Tips on better online lessons experience

The purpose of this blog is to provide some useful advice for teachers and students, who just like me, had to dive into the virtual world of teaching with very little preparation and time to adjust.

If you already own an external mic, please use it for your sessions. In many cases, it can significantly improve the quality of sound.

If you are using a wireless network (WiFi) and your router is on the other side of the house, you may experience moments of poor connectivity.  In some cases, if you are in an area with good cell signal, you may be better off broadcasting from your phone or tethering your computer/tablet to your cellular data.  Experiment to see what works best for you.

Please ask household members to avoid streaming movies on your network during your lesson/recital.  

Try to place the webcam at eye height with the subject.  For singers, you will want to sing directly to the camera.  Place a music stand under the camera if you need your music.  For violinists/violists, a profile shot works best.

Please set up your primary light in a way it comes from behind the camera.  Too much sidelight or overhead lighting can cause weird and unflattering shadows. On the other hand, not enough light makes the image blurry. If the sun is right into the camera, again, the image is not great. Please consider adjusting the light with blinds, window curtains, or choose a different location in the house.

If you are using a backtrack/karaoke, sometimes, it is better to play the karaoke backtracks on a different device from the one you are broadcasting off of. If you are using a newer model of laptop and iPad, there is usually no problem to stream using the same device. If you are using Zoom, please choose the option of sharing with computer audio.

I hope you will find those tips useful. Online lessons offer the opportunity to connect with people from around the world. It is a new and exciting world that I just begin to discover.

Summer Camps 2018 – Open for Registration!

Summer Camp for Elementary School Children.
Register Now!

Location: Music Spectrum School for the Arts, 465 Herndon Parkway, Herndon, VA
Full Day 1-Week Camp: 10:00am – 4:30pm
Session 1: July 16-20
Session 2: July 23-27
Session 3: July 30-August 3

Please visit the Music and Art Explorations Summer 2018 page for more information.

Summer Camps 2017 – Open for Registration!

Register Now! Spots are quickly filling up.
Here is What to Expect For This Summer…
Please visit the Music and Art Explorations Summer 2017 page for more information.

Summer Camp for Elementary School Children

Full Day 1-Week Camp: 10:00am – 4:30pm
(Before and after care available)
Session 1: August 7-11
Session 2: August 14-18

Summer Camp for Preschool Age Children

Morning Session 9:30am-1:00pm
1 week only July 31-August 5

Buying/Renting a violin

Violins are made of wood, and wood is affected by the environment. Because of this it is important to examine the body of any violin (new or used) to make sure that there are no cracks in the top or back.

Well repaired cracks in the top of an older instrument may not be a problem (Seek the advice of a teacher or violin maker), but cracks in the back of an instrument can depreciate its value as much as 75 percent. From my experience, violins ten years old and younger that have repaired cracks, will often be more sensitive to environmental changes such as humidity and temperature, and their sound will be affected quite a lot on some very hot or very dry days. In any case, crack in the violin can start the negotiation on violin price.

Examine the ribs (sides) of the violin to make sure that they are not bulging out beyond the edges of the top or back. This happens because wood that is not well seasoned will shrink noticeably when it dries out. As the top and back shrink, the ribs begin to bulge. Most instruments of reasonable quality do not have this problem, because close attention is given to curing the wood properly. If everything else is in good order, this may not be cause to reject a used violin, but consult your violin repair shop concerning repair costs before making such a purchase. Again, this can be a good reason to negotiate the price of the instrument.

Check to make sure that the neck of the violin is straight. Occasionally an instrument is made wrong, and somehow slips through the adjusting process unnoticed.

Make sure the bridge is centered between the f-holes, then sight up the fingerboard to see if it aligns with the bridge. If the bridge must be offset toward one side or the other to make the strings and fingerboard line up, it will require repair by professional. Make sure that the intervals between the strings on the nut are even.

“Set up” on violins is very important. This includes proper bridge and string nut fitting so that the strings are a proper height from the fingerboard, fingerboard planning to make sure the strings don’t buzz, peg fitting so the pegs turn smoothly and stay in place, and setting the soundpost for proper tone adjustment, etc.

Some music stores do not set up their own instruments, but well-known brands generally are shipped in good adjustment. Many violin shops do their own “set ups,” and work with the customer to meet the requirements of the teacher.

Most violin outfits will have a case and bow included in the price. A fiberglass bow with horsehair is often included in beginners outfits. A wood bow can add $100 or more to the cost of a beginning violin outfit. I have a strong preference for wood bows even for my beginning students. For my opinion, the fiberglass bows don’t feel the same and don’t play the same as wood bows. Even high quality carbon bows are my least preferred choice. The only advantage of synthetic bow is that it wouldn’t get warp if maintained not properly.


How Can Parents Contribute to Their Child’s Progress?

Parents have enormous effect on their child’s practice.  By showing your interest in the child’s progress and often being part of the child’s practice at home parents can support and encourage the kids in their learning progress.

Here are some ways that parents could show their support to the learning process:

1. Ask questions about their goals and tasks for this year/month/week.

2. Ask the child to play for you a new piece that was recently learned.

3. If the child reports difficulty dealing with homework, please discuss what strategies have been used in the past to deal with similar issues. If necessarily, don’t hesitate to email me for advice. I will be more than happy to help.

4. Encourage the child to do quality and not quantity practice. Some weeks the child will be able to accomplish things in less time, some weeks more daily practice time is needed. Practicing is about outcome, not the time spent playing.

5. Design practice time on the child’s schedule.


A Musical Journey of Self-Discovery

Music and singing in particular, has always been an essential part of man’s life. Often music serves a social function and accompanies happiest and saddest moments of our lives. Singing or playing violin or viola stimulates the senses and the mind. Making music is a unique spiritual and physical experience.

Each student is unique and has different way of learning, so I strive to explain my thoughts in a variety of ways. Most of the technical exercises and assignments tailored to meet individual needs of each student. Learning to sing or to play a string instrument such as violin or viola, is a complicate process and I strive to create a nurturing environment to support my students along that process. My goal as a teacher is not only to provide my students with technical and musical skills, but also to educate them about music history and theory and expose them to variety of musical styles.

Learning to sing or to play violin or viola is a journey to self-exploration and I am happy to assist you along this journey. Students of all levels are welcome.