Violin & Fiddle Lessons

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2012 - 2014 Reviews

Violin teacher for both adult and child?

Nov 2013

Hello - I am seeking a violin instructor who is good with both adults and children. The adult is me, and the child is my 10-year-old daughter. We are both novices looking to get some basic skills under our belts. I'd prefer someone who comes to our house (Castro Valley) but will drive to surrounding areas (Oakland, Berkeley, etc.) for a great teacher. Thank you!

I know a teacher who is great with both adults and children. Her name is Andrea Oey and is based in Oakland (I think she also travels to students' homes). Her teaching method is Suzuki-based, and she's had a lot of experience working with all ages and levels. She spent six years living in Singapore playing with the symphony there and teaching in numerous schools, including the national university. Her forte is helping students overcome technical difficulties by focusing on proper form and posture. She is a very dedicated and caring teacher! You can contact her at andrea_oey [at] Josh

Thea Farhadian has been with us for over 8 years. She is an excellent, detail-oriented teacher with experience teaching classical, world music, improvisation and composition for the violin. Although a composer and performer in her own right, both locally and internationally, Thea is very focused on her students. She is encouraging and supportive and works well with children (and adults) of all ages. You can reach her at 917-749-9273 OR through her website: Stephen

Violin lessons for two young boys

June 2013

I was thinking of starting my two young boys on violin and am interested in the Suzuki method at Crowden - checked for reviews, but didn't see many or very recent ones, would love to hear from anyone taking Suzuki violin at Crowden or elsewhere, and even from those who considered Suzuki and decided to against it and why. One particular concern I have is for my older son - he is very curious and eager to learn, but gets easily discouraged in the face of a difficult task or and can be reluctant to try where he sees possibility of 'failure.' When we can help him work through this insecurity, he enjoys and learns readily, so I'd really like to find a teacher who is not only great at making music fun for young kids but can also be very savvy about how to draw out this kind of personality. Thank you!

I highly recommend Kit Eakle who is a Kod\xc3\x83\xc2\xa1ly Master Violin teacher in Point Richmond. You may have to drive a little, but it will definitely be worth it. He is an amazing teacher and connects with children in a great way. He is formerly an elementary music teacher and now has a violin studio. Contact him at kit [at]

I don't know about the Crowden Suzuki program, but I do know the Holy Names University program is really amazing. I believe the parents learn and play along in this program and it is set up to be very supportive and the program runs on Saturdays. Some instructors teach in their home studios, so they may not all be located in Oakland, if that is a concern. You can see the link here:

Practicing on any instrument means that you are doing something over and over that you cannot do. That is why it is frustrating to many young children. It also doesn't hurt to wait until they are ready for the idea of practicing. But parents always know their children best, so you can make the best decision for your child. Learning music reading and writing through the Kod\xc3\x83\xc2\xa1ly method in group classes is another way to develop confidence before picking up an instrument. Just a thought. Good luck with your search and your decision. It's wonderful that you are finding the right program for your children. Jeffrey

Violin Lessons for 5-year-old

Feb 2013

My 5-year-old has expressed a real interest in taking violin lessons. Ideally, I am looking for a teacher in the Rockridge area who has experience teaching young kids. We will also need to rent a violin. So any recos for that would be appreciated as well. Thanks in advance! Mother of a budding musician

Lauren Avery is a violinist and teacher in Rockridge. She's fairly new to the bay area, but has lots of experience working with very young children. Her email is lauren.avery123 [at]

Hello, I would highly recommend Christy Kyong. She teaches my 4 year old son and teaches the students at the Bentley School String Section. She is a wonderful teacher! Her email is christykyong [at] Good luck, Adrienne Adrienne

I highly recommend violin teacher Lila Sklar. She is truly amazing! My five year old daughter started taking violin lessons with her over a year ago. I was so inspired, I started lessons with her myself. She is so patient and makes learning really fun! She is a professional violinist and has been playing herself since she was four. She works from the Suzuki method but also weaves in other theory and practices. There are regular opportunities to see her perform which is inspiring for young students. She does violin and tea monthly for the children to get together and get to know eachother and have an opportunity to play for and with eachother. As students progress, there are opportunities for them to play out as well. Lessons are in her home in a relaxed environment. She is also a mom and really gets kids. It has been a wonderful experience learning from Lila. She is a highly skilled, knowledgeable, and kind teacher for all ages and experience levels. I can't recommend her enough. Happy playing! Violin student

Sarah Zaharako is a fantastic violin teacher for all ages. She has a son who is almost 5, so she definitely gets that age range. My 4-year-old loves her -- she makes violin lessons fun! She finds ways to make it playful, while also setting expectations high. She's also really good at helping parents support their kids' music, whether the parents have musical experience or not. She offers group activities so kids of all levels get a chance to play together. Her website: Jenn

Ifshin's in El Cerrito, for renting. Music Lover

Sarah Zaharako has a wonderful teaching studio conveniently based in Emeryville. She has been teaching 20+ years, teaches many styles, but has an extremely solid foundation in technique and musicality. She is amazing with kids and has a full studio with supportive families. The students give a recital every semester as well as participate in regular concert classes, and these are always fun events that keep the students motivated. Website and phone number below: 510-435-7525 Perney

We are extremely happy with our daughter's violin teacher, Danielle Taylor. Danielle teaches in an Elmwood studio, so it would be very convenient for those based in Rockridge. Danielle is terrific in keeping our now 6 year old daughter motivated and learning, and has been very willing to adapt the teaching schedule and approaches when we encounter obstacles to learning (our girl is a combination of bull headed and over the top enthusiastic, and sometimes she can be a real challenge!). She teaches a combination of reading music / playing by ear. She doesn't work from the Suzuki books, so if you are looking for a Suzuki instructor, this is not the place to go (which to my mind is a good thing!). We love Danielle! Happy to answer any questions dtaylorviolin [at] Merrilee

Highly recommend Becky Rogot through the Holy Names Preparatory Music Dept: 436-1224. She is so good with kids! We have had her for a teacher for 9 years and LOVE her! Happy parent

Looking for Violin Teacher for 7yr in El Cerrito

Jan 2013

Our 7 year old daughter has been taking violin lessons on and off for two years. She says she wants to get serious about violin and wants private lessons which she had last year and when she was 5. My husband and I both work and she is in an afterschool program Monday-Friday in El Cerrito. We are looking for a violin teacher to come to her school to teach her. There are rooms for this at her school. Thank you marilisa

For a violin teacher for youngsters, as well as more advanced players, I would highly recommend Erika Miranda. Both of our kids have studied with her since they were about 7 years old --- meaning that we know that she's very good with the little kids (focusing a lot on ear training), and pulls out the best in the older kids. Erika studied for a long time with Anne Crowden, so she's one of the best chamber music coaches around. This is important, even for beginners, because her recitals feature a lot of ensemble playing, as well as individual performances. If you're interested in having your child become an all-around, well-nurtured musician, give Erika a call: (510) 595-9378. Jeff

