Meet Brigid! (top left)

How long have you played the violin?

"For 10 months!"

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"That I can play beautiful songs and I am a very good violinist."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I like to go to the beach"

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"To try playing hard parts slower, to pick out a fun song that they want to play every time they practice."


Meet Annabelle!

How long have you played the cello for?

"5 months."

What is your favorite thing about the cello?

"I love the way it sounds because the notes are lower. I think it is easy to figure out songs by ear. It also sounds great to do a duet with another cellist."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your instrument?

"I also play the piano, enjoy drawing and reading."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"If you get frustrated while practicing, take a short break and then come back to it later. I usually practice my assignments first, and then I choose something fun to learn and practice on my own."


Meet Ada!

How long have you played the keyboard for?

"Maybe half a year or so."

What is your favorite thing about the keyboard?

"I like that I can play it together with my grandmother."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your keyboard?

"Dancing, aerial acrobatics, drawing, scootering, running after my dog."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"I tell myself to keep trying and my dad always says early, short and often." How long have you played the violin for? "I have been playing since the winter time (7 months)."


Meet Emerson!

How long have you played the violin for?

"I have played violin for 2.5 years starting in the middle of my Fourth Grade year.

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"My favorite thing about the violin is the fact that I can play music from TV shows and video games."

What is your favorite piece to play on the violin?

"My favorite piece to play on the violin is “Shingeki no Kyojin”. It is the “Attack on Titan” main title song. “Attack on Titan” is an Anime series that I love."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"For fun, other than play the violin, I like to read novels, play video games, play Dungeons & Dragons, practice archery, and practice American Kenpo Karate. (I’m a Second Degree Brown Belt.)"

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

“My advice is to heavily concentrate on one thing for a very long time and make it as perfect as you can before moving on to the next thing. Try to avoid dividing up your time too much. We you try to do too many things at one time, no one, single thing is done well.”


Meet Elvis!

How long have you played your violin for?

"I have been playing since the winter time (7 months)."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"I like the beautiful sounds that it can make."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I like to dance ballet and make sculptures out of clay."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Always put the middle of your bow between the bridge and black thing (fingerboard) because it sounds better."


Meet Neko!

How long have you played the violin for?

"Four years."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"The fact that it can play every genre in music. Violinists can choose easily which style fits them best."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I love drawing, reading, and writing. My drawings each have a story behind it, and when I look back at them, I remember those stories and write them down. So in a way, all three of my favorite hobbies are on the same page."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Just hang on. Sometimes I feel drained out or angry and I really don't want to practice. But for me, it helps to think about how proud you and your surrounding community will be if you practice and practice and become an amazing violinist. And it's not just thoughts of future pride that helps. It's healthy for you to practice an instrument. It can reduce stress in ways invisible to the naked eye. Practicing shouldn't be a stressful time for you. It should be fun and calming. The best advice I can give is to hang on-- things will get easier over time."


Meet Grayson!

How long have you played piano for?

"About 3 months"

What is your favorite thing about piano?

"That you can play songs you can't play on other instruments."

What do you like to do besides piano?

"Play handball and look for rare cars."

What is you best advice...?

"Do what you think is right and work off of that."


Meet Alison!

How long have you played the viola for? "About 5 months."

What is your favorite thing about the viola?

"The soothing and beautiful music it can make."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your viola?

"I love to dance -- in particular, ballet. I also enjoy reading and playing with my dog Mindi."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"If you're having a hard time practicing, try listening to a professional musician playing the instrument you're trying to learn. The music will be an inspiration to keep trying."


Meet Sophia!

How long have you played the violin for?

"3 years in total. Before finding Ms. Nancy, I was learning violin from a violinist in Downtown LA."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"The sound of the violin. It sounds so beautiful and I can hear and imagine all the feelings and emotions of the violinist."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"Arts and crafts but mostly drawing, reading and taking pictures."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Play the song you already knew and like first, and then practice what Ms. Nancy telling you what to do. This will help you getting use to the instrument you are playing."


Meet Violet!

How long have you played the violin for?

"I have played violin for 9 months. Going on 10."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"My favorite thing about the violin is that it sounds different from most instruments, and not many other kids I know play it. It also sounds really pretty."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I love to get dirty and play outside. I am also learning figure skating, and love to draw."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Make up your own song and take 4 big breaths."


Meet Lucia!

How long have you played the cello for?

"Nine months."

What is your favorite thing about the cello?

"That it has a deep sound."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your cello?

"I like to color, play legos, read books and play with my brother and sisters."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Practice your scales over and over again because most songs use scales."


Meet Hoyt!

How long have you played the cello for?

"About 1 year."

