Now Offering Skype Lessons!

I'm excited to begin offering violin and viola lessons via Skype!  The audio and video technology in this great tool has progressed to the point where it's almost as good as being in the same room with me!

Now those of you travelling from far away can save money on gas, and, more importantly, spend less time in the car...and more time practicing! 

A few details:

  • Only students in Suzuki Book II and later may take Skype lessons.
  • You must have a computer with a good internet connection and a video camera. Decent speakers are also helpful.
  • Skype lessons are for a minimum of 45 minutes.
  • Students that study primarily via Skype will be required to come in for an in-person lesson periodically (to be decided by me in consulation with the student and parent). 

To setup Skype, follow these instructions:

  1. Click here to download Skype for your system
  2. Install Skype to your computer.
  3. Add travis.maril as a contact
  4. From the "Contacts" screen, call the "Skype Test Call" to make sure that your sound is working properly
  5. I will Skype call you at the appointed time

Please contact me if you have any questions.

The Two Finger Bow Straightener

As a teacher, I think it's incredibly important to be open-minded: inspiration can come from anywhere!  One concept I've struggled to communicate to students is how to play with a straight bow.  Playing with a straight bow is critical to bow control: if the bow wanders up and down the string, it's impossible to play with an even tone!  I've tried many methods to get my students to play with a straight bow, with limited success.

Recently, my youngest student, Cami, came in to her lesson and sounded great!  Her bow was moving parallel to the bridge and she was getting an excellent sound.  I asked her Dad, Keith, what had changed.  He told me that his father, who is an amateur violinist, told him that getting the correct bow angle on the string was difficult for him. 

Keith came up with a brilliantly simple method of getting Cami to play with a straight bow: while she's practicing, he holds two fingers up (like a football goal post) near the left rib of the violin.  The only way Cami can play without hitting his fingers is to play with a straight bow!  Genius!  I joke with Keith that his method is patent-pending, but feel free to steal it! 

This device accomplishes bow straightening as well, but my hunch is that it's not nearly as fun as having a friend/parent helping you out!

My students and their insights teach me something about learning the violin/viola on a regular basis, but it's great to know I can learn from a parent too!   

Any other teachers out there that had an "A-HA!" moment from a teacher/student or an unusual source?