How to Become an Outstanding String Teacher!
by Janice Tucker Rhoda

Whether your specialty is Violin, Viola, Cello or Double Bass, it is important to take lessons with fine teachers in your area when first beginning your studies at a young age. Teachers pass on invaluable knowledge from their many years of experience. I studied with wonderful teachers in Massachusetts, USA since age 9. I continually pass on their ideas as well as my own I have acquired in over 35 years of teaching.

If you are a new teacher, I highly recommend observing the students of teachers in their studios and performances. Presently, teachers observe my Violin group classes. Many new and experienced teachers have taken my Teacher Training seminars. I have taken many teacher training courses myself. We all learn from each other.

In order to be an Outstanding Teacher, one needs to be a perfectionist about teaching the technique of the instrument. Several years go by for aspiring musicians who practice diligently, however many have not concentrated enough on playing with perfect intonation, and playing precisely with the metronome. A teacher must go over these two very important aspects at each lesson.

Regarding Intonation on Violin, for example:

Match all 3rd finger OCTAVES with an Open string:
Match 3rd finger A on the E string with Open A.
Match 3rd finger D on the A string with Open D.
Match 3rd finger G on the D string with Open G.

Match all 4th Finger UNISONS:
Match 4th finger E on the A string with Open E.
Match 4th finger A on the D string with Open A.
Match 4th finger D on the G string with Open D.

Please be sure the Open strings are meticulously tuned at all times! I prefer A440 frequency personally. A441 and A442 are common.

As Students Advance:
Play each and every note of a piece, etude or scale along with an Open string as a drone. So, you will be playing a Double-stop with the note itself and the Open string, above or below the note. Play half notes with one quarter note equaling 40 on the metronome. Listen carefully, and correct the pitches slowly adjusting to the drone for a perfect match. String players need to strive to play with impeccable intonation. Too many hours are spent rushing through pieces to see if it can be played through to the end. It is important to know the entire piece, but playing it over and over again with mistakes ensures the end performance will be imprecise. It takes patience to practice in a slow, precise, thoughtful, careful manner. Beginners can be taught this manner of practicing; it needs to be directed by the private teacher from the beginning. Proper, concentrated practice brings accurate playing. This accurate playing gives a student confidence. Becoming confident in one's playing raises one's self-esteem.

Regarding Metronome work:

All pieces, etudes and scales should be practiced with one quarter note equaling 40, 50, 60, 72, 80, 92, 100. Play through the piece, etude or scale 3 times perfectly at each of these tempos. 3 times is the magic number! How many students play through a piece starting at the correct speed, and end up with a faster speed by the end of the piece? This signals to the teacher that the student hasn't practiced enough with the metronome, and hasn't developed that perfect, inner, steady beat well-trained professional musicians possess.

Many of my former students from years past are professional musicians today. My violin student Yuki Beppu began lessons with me when she was age 4. We used my ABCs of Violin Books in her training in the beginning before I passed her on to a Boston Symphony/New England Conservatory teacher. When she was age 10, she won the New England Conservatory concerto competition playing the complete Wieniawski concerto. She has also performed for the President of the USA and with famous pianist George Li.

Also when Yuki was age 10, I had many rehearsals with her focusing on perfecting her intonation and playing precisely with the metronome at all speeds in preparation to star in the ABCs of Violin for the Intermediate Player DVD. She plays all 69 pieces from ABCs of Violin Books 1 and 2, and A, D and G major Scales on this video.

Being a professional musician and teacher for me is amazing. My students have taught me to be thoughtful and patient, and have continually inspired me throughout my life. I wrote my ABCs of Strings as a result. Being in a supportive teaching role of any expertise is gratifying. Teaching is a well-respected profession honored and desired by people worldwide.

Sincerely and Best of luck to all of you!

Janice Tucker Rhoda
Author of ABCs of Strings
Published by Carl Fischer Music

Article: How to Become an Outstanding String Teacher!
Copyright © September 24, 2012
by Janice Tucker Rhoda
Inspired by my Students, Teachers and Venus Marie Talidong, a college student.