Susan Kirchhausen, violist
Viola, Violin & Piano Lessons
Testimonials from current students might give potential students a sense of what to expect; however, simply experiencing a one-on-one session is the best way to know if we would be a good match. Studio policies are explained here.
Teaching Philosophy / Approach
Students have varied learning styles and diverse goals; therefore, I have a rather flexible teaching approach to ensure that students remain enthusiastic and develop the skills they need. During lessons, rather than just giving instructions, I ask questions to make sure they are fully engaged and are truly grasping the concepts being taught. I also routinely have students analyze their playing to be sure that they are recognizing what work needs to be done on their own. Together we find constructive ways in which to make their overall practice habits more efficient and rewarding.
Owning Concepts - Note Reading and Rhythmic Comprehension
Many students come to me after having gone through other methods that are oftentimes more of a rote learning approach. My forte is helping students to make the tranisition to note and rhythmic reading. These skills are essential, as they instill in students the confidence to pick up any new piece of music and start learning it on their own.
Developing Proper/Good Technique
Playing a musical instrument is physically demanding, so it is critical that good habits be embraced early on. The initial physical set up is of the utmost importance and will continue to be adjusted somewhat as the student grows. Adopting the right posture and stance help maintain a healthy spine, inspire clean technique and overall confidence, and minimize potential pain from doing it incorrectly.
Musical expression can be a bit tricky for younger students to achieve, especially since they are often concentrating hard on just getting the notes right! One way I help students access their inner musician is by asking them to make up a story they think goes with the music they are playing. This can help draw out untapped emotion, and helps the music “make sense” beyond the notes on the page.
I am a firm believer that students find their inspiration from many different sources. When students are ready for something beyond their school orchestra, I encourage them to join one of our many local youth orchestras, attend fiddle/improv workshops and summer camps, try out for competitions and All-District & State orchestras, and to form music groups of their own. There are also instances where I will recommend a different teacher if it is in the student's best musical interest.
In addition to their own children's performances (including our upcoming recital on May 31st at Tower Hill Botanic Gardens), I urge parents to take their children to concerts - even just one or two a year – so students can see and hear professional musicians at work. (Bonus points if it is one of your teacher's performances!)
Most importantly though, I strive to provide a safe environment in which your child can explore and find out who s/he is musically and otherwise as s/he grows and ventures out into the world. My hope is that your child's involvement in music will foster more awareness, sensitivity and love for her/his fellow human beings around the globe.