What is your favorite thing about the cello?

"My favorite thing about the cello is how you can play really deep and beautiful sounds with it."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your cello?

"I like playing legos and sometimes playing diep.io and Plants vs Zombies on the iPad."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Take a break and then come back when you're ready."


Meet Sharrel!

How long have you played the violin for?

"I have been playing the violin since September last year. I guess that makes a year and three months?"

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"It's an elegant instrument—and what elegant means is different for each person. For me, its elegance is in the way the notes sound when you get them right and the feel of the bow against the strings."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I spend most of my time, besides playing the violin, in bed, sleeping. Otherwise, I am drawing or reading—or watching anime. Nah. Probably sleeping."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Don't ignore an off pitch note when you're practicing. Intonation, which is getting an accurate pitch out your violin, can be very hard. If you can't get the intonation right, try moving your finger up or down a little bit before you continue with the song or exercise. If you are anything like me, we have a long road ahead of us before we get improve our tuning intuition."


Meet Nikhil!

How long have you played the violin for?

"Two and half years."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"The cool button that holds the shoulder rest- the metal parts look like car parts."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"Play soccer, Go to SuperCar Sunday and look up cool facts on exotic places in my atlas."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"I pick something to practice for the first seven minutes and set a timer. By the time the timer goes off I know I only have to practice for 8 more minutes. My practice time goes by fast!"


Meet Hadley!

How long have you played the violin for?

"Five years!"

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"I like the G string, it's a low note and I like the way it sounds."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I like to play sports, Football and Tennis. I also like fast cars."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Don't get frustrated, keeping going, all your practice will pay off later.


Meet Bobby!

How long have you played the violin for?

"Almost a year"

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"Putting rosin on the bow!"

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"Build things with Legos."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

<Just stares at mother>


Meet Zoe!

How long have you played the violin for?

"4 months."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"Lindsey Sterling."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin

"Bike and skate." This is a test


Meet Tuan!

How long have you played the violin for?

"Seven months. I've had no real musical training and have always wanted to play the cello actually. After considering versatility and portability, I settled on the violin instead. I'm now quite enamored with violin family of instruments altogether and would like to learn the viola and cello as well...someday."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"Honestly what attracted first me most to the violin is the intricate carpentry and figured woods. I also like that the violin after hundreds of years is still hand carved and for the most part the "technology" is unchanged. It's a beautiful instrument to look at as well as to play and to listen to."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"My current interests aside from the violin include sailing and knitting. I'm always looking for new and non-conventional meditative practices. BTW, I don't knit sweaters or shawls. Knitting is a new medium to me for artistic expression. I like to knit portraits."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Well, if you're having a particularly bad practice session, I say, put the violin down. I don't think it's important to force yourself to practice for a specific length of time. Moreover, not meeting that specified practice session time is not a failure. Along the same lines, I don't think your practice necessarily needs to continuous and rigid in structure. Three sessions of ten minutes throughout the day, in my opinion, is just as impactful--if not more--as one session of thirty minutes. While it's probably not advisable, I never put my violin away. It's out lying on my couch or on a shelf with the shoulder rest attached--always ready to be played. I pick up my violin (and set it down) whenever without the expectation of practicing for a set amount of time. When you add up the minutes, I often end up practicing more when I have no time quota. Also, I usually have no set goal for the practice session either. As such, there is neither a successful nor unsuccessful practice session. The "goal" of practicing for me is just to clock time to train my muscles and mind and to get to know the instrument; but most importantly to enjoy the experience without any pressure to accomplish anything specific or meet a time quota. I think this mindset makes practicing less of a chore. Of course, this is not an excuse to not take practicing seriously."


Meet Monica!

How long have you played the violin for?

"Started playing violin at age 6 years old thru college (age 21). I stopped playing after college and picked it up again recently after a 15 year break. This time around has been about 6 months."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"I love the versatility of being able to play all types of music as well as the serenity it brings to myself."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"As an Architect, I love to travel to different places of the world to observe all types of architecture and sketch the buildings as I take it all in."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Find a song that you love and want to learn how to play and throw it in your mix of practice material…if it’s something you want to do and learn makes it easier to find time to practice. Also, I place my instrument and stand next to my bed so when I want to wind down before bedtime, I put in some practice and it helps me relax."


Meet Morrell!

How long have you played the violin for?