Music Classes with violin for 2 year old

Dec 2012

My two-year-old daughter is showing a lot of interest in violin. I would like to take music classes with her where the instructor plays the violin and maybe other instruments while we have fun and dance. Does that exist in Berkeley? Thank you A

Hi! Your toddler is actually just about the perfect age (or super close) for *actual* violin, if she is showing interest- you just need to find the right teacher (that is super important). Look for a Suzuki teacher or similar with lots of experience with little ones (that's huge- ask the teacher how experienced they are with specifically 2-5 year olds and keep moving if they haven't worked with 2-3 year olds especially). If you find the right teacher, lessons are actually just a lot of ''playing'' (learning) while working on age appropriate skills. A typical lesson might include games, singing, and working with a violin or ''fake'' violin, with your involvement. Otherwise, you can check out Orff classes, which don't use violin but will support later violin/music learning. They typically use xylophones, marimbas, etc. and can be super fun, as well! Hope that helps. Feel free to email if you want any more help, information, or have violin-related questions! I should be able to help or refer you to someone else who can. caitlin

You and your daughter might enjoy Music Together which is a parent/caregiver-child class for infants through preschoolers. Much of the class is adults and children singing, playing instruments like egg shakers, rhythm sticks, drums, dancing with scarves, etc. Different teachers play different instruments in class and I know of a few who play violin including myself. I usually only bring my violin to class once a session, but if I knew a child was particularly interested in the violin could plan to do it more. I also play guitar every class and several other teachers play guitar and other instruments. Music Together is a research-based, developmentally-appropriate program and is very informal and fun. I became a teacher after taking class with my own children. For more info: A new session starts in January! eowyn

I encourage you to a try a class at Viola's Notes, a trial class is complementary. My daughter and I are enjoying the Italian immersion class (found through BPN). Though we are not Italian speakers, Viola makes us feel welcome and we have so much fun learning songs in Italian and Italian dances. As a bonus Viola incorporates her violin sometimes and even brought a child's version for the kids to hold and strum. As an instructor Viola is engaging, inclusive and fun! Her website with class info:

Check out Viola's Notes. Our 2.5 year old twins have been taking classes with Viola for a couple of months and they adore her. She organizes each series of classes around the music of a different region of the world. Every week, she brings different instruments, including violin, for students to touch, explore, and hear. Viola plays several instruments, but the violin is nearest to her heart. Her classes include a nice balance of singing, movement, and exposure to instruments. She tells stories and works with children to adapt to increasing amounts of structure. Viola is joyful, patient, and all of us just love her. Debra

Looking for an Affordable violin/viola teacher for 16yo

June 2012

Does anyone know of an affordable violin/viola teacher or a college student who is interested in teaching the violin/viola ? My daughter is 16 and is all of a sudden interested in the violin again. Most teachers want $35-50/hr but that seems really expensive. She has had some experience in middle school but stop playing once she entered high school. She would like to take some lessons this summer. Thanks so much. eliza

I wish our private music instructor charged $35-50! We pay $80 per hour. Also, knowing many professional musicians, I doubt you'll get a high quality instructor for any less than the amount you are being quoted. You might want to call an area youth orchestra (Oakland Youth Orchestra or SF Symphony Youth Orchestra) to see if there are any students interested in teaching. They would probably be more affordable. A good teacher is worth the investment. Good luck! Hope it works out. Music Mom

Hi, Maria. The prices you were quoted seem to be right in the range of what music teachers ask. (For teachers for both my children, the cost was $60 per hour or $50 for 45 minutes.) Aside from that, I can very highly recommend Kaila Flexer ((510) 532-1531). She teaches all forms of string instruments and has been an amazing teacher for our daughter Natasha. Natasha progressed very rapidly, enjoying herself (and rarely practicing). ~ Laurel

Seeking Excellent Violin Teacher for 5 yr old

Jan 2012

I am seeking a great violin teacher for my 5 year old daughter. Looking for someone in the Berkeley area who is experienced, loves music & to teach, is engaging and perhaps has some recitals for the children. Thanks!! Miki

I highly recommend my seven-year-old's violin teacher, Michelle Voilleque (510- 552-8160; She teaches out of her home in the Thousand Oaks area of Berkeley. She's great with kids, very engaging without being patronizing or saccharine, and strikes a good balance between offering constructive feedback and being supportive. Parent of violin player

My 5 year old is taking lessons with Annemarie Sudermann who teaches in Albany, near the Berkeley REI. She's been excellent with my daughter... and with me, helping give ideas for practice and guidance with a young child. She strikes a great balance between requiring the fundamentals, yet coming up with fun games when my daughter's young mind wanders. She has many years of experience and does a modified Suzuki approach. Besides weekly lessons, monthly or bimonthly group lessons are a part of her teaching method to help encourage group playing. Her students also do recitals. Her number: 510-528-3202 Love music

I would like to recommend Sarah Jo Zaharako for violin lessons. She has been teaching kids for 10+ years, and has a wonderful teaching style stemming from Suzuki. There are group classes and recitals, so the kids have goals to work toward and the parents are involved as well. Also, she pulls in members of the music community to accompany in recitals, so the kids have a lot of fun with it and they get experience working on pieces with them. She just recently moved to a great studio just off of Stanford in Emeryville, which is convenient. Her number is 510-435-7525 and her website: Good luck! Eric

I would recommend out teacher Sarah Zaharako at 510-435- 7525. She has taught both my girls from 3rd grade on into high school. Right now her students are mostly in the 4-9 age range. She is very patient with young kids and knows how to give them positive encouragement. They respond very well to her. Gary

I highly recommend Marina Podobedova, in Berkeley near Sacramento & Dwight (510-548-4591). My son started violin with her at age 8 and continued with her through Crowden, youth orchestra, etc. She is extraordinarily patient, never unkind, and stresses correct technique right from the beginning. I also recommend her as a coach to help prepare for auditions, etc. She has a genius for identifying and finding solutions for technical problems and can improve students' playing very quickly. She went to Moscow Conservatory and played professionally in Soviet Union for many years.

Someone posted ''Seeking Excellent Violin Teacher for 5 yr old'' and I tried to respond but I may have been too late. My son has been taking violin with Tarika Lewis since he was 5 and she is EXCELLENT. He wasn't excited at all about taking violin but when she started playing Michael Jackson on the violin, he was hooked. He's 7 now and he really enjoys the violin. The other day he was playing Low Rider by War. He also plays the classics. She is an amazing musician and teacher and now she will be offering violin through Berkeley Parks and Rec on Wednesday evenings at FA Social Hall, (2800 Park St) and they're free! Look for Strings of Soul Hip Hop Orchestra. It says 8-21 but I would definitely check with her because I've seen her work with a variety of ages. Strings of Soul fan

2011 - 2010 Reviews

Suzuki Violin for 4-5 year old boy?

