Hillary Dunkley Music Lessons

Hillary Dunkley Music Lessons

5.0 (1)
3 hires on Lessons.com
1 employee
7 years in business

About this pro

I provide my students with outstanding personalized music instruction with an empathetic yet disciplined approach that achieves positive results. My students benefit from my thirteen years of instrumental and vocal training. Whether in-person or online, I craft individualized lessons that suit their present abilities while motivating students with challenging tasks to expand upon their skill sets. My lessons aim to cultivate confidence, poise and professional quality technique in my students. Students benefit from my calm, patient approach to overcoming challenges through a step-by-step approach that concentrates on finding solutions tailored to each individual's current skill level. Above all, the focus of my lessons is on cultivating a shared love of music and deriving joy and pride in music performance. If you are interested in my services, please email me at [email protected] 

I am inspired by the determination and dedication of my music students. I enjoy cultivating an appreciation for music in my beginner students and sharing a passion for excellent music performance with my intermediate and advanced students. I have been teaching violin, viola and voice lessons for the past five years, fostering talent at multiple ages and skill levels.

I have experience teaching both in-person and online lessons. Online teaching has provided me with the opportunity to schedule lessons at the student's convenience without considerations of travel time, weather or health limitations impeding our progress.

I find it especially rewarding to rekindle a love of music in adult students who are returning to lessons after a long interval - or even beginning lessons for the first time!

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Bethesda, MD 20816
Email verified

1 Review


  • Sean Gillette

    Hillary has a been a great help when it comes progressing in learning the violin. Whether its pointing out the problems of with posture and tuning or helping me with learning rhythm, she has truly been professional.

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What is your typical process for working with a new student?

For absolute beginner instrumentalists, I would recommend a local shop where they can rent a violin or viola. I will ask my students to purchase several music books online which we will use each week. We will start with learning all of the parts of the instrument, the names of the strings and how to care for their violin or viola. We will incorporate scales, rhythm exercises and step-by-step sight-reading into our weekly lessons in addition to preparing a polished piece of music from one of our books. As the weeks progress, my students will learn how to use a metronome, a tuner and how to change their strings when needed. We will focus intensively on developing good habits with the correct bow hold and excellent posture. Success results from mastering these basic skils from the outset.

With intermediate or advanced instrumental students, I will have them perform the last few pieces they studied with their previous teacher with special attention paid to certain challenging sections in order to assess whether they have mastered the particular techniques required of those specific pieces. In the process, I will evaluate the condition of their instrument and may recommend an alternative set of strings or a different brand of rosin in order to produce the richest possible sound from their instrument. I will emphasize the importance of excellent posture and will work with my students to correct any habits that might lead in the longer term to muscle strain, tendon injury or shoulder/neck pain. Foremost, I will listen at length to my students' aspirations as a musician and devise a plan together to achieve these goals.

For beginner vocalists of all ages, we will start by evaluating their range through a series of scaled exercises. My lessons will emphasize the gradual development of the vocal muscles as an instrument we are creating together. It is important to strengthen the vocal chords little by little, according to my students' level of maturity, with gradually ascending and descending vocal exercises. Using a series of familiar songs selected by the student, we will develop sight-reading ability, learn breathing techniques and increase vocal projection.

What education and/or training do you have that relates to your work?

During middle and high school, I played violin and viola in numerous orchestras including the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra (M.C.Y.O.), the Potomac Valley Youth Orchestra (P.V.Y.O.) and the National Philharmonic Summer Strings Institute. I also participated in various choirs in high school such as the Maryland All-State Chorus, the Montgomery County Youth Chorus and the Washington National Opera, Opera Institute.

My experiences as an instrumentalist and vocalist have prepared me to help my students with challenging new music. Together we analyze a new piece and focus on areas of difficulty until students can present a polished peformance with a confident stage presence. 

Do you have a standard pricing system for your lessons? If so, please share the details here.

I teach both in-person and online music lessons. I am entirely flexible about switching between both methods as circumstances require. I typically allot an extra 5-10 minutes to online lessons to account for connection problems and challenges in communicating over the Internet. With the necessary accomodations, both ways of learning can work well for my students.

I charge $40 for a 45-minute lesson and $50 for a 60-minute lesson. For adult students who prefer a more intensive learning approach, I offer a 90-minute lesson for $60.

I accept payments through PayPal and Venmo exclusively. I do not accept any other form of payment. 

How did you get started teaching?

I began teaching music lessons when I was fourteen years old. A fellow viola player in my orchestra who was headed for college asked me to take over several of her students. I found that I really enjoyed helping fellow musicians improve their orchestra pieces and prepare for upcoming competitive auditions.

What types of students have you worked with?

I have worked with students of all ages, from six years old to forty. I have experience teaching complete beginners, intermediate and advanced students. Regardless of age, I believe any student with drive, commitment to practice and a passion for music can progress to becoming an accomplished instrumentalist or vocalist. I find it especially rewarding to rekindle a love of music in adult students who are returning to instruction after a long interval - or beginning lessons for the first time. I respect their determination to fully develop their talents and pursue their dreams. 

What advice would you give a student looking to hire a teacher in your area of expertise?

Seek out a music teacher who will focus on developing the core skills of music performance: correct posture, fluid note-reading and a sense of rhythm. If your teacher does not concentrate on these basic building blocks, it will hamper your progress in becoming an accomplished musician. 

What questions should students think through before talking to teachers about their needs?

Students should ask themselves if they are able to commit to weekly lessons. With regular practice, students should expect to improve their technique and steadily progress to pieces of greater difficulty. My expectation is that adolescent and adult students will devote between three to six hours of practice between lessons. Younger students may aim for the same goal, but two to four hours of practice between lessons will usually suffice.

However, I am aware that real life responsibilities often get in the way of routines, especially for mature students. If a student has not had time to practice, we can still use the lesson time fruitfully by practicing sight-reading, rhythm exercises and scales & arpeggios. 

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