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Siân Phillips - fiddle

Siân Phillips - fiddle

FAQs - Violin/Fiddle Lessons

If I havent answered your queestion here then please feel free to contact me.

Are the violin and the fiddle the same instrument?

  • Well, yes and no, it depends. What it depends on is who's playing it, and in what cultural context you're speaking. However, you hear violinists of the highest calibre, like Vanessa Mae, Nigel Kennedy and Yitzhak Perlman, for example, refer to the violin as a fiddle. The instrument itself may be the same, though folk players of violin may take more liberties with respect to the way the instrument is held, its fittings, and so on. Aside from some small details, however, the instrument is pretty much the same; there is no separate genre, fiddle, which is not also a violin. This question gets asked a lot.


Where are you based?

  • I am based just outside Banbury and I offer violin lessons at your place within certain reasonable distances.


What is the cost for Private Violin Lessons

  • 30 minutes: £26/hour

  • 60 minutes: £36/hour


When is the payment due date for the lessons?

  • Payment is due after the lesson.


Can I pay for one lesson at a time?

  • Yes. You can pay in advance or make the payment after each lesson.




What do I need to bring with me for my private lessons?

  • A Violin and Bow, Rosin, Shoulder rest, (in a violin case is good!), spare set of strings, pencil & notepad.


Can I audio/video record my lesson?

  • I will agree to this so long as the student does not publish the lesson to the internet or any other means of broadcast without prior written permission from myself.


Do you offer trial/one-off lessons?

  • Yes.

I need to cancel my lesson - what do I do?

  • As you might realise, I make my living from music, out and about, teaching and performing, so technically a  cancelation is a loss of earnings. To re-arrange the lesson, please call me 24 hours in advance. No show or cancellations on the day will incurr an invoice for the full fee.


What is the age to begin violin lessons?

  • Students may begin lessons on the Violin at a very early age. I recommend the student be over 4 years or older.


Do you provide violins?

  • I can provide violins for purchase only. This means I measure the student and provide a fitting violin which is set up.


Do you provide the books?

  • No. I recommend certain books and it is the responsibility of the student/parent to obtain these materials. Most materials can be purchased either through music shops or from online book stores.


Are there any hidden charges?

  • No. However, if a student’s string breaks and they have no spare set, it would be in the better interest of the student to have a string fitted there and then. The string would be chargeable.


Do you allow coloured violins?

  • Yes, I positively recommend that children use them. They tend to look after them and are colour trendy!


Why are the strings and fingerboard covered in white powder?

  • Dont worry, his is rosin dust. It is used on the bow to help the bow adhere to the strings. Gentle cleaning with a dry duster will remove it.


What is rosin why is it used?

  • Rosin comes from pine trees. It comes in many different colours from amber to black, orange to green. These colours are determined by the additives used in the production process. Rosin is rubbed onto the bow hair. Bow hair is normally horse tail (but can be man made). The structure of the horse hair is scaly and smooth. The rosin lifts the scales and lodges between them making the hair coarse and ‘sticky’, thus gripping to the strings.


I can’t read music but I already play. Do I have to learn to read music?

  • Not if you don’t want to. I can teach by ear but insist that you take notes or request to record the lesson for your own benefit.


How can I get my child to practice?

This is often, for parents, a very serious and sometimes troubling issue in music study. They should be told that it is normal for students to not want to practice, and home practice should be supervised by the parents until the child is older and has developed more independence. There is an excellent book about this: How to get your child to practice without resorting to violence by Cynthia Richards. In general, the recommendations in the book include:

  • Remain calm but firm; don't nag, threaten, get angry, or give up. Brushing teeth is not optional, and neither is practicing. 5 to 10 minutes a day is fine at the beginning.

  • Create a musical environment: this will include listening to both classical and world music, going to concerts/gigs. Have music on all the time, or at least during meals and before bedtime.

  • Make it fun and enjoyable. Let the child be happy and loved at all times. Never make being loved contingent on whether they practice, or whether they do well.

  • Use lots of praise, even for the smallest thing, and even if it sounds awful. There is always something positive to say: "You really worked hard" "That sounded pretty good" "That was much better than last time." No negative or derogatory remarks!!


What is your idea of a ‘dream pupil’?

I realise that everyone has different lifestyles, means of support and abilities but anyone having at least 50% of the following accessories for a ‘dream pupil’ makes for a happier day:

Have your own:

  • violin, bow, case,

  • shoulder rest, rosin, spare strings,

  • music stand, notebook, pencil, manuscript book

  • music pieces, technical exercise books

  • chromatic tuner, metronome, full length mirror

  • regular personal practice time

  • goals and time frame!