I believe music should be fun and life changing!
things other people have said about me:
Michael “has been adaptable to my needs…We do run scales, arpeggios and the like, but we also take time to work on songs that are worth playing, things which leave me feeling like I have a chance with the instrument.
Also, he’s incredibly patient and always uplifting, Not nit picking me where I make mistakes, but gently pointing them out only when I don’t see them, and always pointing out what has been improving, which is sometimes hard to keep sight of.” – beginning adult student
“You teach violin like a fun, nice kitty cat” – 6 year-old student (cats are her favorite animal)
“Michael is amazing at inspiring and engaging our son. Our son was so excited after his lesson” – Parent of young student
“I’m an adult beginner, ground zero. I found a wonderful teacher in Michael . He is patient, encouraging even when my progress seemed halted. He is generous and flexible with times with me, when I had to reschedule. I feel safe, at ease, and even now, three months later, enthusiasm!” – beginning adult student
“One of the characteristics that I most admire about Michael is his gentle patience and emphasis on listening to his students. Most teachers teach by doing all the talking and instructing, commanding students to follow them. Michael teaches through compassionate listening, encouragement, and creative instruction. I would liken his teaching style and personality to be one of a gardener. Someone who calmly and lovingly tends to his garden of flowers.” – parent of young beginner
what I have to say about me:
I grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, and started on violin when I was 5, through the Suzuki method, at first because my parents forced me to. After several months, when the indomitable scratches I was making finally turned into something vaguely resembling “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” I gradually became hooked. I loved music, loved the feel of the violin under my neck, and loved playing in front of people… A few years later, I branched out to Celtic, Old-Time and bluegrass fiddling styles in as many jam sessions as I could find the time for. I really loved the chance to do something more fun, more freeing, and more a part of my culture and heritage. I then further branched out to jazz and rock improvisation, growing a whole new understanding of how music really worked, and how I could learn to create my own musical voice. I’ve also studied ethnomusicology and world music, spending two months learning about the intersection between music and peacemaking in Israel/Palestine, and getting a paper published in the anthology Readings in African American Church Music and Worship, Vol 2.
I have created music with hip-hop groups, a band fusing bluegrass and klezmer, an orchestra playing traditional Arabic music, gospel choirs, a cumbia and ranchero group, folk singer-songwriters, and country bands. Currently I am performing with folk-punk group The Bandini Mountaineers and singer-songwriter John Koah. I also love singing and making music with my sweet wife Bethany, in our band, Toucan Panda. Basically, musically speaking, I don’t believe in boundaries – I don’t think musicians need to be categorized or put into little boxes. I think people should be allowed to explore whatever voices they find something true and beautiful – and feel free to add their own voice. Just as with my own playing, as a teacher I seek to unleash the creativity and freedom and love of music I believe is within everyone, and strive to be flexible and patient, doing whatever it takes to help you empower yourself.
Teachers I’m indebted to –
Celeste Halbrook Tuten– my first violin teacher, started me on the Suzuki program
Erin Hall – classical
Katherine Mansouri – classical
Paul Vanderwerf – classical
Allen Thomson – the person who first got me into Old-Time and Celtic fiddle.
Jim Wood – more fiddling
Daniel Carwile – fiddling in bluegrass and Texas contest styles
Martin Noorgard – jazz violin, theory, and improvisation
Tracy Silverman – electric and rock violin techniques
Lee Joiner – both classical violin and improvisation
I’ve also attended teacher-training sessions on teaching world music and improvisation led by Julie Lyone-Lieberman, the early childhood music development program Music Together, and am a registered Suzuki Book 1 Teacher, having taken classes with Ed Kreitman.