Sarasota Violin Academy

Frequently Asked Questions

Sarasota Violin Academy Click on any of the questions below to jump straight to that question / topic.

How long are the lessons?
Can the lessons be in my home?
Are the lessons private, semi-private or classroom style?
How long will it take to learn the violin / my first song?
What equipment will I need to get started?
Additional Recommended Equipment
What books do I need to start? (for beginners)
How and where do I acquire an instrument and supplies?
Will I / my child have performance opportunities?
What's a good age to start? Is it too late to begin or continue?
What about the Suzuki Method? Is reading music important?
What is a School of Violin-Playing?
Other Helpful Links

Frequently Asked Questions Prior to Taking Lessons

How long are the lessons?
Lessons can be 30 min., 45min., or 1 hour. For young students (ages 3-6) just beginning, I like to start with two 30 min. lessons a week. For students 7 and up, I recommend a 45 minute or 1 hour lesson. Advanced students should consider two, 1 hour lessons a week. This provides ample time for building strong technique and repertoire.

Can the lessons be in my home?
No. By teaching in one place, it opens the opportunity for more students to take lessons.

Are the lessons private, semi-private or classroom style?
I will be teaching private lessons in the beginning. I plan to add group lessons, master classes and a summer music theory camp in the future. However, all students must be enrolled in private lessons to take part in the other activities offered by my studio, except for Music Theory activities. In private lessons, students get personal attention that encourages them to do their best.

How long will it take to learn the violin / my first song?
Most students can learn a simple song by rote in about thirty minutes. They can generally learn to read music beginning in the third month.

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What equipment will I need to get started?

Violin
There are different sizes of violins: full-size, 7/8, 3/4, 1/2, 1/4, etc. I can help you determine what size violin you will need or a seller/renter should be able to help you.

  • The violin must have four fine-tuners (small devices that allow one to tune the strings with precision). You can buy or rent an instrument.

Bow
Nicer bows are made of wood and suggested for older or advanced students. For beginners or younger students I suggest a fiberglass bow to start. They are basically unbreakable. A bow should be included with a violin rental.

Shoulder rest (recommended)
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 KUN shoulder rest that will fit a 1/2 size violin. Shoulder rests usually help in holding the violin.

Case
Should be included with a violin rental. If not, the cost can be as little as $50 and go up to about $1,000.00 and up!

Rosin
Rosin is a tree sap product that we put on the bow to make the hair sticky thus producing sound. Cost, about $5.

Stand
A music stand is helpful because it is adjustable and can put the music at the proper height for students. Cost, $15 and up.

Cleaning Cloth
Any soft cloth will do. This is used to clean the rosin dust off of the instrument and bow.

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Additional Recommended Equipment

Electronic Tuner (recommended)
To help tune the strings and teach the student when a note is in tune. You will want a chromatic tuner. A tuner is more beneficial than a pitch pipe. Cost, $20 - $240. I recommend the Korg Chromatic Tuner.

Electronic Metronome (recommended)
A device that produces a 'beat' that the musician can follow. Excellent in the development of accurate rhythm. Cost, $40 and up. I recommend the Korg Digital Metronome. There are metronome/tuner combinations for $30 and up.

1 complete extra set of strings
In case a string breaks, there will be an instant replacement. For students, I recommend the Thomastik Dominant brand. If a violin is smaller than full-size, make sure and buy strings that are the size of the violin. Cost, $30 and up.

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What books do I need to start? (for beginners)

A spiral notebook (1 subject fullsize)
All For Strings Violin Book 1
Suzuki Violin Book 1
Suzuki Violin CD 1 (or Tape)

How and where do I acquire an instrument and supplies?

There are two options: renting or buying an instrument.

Renting
You will need to call a local instrument dealer/music store and ask about rental. If you want to know if violin playing is for you, this is a good way to go. I recommend that you inform the renter that you must have the instrument approved by your violin teacher prior to renting. This will insure that you get a violin that is in good condition.

