Suzuki Music Festival 2024

Here are some photos from the recent Suzuki Music Festival at MLC school in Kew. Congratulations to the five students from our studio who attended this year. They were Elena, Gwen, Alex, Kitty and Zoha. They participated in tutorials, repertoire classes and the final concert. We also attended lots of inspiring concerts, both solo and ensemble. Alex and Zoha played in one of the string orchestras which started at Book 2 level this year.

Next year there will not be a Festival in autumn. Instead there will be a national conference from July 8-12, 2025. This is just like a festival except there are students and teachers not only from Victoria but also from the rest of Australia and possibly overseas, please consider going.

Castlemaine students and parents at Festival
Final concert, with everyone playing Twinkle together
Elena in the viola tutorial (far right in orange top)
Book 2 orchestra, 3rd violins with Alex
Zoha has an individual lesson with Haruo Goto (Sydney teacher)
Toni Robson’s studio ensemble item
Toni helping viola students get more bow hand flexibility

Studio News

Dates in Term 2, 2024
Updated 9 May

Concert date is Saturday 25th May, Christ Church (Anglican church), Forest & Kennedy Sts, Castlemaine. 1.30pm rehearsal for 3pm concert. Friends and family all welcome.

Group lesson dates are Tuesday 7th and Tuesday 21st May
See below for more info on groups

Suzuki Music Strings Workshop, Melbourne is on Sunday 21st July. (Closing date 16 June)

25 May Concert program (not in order)

Solos: Gwen, Etude; Elena, Minuet 2, Hannah; Ada, P.Motion; Paddy, Allegretto; Kitty, Gossec Gavotte; Perryn, Goodbye to Winter + Allegretto 2; Noora, Chant Arabe, + one; Elsie, P. Motion, Bohm; Alex, Bourree; Isabelle, Becker Gavotte + Tall Ships; Zoha, Hunters Chorus.

Group pieces, please read carefully for instrument and key:

Violins only: Book 3, Humoresque: Book 2, Lully Gavotte, Hunters Chorus, Musette
Book 1: Minuet 3, Etude, Long long ago
Violins and viola: P.Motion in D, Allegro in D, Aunt Rhody in D
Violins, viola and Perryn, piano: Lightly Row in A, Twinkle Var.A and Theme in A

Fiddle and Possums tunes:
Violins only: Bushfire Moon, Mister Crocodile
Violins and viola: Davy’s Brae
Violins, viola and Perryn, piano: Cajun Fiddle

Our studio Facebook page is up and running, please contribute

Term 1 starts Monday 15 Feb, ends Monday 24 June
NEW No lessons Wed 22 May (FG dental work), lessons Thurs 23 May instead or by arrangement
Please note No lessons Tuesday 25 June or Wed 26 June
No lessons Monday 10 June (King’s Birthday)

Lesson schedule
3.00 pm Gabrielle (60-90 mins)
4.30 pm Gwen
5.15 pm Isabelle (45 mins)
6.00 pm Paddy
6.30 pm Kyle

Tuesdays (not group lesson weeks, 1 lesson on a Thursday instead, or by arrangement)
3.45 pm Ada
4.15 pm Alex
4.45 pm Zoha (45 mins)

12.30 pm Elena
1.00 pm Emily (fortnightly)
1.30 pm Kitty
3.45 pm Jaantje
4.45 pm Elsie (45 mins)
5.30 pm Perryn

Group Lessons – Tuesdays 7th and 21st May
Group lessons are
– for violin/viola students in Books 1-3
– two Tuesday afternoons a term, 4.30 to 5.30 pm
– at Buda Garden Room, 42 Hunter St

Bendigo Symphony Orchestra, Sunday 2 June, 2.30 pm
Hear Beethoven’s 5th Piano Concerto, one of Beethoven’s most famous pieces, with soloist Elyanne Laussade
Shostakovich 5th Symphony and Strauss Radetsky March
You can get free student tickets when accompanied by an adult. Book early for these.
Use the code STUDENTTIX

Zoom lessons
In-person lessons should be replaced with Zoom online lessons whenever anyone (including me) has cold or flu symptoms, has Covid, or is a close contact. Please try to give 24 hours notice regarding a switch to Zoom. Please update Zoom and use an external microphone for proper immersive online lessons. Audio settings must be musicians’ settings (otherwise I can’t hear your violin!).

Studio Concert Dec 1st, 2021

Enjoy listening to the solos and group items from this concert held at Buda Garden Room. Thanks to Liz Wilson, cello and John Tungyep, piano, for adding their musical talents and encouraging our students to enjoy their music.

