Violin/Viola Lessons for Kids

Parent Q&A

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  • Hello,

    I’m looking for a violin teacher for my 7-year old. We’ve been going to a very exacting teacher (Suzuki method) and I don’t think it’s quite the right fit for him. Despite having a lot of enthusiasm and a positive attitude, I think their particular teaching style is killing his spirit and interest. He’s willing to practice and tries his best, but I think he needs someone more warm, positive, and encouraging - he’s held back tears during lessons because he feels bad that he can’t get things up to the expected standard.
    Suzuki or traditional would be preferred, but open to other styles, as long as the teacher is good with younger children.
    Thank you so much!

    I want to recommend Irene Sazer, She's an amazing musician, warm and creative teacher, and all around great human being. If she's not teaching or doesn't have openings, she might be able to point you to another great teacher.

    info [at] (isazer[at]me[dot]com)


    My daughter has been taking lessons with KC Still for two years and she is fantastic. My daughter loves her. She is very warm and encouraging and keeps it fun. We’ve see younger kids at the recitals and they seem to be having a great time. Here’s her website:

    I don’t know if Alameda is too far for you from Berkeley, but Starland is a great little music school. We are working with Judy and she’s a great, positive, enthusasitc, low-pressure violin teacher. 

    I highly recommend Dennie Mehocich. My son took lessons from her for several years starting at around that age. She has a studio across the street from Fat Apples in Berkeley. Her phone number is 415-686-4110

  • My kid has been begging for violin lessons for almost a year. I've been searching for a teacher for many months unsuccessfully. We finally found great teacher but she won't accept students whose parents cannot come with them. We found another teacher who is located in North Berkeley which is too far for us. We lost a babysitter who could take the kid around after school. Anyhow...

    We finally found a new babysitter who is able to take the kid to the lesson but now we need to find a teacher who is willing to accept students without parents showing up. Several teachers we found will not accept students without teachers accompaying them! [The world is so unfriendly to 2 full-time working parent household sometimes...]

    We need a violin teacher who will be good with a 6 year old beginner and who has openings during after school hours or early evening (5 - 6:30). If the teacher is close to where we live (near Piedmont Ave. Oakland), we could do a slightly earlier lesson. 

    We'd appreciate any leads you have. I feel so guilty as my child again reminded me this past weekend that I had promised to find him a teacher. 

    [Moderator note: There are 8 violin teachers who have subscribed to BPN - see the Tutor/Teacher listing on BPN's website.]

    I wish I had a name suggestion but my recommendation would be to reach out to the Crowden School, a day school with a focus on music, specifically string instruments based in Berkeley. They would likely have lots of recommendations for you, including age-relevant ones. I hope that helps!

    It may also be that a group lesson may help with learning the violin. This was a big part of my learning when I started (at 4).

    Contact Viola Pellegrini, who teaches violin, lives in N. Oakland, and is truly gifted with kids.  She is just the sweetest, kindest person you will ever meet.  She came to our house in N. Berkeley when our daughter was 8 and taking violin lessons, and we still miss seeing her every week!  (Your child can also go to her home/studio.)  Her website is, and her contact information is:  musicandmovement [at], or (510) 593-9660.

    If your child wants violin lessons that badly, I would start ASAP. Age six is a great time to start. My daughter studied violin for many years and reached a very high level and continued on in college. I know you may not like hearing this, but having a parent go to his lessons, especially in the earlier years, will pay off tremendously, and he will progress more rapidly. I speak from experience. You will be getting a much better value this way. Parents are essential for supporting their kids as they learn an instrument. Parents will see what their kid is learning in lessons and help reinforce it at home during practice time, and the student will become a more confident learner. Teachers offer time slots in the evening, and so you should be able to find something that fits your work schedule. I never found a high quality music teacher who made house calls. The teachers' time is too valuable to be traveling around. 

    My daughter had several different violin teachers over the years. One of them did not allow parents to attend lessons, which seemed strange to me. I think this teacher may have been trying to hide something. During this period, she hit a plateau and stopped progressing. I, as her parent, had no way of knowing how to help or support her. She eventually switched to a new teacher, and I always attended her lessons so that I could take notes and know how to support her. She improved a lot during this time. 

    The Crowden Music Center and Holy Names University both offer private lessons for kids learning string instruments. Playing in some sort of ensemble with other kids is also helpful and makes learning more fun. Good luck!

    My kids have made great strides learning violin w/ Ariel Wang. She makes house visits and doesn't have rules about who must be attending the class with child. She also can teach guitar, which is good to know in case your kid tires of bowing and wants to try strumming (this has prolonged my daughter's interest in music lessons).  

    Email: arielwangmusic [at]

    Good luck! - signed, Oakland Hills mom

    Love love love Becky Rogot.  She has such a sweet way with kids, that they really want to learn.  She teaches on Saturdays.

    Wish my kid could have taken her to college after 12 years with her!

