My teaching philosophy is centered around two main prerogatives: 1) to teach efficient, reliable, and healthy body mechanics (technique), which will ultimately maximize longevity, technical facility, and of course, musical expression; and 2) to teach students how to coach themselves the other six days of the week when I'm not around to reinforce and help them to retain new and recurring concepts. One can't truly learn something as nuanced and intricate as high-level violin technique without developing the skills to practice effectively and autonomously drive their own progress. Transferable to anything we do (not just violin), these skills can take a long time to develop, and are most quickly done so with guidance.
For more about me, please visit my website at: www.thomascollum.com
I enjoy getting to teach my utmost passion of playing violin to attentive students. I also love the intellectual thrill of learning how to overcome new obstacles posed by students of all different combinations of strengths and weaknesses. What I learn from teaching has only helped me become a better player.
I cannot state enough how blessed we are to have Thomas as my daughter’s violin teacher. My daughter started working with Thomas when she was six years old. After two and a half years, we have seen how his dedication to her growth as a musician goes above and beyond anything we could have hoped for and expected. He builds lessons around music she is excited about, striking the delicate balance between challenging her technique and giving her room to explore at her own pace. If she chooses to pursue a specific song, he takes that as an opportunity to build fundamentals, identify key problem areas, and outline drills to help her achieve her goal. Thomas is very creative at motivating students and embracing tools to expand upon teaching opportunities. When the pandemic hit, our lessons did not skip a beat, transitioning seamlessly to a virtual format. His teaching has even gone beyond violin skills. He is helping my daughter build life skills like planning, confronting performance anxiety, overcoming frustration, and dedicating time toward mastering a skill. As an active musician, Thomas is relatable. He uses his own past and present experiences to connect with students, testify to his own personal challenges and share his love of music. In short, Thomas is a gem of a violin teacher.
I highly recommend Thomas for anyone looking for violin lessons or to purchase an instrument. I'm an adult learner who started taking lessons from Thomas over a year ago--starting from zero. Thomas is great at meeting you where you're at to make the learning experience fit with your life and preferences, which always makes lessons both enjoyable and challenging rather than stressful. As someone without any prior experience, I also appreciate how he equips you with the skills you need to problem-solve and practice on your own. In addition, I recently purchased a violin from Thomas. I was blown away by his thoroughness and generosity with his time and attention. He made the process a fun learning experience, leaving me both excited and confident in my final decision!
Thomas has been teaching me weekly for 20 months. Each and every week, I can tell that for the week before he has been thinking hard about each aspect of my playing the violin and personalizes that week's lesson to what I need. He is thoughtful about everything from my understanding of the music's rhythms, to what I need to do to improve the sound I make with the violin given my particular body mechanics, to how I should approach a piece I want to learn. He is warm and makes good use of humor. On top of all this he is a master musician and I know I am learning from someone who has thought deeply about the violin as well as about me as a student of the violin. I have made tremendous progress because of Thomas. I could not ask for a better or more dedicated teacher!
Learning violin and viola can be daunting, so I first try to establish an initial level of confidence for my students by becoming good at one thing at a time to start. I first begin with mastering reading and understanding basic rhythms so that when we add the instrument into the mix, the amount of information isn't overwhelming. We then slowly progress and add new variables as the student seems to become more comfortable with what we have covered thusfar. From there, my progression is somewhat systematic, but adaptable depending on each student's strengths and weaknesses and how they best learn.
I have been playing violin for over two decades (most of my life) and have studied with a wide variety of some of the best violinists and musicians in the world who have all had their own approaches to teaching, and to playing the instrument and music. My teachers have included Markus Placci (Faculty, The Boston Conservatory), Marc Rovetti (Assistant Concertmaster, Philadelphia Orchestra), Ariana Kim (Award-winning Aizuri String Quartet, The Knights, Cornell University), Joseph Lin (former First Violinist, Juilliard String Quartet), and Roberta Crawford (Violist, Finger Lakes Chamber Ensemble).
I am both a performing violinist and collector and seller of violins because I have always had the utmost passion for anything and everything, violin. I also have found that I really enjoy teaching (any subject that I am knowledgable in), so teaching violin to an attentive student is even better.
What got me into teaching more readily is my realization that that teaching something makes you better at it. I am only one person with one set of challenges to overcome, but teaching helps me encounter and tackle the challenges of others that I otherwise might not have really think so in-depth about. When you have to problem-solve others or learn multiple different ways of explaining a concept, you truly begin to understand the 'how' and 'why'. It's incredibly enlightening and can be an intellectual thrill.
I work with students of all ages and levels of experience. My students currently range in age from 7 years to 60+ years and from absolute beginners to adults who already have degrees in violin performance.
Student-teacher chemistry is not something to be underestimated. I am able to effectively teach most of my students, but there are certainly dynamics which are more effective and engaging than others.
It's important to find a teacher who not only fixes your body mechanics, but also explains what they are doing or what the goal is and why that matters.
It's also important for a teacher to guide their students on how to methodically work through new material or new challenges. This is the, "how to practice" that I hope to impart on my students.
It's important to understand how much you are able to commit regularly to learning the instrument. Consistant practice is more affective than a ton on one day (quality of practice is also important). Assuming your teacher is reasonably good at teaching and really understands how to best play the instrument, your progress is up to you, so think about what your goals are (which can be big or small) and how you may be able to fit violin/viola into a consistant routine.