Nov 2011

Now that my son is 4.5, I'm thinking about getting geared up to start him with violin lessons in the next 6 months or so. I read the past posts about violin lessons, but I don't see much about Suzuki violin specifically. Is there a strong local Suzuki community? Feedback? My brother was required by his Suzuki group to take violin lessons for a few months before starting his daughters--both so that the parents could understand what they were asking of the children and so that they could work with them in practice sessions at home. Is this universal or a quirk of his community? If not Suzuki, what is a better approach? Anne

You pose a really good question! I am violin teacher myself, in SF, and I teach an integrated Suzuki method, which means I take the best of the Suzuki practice (family support and participation, ear training, great repertoire), and add in developmentally appropriate games and music-reading exercises. I grew up in Palo Alto with a teacher who also used a ''mixed'' Suzuki methodology, and I learned a lot and was inspired to become a professional musician myself. (I am actually an opera singer as well as a violinist). Anyways, to bring this long- winded answer to a close... Mr. Suzuki had a lot of great ideas, and I definitely respect his methodology, but I would be suspect of any teacher who blindly follows his program without individualizing for each student's learning style or age. TB

My daughter, now 12, has benefited tremendously from working with Ondine Young. Ondine is very good with beginning students and is an accomplished violin/violist herself. She knows the local string community well, and can answer the questions you're asking about Suzuki/modified Suzuki/something else entirely. She can help you find out what will work best for your family, your son most of all. ondinetyoung [at] 510 233-9403 Sincerely, Michele

I would highly recommend Carol Vitcha, she is in Richmond, not too far from Home Depot. cvitcha [at] 510-234-6855 She has an advanced degree in music education, and continues to update herself on teaching methods,specializing in Suzuki. It is clearly a passion for her. My son and I would feel so positive after the lessons with her. She told us that in the past, she would ask the parents to begin violin as well, but it doesn't seem to be realistic these days. Jennifer C

Violin lessons near N. Berkeley Library

April 2011

I am looking for a violin teacher for my 11 year old daughter for two days a week after camp during the summer. We would prefer something as close to N. Berkeley Library as possible so she could walk to the lesson. She has been taking at Oxford and will not be the next Midori Ito, but she enjoys it and wishes to continue her lessons.

I'm not sure if this is what you are looking for but I highly recommend Catherine Manning! She teaches fiddle (traditional bluegrass & folk) out of her home in El Cerrito. She is a really great teacher,outstanding with kids and a wonderful person. I'm sure your daughter will enjoy working with her. Her husband Chad teaches adults and is an accomplished bluegrass musician. Cathy's contact info is chadandcath [at] and her phone # is 510-734-0910. anon

I've been a BPN reader for many years, but this is my first time posting. I just wanted to be sure to put in a good word for KC Stills, a violin teacher who works through Crowden School's Suzuki program. She has been teaching my son for 3 years and we've seen him progress from a reluctant (and very goofy!) five-year-old to a poised, enthusiastic student. She has great patience, excellent attention to form and tone and a real love of teaching. We absolutely love her and can't wait for our daughter to start lessons with this fall. Susan

Violin Teacher for Former Violinist

Sept 2010

I'm a former violinist (played for 20 years from the age of 5) and gave it up many years ago. I'd love to find a teacher who can help me re-learn what I've forgotten and possibly transition to the viola (I have both instruments). Any recommendations welcome. Thanks. Susan

Jim Shallenberger is a terrific violin and viola teacher who has both adult and child students. My son studied violin with him for two years and now I have been studying with him for four, and also my son's close friend has been studying with him for three or four years. Jim's in North Berkeley and you can reach him at (510) 524-6996. jane

Music lessons for kids 4 and 9 in Albany?

March 2010

Hello, I have two kids - 4 and 9 - who are very musically inclined. The little one loves the drum set he got at Christmas and the older one sings all the time and plays simple tunes on our 10 year old Yamaha piano. I would like for them to get some formal training from an experienced musician who also knows how to work with kids, someone who can nourish their enthusiasm for music. If you have some good experience with such a person, please let me know. I would prefer someone local in Albany, but if the teacher is really exceptional I would consider even someone non local (say up to Oakland). Thanks. Joan

Our daughter has been taking violin lessons with Annemarie Suderman for over 8 years. Annemarie has helped her to blossom into a very talented musician with an amazing musical ear. Annemarie works with the Sazuki method for the most part, but also brings in other pieces as the children mature in their music. Annemarie is a very gifted violinist herself and she is wonderfully patient and attentive with the children. She works will all ages of children. When they are ready, the children also all play in a group lesson about once a month together- a trio, quartet or quintet, depending on who is at what level for playing. Sometimes a cellist accompanies these groups for recitals. She also works with an incredible pianist who accompanies the students at recitals. The older students also have the option of learning viola- she teaches both. The music is beautiful and the children really blossom as musicians. Annemarie also has a background in psychology and is incredible about understanding each child as an individual person and musician. She is a gem. Can't say enough about her as a person and teacher. The students become very close to her- she really cares about their music education. et

Violin lessons in Oakland for 7 year old

Jan 2010

I am looking for a violin teacher in Oakland who can make music fun for a beginning student. My son has previously taken piano lessons using the Suzuki method, but lost interest when he was 5 1/2. Now he is asking to take violin.

Sarah Zaharako in Berkeley (510-435-7525 , is a wonderful violin/viola teacher. She has been teaching for 15 years and has a multifaceted approach using music from around the world to make lessons fun and interesting. Sarah has researched and put into practice many wonderful tools for developing the musical mind. She uses the Suzuki method, but supplements with pieces that make it fun for the kids and their families. As a bonus, she teaches out of a lovely home with a very nice family and a cool tail-less cat named Yanga. String Lover

We love our violin teacher, Sarah Zaharako from Berkeley 510-435-7525. She is great with both of our kids and they have wanted to continue with lessons even when they no longer play at school. She is very patient and has a great supportive teaching style. I heartily recommend her for any kids who want to learn the violin. GB

I would like to recommend my daughter's violin teacher, Kaila Flexer, who is an excellent musician and wonderful with kids--she really has a knack to inspire them on the fiddle. My daughter has been working with Kaila for about 3 years, since her 7th birthday. Kaila's repertoire is varied and she seems well able to adapt to different learning styles apart from the traditional violin exercises. Laura

2008 - 2009 Reviews

Nov 2009: Violin teacher for preschool-age kids?