"My first stint at playing the violin was about 30 or so years ago as an adult even then. The lessons lasted for perhaps only 5 years - can’t really remember exactly how many. I recall that I felt that I was at a plateau in my progress either because I was burning out ability-wise or pressure at work was taking its toll, or both. In retrospect I now think that perhaps I shouldn’t have quit - decades of potential progress gone forever, so to speak. I retired a few years ago and recently had reason to excavate my violins out of storage; out of curiosity I put the bow to one of them. I was pleasantly surprised how much more than zero that I retained. Thus encouraged, I continued for a few months reviving a few old pieces and then quickly realized that I needed help badly. That’s where Nancy came in early this year."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"I am infatuated with the string sound especially the violin’s. It is so expressive and evokes so many moods. I also like the unchangeable simple, compact, ’perfection’ that it seems to be. I thought that it ought to be easy to learn - only one string, one note at any time, unlike e.g., the piano what with its demanding all ten fingers to be utilized, and pedals to boot. Was I wrong. Much more challenging at first sight but still worth the hard work."

What do you like to do for fun besides the play your violin?

"Before I retired I thought my work as a physicist was fun and I still occasionally get involve in it. Now I do a bit more traveling than before and try to stay physically fit. I tinker with stuff, sometimes even with my violin. My main avocation is photographing birds, which I find very challenging, and some nature stuff, although I do snap a few other subjects as the occasions arise."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"In a nutshell - don’t give up! Remember it’s gotta be hard and sometimes tedious to make it worthwhile. No pain, no gain. Just like you do physical exercise to get and stay fit or excel in sports, it’s the same as for music - just different (brainy) muscles. Remember why you wanted to play the violin in the first place. To me, even the scales in the etudes are very pretty when done properly and it’s fun and encouraging when progress is made. Get more encouragement from reading about the experience of others from books or the web. A favorite book of mine is “A Thousand Mornings of Music” by Arnold Gingrich. Like me, and I’m sure more than a few others, he was a prodigal son returning to violin lessons again after laying off for about forty nine years. The book describes his somewhat discouraging musical experiences as a youth, and culminates in his recital in front of a live audience at a benefit concert, while along the way it has a parallel interwoven story about his deep fascination with the violin and his acquisition of several of them dating from the classical era. A fun book."


Meet Richard!

How long have you played the violin?

"For nearly 10 years in my youth. Two additional years after I acquired the status of senior citizen and elected to try it again. I seem to have retained only the bad playing habits acquired during the youthful ten year stint."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"The way it sounds when skilled artists play it."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"Restoring obsolete computers to a new life with Linux software. Attending music shows of various genres. Reading. Providing sage counsel to elected officials via letters and phone calls. (Had they listened to me, the nation wouldn't be in the fix it is. Details - and political advice - available upon request.)"

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Well, when I am having a hard time practicing I find some compelling activity that absolutely must take priority. This is an effective method to postpone practicing until I have forgotten how hard it is, or at least until I realize it is almost time for my next lesson! Perhaps I should try another strategy, maybe play some fun stuff to try and loosen up and remind myself that I really do want to learn how to play."


Meet Gerald!

How long have you played the violin for?

"I've played for just about five months now."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"The sound. It's so gratifying to play.The violin can be bold and epic, or sweet and playful."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I film weddings and I'm working on writing a short film! And I love reading!"

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Try something new, especially if you're getting bored of a piece that week (it happens). Nancy could give you a whole variety of things to practice. Sometimes I'll have music playing in the background and I'll pick up my violin to try to play along. If you have friends that like to play other instruments it's fun to play along (even if its just a few notes). Start small, even just a habit of picking up the violin."


Meet Andrea!

How long have you played the violin for?

"I played the violin for one year when I was 9, then took 8 years off, then played for 3, then took 9 years off and now have been playing with Nancy for just shy of a year."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"My favorite thing about the violin is how versatile it is. It can be played so many ways and it can be used in so many genres of music-from classical to country to gypsy to bluegrass to Celtic to Cajun and beyond-and with one instrument, I can explore so many kinds of music that captivate me. Also, the violin can convey such a breadth of emotion and story, anything from the light and whimsical to the dark and foreboding."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"Besides violin, I like to spend time with my cats, ride horses, act, dance, and write. I like to learn new things and have new experiences-anything from whitewater rafting to taking math classes. I also am volunteering at the Wildlife Waystation, a wildlife center that cares, primarily, for exotic animals that people sadly tried-and failed-to keep as pets."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"My best advice for getting past practice struggles is to always include at least a few minutes of mindless fun. Having good technique is very important to me, but sometimes I become very obsessive and in my head about it, and if I am not grasping something as fast as I would like, I become frustrated. If I do find myself becoming frustrated, I like to just play for a little bit (if I am very frustrated, I may take a whole practice session) and just do things I love without worrying if I am doing things as well as I could. I just play whatever brings my heart back into playing. Sometimes that means improvising, jamming with a cd, or playing old pieces that are no longer a struggle to remind myself I have made progress since the very beginning. Also, really listening to music-either solos or pieces that feature the violin-that is, for at least the length of the song, no distractions, no multi-tasking. Just sitting with my eyes closed and taking it in or dancing to it if I feel so compelled. Whatever it takes to allow the music to reach a deeper part of myself, because why else do we really listen to music, but to feel it?"


