The Shifting Formula

The Shifting Formula

There are a lot of method books that help students with beginning shifting. When I was just starting out as a teacher, it was overwhelming the amount of shifting materials I could find. But although many books contained helpful exercises in practicing shifting, there was nothing that actually explained how to shift. When I was in graduate school, I had already been shifting for about a decade and had gotten some great teaching in how to shift. “Lighten up”, “keep it smooth”, “no jerky motions”, “use a link note”. I thought I was a pretty good shifter, but as usual, my brilliant teacher, George Taylor was able to boil a technical issue down to its essence and reveal how I could be doing better. He’s the one who taught me the Shifting Formula. Continue reading “The Shifting Formula”


Suzuki, Ben Folds and the Power of Listening

Ben Folds

I am very lucky to have a studio full of students who are diligent and consistent with daily practice. This has not always been the case in my teaching career, so I recognize what a blessing it is to work with children and parents who understand and commit to the value of daily practice. They make my job easy! I’m often surprised, therefore, that the same attention is not always paid to listening to the Suzuki recordings. My older students keep a daily practice log, which includes a space at the bottom for listening assignments. I’m shocked when a student who has accomplished all the scales, etudes, and repetitive practice of difficult passages I assigned has not also listened to the CD. Listening is supposed to be the easy part! I am always looking for ways to emphasize the crucial importance of listening to my studio families. Continue reading “Suzuki, Ben Folds and the Power of Listening”

Private Studio Parent Emails: One Trick that Saves Me Hours of Time

Private Studio Parent Emails_ One Trick that Saves Me Hours of Time

I, like most studio teachers I know, am in this job because enjoy teaching children beautiful music. When I’m not in the music studio teaching, I love planning lessons, reading teaching books and blogs, and hunting for resources for my students.  But several years ago, as my teaching studio grew, I found myself spending less time on improving my teaching and increasingly more time on emailing parents. Particularly when recital or re-enrollment time came around, I grew frustrated with how much time I spent keeping my studio families in the loop with important information. That’s when I heard about MailChimp.


Mailchimp: the best email wrangler. Continue reading “Private Studio Parent Emails: One Trick that Saves Me Hours of Time”

Prevent and Treat “Shifting Panic”


Shifting Panic! Fun exercises for violin and viola students.Shifting is the great divide for my viola studio. On the one hand, I have always had a handful of students who are excited to start shifting, perhaps after they have seen an older student deftly moving all over the fingerboard. Other students approach shifting with reticence and sometimes outright dread, particularly my transfer students who may have gotten a rushed introduction to shifting in a piece from school. To get my shifting-averse students on board with the process, I’ve come up with a lot of games and special review pieces to make shifting less scary. Continue reading “Prevent and Treat “Shifting Panic””