Private Lessons
Workshops • Performances


Here are some comments from students and fomer students
expressing the value they experienced in taking lesson at Singingwood.

“I was trained in classical violin as a child, and played in my high school and college orchestras. I continued to play as an adult, performing with local symphonies until my children were born.

After being away from music for about ten years, I began fiddle lessons with John. In the very the first lesson John introduced me to aspects of music that had never been explained to me before: approaches to technique, details of expression and articulation, methods of practice…

As an adult, I particularly appreciate his supportive approach. He's provided the means for me to view music-making in a whole new light.

   —  Melissa Marcil

"John is one of the finest teachers I have met ... in any field! I cannot say how thankful I am, and how much I enjoyed meeting and taking lessons with him."

   —  Jack Gregorio

“I am very pleased with Tiffanie's progress. She started violin at age seven, and has been playing for just over two years now. She's progressed much faster than I expected.

Tiffanie has played at three recitals. These have been very motivating, plus they've been fun and exciting for her. She likes playing in performances.

John's frequent reminders about posture, hand positions, and technique have helped Tiffanie to achieve and maintain excellent playing habits. And he always gives these reminders in a very friendly, positive, calm, and encouraging manner.

His recordings have made a dramatic impact on her ability to learn the assignments — and though some of the assignments have been quite challenging, they've always been fun, and therefore exciting from her perspective. And the hand-clapping rhythm exercises have been great for her."

   —  Jeanneane Eslami

“I’m nine years old, and I like to play, and do lots of things, and I'm busy with sports and school and friends. But I like my fiddle. It's not always number one on my list ... but it's on it!

I started playing fiddle when I was four and a half. Starting so young, I couldn't read or recognize all the letters of the alphabet. I was able to learn because you geared my lessons down to my level.

I learn music really fast now. I used to struggle, and I didn't like all the work, especially when I was younger. But now I enjoy it. It's not work, it's fun.

I like playing for people and especially performing. I think the way you teach, like playing small loops in a new song, or memorizing a song from the end to the beginning is good. Playing in loops really helps a lot. That's one of the most important things you've shown me. And listening to the tapes helps a lot too.

I’m a better student at school because I can pay attention. Some things seem easier for me and I think it's because of my music training. I also know that anything you want to be good at takes practice, and that goes with just everything.”

   — Andrew Fields

NOTE: Andrew took first place in the PeeWee division at the Alameda County Fair Fiddle Contest, July '99. and placed second at the Cloverdale Fiddle contest in May '99, which was his first fiddle contest.

— Comments from Andrew's mother —

“Your manner and encouragement, patience and communication rank an A+++. And your memory techniques and learning tools are great. They really work! Practicing in loops has been most helpful. Playing a loop, speeding it up, and then looking away from the music has helped Andrew in memorizing music, and has made him comfortable playing by heart.

Your teaching materials rank another A. Advice: A. Explanations and assignments: A. You are very clear and thorough when explaining. Creativity ranks an A too, especially regarding improvisation. Andrew really enjoys that.

Motivation is good. The occasional group lesson, music parties, and performances help to make the "payoff" for all the hard work. Both Andrew and his brother Alec would enjoy occasional group sessions in the future.”

   — Jean Fields

 “Our son Patrick returned from the La Honda Music Camp yesterday. This year his skills earned him first violin, third chair. And he was part of a select group of violinists featured as soloists. Last year he was middle second violin.

I don't think that he, his father or I realized just how much he has developed over the past year. It’s been a tremendous amount of growth ...what a credit to you as a teacher!!! Thank you!!”

   —  Samathia Achuff

Patrick also took first place in the Junior Division at the Alameda County Fair Fiddle Contest, July 1999

“Alexa loves her lessons and she really takes pleasure in learning new songs. Our family enjoys listening to her play. She's looking forward to performing in a recital, and wants to join the orchestra at school when she’s old enough.

John has helped her develop poise and confidence. At her lessons, if she gets frustrated or upset for any reason, John is always able to calm her down. He consistently points out her accomplishments. Then he gives her specific, attainable goals to work on, explaining exactly how to practice them. He always makes sure that she understands what to practice, and the purpose in practicing it. His written reminders are great! And I'm so happy that John got her singing.

John’s a wonderful teacher in every respect! He’s always calm and polite with Alexa and with other students that I have seen. I would recommend him to anyone wanting to learn an instrument.”

  —  Carrie Lewis & Jeanette Peterson

“One of the things that pleases me most about John is his instant enthusiasm for any song that Eric asks to learn. I've known so many people who've had music lessons as a kid, but became disinterested because they weren't learning the songs that were important to them.

John is tirelessly patient with Eric and expends considerable effort conveying the most efficient learning techniques. As a result Erik's holding the guitar and playing it in a much more efficient manner. Plus his sound is much cleaner than before.

John always makes sure that Eric understands each concept, and he always finds a positive way to introduce constructive criticism.

He's an excellent teacher.

  —  Ron Phillips

“I’ve played the violin for short periods at two earlier times in my life, but didn't stay with it. John’s upbeat attitude and enthusiasm have gone a long way in helping me maintain my interest this time ‘round.

The sheet music he provides is such fun — not the usual, boring, tedious, beginning instruction music. And the practice tips are so helpful.

During the first session John took the time to play my violin and determined that the bridge was incorrectly arched, which made it nearly impossible to play the A string without sounding other strings. This was very revealing and useful, if not essential. And this flaw was present throughout my lessons with another teacher.

Thanks so much, John, for your role in providing me a way to soothe my soul with the private time I spend with my violin.

   —  Camille Travis home page

Private Lessons
Workshops • Performances

  Singingwood Home Page