New Students: Please note that there is a waiting list for certain days and times, but please do get in contact for further information. Before students are added to the waiting list, they are required to observe a number of groups lessons and attend an initial contact meeting before we move on to formal lessons. I enjoy working with new students and look forward to hearing from you! Please contact via the Contact Form and provide as much information about your current situation as you can. Teaching Philosophy: Playing a musical instrument can bring such satisfaction and joy, and my ultimate aim when teaching any student is for them to develop a love for the violin that will stay with them forever. I strive to nurture my students and allow them to develop their musical skills in a happy and healthy environment.
I hold an MA in Instrumental Teaching (Distinction) from the University of Reading, and have undertaken Suzuki teacher training at the American Suzuki Institute - Stevens Point (University of Wisconsin, USA), Colorado Suzuki Institute (Beaver Creek, USA), DFW WOW (Dallas, USA), Western Springs School of Talent Education (Chicago, USA), Germany, Spain, and London (England). I have also given presentations and taught masterclasses and group classes in workshops and institutes all over the UK, USA and Europe.
Much of my teaching draws from the method created by Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki, and over the years I have clocked up several hundred hours of observations of lessons taught both in England, mainland Europe, and in the USA.
Individual Lessons: Individual lessons cover a combination of repertoire, technique, musical expression, aural development, sight reading and theory. As every lesson is personalised for the student being taught, children as young as 4+ can begin lessons, as well as adult returners and beginners.
Each student is assigned a number of exercises and activities to complete each week as home assignments.
Group Lessons: In addition to individual lessons, children also attend weekend group lessons (approx. 6-7 per term) as part of the North Reading Suzuki Group (NRSG) where regular attendance ensures that students consolidate their learning in individual lessons, and progress quickly. Group lessons also provide the opportunity to observe and learn from others, as well as helping develop musicianship and ensemble skills. Parents often benefit from a new network of musical friends, and the mutual support that provides. Children who are on the waiting list for lessons are required to observe group lessons before they begin established individual lessons, as it provides exposure to the repertoire as well as helps to set expectations for both parent and child. For more information on group lessons, see the Groups page.
Exams: In addition, as many students like the opportunity to take the occasional exam to mark a point in their development, I also make sure my students acquire the skills necessary for entry into Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), and Trinity College London (TCL) grade exams. Along with my Suzuki training, I hold violin teaching diplomas from both ABRSM and TCL (with distinction), which gives me the unique opportunity to tailor a student's development path to meet their individual needs. Students at the Violin with Helen String Academy regularly achieve very high exam results. Latest results are published in our blog.
Musical Community: An important part of a child's musical education is to mix with other children with similar interests. It is always helpful to share ideas, motivation and friendships, and I encourage my students to meet up regularly. I am always trying to come up with innovative ideas to help them to do so! We have had end of term parties, informal get-togethers, repertoire play-through sessions, concert visits and group practise challenges.
Concerts and Recitals: Group concerts are held once a term, and a Recital is usually held once or twice a year where every student receives the opportunity to perform on stage in front of a small friendly audience. A Christmas party/play-through is held in December, and we often have a Summer party in July to end the academic year. For up to date information, please see the Events page. A number of my students are either past or present members of the National Children's Orchestra of Great Britain (NCO) and the National Children's Orchestra Regional Orchestras.
Student Portal: All parents and students (if applicable) are give account details to access the Student Portal, where they can access the calendar, studio news, emails, blog posts, downloads section, repertoire information, studio resources, invoice and account details, attendance and lesson notes. Parents can sign up for additional lessons, and can keep a record of their practise time and notes.
Parent Information Sessions: Parent Information sessions for the parents of newly beginning children. These sessions allow me to chat to the parents without the pressure of having the children around, and allows the parents to ask any questions they may have. Topics include an introduction to my philosophy of teaching, how to prepare children for violin lessons, and what to expect at each lesson. I also cover how to care for the instrument including practical help on tuning. We discuss how best to help children practice at home, and how to manage the expectations of both parent and child. The sessions are designed to make parents at ease with their child's lessons, and to help them feel confident in helping with home practice. I have a number of parents who decide to take up the violin alongside their child, which is an arrangement that can work very well.
Parents Evenings: Parents attend a Parents Evening in July each year, which notes the successes and achievements of the student over the year. It is also intended to discuss the plan for the next academic year, noting the student's or parent's particular interests, goals or ambitions.
Lending Library: All parents and students are encouraged to make use of the lending library. The library contains books on subjects such as child development, psychology, child learning, music instruction, pedagogy, the Suzuki Method, and more.
Fees: Current fees are available on request. Fees are very competitive, especially when compared with the fees of local authority music services. Fees are reviewed in July and any changes come into play at the beginning of the September term. Students and parents are notified in writing of any changes after the annual review in July.
Contracts, Invoices and Payment: All parents are required to agree to, and sign a contract prior to their children starting lessons. Adult students are not required to sign contracts - please contact for more information. Invoices are issued termly, and are emailed at the end of the previous term. Payment can be made via Internet Banking, cash or credit card. Prompt payment is always appreciated - Thank you!
Terms and Conditions: To aid the smooth running of the teaching practice, Terms and Conditions are regularly updated and re-issued to each student prior to the September start every year. They can also be found in the News and Blog section of the Student Portal.