Meet Gary!

How long have you played the violin for?

"I first picked up the violin in May 2016, and I looked for someone to help me learn around the same time. I travel a lot for work, so I was not able to establish a consistent learning environment until I met Nancy in late September 2016. While I may have learned Mississippi Hot Dog and the variations of Twinkle earlier, I would say that I started playing once I started learning with Nancy."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"I love that the violin is fantastic not only as a solo instrument, but also as part of an ensemble! The violin to me is gestalt, and I am always learning more about my violin as the months pass by."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I enjoy playing basketball, though I have very limited opportunities to do so at this time in my life. I'm also a bit leery about playing basketball nowadays; last year, I sprained the fingers in my left hand while battling for the ball, and that prevented me from playing the violin for a couple of weeks. I just don't heal as quickly as I did during my youth."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Make it fun! But have a purpose. After all, you will probably want to be able to track progress over time. Nancy has given me tons of ideas on how to creatively practice and make the session engaging. Mix things up, know what and why you are practicing, then put in the time. Keep the instrument handy. This may sound strange, but when I started keeping my violin on a stand, rather than in the violin case, I found that I picked it up more than I previously did, and I put bow to strings more often."


Meet Mandy!

How long have you played the violin for?

"A little over a year."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"I love the range of the violin, it is used in so many different kinds of music and can have such different sounds in each. I also love having a way to do something creative in my life every day."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I like to read comics and science fiction and explore new places."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"I think of practicing as a break from work and a reward--my chance to do something fun for myself for at least a half hour every day (well, almost every day)! If practicing doesn't feel like a reward, maybe there is some other small treat you can give yourself for having practiced."


Meet Lesli!

How long have you played the violin for?

"This summer will mark my two-year violin anniversary"

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"I like the way that violin challenges me. When I play, I feel like my whole brain is buzzing."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"My other artistic hobby besides violin is ballet. I've been dancing on and off since I was in preschool!"

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"I have something in my bedroom called a String Swing that allows my violin to hang on my wall. Every time I walk into my room, I feel like the violin is looking at me asking to be played.


Meet Ariel!

How long have you played the violin for?

"I started playing violin 5 years ago, self taught, and I learned how to play in the first position for about 2 months, then stopped. I did it because I do not want to develop a habit that will be hard to correct overtime. Right now, I've been taking group and private lessons with Nancy for almost six (6) months since June."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"It's a versatile instrument. You can translate a variety of emotions with the violin, ranging from mysterious tones to solemn and happy tunes. You can bring it anywhere too."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"As a naturally curious person, I have a tendency to distract myself with a lot of activities. I like to explore. I usually read a lot, especially the ones related to science, arts and architecture. I love to immerse myself in nature. I also spend my time doing freehand drawing, playing poi, doing astrophotography, and cooking."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Always remember the reason you wanted to learn how to play the violin. If you get frustrated, put aside your instrument and take a breather. Once you calmed yourself, start playing again. Have lots of patience. It takes a lot of time to hone your craft. You can try singing out your piece while playing to have it in tune in your memory. Technique is important, but it is better to practice while having fun.


Meet Melanie!

How long have you played the violin for?

"Since March of 2014, so almost a year." What is your favorite thing about the violin? "Other than the way it sounds, I am really fascinated by its history. I also think it's super cool that a violin that was made centuries ago can still be played."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I love to travel, I have a trip to Nicaragua & Panama this spring that I'm really excited about. Oh and I read a LOT."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Honestly? When I am feeling kind of burnt out and having a hard time practicing, I just give myself a break. I find that taking breaks every now and again actually reenergizes me and I feel ready to tackle whatever issue was giving me trouble instead of feeling frustrated before I begin."


Meet Jane!

How long have you played the violin for?

