My years of teaching experience includes giving private individual lessons, directing group classes, and coaching ensembles small and large. I started taking violin lessons myself more than two decades ago at age four, later adding viola. So I know what students go through and can help them (and their parents or partners!).
I am often asked about my approach to teaching violin and viola. Here it is:
There are two types of students. The first is a child or adult who has never played the violin or viola. My focus becomes emphasizing the best technique from the get-go. Finding the correctly sized instrument. Holding the instrument with ease. Holding the bow beautifully. Standing up well. Making a nice sound with rhythms. Learning how to read and play notes on a page. There is one big plus to a novice student. He or she has never had an opportunity to learn bad habits and therefore will not have to reverse any damage. Progress often can come quickly.
The second category of student is one who is not starting from scratch. In this case, I first evaluate what he or she knows. Since every student is a unique individual, this is a non-judgmental process in which I begin to understand how I can be most helpful as a teacher. The biggest challenge here comes from poor training in the past. It is necessary to both break any bad habits and incorporate correct techniques—shining a new light on what the violin or viola is all about.
I firmly believe that a student of any age can learn to play music. While younger students have malleable motor skills that aid in learning the violin or viola, older students tend to be more aware of themselves and therefore know how to discern what is right and what is wrong.
Patience is an important idea in learning these instruments. Patience on my part as an instructor. Patience on the part of the student. Patience on the part of parents or anyone else involved with the student. Individual students will learn at different paces, and that is quite OK. We will go on this journey of music together, overcoming obstacles as they arise.