Local stores are:

Sam Ash, (941) 351-7793, 7606 N. Tamiami Trl., Sarasota, FL 34243
Fogts Music Inc, (941) 957-1288, 4209 S. Tamiami Trl., Sarasota, FL 34231

Buying
You can contact a local instrument dealer/music store or look online. One can spend from $50 to $2,000,000 on an instrument. The advantage of buying is typically you will get a better instrument for the price. For beginning students, I recommend purchasing an "outfit." An outfit usually includes a violin, case, bow and sometimes rosin and a tuning pipe. They begin at about $100 and go up. For advanced students, you will buy the violin, bow and case separately. I recommend that you inform the seller that you must have the violin approved by your teacher prior to your purchase. This will insure that you get a violin in good condition.

Local stores are:

Sam Ash, (941) 351-7793, 7606 N. Tamiami Trl., Sarasota, FL 34243
Fogts Music Inc, (941) 957-1288, 4209 S. Tamiami Trl., Sarasota, FL 34231

Supplies
Local music stores will either have items in stock or can order them for you. If the need is not urgent, I recommend using mail-order houses such as Shar 1-800-248-7427 (SHAR), http://www.sharmusic.com. Feel free to call them and order their catalogues; they are great for comparing prices.

Local music store, such as:

Mathis Music, (941) 924-2202, 3821 S. Tuttle Ave., Sarasota, FL 34239

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Will I / my child have performance opportunities?
Performance opportunities are available from a variety of sources: (These activities would be appropriate for students that have studied privately for 1-3 years.)

District and State Festivals

  • As a teacher in the Florida State Music Teachers Association, Sarasota Music Teachers Association and the Florida Federation of Music Clubs, students can participate in District Festival events and if awarded a superior rating, can participate in the State Festival.
Junior and Youth Orchestras
  • Florida West Coast Youth Symphony
School opportunities
  • School Orchestra (Competitions within the school district)
Adults or advanced teens can participate in local community orchestras.
  • Community orchestras are also a great source of connections for chamber music (small groups such as quartets and trios).
Charitable Organizations
  • One can volunteer for local hospitals, retirement homes, schools, libraries, etc. Music can have a magical effect on people.
Home (appropriate for any playing level)
  • A performance after dinner is always welcome. When a child performs a couple of short pieces and is greeted with great enthusiasm and encouragement, it can work wonders not only for their playing but for their self esteem.

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More Frequently Asked Questions

What's a good age to start? Is it too late to begin or continue?

  • Children
    I recommend that students begin at age 5. I have taught students as young as 3 and I am always willing to try a few lessons to see how it goes. If a child is talented and/or mature, it is often possible to begin early. I try to be creative and use different styles to connect with the student on their level.
  • Adults
    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.

What about the Suzuki Method? Is reading music important?
The Suzuki Method incorporates rote into the study of violin. In my experience, the Suzuki method can make it difficult in later years when they eventually are required to read music.

Imagine that you teach a child to recite a rhyme from memory while still holding the text in front of them. If you then present that same child with the same text but place it another book that looked unfamiliar and asked the student to recite it, he/she would not be able to read the text. This is because they cannot read; it is an illusion. It appears that they are reading the text because it is in front of them; however, to learn the rhyme, they were listening to your words and reciting them back. The same applies to reading music. It is well worth the time investment at the beginning of a child's musical development to teach the reading of musical notation. You can teach such things and have a lot of fun in the process!

Suzuki students may play a song earlier in their training, but in the long term tend to fall behind when they have to relearn how to read musical notation. Students who are taught to read at the onset acquire the correct mental processes that allow them to progress quickly.

Parents often want quick results, however I believe their foundation in music is key and can be applies to any instrument and other areas of life. Reading music frees the student to play any music they wish. It creates a sense of independence that inspires confidence and success.

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What is a School of Violin-Playing?
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 be learned from the past.

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Other Helpful Links

Shar Products
Sam Ash