June 30th, 2021

Hello, Fiddle Families! 

   What a fun summer we've had so far! I had so much fun this doing some teacher training, teaching at two Suzuki Institutes, and doing lots of outside lessons with my own studio families. (Including our first in-person group classes in over a year!!) We've also had a couple of new families join the studio this summer which are already off to a great start using my new Pre-Twinkle Steps & Phases! 

   We have a super exciting performance coming up on July 10th that will showcase all of the different levels of students from Pre-Twinklers to Advanced :-) The performance will start at 5:30 (performers will need to arrive no later than 5:00) on the lawn outside of the Anchorage Museum. The total performance will last one hour, but I will be dividing our set up by levels to keep the number of students on stage low and allow breaks for students throughout the set. I think I have enough T shirts and masks for the families who have already committed, but if you'd like to perform and haven't confirmed, just give me a heads up ASAP so we can figure that out!  

   Registration for both summer AND fall lessons are now up on the website. Fall semester registration is due by August 14th! (I will be putting the schedule together on the 15th, so if you aren't registered with your schedule requests by then, you may miss out on those high-demand afternoon lesson times!) If you haven't signed up for the July or August blocks or intensives yet, there are still some spots available. I'm keeping the attendance requirements for the summer pretty flexible compared to the fall and spring semesters, so families are welcome to sign up for individual lessons, group classes only, or any combination that works for your schedule. If you haven't seen me at ALL this summer, let's talk about a plan for getting caught-up before the fall semester. Even if it's just one lesson, I want to make sure everyone's posture and technique aren't falling out of place (especially for the kids that have had some pretty big growth spurts lately!) I can promise you no one will completely forget how to play violin, but as kids grow, their muscle memory start telling them to put things out of tune or out of place if they go too long without putting their instruments up and playing. If I don't see you the whole summer, don't be surprised if we go backtrack a bit in the fall so I can catch you up on technique ;-) 

   While I still plan to utilize our outdoor space as much as possible this summer, I know I will need to eventually need to surrender the deck to let my Husband finish setting up his luthier shop, and move indoors as the temperatures drop. Being fully vaccinated, I've been pretty comfortable just doing whatever families are comfortable with in terms of masks during private lessons. Our hybrid group classes have been working wonderful outside with up to four students wearing masks for in-person lessons, and everyone else participating online on Zoom. Outdoor group classes probably won't be an option this fall as it gets too cold, but I think I can keep our group sizes small by splitting up the levels a bit more and by keeping the option to participate on Zoom available for anyone not comfortable doing in-person group classes yet. I may be able to find a larger space (like the AUUF sanctuary) for us to use instead of my smaller basement studio.  

   By now, I think most of you have figured out how to log into MyMusicStaff via the Student Portal. Once you are logged in, you can view lesson notes, schedule, pull up tons of videos and practice tracks, and log your practice. (Logging practice will be a requirement once the Fall Semester starts!) While there is no actual "app" you can download onto your phone, once you get logged in on the web browser on your phone, you can "add to home screen," which should make it pop up just like an app :-) I pay the big bucks for this so you all can use it for free, and using the portal is an essential part of my studio... So if you are having any troubles whatsoever, PLEASE don't hesitate to let me know so I can help walk you through any hiccups. 

    I need to let everyone know that after the summer I will be implementing a bit of a rate increase for the Fall Semester tuition. Last year when pandemic kept kids home from school (and my husband away from his work) I became our family's primary bread-winner for the majority of the year, and despite teaching lessons both mornings, afternoons, and evenings... it still was a struggle to keep up financially. After 15 years of teaching experience, and upping my teacher certifications to a book 4  level, I have also realized that my rates to not line up with where other experienced and well-trained music teachers are. Before anyone gets too stressed out over this rate increase, please note that the total semester tuition is actually pretty similar to last semester since I will only be doing two group classes per month per level instead of three. I want violin lessons to be accessible to families of all incomes and certainly don't want anyone to leave my studio because they cannot afford lessons. One option to consider to help make your tuition a bit more affordable is to take your private lessons every-other-week. (I'm hoping this will also help me fit the high number of families in that will need the limited number of later afternoon spots.) I will also offer partial or full scholarships to families most in need. All the information with the new rates can be found on the lesson rates page on my website. 

   Before I sign off, I just want to say thank you to all the families who have helped keep my little studio going through this crazy year. Trying to come up with the "perfect" rhythm for running my studio has always been an evolving process, but I am so impressed with how well everyone managed to adapt to such drastic changes and still be able to learn, grow, and enjoy music so much! With some new ideas and inspiration under my wings, I can't wait to see how this generation of students are going to learn and grow as musicians and humans. As always, please don't hesitate to let me know any ideas, questions, or concerns you have. 

- Amanda


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