I want to tell my fellow music loving, homeschooling, penny pinchers about something awesome.
**This post contains affiliate links but this is not a sponsored post and I have not received anything in return for this review, Red Desert Violin only knows me as the crazy woman who keeps asking weird questions. I just love it!**
Several months ago, Emma and I decided to take violin lessons. I asked the local “violin family extraordinaire” with the hope that one of the daughters taught. They didn’t, but I was given the name of a Suzuki teacher in my area. Now, I didn’t know anything about the Suzuki Method vs other methods (and I’m not here to debate the merits) but as it turns out, the emphasis on ear training has worked absolute wonders for us (we dyslexics and auditory learners thrive in this kind of environment) and we have really enjoyed our time. With our example, it wasn’t long until Lucy wanted to join in on the fun. And I’ve been thinking that Jack (who has some speech delays) could benefit from some gentle musical instruction.
Well, as you can imagine, violin lessons aren’t cheap, and they are even less cheap for a family the size of mine. So when Lucy expressed a desire to learn I decided to do what I could to teach her myself. It wasn’t the best idea, but it was the best I had. As I was combing YouTube for tutorials to supplement her lessons I came across a set of wonderful tips by Red Desert Violin (who, coincidentally, helped me change Emma’s A-String when I accidentally broke it while tuning what I thought was the E-String).
Not only does Loralyn offer fabulous tips on YouTube, but she offers complete Suzuki violin courses online for a very reasonable price.
You might think that online music lessons can’t possibly be as good as a great, face to face violin instructor. And you would be right. But few of us can afford to outfit our entire families with music lessons of this caliber.
So I decided to sign up. Yes, Emma and I were already taking lessons, and yes, I could instruct Lucy and Jack to a certain extent, but I am not a professional music teacher and unlike math and literature and history and economics, playing an instrument properly requires a great deal of technique… which I am not yet confident with.
These lessons have been wonderful! For $47 a month, you are walked, step by step, through Suzuki Book 1 beginning with “this is a violin, this is a bow” up through all you need to know about Suzuki music theory, ear training, left hand fingering for every song, tone, intonation, rhythm, and more than you could imagine would be necessary. She includes audio downloads of every song you will be playing and the piano accompaniment and pdf’s of lesson summaries and detailed “homework” for your practice sessions. There are multiple videos for every lesson, getting into the minutiae of technique (bow holds, fingering, posture, chin position, etc.)By the time you are finished with book one. You will be playing this (which I am so looking forward to because it seems like so much fun!)
Like any good teacher, Red Desert Violin, won’t let you progress too quickly. She knows that it takes time to practice proper technique and it’s not just about “getting through” the songs. You want them to get through you :) Your access to the lessons are locked until you have been given ample time to practice and master what she has already taught (usually a week or two), then you will get to access a new lesson.
I’ve been using it for about two weeks for Lucy and to supplement my own learning.. Lucy is far more confident than she was when it was just me teaching her, and I can tell a huge difference in my own technique as well.
I can usually steal a few minutes here and there to watch a video when I’m nursing (which technically I’m not supposed to do because I’m supposed to watch them with violin in hand, but that’s kind of impossible for me), which is perfect. Then I refresh my memory with the practice sheet, follow her homework instructions for a warm-up before I move on to the pieces I’m currently working on. Since I’ve already been working with a Suzuki teacher, and I’m already about half way through book one, she opened up the 18 lessons I would need to get through the first Minuet (which is where I am). I have the benefit of two teachers for just a teensie bit more than one (and I do so with my original teacher’s full blessing). But, like anything, Red Desert Violin comes with a caveat. You can’t buy a quality violin and the Suzuki book, subscribe, and then magically be able to play. You actually have to practice :) I don’t get to practice every day, but I can put in a good 45-min to an hour four or five times a week while my kids run around me, not cleaning up the house. The calluses on my finger tips are so big that my phone won’t recognize my finger print.
After Fabulous Fundamentals Suzuki Book 1 Course, there is a second course for Suzuki Book 2 (book 3 is forthcoming), and Fiddle Fundamentals which, after you know the basics with the Suzuki 1 course, will help you put a country twist on things :)
Red Desert Violin is aimed more at adult learners rather than children, however, if you are learning along with an older child (as I am) then this will work well. I would not suggest signing your five year old up and letting them loose–that would not work at all. But if you have always wanted to learn violin and are short on funds, I highly recommend Red Desert Violin :) Once you have the tools you can cater to your children as they need it.
You may be asking why, at 34 years old, I decided to learn how to play the violin. It’s a simple reason, really. I don’t want to live vicariously through my children. Certainly I have dreams and hopes for them and I have a vision for the kind of people I want them to be, but I don’t want to micromanage their lives. I can’t force them to fulfill MY heart’s desire. If I want a house filled with music I must be the one facilitating it. Fortunately it seems to be rubbing off and we are slowly becoming a very musical family :)