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Slapin-Solomon Duo and Studios

(413) 345-5062

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VIOLIN AND VIOLA LESSONS

“I feel strongly that every child – not just the musically gifted – should receive some musical instruction. With rare exceptions, children have an instinct for music, are to a certain extent musical, and should be musically developed. For the child’s own future enjoyment and his own satisfaction, he should learn to play an instrument. These days, when we are trying to make things easier for our children, we may be too timid about the process of their learning an instrument. Children should be forced to learn an instrument, gently but firmly.”

- Jascha Heifetz

Teaching Philosophy

Our main goal in the lesson is to help you build a solid technical and musical foundation in an enthusiastic and non-judgmental atmosphere. We gear our lessons to the individual and endeavor to foster a deep love of music and sense of accomplishment.

The emotional benefits of both playing and listening to music are well documented. A good teacher can help make your musical journey fun as well as give you technical advice that only comes from much experience in the field. We have extensive knowledge of many approaches from which to draw, and we do not believe in the "one size fits all" method of teaching.

In addition to playing great music, learning an instrument also comes with social benefits. Once at a certain level of proficiency, it is possible to join a community orchestra and to read chamber music with like-minded people.

We have taught students of all ages, and it is never too late to take up a string instrument if you have a passion for it. We enjoy teaching students along the full spectrum, from complete beginners to advanced professionals, and the unique challenges at various stages of progress keep us in shape as teachers. We look forward to meeting you and coming up with a plan that is best suited for your personal situation.

- Scott and Tanya
Tuition rates for Amherst and South Hadley (please inquire about Skype rates and individual lesson rates):

​Private violin lesson/viola lesson rates $150 - $280 per month 
Rates vary depending on length of lessons (30 minutes, 45 minutes, or 1 hour) and location.

Locations:

Amherst, MA
South Hadley, MA
Online lessons via Skype

Sign up here for lessons via Skype or in Western MA!

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(Photo by Diana Isabel Smith)

FAQ:

What instruments do you teach?
We each teach the viola and her little brother the violin. Scott also teaches composition. 
Do you teach people my age?
If you are at least 8 years old, yes we do. We also have many adult students...it's never too late to take lessons!
Where do lessons take place?
We have a studio in South Hadley, MA where most lessons take place during the week. On Saturdays, we teach in Amherst, MA (just north of the UMASS campus).
How much do lessons cost?
That depends on how long your lesson is and where it takes place. Lessons can cost as little as $150/month for 30-minute lessons in South Hadley or as much as $1400/semester (5 months) for 1-hour lessons in Amherst.
I can't afford to pay for a whole semester up front!
Because of rental contracts and scheduling, students must pay for the entire semester upfront in Amherst. (We'll still be paying rent on those who quit mid semester.) However you are more than welcome to come to South Hadley for lessons where you are not required to pay for the entire semester upfront. If you really prefer Amherst, maybe 30-minute or 45-minute lessons will be fine for you (depending on the situation). Please see next question for pricing.
What are the exact prices for lessons?
SOUTH HADLEY pricing (monthly): 30-minute lessons $150, 45-minute lessons $210, 1-hour lessons $250  AMHERST pricing (per 5-month semester): 30-minute lessons $875/semester (5 months), 45-minute lessons $1200/semester (5 months), 1-hour lessons $1400/semester (5 months).
Do I need to purchase a violin/viola first?
It's a good idea to at least rent a violin or viola before your first lesson. Please avoid purchasing instruments online (Amazon, Ebay, etc). That is a very risky move. You may end with an instrument that is ok or it may be awful. Without seeing it and hearing it in person, you are taking a chance. Please get in touch with us about local violin shops.
Why should I take lessons with you? There's a violin teacher right down the road from me.
There is a big range in teachers. While we don't know how your neighbor teaches or plays, we have a great deal of experience both in teaching as well as performing as soloists, chamber musicians, and in full-time orchestras. We have studied with some of the leading teachers at well-known conservatories such as the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Manhattan School of Music. You can even hear us play on many recordings (look for us on iTunes or Spotify)! We also have many videos up on Youtube. We would love for you to check them out as well as those of other teachers you are considering! 
I have soccer sometimes and might have to miss some lessons. Can I get a refund for missed lessons?
While we understand you have other interests ouside of the violin/viola, we are still reserving a specific time for you every week. We will likely not be able to fill this time so we cannot refund money for those lessons missed. To keep scheduling easy for everyone, we ask that you look over the upcoming year and choose a time that will work from September through June. Of course, in the event of a real emergency, we'll try to work with you.
I live in California. Can I take Skype lessons?
Of course! We have taught over Skype for many years (from Australia to Austria!) and we think it works very well for those with some experience. As long as you have played previously for at least a year and have high-speed internet, we are happy to give you lessons over Skype. 
How much are Skype lessons?
SKYPE lesson pricing (monthly): 45-minute lessons $220, 1-hour lessons $260
I'm not sure if I should take 30-minute lessons or 1-hour lessons. How do I decide?
Generally, students under the age of 12 take 30-minute lessons (unless they are quite advanced already or have a much longer attention span). For everyone else, usually 45 minutes or 1 hour is a good length for a lesson as we have more repertoire/music to work on the more advanced you become. Sometimes adult beginners ask for 30-minute lessons if their work schedule is especially busy and we are generally able to accomodate that.
I want to play in an orchestra. Do you offer that?
Yes! We have a string ensemble that rehearses 2 Saturdays per month during the year in Amherst. Generally, students must be age 12 or older (including adults!) and around Suzuki book 3 level or higher. It's a mixed level group that ranges from people who have played only a couple of years to those who are quite advanced.
I'm 60 years old. Can I still learn to play the violin/viola?
Of course! Anyone can learn at any age....though it may take a little longer. We are extra careful with adults to make sure no injuries arise from playing. You can even take lessons at age 80!
Can you come to my house to teach since I have 2 children who want lessons?
Unfortunately we don't travel to teach, except to our studio in Amherst on Saturdays. If we can find a time, we can try to schedule your two children back to back (we do not teach group lessons). Please inquire.
I live in a retirement community and can't drive to lessons. Can you teach me here?
Unfortunately we don't travel to teach (see above). However, if you can get several people to sign up for lessons in your community, please let the community manager know and perhaps we can work something out.
Do you teach Suzuki?
While we don't teach the "Suzuki Method" specifically, we do use the books for beginners. If you are starting the violin/viola at age 2-5, a Suzuki teacher can be very helpful. In general, we stick to the most standard materials for developing technique both in repertoire (such as the pieces contained in the Suzuki books) and in etudes such as Wohlfahrt, Kayser, Kreutzer, Rode, Gavinies, and Paganini.
I only have time for 1 or 2 lessons per month. Is that ok?
We believe that weekly lessons are the best option, especially for beginners. Based on experience, we do not offer only 1 lesson per month as we do not believe it leads to success. However, we may offer two lessons per month if that is the only option for you (except for beginners and younger students). This is determined on a case by case basis. It's very important to have continuity in the beginning otherwise you will forget important things in between lessons leading to bad habits that are hard to get rid of. Having someone there at regular-enough intervals to remind you how to play correctly is key.

“Providing violin and viola lessons to Western Massachusetts, including South Hadley, Holyoke, Amherst, Northampton, Easthampton, Longmeadow, Hadley, and Springfield."

©2019 Scott Slapin and Tanya Solomon
All rights reserved.