I'm looking for a violin instructor who has experience with children ages 3-5 who might be interested in leading weekly group lessons. Location could be in a participating family's home or at a location chosen by the instructor in the El Cerrito/Albany/Berkeley area. Any recommendations? Crowden sounds wonderful but is a little out of our price range. Amy

Try Albany Music School, which opens in December 2009: they have both private and group classes for kids 3+. I've known the director for 4 years and she's outstanding: she's both sweet/patient with kids and very prepared technically. Tel: 510-528-4047 E-mail: info [at] Web:

I would like to recommend Vicky Grossi at our studio, Musically Minded in Rockridge. I am the director of this non-profit and I hired Vicky because she is fantastic with kids and adults. She has a unique way of presenting musical concepts that feels like play for the kids. They are able to learn all of the beginning material while enjoying themselves. One of her young students recently passed through the first two levels with ease and said that the lessons felt like a play date. Families love Vicky! She also teaches viola and electric bass., anna [at], 510 428 4094. Anna Orias

Sept 2009: Violin Teacher for Adult

I am an adult looking for suggestions for a violin teacher. I see in a previous post on the subject someone recommended Phyllis Kamrin, but that was over a year ago and the email listed no longer works. Any suggestions? Thanks! AM

I highly recommend Vicky Grossi at Musically Minded Studio. This unique studio has five different teachers and offers weekly private lessons. Students who enroll may also attend monthly group events which are fun and educational and give you access to the other instructors and students. The combination of feedback from a private instructor as well as access to student peers is a wonderful educational element. Vicky is intelligent, fun, versatile and her students love her. Her mastery of many different styles of music is unique and she is a real gem. I highly recommend her for students of all ages. FYI, she also teaches viola and electric bass., 510 428 4094, admin [at] enthusiastic learner

Lila Sklar is a terrific teacher and a truly lovely person. I know she teaches adults, as well as kids age 8 and up. She teaches at her home on the Berkeley/Oakland border near Sacramento St. Find her info at Ruth

Sarah Zaharako is a wonderful teacher , fluent in many styles. She can be reached at : 510-435-7525 or zaharako [at] . perney

I thought most of Phyllis' students played viola, not violin, though I don't suppose it matters. I've heard wonderful things about her. I'd also recommend Jim Shallenberger: 524-6996. fellow adult violinist

June 2009: violin teacher for 11-year-old

Hi, We're looking for recommendations for patient, warm and fun private violin teachers for our 11-year old daughter who has been taking violin lessons for almost 3 years. The preferred locations are Berkeley, El Cerrito and Albany (or, better yet, our house in Kensington!) Thank you! Anonymous

Lina Bouze is a wonderful violin teacher. She has a rich musical background, she is extremely patient and loves to teach kids. Lina also plays in the Oakland Symphony. It is so much fun to see your teacher in the orchestra. I took my daughter to a concert to see Lina play. She loved it! Lina's phone number is (510)848-6641. She lives in Berkeley and teaches at her home. Feel free to e-mail me or call at (510)710-4366 with any questions. Elena

Dennie Mehocich is an excellent violin teacher. My daughter has been taking cello lessons with her for the past two years and it has been a great experience. She teaches throughout the school year at a nice studio in N. Berkeley and has summer classes through the Albany Community Center. She is also leader and violinist with the Marin String Ensemble and founder director of the Albany String Academy. You can contact Dennie directly at (415) 456-6101. I highly recommend her! Pam

Both my daughters (11 and 16) have been taking lessons from Sarah Zaharako for several years. Her number is 510-435-7525 and she lives in Berkeley. She is wonderful with kids and I have never heard her raise her voice to any of them. She is patient and has quite a lot of expereince with many types of music. She plays professionally and really knows how to get the best out of the kids. Gary

Sarah Jo Zaharako is a great violin teacher in South Berkeley. She is especially great with kids and has lots of experience. Everything from classical to folk to jazz to free improvising. Her number is 510-435-7525. Eric

May 2009: violin teacher for young girl

Hello! I am looking for a good violin teacher for my 7 years old girl. In Berkeley. I will be happy to hear your recommendations. Thanks!

There is a wonderful violin teacher in Rockridge at Musically Minded Studio. Vicky Grossi has a great way with children. She is professional and fun. The kids have great confidence because she makes it all seem easy. Her directions are very clear and the kids have a great time. The studio has monthly events and gives out prizes for practicing and achieving skills levels. Call the studio and talk to the director about Vicky. You can set up a free meeting to learn about the studio and meet Vicky to see if it would be a good fit for you and your daughter., 510 428 4094, admin [at]

Lina Bouze is a wonderful teacher, and she gives lessons to young children. I loved being at my daughter's lessons and listening to how patiently and creatively Lina found ways to teach children. She also plays in the Oakland Symphony Orchestra. Lina's phone number is (510)848-6641. Elena

We have chosen the Suzuki method of violin for our daughter for many reason. If you read the book called Nurtured By Love by Shinichi Suzuki it will in the first chapter give you fantastic reasons to go this route, mainly that your daughter will learn skills that will remain with her for the rest of her life that will have practical applications anywhere. We happen to have a great teacher in the Oakland area by the name of Danielle Charbonneau (510)336-9787. Many parents start the lessons very young (3-4 yrs) but it is not necessary in order to be successful. avantress

I highly recommend the classes and teachers at Crowden in Berkeley. Their CCMC division has a bunch of good teachers, both Suzuki and traditional. Check out their website and their summer possibilities. Some of the teachers accept students privately as well. KC Still

I can wholeheartedly recommend Sarah Zaharako in Berkeley as a violin and viola teacher for children and teen-agers. She has taught both violin and viola to our daughter for several years. During that time she has imparted not just physical technique and musical proficiency, but also how to artistically interpret music, ways of overcoming difficulties and obstacles, and how to perform together with other musicians. Our family has been very happy with Sarah, and I'm sure you will be too. Her telephone number is (510) 435-7525. Ed S

Sam Mansfield is an excellent violin teacher for young children. He is currently a Music Major at UC Santa Cruz, but will be teaching in Berkeley this summer. He has been a violin coach at Crowden Music School and at Cazadero. He can be reached at (510) 524-2055. a parent

April 2009: violin teacher in Berkeley for 7-year-old

Hello, I am looking for a violin teacher for young girl (7 years old) I am looking for someone that is friendly and works with kids, as well as affordable. Thank you!

Michelle Levy is an excellent violin teacher in Berkeley, and teaches both children and adults. She also performs on medieval viel, viola, and violin in a range of styles. Her email is michelle.levy82 [at] Daniel

Vicky Grossi is a wonderful violin teacher in North Oakland in the Rockridge area. She is teaching at Musically Minded Studio. She also teaches viola and electric bass. She is a high energy person who is passionate and enthusiastic about music. Her students adore her. She is a wonderful resource. I know it is not in Berkeley but, she is so great that she is worth the drive!, admin [at], 510 428 4094 anon

I don't know what style of music (classical, jazz, folk, etc.) you are thinking of, if any in particular. I have worked with a very talented violinist, Lila Sklar, who lives in Berkeley, does teach kids (I believe), and has a 5- or 6-yr-old of her own. She specialises in Balkan folk music, but can play just about anthing. Feel free to email me and I'll e-introduce you to her. John

The Crowden Music Center in Berkeley offers affordable private violin lessons for all ages and levels of experience, including both traditional instruction and Suzuki method. Our violin faculty, all warm, wonderful teachers who are also active and distinguished performers, includes GC6ran Berg, Heghine Boloyan, Wendy Clymer, Rem Djemilev, Doris Fukawa, Lisa Grodin, David Ryther, KC Still, Sara Usher, and Ondine Young. Lessons are held at Crowden (1475 Rose Street at Sacramento, just two blocks from North Berkeley BART) and scheduled at the convenience of the family and instructor, and financial assistance is available. We also offer a number of beginning instrumental classes and ensembles that might be appropriate for your daughter! For more information, contact us at 510.559.2941 or ccmc [at], or visit us online at Crowden Music Center

For years both our kids have been seeing Sarah Zaharako, 510-435-7525, who lives in Berkeley. She is a young woman who is very talented (plays in at least 2 local bands, and works very well with kids. She is very patient, and works in a very positive way to get the students up to the next level. She is familiar with a variety of types of music which makes if fun for the kids. She gets our highest endorsement, our kids love her and look forward to her lessons each week. Gary B.