"Hard to say…I like to say that I’ve played for 30 years, but really 25 of those years didn’t involve much playing. I played for almost 2 years in grammar school and took it up again maybe 4 years ago."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"I love the way it looks – it’s so portable and, unlike a wind instrument, it always exists in its whole, original state, never needing or allowing reassembly. It seems like a living, independent thing that you don’t control – once it is put together, you have whatever you have, and you must deal with its limitations. Yet, it seems so unassuming - just a few pieces of wood, really. Compared to a flute or a drum kit, the violin appears so simple, yet its range of sounds is astounding."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I like to run, which has something important in common with playing the violin. Running isn’t fun, even when you feel strong; but what keeps you coming back is the hope of success paired with the equally likely chance of not-success. Every race I enter, I have the chance to beat my best time – unless it’s really hot, or my knee starts hurting, or whatever; and every time I pick up my instrument, I have the chance to make progress on a piece or a particular technique - unless my hand cramps, or my elbow won’t cooperate. But neither outcome is assured; it’s the never-ending challenge both activities pose that is so appealing."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"A very clever violin teacher once told me I could keep my practice sessions fresh by writing down a few techniques that I needed to work on, putting them in a bowl, and picking one or two out each practice session. Great idea – once I taped a piece of chocolate to each one, it became much more enjoyable! Or, you can just make the commitment, like going to the gym or wearing your seatbelt every time you get in the car. Once you come to that resolution – practice is not optional; it is just another part of what you have to get done today – you can let go of the guilt and the stress. I think the chocolate method is probably more fun."


Meet Holly!

How long have you played the violin for?

"I played violin for about a year when I was younger and have been wanting to get back into it ever since. I decided to start playing again in January, as a way to take a study break from law school."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"I've always loved the sound of the violin. I particularly love how versatile it is! I have eclectic taste in music, so I love that my favorite instrument shows up in every genre I listen to, from rock or metal to classical or folk music. One of my favorite things to do is seek out violin covers of my favorite songs."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I've done a lot of martial arts and currently do Krav Maga. I love being active and outdoors, and I try to go camping a couple times a year. I've done historical reenactment, at everything from educational events to renaissance faire, with an emphasis on medieval Scottish and Irish culture. I also play a lot of video games; I'm pretty competitive, so I like anything with a multiplayer mode."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"The biggest challenge I face is finding time to practice. I think the most important thing to do is schedule your time and try your best to stick to that schedule, even if it means you only have 15-20 minutes each day to practice. If you're only going to be practicing for a short time, pick one or two things that you need to work on and focus on those for that day. Just don't forget to schedule in some longer practice blocks sometimes!"


Meet Alissa!

How long have you played the violin for?

"I played the violin for about 7 years. I learned in 4th grade and played in my school's orchestra until 8th grade. I tried practicing on my own during high school, but then I stopped. I took a long break until I finally started taking formal lessons for these past 6 months!"

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"It makes the most beautiful and versatile sounds. There's always something new you learn about the sounds it makes as you play in a slightly different way each time. When I listen to music, I always love picking out the parts when the violin is playing subtly in the background or when it drives the melody of the piece. Not only does it sound beautiful but it looks beautiful when people play it too!"

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I like to draw and read. When there's a large chunk of free time in my day, I like to play video games. I also like going to museums, gardens, art shows, and live music."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Take your time! Chunk your music into smaller pieces. I feel comforted when I take the time to practice a section and know that I played better than the first time I tried it. If you're getting frustrated with a challenging piece, take a break by playing a part that you struggled with in the past but you know you play well now. It feels great when you thread those small pieces together - the easy parts and the once challenging parts - to make the beautiful line of music you wanted."


Meet Lauren!

How long have you played the violin for?

"Six months. I played alto saxophone for years in middle and high school. It has been an adjustment, surely-especially not having a discrete 'button' to press to get a good tone and having to learn where to place my fingers and how hard to press to have passable intonation."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"I'm trying to come up with a discrete, simple answer, or something I can put to words that isn't complete malarkey. I can put words to a lot of proximate things I like about the violin-versatility, endurance, the exquisite range of expressiveness-but none of those feel like the one 'favorite thing'. I am drawn to it. Physically, it is beautiful; mechanically, it is brilliantly-balanced, deceptively simple, a marvel of physics and engineering one could only reach with the touch of art and intuition. It has evolved much like an organism-it is the result of generations of trial and error, where the good is kept and the bad discarded, until you have a nearly flawless design. It just sounds otherworldly." Purely practical reasons-it's easier for an asthmatic to play than a woodwind and it's quieter for an apartment-dweller to play than a saxophone.

