Strings Instruction

Strings:  Violin, Viola, Cello, Upright Bass, Harp, and Electric, Acoustic, and Bass Guitar
Carol Redfield Vizzini, Department Head


Private Lessons

String instruction at the Conservatory is tailored by the teacher to the student’s interest and ability. Conservatory teachers have training in a wide variety of methods and approaches and work with the student to choose the one that is most appropriate. The beginning student will usually be well-grounded first in the basics—holding the instrument with good posture, developing good listening skills, and producing a good sound with the bow—before advancing to note reading. Students are not taught note reading before they are ready, usually when they are reading words. Students first learn through listening and imitation “games.” Although group classes are not required in traditional instruction, some teachers may organize their own group classes among students studying similar repertoire.

The Suzuki method stresses the development of ability through the “mother tongue” approach, which emphasizes learning through listening, imitation, repetition, games, and practice—with the teacher, parent, and student working as a team. Progress is made from skill to skill in carefully structured lessons that include parent participation and help for the parent who will be guiding home practice. Listening daily to recordings of the music the children will play is an essential part of the method. Each week, a Suzuki student attends a private lesson and a group class. Group classes are a very important aspect in that they stimulate interest, reinforce musical and technical development, and provide opportunities for performance.

Please note that classical guitar students need a classical nylon-stringed guitar. (Acoustic steel-stringed or electric guitars are traditionally used for folk and rock music.) Students may choose to study classical, jazz, rock, folk, or a combination of styles. Students registering for guitar must specify on the registration form which style they would like to study.

All string students, with the exception of harp, are expected to have an instrument with them at the first lesson. Students may be fitted for stringed instruments at local music stores or may bring an instrument on loan from their school music program to the lesson. In terms of harp instruction, students will be contacted by the instructor for information about procuring an instrument.

Families with prospective students under the minimum age* may request an interview (30-minute maximum) if they would like to be considered for private instruction. Families will be asked to complete a registration form and pay an interview fee of $30 before the interview. Upon acceptance of a student under the suggested minimum age, the registration fee and tuition deposit will be due before the student can be placed with a teacher.

* The minimum age for traditional study is 6; for private guitar study, 8; for Suzuki cello, 4; for Suzuki violin, 3 (an interview is required for all new Pre-Twinklers; the interview fee of $30 must accompany the registration form). The recommended minimum lesson length is 45 minutes.


Group Instruction

Westminster Conservatory offers a wide range of classes and ensembles to meet the needs of every student, from the beginner to the most advanced student, regardless of age. Some classes are intended as an introduction to music, and require no previous experience. Others are designed to complement private instruction. Most classes run 32 weeks per year. Class length is based upon minimum enrollment. Some classes may be offered with a smaller enrollment by reducing the class length. In this case, the tuition remains the same.

