Testimonials

"Lawrence keeps my daughter Shirley's lessons challenging - but fun - which accelerates her progress. I am very satisfied with his work." - K. Jongsathitporn

"After 10 years of violin lessons with other teachers, I finally discovered Mr. Lawrence; who is now thoroughly and systematically, renovating my violin technique, in preparation for future grade 7 and 8 examination success." - Tanaphonsuwanmanon - 'Tung'

Is that because I play the violin?

A violinist goes to preschool one day. When he comes back, he says to his mother, "Mommy, guess what! We did the alphabet today! I read farther than anyone else"

His mom said, "That's good honey! That's because you play the violin." The next day he goes back to school. Again, when he comes home he says, "Mommy, guess what! We did counting today and I could count farther than anyone else." Once again his mother says, "Well done, honey. That's because you play the violin."

The next day brought the same routine. The violinist comes home and says, "Mommy, guess what! We measured our height today and I was much taller than anyone else! Is that because I play the violin?"

"No" his mother replies, "It's because you're 25!

Cicero 106-43 BC

"In ancient times music was the foundation of all the sciences. Education was begun with music with the persuasion that nothing could be expected of a man who was ignorant of music."

Wrong Notes!

After a bad performance the violin soloist defended himself by stating …

“I played all the right notes … and in tune … but not necessarily in the right order.”

 

A violinist is walking on the beach one day when he comes across a lamp. He gives it a rub and out pops a genie. "Thank you for releasing me," says the genie. "I am not the most powerful genie, so I'm afraid I can only offer to grant one wish."

Without missing a beat (!), the violinist says, "I'd like there to be peace in the Middle East."

The genie, having been in a lamp for several centuries, asks him to explain. The violinist pulls out a map and details the situation at length.

"Euhhh," says the genie, "that sounds pretty complicated; I don't know if I can pull it off. Do you have a second choice?"

The violinist thinks for a few seconds. "Well, I'd like to be the concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic."

The genie says, "Let me take a look at that map again..."

 

How do you tell if the violinist is playing out of tune?

The bow is moving.

 

Man talking asks his wife, who has started learning the violin.

“ Can you play ‘Far Away’?”

 

Why did Beethoven write ten violin sonatas?

Because he was deaf.

Why didn't Tchaikovsky write any violin sonatas?

Because he wasn’t.

  

Albert Einstein 1879-1955

"If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music."

Victor Hugo

Music expresses that which can not be put into words and that which cannot remain silent"

Paul Winter "Music-Physician for Times to come" 1939

"I am equally exited about the possibilities that music making holds for all people and it's ability to heal what seems to me a chronic imbalance in modern life."

Dr. Ira Altschuler (of the Eloise State Hospital)

Eventually, musical therapists will compose prescriptions after the manner of a pharmacist..."

This is a true story…..

Einstein loved to play violin and would sometimes play duets with Kreisler. Once during one of these occasions they were having some difficulty playing a certain passage. After several tries Kreisler put finally down his violin and turned to Einstein. Annoyed he said, “Einstein can’t you count?”

Corinne Heline 1882-1975

"The magic of "Musical Medicine" will come into its own. The application of such healing potencies will not be limited just to man's body and mind. It will be an agency for building and healing his soul as well."

Novalis, The Encyclopedia

Every illness is a musical problem-the healing, a musical solution..."

Beethoven 1770-1827

The Sufi Master Hazart Inayat Kahn (1882-1927) “He that divines the secret of my music is freed from the unhappiness that haunts the whole world of men.”

Martin Luther

"Music is the art of the prophets, the only art that can calm the agitations of the soul."

"Music should be healing, music should uplift the soul, music should inspire; then there is no better way of getting closer to God, of rising higher towards the spirit, of attaining spiritual perfection, only if it is rightly understood."

How many is a Brazilian?

A violinist and a friend were sitting in a coffee shop drinking coffee and watching the news on the little TV in the corner. As they watched, the news anchor came on and said, "15 Brazilian soldiers were killed today..." The violinist looks at his friend and says, "Oh, that's so sad! How many is a Brazilian?"