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I'm a graduate student in molecular biology at UCLA, which takes up no small portion of my time. I am currently working with a bacterium that can turn glucose (sugar) into hydrogen gas, and has great promise as a biofuel producer. Writing is my other "productive" interest. I love to read; my favorite author is Hermann Hesse, but I especially love science fiction and fantasy. I also love comic books and cartoons (yes, that includes anime and manga, though I've become a picky and cranky older fan) and video games. I like tea, and I have two felid roommates named Prince and Niko who don't appreciate my new, noisy hobby, and much prefer it when I do something quiet and still so they can sit on my lap. But, they do love to sit in the violin case. I love classical music (Beethoven, especially) and rock-David Bowie, Depeche Mode, Talking Heads, Oingo Boingo, that sort of thing. I bike as much as I can, I knit, and I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, though I haven't practiced that regularly since middle school. I am moderately proficient in Japanese and Spanish and am trying to reach an acceptable level of familiarity with German and, more recently, French. I should probably just stick to one or two languages and perfect those, but I keep getting curious and nosing about. I would love to call travel a hobby but I'm not sure I am able to do it enough for it to count as such-a desire, perhaps? No, that's pedantic. It's something I like. Define that how you will. I'm just impressed you're still reading this.”

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"I've found it's not continuing practicing that is difficult, once I get started; I have a tendency to latch onto something that is giving me trouble and beat it to death. That's an obsessive tendency. What I do have difficulty with-and I think this is indeed related to that same obsessive tendency-is getting started in the first place. I have a lot of inertia, or high activation energy. In a chemical reaction this means that just getting that reaction started takes the most energy of all-once it is going, it keeps perpetuating itself with much greater ease. Inertia is the fancy word for the law that "objects at rest tend to stay at rest"-they need a big push to get started, but once they're rolling, they don't need much energy to keep going. If you couple this tendency with my anxiety and perfectionism, you get a chronic, severe procrastinator. I suppose this is a roundabout way of saying that getting the violin out and planting my butt in the chair is the hardest part. I think of all the things I have to practice, and how much progress I want to make, and then I get overwhelmed and keep putting it off. It seems insurmountable. But if I think of things as small tasks-just get out the violin and tune it, just clean it, just play a scale-and once it's in my hands, I've tricked myself into shifting gears, or changing tasks. Got the ball rolling, to continue with the inertia metaphor. I suppose it's the same advice I can give others-talking to people I find it's a common issue. You can't think of it as one huge task. Game it, in your head-a series of small tasks you check off and feel good about each one. That way you're getting a lot of things done instead of just chipping away at one incomplete thing, and we like to feel that we're getting things done instead of *not* getting things done. It's a stupid mental trick, but there it is. It makes things so easy it almost feels like 'cheating', in a cosmic sense, and, with time, you find yourself getting better at whatever it is you are doing. A small task accomplished is better than a grand task planned.


Meet Aubrey!

How long have you played the violin for?

"I have only been playing the violin for four months!"

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"I love the new learning opportunities the violin is granting me. I played the tenor saxophone for 7 years, but I felt restricted by the genres of music I was playing. For many years I thought about switching instruments, and now that I have, it's a dream come true! I love that the violin is such a versatile instrument, and I look forward to a lifetime of learning to come."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"Besides playing my violin, I love to travel, do yoga, volunteer, and cross stitch."


Meet Andrew!

How long have you played the violin for?

"I have been playing the violin for 3 years. Although it can be extremely difficult to balance work and violin (I have had to take breaks at certain points), I have always appreciated having music to fall back to after a stressful day." What is your favorite thing about the violin? "Coming from a piano background as a child, I have always appreciated classical music and the various instruments that can make a grand orchestras sing. I have always found the violin to have a beautiful sound that is so lively and rich. Another aspect that I really enjoy is the discipline and confidence that comes from taking on a challenging endeavor like the violin (or any musical instrument). I love that I can spend a lifetime playing the violin and there would still be more to learn. For me, learning to play the violin has never been about becoming a professional. I simply enjoy the musical journey of seeing myself improve day after day. It is incredibly gratifying when you see all those hours of mistakes during practice finally disappear and you are left with a song you can be proud to play. I really think that soaking in all your personal mistakes and coming out stronger is a great quality to take in your music and in your personal life. I believe that violin inspires people to push themselves harder and recommend musical instruments to everyone for this reason."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"Aside from the violin, my other hobbies include boxing/martial arts and chess. Just like the violin, there is no shortage of things to learn. I really enjoy the challenge and joy I get when I finally improve. All these things require a certain degree of mental toughness but its something I can be proud of when those countless hours start to pay off."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Always practice scales, scales, scales and more scales. While I don't consider myself a model student in consistency, it is incredibly important to try having violin practice as part of your routine. Even if it means just 5 minutes of practice, doing scales for those few precious minutes really help maintain the muscle memory and intonation. Whenever I find myself short on time, I always try to sneak scales in. Doing this has always helped me pick the violin back up when I finally have more personal time."


Meet Amanda!

How long have you played the violin for?