  • Suzuki Violin Group
    Ages 3 and above
    Group classes are required for all students taking private Suzuki violin lessons. Classes are 45 minutes in length, with 32 classes in the academic year. Princeton location only.
    Number of classes: 32
    Class length: 45 minutes (4-person minimum)
    Tuition: $504 (if studying privately with a Suzuki teacher outside the Conservatory, interview with instructor is required.)
  • Pianos and Pizzicati
    Grades 1-2 (beginners only)
    This class will introduce students to keyboard, strings, and beginning music theory. Using a group-class format, students will spend 8 weeks exploring each type of instrument and setting practice goals for reinforcement at home. While the class will meet at the same time each week, the students will be divided into two groups and meet in separate rooms for each instrument. At the mid-point of the fall term, students will switch instruments—for example, piano for 8 weeks and then cello for 8 weeks. In the spring term, students will continue with more advanced activities in their rotation; the violin will replace the cello. Princeton location only.
    Number of classes: 32
    Class length: 55 minutes (8-person minimum)
    Tuition: $640
    Materials fee: $30 plus applicable instrument rental fees
  • Cello Orchestra
    Laurie Cascante, Instructor
    Ages 8-17
    In its ninth year, the Cello Orchestra focuses on cello ensemble arrangements of classical and contemporary works as well as selections from the early Broadway musical genre. Past repertoire has included arrangements of the first movement of J.S. Bach's Double Violin Concerto, Pavane by Gabriel Fauré, "America" from Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story, and music of Astor Piazzolla. The goal of the ensemble is for students to be exposed to a wide range of musical repertoire, and to master cello-ensemble versions of the repertoire in a thoroughly enjoyable setting. This group is strongly recommended for private cello students of Laurie Cascante. Students from all cello instructors’ studios are welcome to join the orchestra at the discretion of his/her teacher. An interview with the instructor is required. Princeton location only.
    Number of classes: 32
    Class length: 45 minutes (4-person minimum)
    Tuition: $504
    Materials fee: $20
  • Guitars of Westminster Conservatory
    Mark Johnstone, Instructor
    Middle School through Adult
    This class offers guitarists the opportunity to play a variety of music from the Renaissance to the 21st century as an ensemble. Guitarists play their part in rehearsing duets, trios, and quartets for an end of semester performance. Performers must be proficient in reading music. An interview/audition is required for placement. Princeton location only.
    Number of classes: 32
    Class length: 55 minutes (4-person minimum)
    Tuition: $640
  • Jazz Explorations
    Paul Hofreiter, Instructor
    Grade 8 through Adult
    In this class, students who already have some background in jazz will take their knowledge to the next level by playing in a small group and combining jazz with other musical styles (jazz/rock, jazz/hip hop, jazz/Latin, etc.). Students will explore playing through longer forms over time-tested jazz standards, and will also be encouraged to explore different ways of playing these compositions, as well as working on their own arrangements or compositions. Music written and performed by the students will be presented at a year-end recital either on Westminster’s campus or off-campus at a live venue. An interview/audition is required for placement. Princeton Academy location only.
     Number of classes: 31
    Class length:  45 minutes (3-person minimum)
    Tuition: $682

Chamber Music

Experience the joy of making music in a small ensemble! Westminster Conservatory offers reading ensembles as well as coached chamber groups, depending on playing goals of the student.

  • Adult Chamber Reading Ensemble
    Marjorie Selden, Coordinator
    Adults
    Here’s a unique opportunity for adult musicians to meet every other week to play together in small wind, string, piano, or mixed ensembles. The coordinator organizes ensembles according to playing level, interest and compatibility, and advises members regarding repertoire. Different reading ensembles—working on their own—will be created from week to week, and new repertoire will be sightread. Westminster provides music scores, studio space, stands, and pianos. Wind and string participants bring their own instruments. Each session will include a coffee break with light refreshments and time to socialize. Princeton location only.
    Number of sessions: 16 (ensembles meet every other week)
    Session length: 3 hours
    Tuition: $260
  • Coached Chamber Ensemble
    Elena Panova, Coordinator
    All Ages
    Students of any age or level are matched with other musicians in a small ensemble which meets weekly for individual coaching by a Conservatory faculty member. This program will introduce students to a broader range of repertoire and provide the opportunity for interaction with other musicians at the same level. Participants are encouraged to perform in community settings. This class is open to all instruments. An interview/audition is required for placement.
    Number of sessions: 32
    Session length: 45 minutes (3-person minimum)
    Tuition: $704

Violin/Viola Faculty

Linda Chang (violin)
Ileana Ciumac (violin)
Bardha Dennisi (violin)
Urska Haule Fegus (violin)
Alexander Izotov (violin/viola)

Hyun Soo Lim (violin)
Shannon Merlino (violin)
Chika Mimura (violin)
Judith Morse (violin/viola)
Emily Muller (violin/viola)

Colin Oettle (violin)
Dezheng Ping (violin)
Alisa Seavey (violin/viola)
Marjorie Selden (violin/viola)

 
Cello Faculty

Melissa Anderson
Laurie Cascante
Carol Redfield Vizzini
 
Upright Bass Faculty
Paul C. Hofreiter
 
 
Bass Guitar Faculty
Glen Brown
Paul C. Hofreiter
Bryan Williams
Jason Wolbach
Wilbo Wright
 
Guitar Faculty
Glen Brown
Jesse Freedman
Paul C. Hofreiter
Mark Johnstone
Peter Plomchok
Bryan Williams
Jason Wolbach
Wilbo Wright 
 
Harp Faculty
Alison Simpson  

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