  • Can anyone recommend a fiddle/violin teacher for my beginner 8 year old who is close to montclair?


    Our eldest daughter, who is now an adult and out of the house, was a student of Debbie Dare, in Piedmont near Montclair, for many many years. I’m not sure whether Debbie is still teaching and I no longer have her contact info, but she was an awesome teacher for our daughter, very inspirational and positive. Under her guidance our daughter enjoyed practicing regularly, made stellar progress, and later continued to pursue music as a second major in college.  I highly recommend her.

    My daughter has been taking suzuki violin from Danielle Charboneau for 3 years and I can't say enough good things about her. She has high expectations, but I am constantly amazed at how her students all seem to rise to the challenge. She has a great way with kids and is able to support them and help them work through challenges. She makes violin fun without ever getting frazzled. Her program includes private lessons, a weekly group class, optional chamber groups, and recitals. My daughter loves her and we couldn't be happier with her progress as a muscian.

    You can ask Holy Names Preparatory Music Department (at HN University in Oakland) for a referral.  I think it's mostly Suzuki teachers.

    Viola Pellegrini is fantastic. My children both study piano -she teaches violin and piano - with her and she is a conservatory trained musician and early childhood trained through Mills. A teacher through and through - a creative, encouraging, fun music teacher. 

    And her sister teaches harp - recitals are really fun with students playing all three instruments. 

  • Hello! My daughter who is 6 now is interested in taking violin and/or cello. Can anyone recommend a violin and/or cello teacher around the area that will travel for private one on one or group lessons with reasonable rates? Thank you!

    Hi, I am not sure whether she travels for lessons, but you might want to contact Gael Alcock. She lives in Central Berkeley and is a wonderful teacher and person.

    My daughter and her friend is taking cello lessons with Satya Jimenez. She is a wonderful teacher who is traveling from the city on Sundays to teach the girls. She plays the violin but is teaching beginning cello at the moment and she is great! My daughter loves her. I believe she graduated from San Jose State with a bachelor in music and has been teaching for about 6 years specializing in violin lessons from beginning to intermediate levels. She also has experience with viola and cello and music theory as well. She works great with all ages and is passionate about sharing music to the community. She is currently studying with her private teacher who plays in the San Francisco Symphony. Satya is also forming a quartet and studying at the Berkeley Jazz School. Here is her contact information: satyalessons [at] or windsatya [at] ph: 831 535 9247. 

  • Hi my son is 11 and has been taking viola in Los Angeles where he's learned both Suzuki and fiddle tunes. I'd like to continue this now that we live in Berkeley. Does anyone have a recommendation for a teacher who can do both styles?

    My son has been in the Crowden School's Suzuki program for more than four years, and they incorporate a lot of fiddle tunes into their lessons and recitals.  I highly recommend the program, but you might be too late to register for this fall session.  You can contact the teachers directly about the possibility of private lessons, though. The two teachers my son has studied with at Crowden teach both violin and viola.  They are excellent musicians, fantastic teachers, and nice people -- KC Still and Rebecca Reed-Lunn.  You can reach them through these sites:

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Violin for 4 year old -- where to start?

June 2016

My 4.5 year old has expressed interest in learning to play the violin. I don't play violin myself and am not familiar with the various approaches to teaching young children to play (Suzuki v. Kodaly v. something else?) but I notice that the Suzuki method seems to be prominent in the Bay Area. What advice would you give a parent/child just beginning violin lessons? Should we be looking for group or private lessons? Can you recommend any specific schools or teachers? I would like this to be fun for my son and inspire a life of music making so am wary of a negative first experience. Thank you, Sarah

Hi Sarah: This is in response to your question about violin instruction for a 4.5 year old. I'm a somatically-oriented Bay Area music teacher with 35 years' experience teaching private lessons (same number of years with membership in Marin Symphony) and anticipate applying for my Suzuki teacher training in July.

I'm wondering if you've taken any of the pre-instrumental music classes, such as the ones taught by 'Jingle' Jeff Luna-Sparks (a Kodaly method master teacher, also a credentialed classroom music teacher in Albany)? At 4.5 especially, music is an exploration. The first thing to find when looking for a music teacher is the fit of the student and family with the private teacher. The next thing is, the teacher needs to work together with student and parents to establish rapport and work on engaging the student imaginatively through the various modalities of learning: Hearing, watching, moving, simultaneously educating parents, whose job it is, according to Shinichi Suzuki, to help the child with daily practice sessions and music listening at home.