After trying out a few violin teachers, our 6 year old son finally settled on a wonderful one named Michelle Levy. She teaches violin and viola out of a studio called Music Sources on Alameda Street in Berkeley, but also makes home visits if you live near enough. She is skilled with children and an accomplished musician whose enthusiasm for music is infectious. Xavier looks forward to his lessons and is learning so much! I highly recommend her. She is new to the area (moved here following her own violinist mentor) so I believe has some teaching availability at the moment. Her cell is (339)927-5698 and email is michelle.levy82 [at] Rebecca

I would like to recommend Sarah Zaharako our violin teacher. She is excellent with children. She does not put enormous amounts of pressure on her students but keeps them moving steadily forward. She also has them learning how to improvise from the very first lesson. She is kind and patient, never punitive or impatient. She has taught my 12-year-old daughter since she was eight. She is located on California Street off Alcatraz and is currently taking students. Please email me if you can't find her number. zoe

We love my son's violin teacher, Lila Sklar. She is fun, patient, and very musical. She plays in several professional groups. We love the fact that after the student gets the classical basics, they can play any style of music they enjoy That keeps the motivation much higher. My son, now 15, has been studying with Lila since he was eight, and now chooses to play a variety of fiddle tunes, and some klezmer/eastern European style music. Lila teaches at her home in Berkeley (near Sacramento and Alcatraz). She has a few openings. She usually doesn't take kids younger than eight, but will consider them if they are ''serious.'' You can read more about her, and find her contact info at her web site: Feel free to contact me if you want any more info.

Jan 2009: Violin Teacher for 5.5-year-old

My daughter has been asking for violin lessons since she was 2 or 3. I'm finally ready to consider letting her take lessons. I looked at all of the recommendations and they are all either quite dated or for Suzuki-method teachers. (I am not interested in the Suzuki method because I'm not willing to make that much of a time commitment to the lessons.) I don't play an instrument, so I have no idea what makes a good music teacher or whether 5.5 is too young to start taking violin lessons. She is a pretty serious little girl with a long attention span. She tried many instruments at the Crowden School instrument petting zoo, and is still determined to take violin. Any recommendations out there? Noel

Our daughter and friend started violin lessons at age 6, with Ondine Young. She teaches at Crowden, and also from her home off the Arlington in Richmond hills on Friday afternoons. She is very flexible and does not do a strict Suzuki method (although we use a Suzuki book). We really like her, and she has lots of fun ways of teaching. You can send her an e-mail at ondinetyoung [at] lori

Is 5.5 too young for violin lessons? No, however, the younger the child is, the more interaction that will be required by the parent. For example, my son is 4.5 years old, and he's taking violin lessons (modified Suzuki method). However, there's no way that I can read a book during his lessons and just tell him to practice his violin. I need to know what he's working on and help him practice it.

I learned violin when I was in fourth grade in my elementary school. My parents didn't know what was going on, but I was old enough to practice on my own.

Therefore, my advice is if you don't want too much involvement, then wait till she's older and more self-sufficient. If you want to start her now, then you'll probably have to figure out what she's doing and help her practice.

My son's teacher is Erin Benim. She's really good with kids. However she uses a modified Suzuki method and at your daughter's age, I'm thinking that it will require some time for you to work with her and her practice/lessons. Good luck, Toshi

Aug 2008: Violin Teacher for 3 year-old

Can anyone recommend a violin teacher for a 3 year old? Fay

Goran Berg teaches FABULOUS Suzuki violin lessons at the Crowden School in Berkeley, where they take kids starting at age 3. The environment is wonderful, with all the older kids running around with their instruments and music coming out of all the rooms, and the people are wonderful. I highly recommend! Happy Suzuki Mama

I highly recommend Michele Voilleque who is a music educator who works specifically with children. She is a licensed Kindermusik educator and has played the violin all her life. You can see Michele's webpage at Email her at mvmusik [at] or call 552-8160.

There is an excellent fiddle teacher for children in El Cerrito -Catherine Manning. Some of her students are very young children and she teaches traditional, bluegrass, folk, fiddle tunes. She has a monthly kids jam where her students are invited to a jam session at her house. My husband takes mandolin lessons with her husband, Chad (a great fiddle player and teacher who plays with David Grisman's Bluegrass band)and has helped out at a few of the kids jams playing mandolin. He tells me Catherine is terrific with the kids and as a group, they play great and have a good time. Her contact info is: Catherine Manning email: chadandcath [at] phone: 510-734-0910

May 2008: Violin Teacher Adult

Hi there- I currently play the fiddle and I'm looking to also take some violin lessons with a classical focus. Does anyone have any recommendations for an violin teacher for adults? Many thanks! Audra

Yes! I highly recommend my violin teacher, Jim Shallenberger. I've been playing for only 7 or 8 years, and Jim's been my teacher for the past 3 or so. He was with the SF Ballet Orchestra for over 20 years until he injured his shoulder a couple of years ago. He still plays, and will play with you in lessons (or accompany you on the piano), but he doesn't perform anymore. Jim is a wonderfully supportive teacher and great at diagnosing playing problems. He teaches at his home in North Berkeley: 524-6996 or JShallee [at]

Eric Hansen specializes in teaching adults violin. He is music director of Prometheus Symphony Orchestra in Oakland, on the music faculty at Cal State East Bay, and has been teaching violin privately for many many years. He works out of his home studio in El Cerrito, and is a warm, musical, and supportive teacher. 510-847-6127. anonymous

April 2008: Crowden Suzuki Violin Class for 3 yo

I'm considering Crowden Music School's Suzuki Violin program for my 3 year old. I'd welcome feedback from parents who have recent experience with Crowden Suzuki program or have recommendations for other approaches to introducing an instrument to a musically enthusiastic 3 year old. My toddler particularly likes drums and guitars. Thank you. pdf

As the Director of the Crowden Center for Music in the Community, I encourage you to come and observe some Suzuki classes in action. That will be the best way for you to determine if the program is a good match for you and your family. We are also offering a free parent seminar on Saturday, May 3 from 1:30-3:30pm (parents only). At that time, you can meet the Program Director and learn more about the Suzuki philosophy. The Suzuki method is specifically designed to encourage and nurture young children in a musical environment of peers and families. This places a larger demand on parents than many other pursuits, since parents are required to attend the classes and support daily practice at home. The rewards can be wonderful both musically and otherwise! Please feel free to contact me if I can be of assistance in any way. Marion

