Fun with Viola Ensembles

Fun with Viola Ensembles Pinterest

As you know, it’s recital season, and I’m in the home stretch of helping to prepare my students for their solo performances. A few years ago, I also started adding a viola ensemble performance at the end of the recital. At the time, it was just a fun opportunity to showcase a few more advanced viola students, but I’ve since made a viola ensemble piece a kind of Grand Finale at the end of each recital. Coordinating a group rehearsal requires more work and organization, but I’ve found that it is well worth it for several reasons. I’ve started making some of my arrangements available, and will be adding to the list as I get them cleaned up and uploaded (after this weekend’s recital!)

Here are just a few of the reasons I find viola ensembles to be so valuable in the private studio. Continue reading “Fun with Viola Ensembles”


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””

No More Squeezing, Gripping, Squishing: Games and Tips to Relieve Left Hand Tension

No More Squeezing , Gripping, Squishing!1

One of the most common technical hangups with string players is excess tension in the left hand. In the beginning, many students don’t yet have the finger strength to be tense, but as soon as they do, it can seem like they are holding the violin or viola like a vice! This can be a difficult habit to break because the student can’t  see the tension and often isn’t aware they are squeezing.

Over the years, I have found these simple games and activities to help relieve left hand tension and promote good position. I have divided them into two categories: games that support holding the violin/viola without the left hand helping, and games that help with left hand to relax. Continue reading “No More Squeezing, Gripping, Squishing: Games and Tips to Relieve Left Hand Tension”

Hi There!

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My name is Eliana. I am a Suzuki viola teacher, “traditional” viola teacher, and sometimes Professor of viola based in St. Louis. I love all things playing and teaching music and have been teaching viola (and sometimes violin) for over a decade but I have never blogged about it. . I’m originally from Louisville, Kentucky (Go Cards!) but I’ve also lived in Wisconsin and New York.

I’m hoping that this blog will serve as a place for me to share ideas for teaching the viola, and teaching in a Suzuki studio. I have also recently started a Teachers Pay Teachers Site where I have both free and reasonably priced downloadable resources for string teachers. One of the best things about being a teacher is that both the viola and Suzuki communities are chock full of sharing, encouraging, and all-together awesome people. I have benefited from the wisdom and expertise of others and I want to share the love. As Shinichi Suzuki said: “When love is deep, much can be accomplished”.