people to read music efficiently in one month’s time. The music staff is made up of just 7 letters of the alphabet, repeated in a stairstep sequence. For now, we will just learn the location of the Violin Open Strings on the treble clef staff.

  • The music staff is made up of 5 lines and 4 spaces.

  • The Treble Clef (or G – Clef) is similar in shape to the letter S.

  • Ledger Lines are a way of extending of the staff, much like an extension ladder.

There are several music clefs, but we will just be learning the Treble Clef staff because the Violin is a Treble Clef instrument. Does this still sound intimidating? 🙂 5 lines, 4 spaces, ledger lines, one clef, 7 letters of the alphabet? Let me know in the comments if this still sounds intimidating to you. If so, I’d love to know why!

Here are the Flashcards for the open string notes: Open Strings Flashcards Lesson 2 Worksheet

Spring Studio Recital 2016

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Fantastic job to all the students who participated in the Spring 2016 Studio Recital on May 22nd! Everyone did so well. So much hard work went into this event, many accomplishments to be proud of. Thanks to all who attended, encouraged practice, and helped out with the recital. Many hands were involved to help make this recital special.

Please check out the studio Facebook page or YouTube channel for more photos/videos of the recital.

Big thank you to Roselynn Photography for the photos.

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Preparing for the First Music Lesson

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016

5Oh my goodness! So exciting!!! You’ve found the right teacher and signed up to begin music lessons! What an incredible journey you’ve already begun. Being well prepared will show the teacher just how commited you are to this new endeavor.
What to take with you to your lesson

Show respect for learning by thinking ahead. Take some time to go over those notes you quickly jotted down while you were talking with the teacher. Anything specific they mentioned you should bring along with you? Here are some suggestions to get you started, depending on your situation.

  • If you are beginning from ground zero, bring the following:
    • Cheerful Attitude
    • Instrument and accessories (Shoulder rest, rosin, extra strings, metronome, tuner, etc.)
    • Notebook
    • Anything the teacher specified, including payment
  • Beginning instrument for the first time but you have other musical background:
    • Bring the music you have worked through, show your musical foundation to your new teacher.
    • Instrument and accessories (Shoulder rest, rosin, extra strings, metronome, tuner, etc.)
    • Notebook
    • Anything the teacher specified, including payment
  • Resuming lessons after taking a break from the same instrument:
    • Bring music to show your musical foundation
    • Prepare a binder of music you would love to play in the future, even if it is far beyond your level. This will show the teacher what direction your musical goals are pointing.
    • Instrument and accessories (Shoulder rest, rosin, extra strings, metronome, tuner, etc.)
    • Notebook
    • Anything the teacher specified, including payment
    • Be open minded and ready to accept new ideas of posture and technique!

What to expect from the teacher

If you have never met before, the teacher will be trying to learn you as a new student. Be patient! There are a lot of technical and (sorry – I hate to say it) political details to deal with at that first lesson. Most teachers do their best to stick to business, cover the basics, and get down to teaching. They want to send you home with something inspiring to practice during the week. They may hand you a few papers to read through at home in regards to policies and operations of the studio. Please be sure to read these and ask questions if need be.

Your teacher will need to examine your instrument to be sure it is in good working order. A violin will need to be tuned, which can take a terrible amount of time if it is not well maintained! If you want to be prepared in this area, take your instrument to your local music store prior to the lesson and have them look it over. Take care of any maintenance issues they suggest.

If you are resuming lessons, your playing level and musical understanding will determine what music books would be best for you. Your teacker may have you play several selections, from scales to pieces, to try to get a feel for your musicality.

First music lessonWhat might be expected of the student?

A beautiful attitude, eagerness to learn, a listening ear, and respect for the teacher! That just about sums it up! 🙂 Be prepared by bringing all the materials listed above. You may be asked to sight read, or copy cat the teacher on a couple basic ideas. You will likely be pushed out of your comfort zone, as that is how we grow, so be prepared for that.

What might be expected of the parent?

Parent involvement is so important in children’s music lessons! I love for parents to sit through the lessons and actually take notes so they can help their child practice at home. Even if they are just there to listen, it is important for them to know what is expected of the student during the week. Sometimes it works great for Mom or Dad to learn right alongside the student. (I don’t reccomend group lessons, each individual should have their own private lesson) Children learn very well by watching those around them. They will want to practice when they see you practicing.

During the lesson, the parent should do their best to sit and listen, without offering much input. The teacher has to learn how to work/interact with your child and it might take some time and patience from all sides.

What questions should you ask?

Be sure to understand everything the teacher has assigned for practicing. If they wrote the assignment down for you, be sure you can read their writing and understand what their notes mean. This is how you will know what is expected of you at the next lesson! Also, be sure to read and understand any studio documents given to you.


Dream Instrument or Piano First?

Monday, February 15th, 2016

Or Piano First

A question I am asked over and over again by parents. “Should I let my child start out on their instrument of choice or is it best to begin with piano lessons for a solid musical foundation?”

My answer vaires depending on the age, personality, and instrument preference. Piano does indeed provide an excellent music background. A year or two of piano lessons under your belt will make learning a 2nd instrument easier by leaps and bounds. Music theory is built on the piano keyboard, taught from a piano perspective. This is highly due to the fact that the piano is an effective visual aid in understanding musical concepts.

A young child with a short attention span is rewarded with success very quickly on the piano. They are able to begin playing tunes they recognize, such as Twinkle Twinkle, Mary Had a Little Lamb, and Lightly Row within the first month of lessons. The simplicity of the piano allows a student to sound good just as soon as they are able to get their fingers in the right place and press the keys in a certain order.

When learning a stringed instrument, it takes a bit of extra attention to posture and technique before a student is going to pull a strikingly beautiful tone from their instrument. Brass and woodwind instruments present a similar challenge due to embouchure, and air flow. Most students are ready for full size instruments when they have reached 5th grade. Music stores offer instrument rental programs and trade in policies to accomadate a short term need for smaller instruments for younger students.

Enthusiasm is something I love to take advantage of as a teacher! When a child has a sincere desire to play the violin, it is worth it to them to endure a little extra “pain” to achieve their dream. This helps us get over that initial hump, getting through the nitty-gritty mechanics of the violin.

We would all love for our child or student to be the next blooming prodigy. Starting at a young age, with a good teacher and parental support is essential for a student to meet their full potential. Let’s not pressure them and force our dreams on them though. Rather, let’s expose them to opportunities, with guidance, and let them blossom into the beautiful person they were created to be. If your child is a little older, maybe 8 yrs or older, I say let them pick their instrument. They are mature enough to have the patience to accomplish a more difficult instrument and they will appreciate the freedom to make this choice based of their personal taste.

In conclusion, my simple answer to this question is this: If it were my child, I would start them off with piano lessons around age 4 or 5 for early musical development. As they grew older I would encourage them to pursue a 2nd instrument of choice. Personally, I would keep my child in music until they were at least 12 years old. By then, a mature decision can be made in regards to continuing music. “I wish I never had music lessons!!” said no adult I know, ever!

Protected: Violin Method Book – Step 1

Friday, February 12th, 2016

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