Some Advice for Parents & Students

Notes for parents

Good Bangkok violin teachers are hard to find. There are countless teachers, who remain primarily aloof, and detached from parental interaction. I have also encountered those who purposely hold a student back, in order to prolong their period of study - so they can make more money from the lessons!

That is most certainly not my modus operandi. Besides, it is counterproductive, as in all likelihood the students will most likely search elsewhere for an alternative teacher like myself; who will encourage their talent to blossom and flourish as swiftly as possible.

I like to see my students make swift but well-rounded progress, encouraging them to think for themselves, and develop their own musicality as much as possible. This always leads to a better understanding of the instrument and its repertoire. The ultimate aim of course, is to eventually render my services redundant – but it will take a few years!

“My son took piano lessons for one and a half year since he was 4 and had always been hardworking practicing every day. Despite all his effort, he was never appreciated by his teacher, and so broke down. He disliked piano ever since, until he started violin lessons with Mr. Lawrence. He enjoyed his lessons very much, because Mr. Lawrence was funny, caring and well-prepared to teach. Later on he continued his piano lessons with Mr. Lawrence, and amazingly developed positive feelings towards piano again.” Pinyapat K., M.D.

One of my talented Bangkok violin students performing at the Thailand 2016 High Scorers Concert at the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Centre - Still some work to do, to improve the occasional default poor violin posture, and eradicate the foot tapping, which only manifest at moments of pressure!

Here is an example of a performance by one of my young students, who has been playing for 3 years. - Not the finished article yet, but well on the way!

I often inherit new students from other teachers. Sometimes these students believe that they know more than they really do. They have perhaps been playing music for several years, but without a full technical, musical, or theoretical understanding of what they are trying to achieve.

I always like to give the analogy to my students of bricks in a wall. When I take on a new student with some existing skills, almost inevitably there will be a few bricks in their metaphorical wall, that are faulty, and require replacing, and others that are missing altogether!

We need to make these good first of all, before we can continue building their “musical house”.

A house needs sound foundations. A sound technique, represents the house foundations, without which, progress will be stunted at best, or non-existent.

It rather reminds me of my golf game. I play very occasionally; have never had a golf lesson in my life; and every time I do play, I know that I am compounding errors in my already impaired technique. I know that I will never get better, until I “bite the bullet” and have some professional instruction. That would still never work for me however, as without regular practice between lessons - the other essential ingredient in the mix – for which I have no time - progress would be slight or non-existent. Some new students turn up for a first lesson, attempting to play more advanced music than their skill set presently allows. Such scenarios require my diplomatic advice, that “we need to add a few more bricks to their musical house”, in order to graduate to their perceived present level.

Although it is most certainly not obligatory; I will always encourage a parent to attend the lesson every week they can, (Especially with children under 8 years of age) so he/she, can see what we are doing, and trying to achieve. They can then give informed encouragement to the child at home. It also provides the opportunity to clarify anything that we do in the lessons, enabling the parent to feel that they have some input into their child’s musical development.

I ask students to bring an A4 folder, containing removable clear plastic inserts, as some weeks I will be giving them a new page to insert in the folder. I also request parents buy a small note book, and ensure that their child always remembers to bring these 2 items to every lesson.

Lawrence rounds off a violin student's concert in Bangkok, with a short solo.

Lawrence rounds off a violin student's concert in Bangkok, with a short solo.


Teaching material

My teaching method is a hybrid of various teaching methods, which I have successfully developed, adapted and improved over a 40 year teaching career. I have taught well over 5000 students during that time.

Initially we may be using music sheets which I provide. Additionally you will be required to occasionally purchase violin music, which I source for you, for your convenience; for use in the lessons.

It is a true fact, that you cannot really teach your own children – a little like trying to teach your partner to drive – NOT recommended!

I have taught several other music teachers’ children over the years, because they would pay attention to an outsider, more than their parents.

A high percentage my students; have excelled in the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of music examinations. Some are now in fact teachers, themselves.