Most have heard that the Suzuki method is good but they don't know why, and active parental involvement in the process daily at home is a critical part of the why. Shinichi Suzuki was a brilliant observer of human behavior and one of the first modern strong advocates of the need to create better education from Day One, literally. I recommend getting a copy of his short autobiographical book, a very engaging read-- probably not unlike the way he taught-- titled 'Nurtured by Love.' That said, there are very good non-Suzuki teachers out there who work very effectively with their students. Every single student I've worked with is unique and I tailor my teaching to their needs. Hope this helps! Dennie M

We started with Suzuki for a year or two before my daughter tried the Fiddlekids camp in Berkeley. She was immediately hooked on fiddle music, and I agree - it's fun! I highly recommend checking out Manning Music (chadandcath [at] Music is taught by ear, and kids learn to play with others from the beginning through group jams. I now have 2 kids taking fiddle lessons there. Fiddle is the same instrument as violin, but a different style of music, and a different way of teaching. Kids learn to play songs they can sing and play with other people, and they get to be part of a really great community. There are plenty of Suzuki or classical violin teachers out there, but we are lucky to have a wonderful old-time / bluegrass community in the Bay Area. Check out Manning if you're interested. Sharon

Ifshin Violins... it's a national treasure! I haven't been to their Albany location... but, a great place to start! Oren

Hi, I am both a professional violinist and teacher. I taught at the Crowden School for seven years as a protege to Anne Crowden (the founder of the school) and have headed other string programs for other institutions as well as founding my own (several of my students have gone on to win major awards, scholarships and accomplishments nationally and internationally).

I often get asked how early parents can start their children on the violin. While I know it can be tempting to give very young kids lessons as soon as they show an interest in the instrument the reality is that most 4-year-olds are not really ready (developmentally) to take on the kind of discipline and focus needed to develop good habits. I therefore recommend that-- in most cases—it is in the child’s best interest to wait until they are 7 or 8. This is the age when most kids are actually ready and physically/mentally able to ensure they have the best experience in music (although of course, it can vary with each child and there are exceptions).

These are the reasons why: Playing the violin requires paying attention to really small details in their physical form (ie. Exactly where each finger goes on the bow or how to hold the violin without creating tension in the body etc.). If these things are not developed from the very beginning, bad habits form which include using the muscles in the wrong way and creating both mental and physical tension . Bad physical and mental habits are VERY difficult to change (and sadly, one does see a lot of that in kids playing the violin who started too early or didn’t’ have the right training).

The best case scenario for bad habits/tension is that it slows a child's progress and creates frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed as progress slows way down. Worse case scenario is that it can cause injury (repetitive strain) and the result is that kids can actually get turned off music. On the other hand, when a child is truly ready, and with proper training, they can really take off and then they get to really experience what makes music such a vital part of our being—that sense of deep connection and expression.

Parents also ask if their child will then lose their interest in playing by waiting but it's quite the opposite. I have never seen a child lose interest. If anything, the desire only gets stronger for having waited.

What you can do to prepare the way for the violin early on is to enroll your child in non-instrumental music classes (such as 'Kindermusik', Eurythmy, Kodaly, Orff or other such programs). There they will start to sing, learn to “feel” music by moving their bodies musically, learn to read music and rhythms, etc. This develops their musicianship early on which will facilitate their progress on the violin (or any instrument) once they are physically and mentally ready to begin. I hope that helps!

Good for you for supporting your daughter's musical interest! I started playing violin at age 3, using the Suzuki method. It's geared toward younger kids and toward learning by ear (reading music is taught later). Of course, a lot depends on the teacher, more than the method, but most Suzuki teachers have undergone lots of training. My kids are learning Suzuki piano, and have been in the program at Holy Names University. I don't know any of the specific violin teachers there, but there is a great cello group class that met in the classroom next door to our piano teacher. Most Suzuki programs have private lessons, and then occasional group lessons. Good luck! music mama

Seeking Suzuki Violin Teacher for 5 year-old

June 2015

Hello BPN We are relocating from Portland, OR to the bay area this summer and will be living on the Elmwood/Oakland border. Our 5yr-old daughter has been taking violin since last Fall with a great Suzuki-based teacher. We'll be looking for a violin teacher to continue with. We'd be happy to get recommendations for a suitable teacher of young children. We'd prefer to have lessons in home but we're also OK to travel (reasonably). Thanks Nick

My daughter has been taking violin lessons for 8-9 years from Wendy Reid. We started in kindergarten! Wendy has a calm, non judgmental encouraging approach that works for my child. She's located in North Berkeley near Live Oak Park. Her number is 510-644-1685.

We love Becky Rogot who teaches through the Prep Music program at Holy Names (Oakland at Redwood Rd exit off Hwy 13). She has taught my son cello for over 10 years and also has a number of violin students. She is patient, joyful, funny and talented. I have had over 9 private music teachers myself over the years and wish I could have had someone like Becky when I was young! You can reach her at rrogot2002 [at] Becky fan

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 Kodaly 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

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

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

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

Violin teacher for preschool-age kids?

Nov 2009

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

Violin teacher for 7 year old girl

May 2009

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

Violin teacher in Berkeley for 7-year-old

April 2009

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.

Violin Teacher for 5.5-year-old

Jan 2009

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

Violin Teacher for 3 year-old

Aug 2008

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

Crowden Suzuki Violin Class for 3 yo

April 2008

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

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

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

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

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 for daughter 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 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

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.