This is our 4 year old son's first year of Suzuki violin at Crowden and we love it. (He was three when he started.) It is a very positive approach, giving tons of encouragement and support. Everything about Suzuki makes sense. It's non-competitive, individual growth is celebrated, children are expected to progress at their own rates and yet each child is made to feel part of a group of musicians. Additionally, skills are built slowly providing a very solid foundation before moving on. For example, the first few classes focus on how to hold a bow. Then children learn how to use the bow on the strings enough so that they can participate in performances and get the sense of what it's like to make music. When they feel successful with these skills, only then are they introduced to the left hand. Watching our young four year old learn to play and feel successful has been a joy for our entire family. While I am not familiar with any other method, I can't imagine a better approach. We have particularly enjoyed the attention given to his experiences and the support he has been given when he's felt frustrated and/or nervous. Coupled with this, we feel fortunate to be part of a program that gives equal support to the parents. Please feel free to email me with specific questions. Shoshana

We LOVE Crowden's Suzuki program. Our son is almost 4 1/2 and he began earlier this year. He started violin when he was about 3 1/2 with Ondine Young (she's wonderful and also happens to be a teacher at Crowden). Ondine recommended Crowden's Suzuki program and our son has really enjoyed it. In fact, my husband says that he values the classes for its parenting tips - he has learned to be more patient and more encouraging with our son by attending the classes with him. It is time intensive in that there are 2 classes per week but you (your child) reap the rewards by learning to love music and how to play. you can email me directly for more information. twodoggies

2006 - 2007 Reviews

Violin teacher for a 4 year old

Oct 2007

looking for a playful and fun violin teacher for a 4 year old - who has asked to play the violin. (she did not get this from her parents - dad plays the allman bros on his guitar) looking for someone who is warm and child centered. suzuki method is a must. (i have looked into, and do not feel the crowden center is appropriate for us at this time) Julia

Danielle Charboneau (510)336-9787 is near the Caldecott Tunnel in Oakland. She is very experienced with small children, and makes the early stages of learning violin fun. Be warned, though, that although the Suzuki method is effective, it can be a real commitment. Suzuki mom

I did not see your original post, but I have to take every opportunity to recommend our violin teacher! Briana Waters has been my daughter's violin teacher for almost 2 years. My daughter started taking lessons with her when she was 3. She LOVES Briana. Briana is very low pressure & patient w/ the kids. BTW- Briana uses the Suzuki method. She does lessons @ her home near Mills. Her contact info fiddlocity [at] (510) 336-9819 Virginia, mama to a violin (sort of) virtuoso!

Viola teacher for 11-year-old

August 2006

I am looking for a fun viola teacher for my 11 year old son. In the Berkeley, El Cerrito area. Any ideas? jc

The Crowden Center for Music in the Community offers private instruction on the viola, as well as string ensembles and instruction on other instruments. We are located at 1475 Rose Street (corner of Sacramento) in Berkeley. Please contact us at 510-559-2941 or ccmc [at] for more information. We'd be happy to send you our brochure and/or tell you more about our programs and teachers Marion Atherton

Violin lessons for 2.5 year old

April 2006

I am looking for a violin and/or mandolin teacher for my 2 1/2 year old. My husband plays violin and mandolin with him and he loves it. Any one know of a teacher who is loving, patient, good with this age group and teaches kids this young. He is able to sit through music lessons for hours at time and loves music. Someone close or in Alameda would be perfect. THanks!

The Crowden Center for Music in the Community is starting a new Suzuki Violin program for children ages 3-7. The program will be directed by Goran Berg, the founder and director of the highly acclaimed Suzuki Strings Academy in Livermore. Mr. Berg is a dynamic and experienced music educator who is wonderful with young children. Please give me a call if your child will be three soon! Marion Atherton Associate Director, Crowden Center for Music in the Community (510) 559-2941

2004 - 2005 Reviews

Patient Violin Teacher for 13 year old

October 2005

My 13 year old son would like to try a couple of violin lessons to see how he likes it. Recommendations for a PATIENT violin teacher appreciated. We are in El Cerrito. sukell

My son is taking lessons with Ondine Young, at her home near El Cerrito. She has a very calm personality, making me think she would be quite patient. She clearly has a lot of teaching experience.

Here's the posting from BPN announcements a couple of months ago:

  ARLINGTON ARTS MUSIC STUDIO ($TBA sliding scale)  submitted by: Ondine Young (ondinetyoung AT  (Appropriate for all ages)  The Arlington Arts Music studio has more openings for the fall/winter season. Ondine Young, William Skeen, and others teach individual and group lessons for all levels of strings (violin, viola, cello), beginning piano and recorder. Sliding scale fees available, TBA. Locations in Berkeley and Richmond off of the Arlington. We believe in using a variety of teaching methods to suit the individual and group needs, from aurally-based Suzuki to visually-based Orff-Kodaly; teaching both ''by ear'' and incorporating elementary reading skills. The health of the body and enjoyment of the music making process lead the way. Ondine and William are free-lance musicians who also teach at CCMC/The Crowden School of Music in Berkeley, lead the CCMC Saturday Children's choir, and produce collaborative concerts at St. David of Wales Church. For more information on teachers, please visit or (Ondine Young, William Skeen, and others TBA). Please contact ondinetyoung AT or call (510) 233-9403 for a trial lesson. 


Violin teacher for my child and I

June 2004

I'm looking for a violin teacher who can teach a group lesson to my son (5 years old) and I. We both have never played before so we'd need to rent violins also. I thought if we took the lesson together it would encourage both of us to practice as well as enjoy the experience together. Looking for a teacher in El Cerrito, Albany or Richmond.

The Crowden Center for Music in the Community has violin lessons for both children and adults. There are also chamber music groups for kids and chamber music concerts on Sundays throughout the year that are geared toward families with children. It's a great place to learn about music. Vickie

Violin Teacher for 3 year old

April 2004

I am looking for a Suzuki violin teacher in Walnut Creek area. My child is not 3 years old yet and still needs some time. But I would like to attend the children concerts or open classes with him. Any info is very appreciated.

The city of Walnut Creek has a wonderful arts education program: I can personally recommend one of their instructors, Rem Djemilev, who is great with kids, teaches private lessons and conducts several youth orchestras around the Bay Area. I'm sure there are other good teachers in this program, too. I don't know whether they would take a child as young as three years old, but it's worth a try. Music Lover

2002 - 2003 Reviews

Violin teachers for young children

Sept 2003

I'm interested in hearing experiences with violin teachers Ann Marie Suderman and Ondine Young, particularly in working with young children. I only saw one post in the archives on Ms. Suderman. Anon

Anne-Marie Suderman has been my daughter's violin teacher for two years. Anne-Marie has always been patient, humorous, caring, and encouraging. She even bakes delicious coffee cakes at the childen's monthly Saturday group lessons!

We tried sample lessons with three other teachers before we chose Anne-Marie (for whom we had to wait 6 months to find an opening). Each of the other three was bizarre in some way - we were beginning to despair about the ''artistic temperament.'' We immediately clicked with Anne-Marie's mixture of caring, warmth, and seriousness.

Anne-Marie has taught several of our friends' children for many years. The children range from six years old to high school age, and some are very talented, some less so, but they all have become accomplished musicians and the parents think highly of her. Her concerts always emphasize support for each musician.