Whilst there is absolutely no pressure on a child to ever take any music exams; I do believe that taking ABRSM Grade examinations can be beneficial, as it provides a yardstick by which one can measure a child’s progress; and as inspiration for the child, who will definitely feel a great sense of achievement, in passing an independently tested examination. I can also coach for Trinity Guildhall Examinations, if a new student comes on board, who has previously been preparing that material.

If however, you or your child do NOT wish examinations to be taken, that is absolutely fine by me.

You will discover that my lessons can be quite entertaining for the children, who have fun as they learn.

Children adapt to playing the violin quite easily, in the same way they will pick up a language, without considering the complexity of the task.

I also teach adults, and it is not unusual for a parent and her children to BOTH have lessons - but beware - they may outshine you!


Music Exam Preparation

Coaching a student for an upcoming exam, is analogous to a boxing trainer preparing his fighter for an important title fight.

It is vital that the trainee peaks at the right time.

Too soon, and the student is stale on the music, before the exam date. Too late, and the result is less than satisfactory.

My philosophy regarding taking exams, is that they can play a useful integral part in a student’s playing development, providing an excellent catalyst, which inspires the student to achieve ever higher levels of development.

They are most certainly not the be all and end all, of playing any musical instrument – but they can certainly be a useful tool.

I do not believe in taking exams however just for their own sake – just to be able to say “I’ve passed grade such and such” - Hubris is a bad thing.

I always ensure that my students have the necessary skill set, in all the elements that are required in an exam, before they start learning the actual exam music. This ensures that students can readily take the music in their stride, thus shortening the necessary period of exam study.

I always endeavor to get my students to “peak” at just the right time, so they enter the exam room on top form, confident in their ability to do well.

There are 3 levels of grading for ABRSM Exams.

Pass, Merit , and Distinction.

I always set “Merit” as the bottom baseline goal. This ensures that even if they have a really bad day, they will still easily pass the exam.

90% of my students achieve Merit or Distinction.

A successful exam result is a wonderful confidence boost; raising the student’s self-esteem, and desire to progress further.


How to make better Use of your practice Time

“Good practice is creative practice,” Lawrence

Practicing shouldn’t be dull. But how do you make it more interesting?

First of all; you need to establish a flexible set of priorities for practicing a new piece.

Remember which elements your teacher has told you that need to be working on, and which of them are the most important. The order of importance can change depending upon your technical and musical abilities and performance demands.

If you have to play something without a lot of preparation, for example, you need to get control of the notes, rhythms, and intonation before anything else.

It’s really important not to put the cart before the horse. Style can never take precedence over substance. A lot of students tend to focus on just their favorite thing. If intonation is what they deem most important, they’ll focus on it to the extent that they may not consider their physical movement; and if they’re absolutely rigid physically, they won’t hit the notes correctly every time. Rigidity destroys good playing.

Your priorities should include some balance of mastering the correct notes down, working out the rhythms and bowings, watching your position and posture, being careful with intonation, working on shifting (with a relaxed left thumb - repeat each shift six times or more, up and down), watching bow division and articulation, and paying attention to vibrato and tone, all while developing an interpretation of the piece.

OK, I know that sounds rather daunting! - Don’t panic - Rome wasn’t built in a day. It was built one brick at a time.

I am your master builder, and will do everything I can, to ensure that you remain an enthusiastic apprentice, until one day I am no longer needed!

By the way - I am British, and you will find that I am very direct in expressing my thoughts. I will ALWAYS be polite - but as you will readily grasp - If I ever feel that your child is not progressing satisfactorily for whatever reason, I will tell you immediately, so we address any necessary issues, and "nip them in the bud".

Whilst it may be an unlikely scenario, as I always do my utmost to inspire my students to give of their very best. There is nothing so soul destroying for a teacher, than a student who does little or no practice. It makes both student and teacher lose face

I do hope and trust that this unlikely eventuality will never occur - but rest assured; you will be the first to know the truth, if it does. It is a very rare occurrence however, as my students are invariably inspired to practice hard in order to make progress, - and to please me!

If in the last resort however, there is a total lack of commitment, I will tell you straight; and perhaps suggest that you consider saving your money by stopping the lessons I do not want you to waste your money - or my time!