being prepared for your lesson
Bring to each lesson:

  • Instrument
  • Music
  • Notebook for assignments
  • Three ring binder
  • Practice chart
  • Pencil

Keep in case:

  • Rosin
  • A rag to clean rosin off instrument
  • Shoulder pad

Have at home:

  • Music stand
  • Korg Chromatic Tuner CA-30 (or another kind of tuner)

Practice: Practice at least three to seven times each week.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Practice, Practice, Practice

being prepared for your lesson

  • Practice every day in short sessions rather than once a week in a “cram” session.
  • Set a timer and practice until timer rings (set a time you will successfully be able to complete).
  • Practice the same time every day.
  • Play warm-ups such as scales, finger and/or bowing exercises.
  • Review old pieces of music and exercises as warm up or as cool down after practice.
  • Practice small sections of music or etudes and repeat many times.
  • Focus on one element at a time (left hand position, correct bowing or intonation, etc.).
  • Call or email me if you have questions during your practice session.
  • Come up with your own ideas for making practicing easier.
  • If it’s helpful, ask a family member or friend to listen to a piece you’re working on.
  • Enjoy the movement of your fingers and arms as you play.

Check out this article on practice hints: The Violin Case

motivating your child to practice

  • Take your child to LIVE concerts!!!!!spacer
  • Listen to music at home and in the car.spacer
  • Set a practice schedule for the week (if possible, set the same time each day).spacer
  • Follow a practice chart (create your own or use one of mine).spacer
  • Remind your child to follow the practice chart; consider a reward system that you are comfortable with.spacer
  • Listen to your child practice if he/she is comfortable with that.spacer
  • Sign your child up for school orchestra, youth orchestra, or chamber music ensemble.spacer
  • Encourage your child to play for other members of the family, friends, and neighbors.spacer

Check out this article on motivating your child to practice: The Violin Case

Discussion of practicing found on: (click on “viola resources” and then practice tips”)

comparing music to sports
Practicing violin/viola is much like a practice session for soccer or other kinds of sports. The violin teacher is like the soccer coach, guiding the student (team) through drills, exercises, and practice games while giving feedback, technical instructions, and encouragement.





Warm up: scales, finger exercises, different bowing patterns

Warm up: run, jump, stretch

Technique: focus on movement of bow arm when playing down bow and position of left hand and arm when playing a fast passage

Technique: focus on angle of foot when kicking ball into the goal and on angle of body while running with the ball

Repetition: practice passages from piece

Repetition: practice passing a ball and working out certain sets and team moves

Play a whole piece of music

Scrimmage: play a game with team-mates

Perform at a recital

Play a game against another team

WARM UP: Getting warmer
Written by Patricia McCarty, violist
(This article first appeared in the February 2000 issue of The Strad and is reprinted with permission.)

No sportsman would go into action without a proper warm-up session. Neither should musicians – but common sense is as important as fast fingers. Patricia McCarty advises on efficient routines for violinists and violists.

Warming up carefully before practice and performance is as important to a string player as it is to any athlete. Whether the player wishes to maintain, refresh or develop technical skills, efficient use of the first part of the practice session optimises the day's musical results, helps to avoid physical injury and encourages the brain to be in control of the fingers. While the basic issues remain much the same for all of us, the specific materials played can be tailored to each individual's level and repertoire demands and may evolve with development of increased strength and facility. After some 60 years of teaching and playing the violin, puzzlement over the differences between individuals led Leopold Auer to write, "How are we to explain the fact that two hands, belonging to two different human beings, which appear to be identical in size, with fingers which seem to be equally long and strong, nevertheless differ altogether in their action? Experience may show that the fingers of one hand need to be kept continually active in order to retain their flexibility; while the fingers of the other may not be used for weeks at a time and yet, after some slight finger-gymnastic work and a small investment of time, regain all their agility and be ready to perform their functions perfectly." For both these players there is a wealth of material from which to design an effective warm-up routine.

The components of the warm-up should address each hand's positions and specific tasks. The left hand's success depends upon a relaxed and balanced grasp of the instrument, elasticity for stretching, finger independence and accuracy, shifting, velocity and vibrato. The right hand's work begins with reinforced awareness of a balanced bow hold and arm location, and continues with issues of smooth changes in all parts of the bow, control of speed and contact point, string crossings, bowing patterns, distribution, articulations, attacks, releases, dynamic range and tone color.

practice questionnaire

Please download and fill out the Practice Questionnaire and bring to your second lesson. I suggest filling this out at the beginning of your private study. It will help establish a good and comfortable practice environment for you.

Practice Questionnaire

Please download and retain the Practice Chart to help you with your practicing.

practice chart

Download practice chart


music, music and music
Add to your music life by attending concerts, playing in orchestra, recitals, and chamber groups.

Step 1 - Adagio

  • listen to music
  • go to one concert per semester
  • play in studio recital

Step 2 - Andante

  • listen to music
  • play in studio recital
  • go to two concerts per semester
  • play in an orchestra or chamber group

Step 3 - Allegro

  • Listen to music
  • play in studio recital
  • go to three concerts a semester
  • play in an orchestra and chamber group

Step 4 – Presto

  • Listen to music
  • play in studio recital
  • go to four concerts a semester
  • play in school orchestra or chamber group, and orchestra or chamber group outside of school

lesson fees and payment policy
Fees for lessons

  • Thirty Minutes: $30
  • Forty-Five Minutes: $45
  • One Hour: $60

(price subject to change)

Payment must be made in ten lesson increments. Summer lessons may be paid one at a time. Check payable to Rebecca Strauss.

Lesson fee charged if notice has not been given. In snow emergencies this policy will not apply.

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"I feel really happy and proud of myself when I hear myself play... practicing is easier and more fun. I have been sounding a lot better."

-Anna, age 8

"I took 2 auditions this year and got into both the North East Districts and Music On The Hill."

-Nellie, age 13

"The best part of violin is playing at the recitals."

-Caroline, age 8