"I've been playing the violin for 3 years."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"I love that there are so many different styles that can be played on this one instrument. I've learned some beautiful classical pieces and some bluegrass fiddle favorites and have enjoyed playing both equally."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I act and do comedy. I just finished my web series all about a Bearded Lady who leaves the circus and that has definitely been rewarding and fun. I also love going for walks in the hills around L.A. There are so many interesting things to see whether it's beautiful homes or beautiful views."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Break it down into small chunks. I would get intimidated when I saw that I would have a 30 minute or even a 15 minute practice session in front of me. I've learned recently to plan each practice ahead of time and break it down into 5-10 minute different things to focus on and that works best for me."


Meet Cheryl!

How long have you played the violin for?

"3 months."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"The sound. I have always been fascinated by the violin as the saddest and most heart wrenching songs usually feature the violin."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I’m playing a lot of Pokémon Go at the moment. I have met a lot of interesting people from playing and “raiding gyms” together."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Just keep on at it. Even if you miss out on practicing one week because of a busy time schedule, try to reprioritize for the next week. When you hear the improvements you have made, it will motivate you to be even better."


Meet Cecilia!

How long have you played the violin for?

"A little over 2 months."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"I love the beautiful sound of the violin and the variety of sounds and emotions you can make through music."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"Walk my dogs, going to Disneyland, watching Dodgers and LA Galaxy, gardening, and wine tasting."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Make it fun with rewards and take breaks so you don't get frustrated. I also like to play for my husband and friends when I can."


Meet Winnie!

How long have you played the violin for?

"I played for a year in elementary school and decided to pick it up again in Spring 2016."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"When I listen to any music or song, I'm immediately drawn to the sound of the violin. And that's what motivated me to start playing again! There is a wide range of style you can play with the violin as well. When I first started learning again, I thought I wanted to play classical music. Then Nancy introduced me to the fun and fast-paced sound of fiddle music, and now that is something that I am very interested in learning."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I love to travel around the world. As a professional urban planner, I like to visit densely populated cities and use public transportation (high speed rail, bike share, buses, etc.) everywhere I go. I also like to document my experiences and explore each city like a local to learn how I can make cities here in the states more sustainable and equitable."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Try to squeeze in time from your busy schedule and practice at least 10-15 minutes a day. It could be a piece that you are currently learning or even something simple such as scales or improvisation. Planning to play a piece for an upcoming recital or string fling and/or playing with another student violinist are other great motivating ways to practice. For the Fall 2016 recital, I did a duet with another student from my group lessons. We practiced together for several days leading up to the recital. Not only did we practice the piece for the recital, we also played other music for fun too!"


Meet Hope!

How long have you played the violin for?

"2 months"

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"My favorite thing about the violin is that it provides a creative outlet for me."What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin? "For fun, I like to hike, draw, paint, read, and take photos."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"My advice is to just commit yourself to 30 minutes 3 times a day but if you cant make the goal, don’t beat yourself about it. Playing the violin is supposed to be fun, not not a chore, so enjoy it."


Meet Athena!

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"I suppose the sound, that’s what makes the violin special and the sound is beautiful."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I love reading manga (a Japanese comic) and listening to music."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Violin is like a mountain, sometimes it’s steep and sometimes it smooth and you need to try and be careful and steady through the steep parts and before you know it your at the top."


Meet Mario!

How long have you played the violin for?

"4.5 months."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"One of the things that originally drew me to the violin was that some of the saddest songs/pieces tend to feature the violin. After taking violin lessons with Nancy, I have come to also enjoy fiddle tunes."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"Some of my hobbies include archery, surfing, playing basketball, reading books & listening to podcasts mostly regarding history. Very recently I’ve taken an interest in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"I don’t feel at all qualified to give advice to anyone regarding the violin. I can only share my approach to practicing. Perhaps that could be helpful to somebody. My approach to practicing the violin is very unstructured. I tend to leave my violin lying around in my home or in its stand with the shoulder rest always on, ready to play whenever I get an urge to. Some days, I play a few sessions of 10~15 minutes each. Other days, I play it for several hours with very brief breaks. Every now and then, I may go a day without playing it at all. Playing music that you find interesting is imperative. It’s why an unstructured routine works for me. There’s no pressure to clock in a certain amount of time each day. I randomly get an impulse to play that tune I’ve always wanted to perfect. I play for a bit, maybe get frustrated, and try again later. Practice feels rewarding and never feels like a chore. One thing that I found very helpful during my first month of playing (that I honestly should do more of) was playing an entire tune in pizzicato. Sometimes, hitting an incorrect note while playing with a bow disguises the incorrect note. But then I play the tune in pizzicato, and I consistently hear buzzing sounds that I hadn’t noticed while bowing due to my fingers not being on the tape. This gives me a chance to perfect my left hand."


