I have been teaching cello in and around Orange County, CA since 2001. I have guided my students through their school music programs, outside youth orchestras such as PYSO, IUSD and All-Southern honor orchestras, Certificate of Merit, AP Music Theory, cello competitions such as SYMF, and in a few instances, the audition process to get into college as a music major. I have taught students as young as 4 years old (though I have turned away a few that were not ready for the structure of cello lessons), all the way up through college students, and have taught several adults who have gone on to perform in local orchestras. I care deeply for all my students, and my primary goals are to teach sustainable technique, so that my students can develop a beautiful sound and play for hours without pain, and to teach them how to take ownership of their playing and succeed at their goals. I am careful that the language that I use is encouraging and positive, but also that my instructions are clear and goal-oriented.
When I encounter a “perfect” student, as in one who follows all my instructions, I can take them all the way from their first encounter with a cello up through playing major concertos in a comparably short time… but so can any good cello teacher. What I feel is my greatest strength is taking “problem” students, that are struggling or have been given up on by other teachers, and bringing them up to the level where they start succeeding and becoming “good” students. I do this through a combination of technique building and realistic, achievable goals. Of course, my students need to practice, but it is pointless to practice without a specific goal in mind, or with a goal that is so complex or so difficult that it isn’t achievable in a set amount of time. I always try to give my students specific practice goals that they can achieve in a week of practicing. Of course, for some students it takes a few weeks for that “week of practicing” to actually take place, but as long as the goal is in sight the progress continues.
As a player, I am a specialist in Baroque music, and my Master’s Degree is in historical performance. For students interested in this, I have a lot of unique experience and understanding of the repertoire to offer. I also play the viola da gamba (a Renaissance- and Baroque-era string instrument similar to a guitar that you play with a bow), and perform it professionally, and a few of my students have followed me in learning this fascinating instrument. However, I am still very capable of playing all of the repertoire that I teach, and am constantly expanding my own repertoire to include more pieces for my students to choose between. That way I can play for and along with my students as they are learning.
I am not a Suzuki teacher, though I have great respect for the method and its founder. I do use the books for beginning cello students, up to Book 3, after which I assign individual pieces. Many of these pieces are in the Suzuki repertoire, though not always in order, and I tend to prefer my own editing (fingerings and bowings). I am not a big believer in teaching pop music or movie music as primary repertoire, though I certainly have taught and coached it for students as a side project. The main reason for my reluctance is the quantity of valuable pedagogic pieces, all of which were written or edited to improve the playing of the student who studies them. My idea is that mastery of these pieces will allow the player to have the technique to readily play any piece of music they want.
For the past four years I have had the privilege of working as a cello coach in Irvine Unified School District, working at University, Woodbridge and Northwood High Schools. I have gotten to work with high school students who have never taken lessons, and with students headed for Juilliard and similar music conservatories, and with everyone in between. I have offered technical and musical solutions to the challenges they face in the repertoire for their 11 combined orchestras. I love staying extra time during lunch or office hours to work with cello students individually, particularly those who are not able to afford private lessons. Also, I love the times I get to bring in cello chamber music!
As a performer, I have been focusing on historical performance of Baroque music. Due to the pandemic, my primary ensemble, L’Esprit Baroque, is on hiatus, though we hope to start performing again in Orange County and in the San Francisco Bay Area as soon as it is safe. I also have a Baroque duo with my partner, Sylvia Schwartz, a violinist. Our ensemble is called Guts Baroque, and we have a YouTube channel. Since the pandemic started, we have been livestreaming monthly concerts, on the last Sunday of every month, with different programs of music for violin and cello/viola da gamba. You can still view the concerts on our channel, and you are welcome to tune in to future concerts!
I am currently accepting students, including online via FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Google Duo and similar tools. I charge $70 for an hour lesson. Please contact me for more information.