I think you need to have fairly long conversations with any potential teacher and have at least one sample lesson before you sign on with anyone!

Best of luck finding the right person. I feel very fortunate to have found Anne-Marie! =Another opinion!

Suzuki violin teacher for 6-year-old

April 2003

I did look in the archives but I didn't see what I wanted specifically: a Suzuki violin teacher for a six year old. Any recomendations? Winoka

Danielle Charbonneau is an excellent teacher for young children. She is teaching three of ours (5, 8, and 12 years old). She is young, friendly, and lively, and quick to understand a child's personality and tailor her instruction accordingly. She lives just off Highway 13 (Broadway Terrace exit). I'm not sure whether she wants to take on any more students, but if the location can work for you, it's worth a call: (510)336-9787 Good luck. Eirik

I would like to second the recomendation for Danielle Charboneau. My 8 year old has been taking lessons with her for the past year. Danielle is an excellent teacher. My daughter loves her, and looks forward to the lessons and concerts. Even though she still doesn't like to practice, her playing has shown great improvement over the past year! Danielle's phone number again is: (510)336-9787 Mary

Violin teacher in Oakland or CC County

January 2003

I live in Antioch. I am looking for an experienced violin teacher for my daughter, preferably a Suzuki teacher. Do you know any violin teacher who lives in downtown Oakland area or in Contra Costa County (anywhere closer to Antioch)? Thanks. Helen

Try calling Julie Athayde (925.254.8661). She is a wonderful violin teacher; if she doesn't have openings she may be able to recommend someone else closer to your area. Another good teacher is Sharon Wood (925.825.9248). Elisabeth

We are very happy with Danielle Charbonneau, who lives in Montclair, near Lake Temescal. We have three children, ages 5, 8, and 11, taking lessons from her, and I would be happy to talk to you about our experience, with her and with other teachers. (510)336-9787 Eirik

Violin teacher for adult

July 2002

I am looking for a violin instructor for a musically inclined 35 year old who hasn't played the violin in 25 years. Danielle

I am a violin teacher in Berkeley and I teach adults as well as children. Feel free to give me a call and talk about what you're looking for, schedules, fees, etc. 548-3738 home/work phon I. Sazer

I highly recommend Jim Shallenberger. His specialty is teaching violin to adults. I started lessons with him about 6 months ago, never having played the violin before. He is patient and encouraging. His number is 524-6996. Jill

I am a violin and viola teacher with a large adult student population. I offer individual lessons as well as a chamber music class for adults who are at either a beginning or intermediate level. I love doing this and am always so impressed that adults can find the strength and fortitude to flourish on the path toward musical expression! My studio is in Southwest Berkeley. Phyllis Kamrin, almaduo at

Online violin instruction:

Violin Teacher for 5 year old

Nov 2002

Does anyone have experience with the Holy Names Suzuki program for children that they could share with me? Any specific teachers there that that you recommend? Or, do you have a violin teacher for your child that you love? I live in Redwood Heights in Oakland and am looking for something fairly close to my house. This will be my son's first music instruction. He has expressed interest in playing the violin consistently for the past 2 years. Sheila

I highly recommend Danielle Charboneau, who lives near you (just off 13/Broadway Terrace) and just moved here from Chicago. She inherited many of Robin Reid's students (including three of my children, ages 5 to 11), when Robin stopped teaching last year. I have heard mixed reviews of the Holy Names program, but have no personal experience with it. Good luck. Eirik

Earlier Reviews

Violin Teacher for Toddler

October 2001

I am hoping that someone might be able to recommend a violin teacher in the Berkeley area who specializes or at least has experience in working with toddlers; specifically, a 2.5 year old. A Suzuki teacher would be ideal, but I would consider other methods. I have been working with my child myself, but feel we could both benefit from some exposure to a specialist, as I am reaching the limits of my expertise. I have been told that there are people who focus their work on children this young, but they all seem to live a considerable distance away.

Try the Preparatory Department at Holy Names College, they have a large Suzuki Violin, Piano, etc. department there and could probably either help you there or recommend a teacher. But the advantage of the larger program (especially for violin) is being a part of the group classes and recitals, it's a real community. Amelie

The Preparatory Music Department at Holy Names College has a large Suzuki program, and I know some of the teachers take very young students. Cynthia

Annemarie Suderman in Albany is a kind, gentle and caring Suzuki violin teacher. She spends a fair amount of time accomplishing the proper position of the instrument, which I think is great so kids don't hurt themselves playing incorrectly, and incorporates melodies and songs appropriate to the child's abilities. Nori

Nov 2000

I would like to reccommend an excellent violin teacher: Zachery Carrettin, 594-4000, ext. 207. He is located in North Oakland, and teaches both jazz and classical violin.

We have Donna Lerew, a master violin teacher, for our daughter for the past 9 years, and we're very happy about her professional, gentle, and encouraging ways. Donna Lerew: 510-524-5203. She is on Hopkins Street. Good luck, Yoko

My daughter has taken lessons from Carla Picchi for the past two years. Carla is a very talented teacher who plays more than one instrument and my daughter has improved tremendously under her tutelage and has really begun to enjoy music. I highly recommend her. Her prices are little expensive $50/hr but I think she is worth it. She lives off Broadway Terrace, close to Rockridge. Stella

My daughter (9 years old) has been taking Suzuki method lessons from Wendy Reid for three years. She's a wonderful teacher with high standards. She's teaches out of her house in Berkeley. Wendy is affiliated with the Preparatory Music department at Holy Names College. Call Holy Names at 436-1000 regarding their program and other teachers in the Berkeley area. I'm not sure if they offer group lessons.

Violin teachers: Edith Szendrey and Eugene Chukhlov, 510-758-7870. They are excellent musicians, are interested in teaching, and recently moved to El Sobrante. From South Berkeley it is about a 15 to 20 minute drive to their house. Ruth

From: Christina

Someone asked about a violin teacher -- Our 8 year old takes violin lessons with Edith Szendrey, 215-7810. She's been taking lessons for about a year, and it seems to be going well. I know Edith has students younger than our daughter, too. Edith lives in Mira Vista, a neighborhood in Richmond on the El Cerrito border.

All Fiddle Reviews

Fiddle lessons for 12 year old

March 2012

Fiddle teacher wanted for 12 year old to learn, ''from scratch''. She had 2-3 years of piano but wants to learn to fiddle. In Berkeley area.

Lila Sklar taught my daughter fiddle for many years until she went away for college. Lila did insist on classical positioning and scales but also taught her a wide variety of folk music styles from Irish fiddle tunes to the Middle East. My daughter always came home from her lessons excited and inspired. At one point Lila even introduced my daughter to some electronics and improvisation when my daughter spoke with her about joining a band. My daughter still remembers her lessons with Lila fondly and is now playing in a band at her college on the East coast! When she first started with Lila, she was coming from another teacher and was burned out on the classical Suzuki track. Lila rekindled her love for music and now she has a skill that will serve her for the rest of her life. Lila teaches out of her home in South Berkeley her # is 510-282-5452 mom of a happy fiddler!