Meet Cordelia!

How long have you played the violin for?

" I have been playing violin for four years."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"My favorite thing about the violin is that it makes me feel happy and relaxed."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"What I like to do besides playing the violin is reading and playing the Nintendo Switch."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"If you have a hard time, listen to classical music to help you. If you feel blocked, try some arpeggios and scales to inspire you.”


Meet Alekha!

How long have you played the violin for?

"Three years."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"Fermatas!"

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"Ice skating!"

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Take it slow and play measure by measure."


Meet Tony!

How long have you played the cello for?

"3 months"

What is your favorite thing about the cello?

“The cello has such a beautiful sound, it's deep, rich and can sound like a human voice singing. I love the sound of a slow, soulful vibrato coming from the cello.”

What do you like to do for fun besides play your cello?

“I love learning languages. I lived in Japan for 5 years and speak fluent Japanese. Over the years I've also spent time learning others (Korean and Mandarin Chinese. I also speak the language of computers; I'm a software engineer by profession and I love to code!”

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

“I believe having fun with practicing the cello is the most important thing. Why do you want to play the cello? To perform? To feel the music and enjoy the creative expression? To play in a band with others? Whatever the reasons are, they most likely can be boiled down to one thing -- the desire to have fun. To have fun is the only true motivator that will have you hooked and keep coming back for more (because its so fun!). Reasons for practicing like "I have to practice because my parents/teacher/friends said I have to" may spur you into action in the short term, but you will ultimately feel like you are practicing out of a sense of duty (or even fear), which could slowly cause you to start resenting the cello. Alternatively, ask yourself questions like "what do I LOVE about playing cello?", "what about playing cello is the most fun?", or "what could I do that will make playing cello even MORE fun?" These questions will help remind you of what you enjoy the most about playing cello, so that you can give those things the highest priority. Doing so will cause you to be much more motivated to practice, have more fun doing so, and become a better musician, quicker.”


Meet Joseph!

How long have you played the violin for?

"2 years."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"The violin sounds beautiful."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"I like to play video games and playing baseball."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Keep practicing and you'll get the hang of it. Then you'll start wanting to play more."


Meet Shawnet!

How long have you played the violin for?

"Just two months, thanks to my Teacher Nancy."

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"Next to the Cello, it sounds closest to the Human voice. It translates human emotion. It’s a magical instrument."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"Re-create Renaissance paintings on pavement with Chalk."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Don’t quit. It will get better."


Meet Tiger Lily!

How long have you played the violin for?

“I STARTED LAST YEAR THEN I STOPPED FOR A FEW MONTHS THEN STARTED AGAIN.

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

“LEARNING HOW TO WRITE SONGS.”

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

“PLAY ROBLOX AND DO CRAZY GYMNASTICS AND HANG OUT WITH SNOWY (DOG).”

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

“TRY TO MAKE IT FUN BY PLAYING YOUR FAVORITE SONGS. TAKE FREQUENT SNACK BREAKS.”


Meet Qi!

How long have you been playing cello?

"Since February, 2019."

What is your favorite thing about cello?

"It’s challenging!"

What do you like to do for fun besides play your cello?

"Ice skating, aerial, playing with friends."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Try to focus and get your mom to bribe you."


Meet Joule!
How long have you played the viola/violin for?
"About two years, off and on."
What is your favorite thing about the viola/violin?
"String instruments are the closest instruments to the human voice. You can really make your instrument sing!"
What do you like to do for fun besides play your viola/violin?
"I like to do crosswords, read nonfiction, lift weights at the gym, and watch movies and TV shows."
What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?
"Practicing a little bit each day is better than trying to get it all in the day before a lesson."



Meet Lindsey Stirling (Guest Professional Artist!)

How long have you played the violin for?

"25 years, since I was 6!"

What is your favorite thing about the violin?

"It's versatility; you can play so many different styles with it. And it tends to be the center focus of any orchestra or performing group."

What do you like to do for fun besides play your violin?

"Dance, eat cereal, hot yoga, hiking, watching movies, audio books, self-help books, public speaking, board games."

What is your best advice for students having a hard time practicing?

"Be sure to find a professional teacher who can assist you in your progress and spend as much time on scales and arpeggios as you can. This will allow you a huge amount of creative freedom as you master them! Always end each practice session with something "fun." If you aren't able to afford private lessons (highly recommended...even a few lessons make a huge difference and can help you avoid picking up bad habits), study and learn what you can from resources like YouTube. Here is a great resource. You would love my auto-biography/memoire, The Only Pirate at the Party."