Parent of 9 year old girl and 7 year old boy:
I had always intended for my kids to learn the violin but I am so glad I found Frances to teach them. It was a stroke of good luck for me as I hadn’t looked into the Suzuki method until a friend suggested it, and when I did I found Frances. We came along to observe another student’s lesson and I was immediately impressed by not only the lesson but the child’s pride in her playing, and this very young child’s obvious ability to hear if she was playing in tune and to correct her finger position accordingly without being instructed. Clearly to me there was a wonderful appreciation, and intuitive feeling, for music developing in this student.
Both my children (9 and 7) now learn violin with Frances and we have been doing lessons for almost 5 years. They both enjoy going to their violin lessons. They have great pride when they play well for Frances and I can see them trying their best every lesson.
Frances is very observant of both of my children’s individual needs in regard to how fast or not they need to progress, and when to let them go on or when to pull them up to correct something. It is clear to me that she aims to have the violin lesson space a happy confortable place and I think that is why my children are so happy to come to lessons. That is not to say that she doesn’t expect the kids to learn to play well however. My daughters assessment is “Frances is a really good teacher. She is a fussy teacher, but fussy in a good way, she wants to show you ways to make your sound good, she shows you how to play well. And she doesn’t start off hard. She starts each piece easily. She starts by getting you familiar with it then teaching you each part of the music, until you can just play the whole song.”
My son is rather shy and has been at times reluctant to come out of his shell to play during lessons and despite this Frances has been able to engage him in his music, take things at his pace and draw him into the lesson so that he ends up taking part happily and this has allowed him to progress to feeling confident each lesson. One of the things that helped my son was using the Flipgrid platform during home learning. It allowed him to record himself playing and keep trying till he was happy he had done a good job that he was proud of before submitting it. He also was able to learn that he can compose his own music and that empowered him greatly.
My children often hum or sing their music or the music the other child is learning as they play games or do other activities. And despite both being quite shy they have gained confidence in performing publicly through group lessons and end of semester concerts and also the Flipgrid platform.
I love listening to my children play, occasionally I am near tears when they play so beautifully in tune and with real musicality. Of course I am a biased parent but still I can hear their progression and see how they are constantly improving at a steady rate and becoming more and more competent players. I am always astonished at how quickly they can learn new pieces. I have lost count of the number of times I am floored when one of them is able to play a new phrase by ear on first attempt after hearing it only once. I thank Frances’ teaching skills and the Suzuki method for this.
Parent of 5 year old boy:
My 5 year old son has been learning violin with Frances for the last 18 months, which also involved me learning a musical instrument for the first time ever. My toddler has been present at all the lessons too and Frances has managed to keep us on track! My son and I now enjoy playing some of the beginner pieces together, which we both enjoy very much. I am enjoying it so much that I will continue to learn after my involvement is no longer required to assist my son; this is something I never envisaged when I booked violin lessons for him. Frances uses a structured framework with direct and useful feedback; I like this style of learning.
Combined thoughts of student, 14 years old, plus parent:
Frances is passionate about helping students establish a solid playing technique. She encourages consistent, regular practice to achieve a high standard. The lessons are fun and many times we have animated conversations about the music, and life generally.
Frances cares a great deal about her students and gets to know them and their unique qualities well. She also helps them identify where their areas of challenge are so that they can work on these. Frances is a very experienced Suzuki teacher and this method provides a clear direction for students.
The Suzuki method provides opportunities to get together with other students and play in a relaxed atmosphere. Frances is very patient and encouraging as she runs through things with the group. This builds confidence for the concerts that occur later in the term.
Frances helps students improve their music-reading by directing their focus towards the details of the written music as they learn each piece. At other times the focus is on listening to recordings of the pieces and playing from memory. This provides a good balance for learning.
Frances incorporates folk music and other genres into the repertoire. This encourages students to share a variety of music in other situations with family and friends.