Isabelle, Hunters’ Chorus
Dante, Twinkle Variation D & Theme
Yael, Lightly Row
Mary, Allegro
Sebastian, May Song, Allegro
Annie, Honeybee, Lightly Row, Cuckoo
Polly, May Song, Allegro
Liam, Happy Farmer
Elsie, Gavotte in G Minor, J.S.Bach
Owen, Seguidilla from Carmen, Bizet
Owen, Maria from West Side Story, Bernstein
Bibby, Concerto No 5, 3rd movt, Seitz
Frances & Liz Wilson, Themes from Der Freischutz opera, C.M. von Weber, arranged Dancla
Violin trio, Bibby, Elsie & Isabelle, Finnish Waltz
Violin group, Perpetual Motion
Violin group, May Song
Violin group, Twinkle variations & Theme

Studio News Term 4, 2021, updated 8 December

Concert Wednesday 1st December
at Buda Garden Room
The concert was a great success, we appreciated coming together in person and hearing the progress of our students, plus a guest performance from cellist Liz Wilson who plays with the Bendigo Symphony Orchestra and brilliant piano playing including exciting improvisations in various styles by John Tungyep.

See Studio Concerts page for the audio recordings.

Term 4 ends on December 17th, and Term 1 in 2022 starts Mon 31 January.

Recording yourself with piano accompaniment‘.
Most students have now made a recording with piano accompaniment, well done everybody.

The listening piece is ‘Peter and the Wolf‘ by Sergei Prokoviev (Russian composer 1891-1953). Which character’s theme do you like? and why?
Update – please listen to the whole piece played by a different orchestra (search on YouTube or maybe you have a CD at home?)

Zoom audio, microphones

Acknowledgement to Katie Wardrobe, Midnight Music, for this excellent guide to getting the best audio in a Zoom music lesson:

This site has info for iPhones and Android phones:


Using an external microphone for your computer greatly improves the sound at my end and this makes for a better music lesson.

Recommended USB microphones:

Blue Snowball
Blue Yeti

Recommended microphone/recorder:

H2N Zoom

How to care for violin and bow

Whether you have a new beginner instrument or a well-loved professional one, it is critical to care for your instrument in the correct way. Instruments perform at their best when they are regularly cared for through cleaning, servicing and general maintenance.

To ensure your instrument remains in optimal playing condition, we recommend following these guidelines:

  • Keep your instrument protected from water and moisture.Water causes timber to swell, which can cause cracks. Keep your instrument away from windows, moisture and excess humidity.
  • Keep your instrument protected from excessive amounts of heat.Sun and heat can severely affect your instrument, potentially causing cracks and damage to the varnish. Make sure you store it away from windows, heaters or fireplaces.
  • Never leave your instrument in the car.
  • Keep your instrument clean.Wiping off rosin with a dry cloth from the top of your instrument and strings after playing will prevent rosin build up. Don’t use water to clean.
  • Never clean your instrument with solvents or household products.Varnish is very delicate and can be easily damaged. Specialised cleaning products are available to assist with cleaning your instrument if necessary.
  • Keep your fingernails trimmed.This prevents damage to the strings and fingerboard of your instrument.
  • Cover the instrument with a cloth in its case.This protects your instrument against scratches from the bow while closed.
  • Only players with experience should use the pegs.If you are not confident using the pegs, your teacher should help you to tune your instrument using the pegs. The fine tuners can be used to control small pitch changes.
  • New instruments and strings take up to two weeks to settle.During this time, the strings will continue to go out of tune. We recommend that you do not change your strings in the two weeks before an important performance or exam.
  • Remove your shoulder rest when your instrument is in its case.Your shoulder rest must always be removed while the violin is in its case and not in use.

String instruments perform at their best when serviced regularly. We recommend getting your instrument serviced every six months. Services are conducted by our team of trained luthiers and entails checking the strings, bridge, pegs, bow, and a general clean of your instrument.
Your first service should be two weeks after the instrument has been set up, then every six months following. Strings should be changed once a year depending on how often you play. For violinists, your E and A string will need to be changed every 3-6 months, while your D and G string will need to be changed every 6-12 months.


To keep your bow in good playing condition, we recommend following these guidelines:

  • Avoid touching the bow hair with your fingers. Even small amounts of grease, sweat or dirt from your fingers can affect playability and make it difficult to apply rosin
  • Always loosen the bow while it is not being used.If it is not loosened after you have finished playing, the hair stretches out and will eventually not tighten to playing tension.
  • Do not over tighten the bow.Tighten your bow until the hair is pulled away from the stick only approximately 8mm at the narrowest point for violins/violas and 10mm for cellos. For double basses, tighten your bow until the hair is pulled away approximately 15mm for French bows and 20mm for German bows. It is important that the bow remains curved. If the stick looks straight to the hair, it is too tight.
  • Don’t rosin your bow every time you use it.You should only need to rosin your bow every 5-6 hours of playing time or every 1-2 weeks for beginners.
  • To keep your bow performing at its best, we recommend rehairing your bow every 12 months.

Reprinted by permission of Sydney String Centre


Contact Frances by phone:   0414 878 071

Or by email:

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