The Fifth String darlin! right there on Ashby and adeline. Its a world of fun! Reenie

Hi, we love Catherine manning. She teaches kids and her husband, chad, teaches adults. He also plays with the David Grisman band and Laurie Lewis. They teach at the tannery buildings on gilman street. She's pretty busy but might as well check in with her and see if there's a slot! Catherine manning: 415-596-5961, chadandcath [at], Maria

I can highly recommend Catherine Manning, who offers fiddle lessons to children from her studio in Berkeley. My daughter has been taking lessons from her for about a year and Catherine is a wonderful teacher: Kind, patient, positive, and encouraging. She also offers regular jams with kids playing together. Part of the enjoyment of learning from her is that she accompanies the children with guitar or another instrument so that even simple tunes sound good. She can be reached at: chadandcath [at]

Fiddle Teacher for kids in North Oakland?

Nov 2011

can anyone recommend a good fiddle teacher for kids near north oakland? mom of 7 year old

Kaila Flexer lives in Oakland and accepts students of all levels and works with both children and adults. She works with people interested in exploring folk and fiddle styles, jazz and improvisation. Google her or write to Kaila [at] Shay

Rosie Steffy teaches my son fiddle in North Oakland. She is fantastic with kids. My son is 5. He can already play some nice sounding notes, and is learning basic rhythm. She teaches in a folk style, strictly by ear. Her number is 510-547-4824. Su

Fiddle Teacher for adults

April 2011

I am looking for a fiddle teacher for a beginning adult. Thanks! Mare

I highly recommend Kaila Flexer. She's amazing as a musician and a teacher for any age. Dashka

I highly recommend Lila Sklar in Berkeley When I first started taking lessons with her I was in my early 50's and had not played since I was a child. She was patient and inspiring and encouraged me to play what I liked to listen to! She is very thorough about things like position but she has a very free flowing attitude about style. (One of her specialties is Balkan and middle Eastern music.) She helped me with reading and ear-training and now I play in a chamber music group as well as a Turkish Folk Music band! I would still be with Lila if I had not moved to the East Coast. Marie

I see a great violin/fiddle teacher (Lila Sklar) in Berkeley. I picked up the instrument at 34 years old with ZERO experience and am happy with the progress I've made over the past two years with her. Lila, who's been playing since she was 5, is patient and has respect for us adults trying to learn such a challenging instrument. In addition to technique and reading music, she puts emphasis on relaxed and proper body mechanics (so that we won't tire out as players and can enjoy our music for a long long time!) Check out her web site: Sierra-maria

Nov 2009

Re: Violin teacher for preschool-age kids?
There is an excellent fiddle teacher for children in El Cerrito -Catherine Manning. Some of her students are very young children and she teaches traditional, bluegrass, folk, fiddle tunes. She has a monthly kids jam where her students are invited to a jam session at her house. My husband takes mandolin lessons with her husband, Chad (a great fiddle player and teacher who plays with David Grisman's Bluegrass band)and has helped out at a few of the kids jams playing mandolin. He tells me Catherine is terrific with the kids and as a group, they play great and have a good time. Her contact info is: Catherine Manning email: chadandcath [at] phone: 510-734-0910

March 2009: Fiddle Lessons for 10 year old

My son wants to learn fiddle. I looked on the archives and saw lots of violin teachers, but no fiddle teachers. Anyone know of a fun, affordable fiddle teacher in the Oakland area? My son reads music well and has studied piano for 3 years. I'd like him to try a couple of lessons before deciding whether to switch instruments. music mama

I know just the person for your son! Amy Hofer is fabulous--fun, patient, good sense of humor, an excellent teacher, and terrific fiddler. Contact her at: 510) 213 0702 E-Mail: hoferamy [at] She lives in Oakland, too! --an Amy Hofer fan

Kaila Flexer is an amazing fiddle teacher, performer, and composer. My 10-yr-old daughter has been taking lessons from Kaila for 4 years, and she loves it. Kaila is fun, inventive, and creative. She and my daughter laugh A LOT during the lessons, and my daughter is inspired both to play songs she already knows and to stretch with new material. Highly recommended! You can check out her website at for more info, and to hear the music she plays and performs with her band, Teslim, You can contact her directly at kaila [at] Janet

Irene Sezar is a wonderful teacher who does fiddle as well as other styles. She's in Berkeley.510-418-1965 Sarah (another violin teacher)

Contact Kaila Flexer through her website, She is great and fun, a mom herself, an accomplished musician and experienced teacher. And I'm sure she would be happpy to teach your son to fiddle!! Former Fiddler Myself

Hello- I would like to highly recommend my daughter's fiddle teacher, Catherine Manning. She is so wonderful with our daughter and with all the kids she teaches. As well as the lessons she also has monthly fiddle jams for her students where they all get together and play. Really fun! You can email her at: cath_manning [at] Fiddle Mama

March 2008: fiddle teacher for myself and my son

I am looking for recommendations for a fiddle teacher for myself (a beginner) and my son (who has taken a year of violin lessons). Preferably someone closer to the Pinole area. Sharyl

I just joined so I don't know what your original post said but if you are looking for some great fiddle teachers I highly recommend Chad and Catherine Manning. My daughter and I have been taking lessons from them for several years now, Chad is spectacular with adult beginners, he also performs with the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience and Catherine is wonderful with kids. They are located in El Cerrito, Chad's website:, their email: chadandcath [at] Happy Fiddlin!

June 2005

I haven't played the violin since I was a kid and now I'd like to start over but play fiddle instead of going the classical route. Can anyone suggest a teacher. Thanks. Stefanie

I highly recommend Chad Manning, he specializes in teaching adults (beginners, intermediate or advanced) - teaching all kinds of fiddle styles: bluegrass, jazz, swing, improvisation etc. His website: Phone: 510-528-1311 Have fun fiddling!!!

I take fiddle lessons from Robin Flower. She is the best! I didn't know a thing about violins or fiddles and because of her I am able to play many many tunes and even participate in her Once a Month String Band - we are performing this Saturday. She teaches in Oakland. You can contact her at 510-482-9479. Check out her website at Sandy


May 2003

In past summers, somebody offered ''Fiddlesticks'' a half day violin class on what else, but fiddling. I think this person was located in Richmond. Is this program still happening? We are looking for a fun strings experience for a 12-year old with 4 plus years of violin, that is local (Berk/Alb, EC,Richmond, N.Oakland), that would last 1-2 weeks. I searched for Fiddlesticks on the web site and came up with no hits. Does anyone have previous experience or a name/phone number to contact them by? Thanks for the help! (Cazadero won't work for us this year.) Lissa

Question was: Is Fiddlesticks still around?
Answer: YES! I am the director of FIDDLEKIDS and I assume this is what you are looking for. FIDDLEKIDS is a one-week intensive day-camp providing instruction in traditional fiddle styles with accompanying art and dance. One year minimum on the violin is required prior to camp and the camp is for kids ages 7-13. Further information can be found at: or email me at bobbinik at
Bobbi Shearn Nikles