Testimonials

“Lawrence is an extraordinary violin and piano tutor, with genius qualities. He teaches my daughter both instruments, with patience passion and sympathetic understanding. His infectious energy and enthusiasm level, never drops; encouraging even grumpy pupils, who may be exhausted after a long school day, to give of their best. He inspires excitement and desire in his students, to achieve challenging goals.Good instrumental teachers are difficult to find in Thailand. My daughter had a number of teachers prior to Lawrence. None possessed his unique qualities. He teaches Pippa to think for herself – she is no longer scared of sight reading! My daughter obtained a distinction in her last exam – just as he had predicted – Superb teacher!” -P Phisuthikul

Violin Tips, Tricks, Videos and FAQs

Lessons with Lawrence - Tricks and Tips

Welcome to my videos and FAQ Page.

Please play these short videos at your leisure; then peruse the Violin Answers in the “Frequently asked Questions” section which follow.

 

Music Making Fun for Students of all ages.

It is of paramount importance, that children derive pleasure, inspiration, excitement and enjoyment, from their violin tuition. My lessons are customized to each individual child’s needs and aspirations, thus ensuring their violin playing is a pleasurable rewarding experience at all times.

I have a wealth of wonderful traditional and innovative teaching material at my disposal, to which I am always adding. My students develop their playing, by using my selection of the best of the best, teaching material; that is available in the World today.

My young students have eclectic tastes, goals and aspirations. Please enjoy below, one of my talented young students’ home video electric violin performances - Apologies for extraneous background noise!


Promising 12-year-old classically trained student, Andy, makes an impromptu home recording of “Viva La Vida” by Coldplay.

 

Alternative Violin

With practice and application, (As shown in the above video); a competent open minded classically trained violinist, with a good basic grounding, will be capable of adapting to perform in almost any style of playing – be it jazz, folk, pop, gypsy, or avant garde freestyle. After my students have achieved a sound basic level of competency, I am more than happy to accommodate their chosen personal musical direction.

Although I myself, am a classically trained musician, I am a very open minded violin professional, with eclectic musical tastes. I am just as happy improvising for a studio popular recording, improvising at a wedding, or in a television commercial; (See Below) as I am performing a Mozart Concerto.

 


Lawrence; complete with make-up and false moustache; plays for a recent TV Commercial.

 

My sheet music library as well as being primarily classically orientated, also has a wide variety of alternative playing styles; such as, Pop violin, Western fiddle*, Gypsy violin, Celtic fiddle or Blue Grass.

(*NB Just for the record – a violin and a fiddle are one and the same – although some folk players prefer to use a slightly less arched violin bridge, in order to facilitate the double stopping style of the music.)

 

#1 Getting ready to play

This video shows the correct way to fit a shoulder rest, rosining the bow, and correct bow tension.


#2 Introduction to, and care of the violin and bow

"Whilst it is general practice in European countries to keep a violin in a closed case for safety, when it is not in use, the same does not apply to South East Asian countries.

Because of the high humidity factor in these countries, it is in fact advisable leave the instrument in an open case in a safe area, or better still; suspended on a strong cord hanging from the ceiling or a high shelf.

This allows free circulation of air, and thus prevents the undesirable scenario, of the instrument opening up at glue joints - a very likely occurrence - if the violin is left unattended in a closed case for any period of time" - Lawrence


#3 Violin posture and stance

REMEMBER - IF YOU LOOK GOOD YOU ARE MUCH MORE LIKELY TO SOUND GOOD!


#4 Easy bow hold exercise


#5 The bow stroke


#6 The left hand position

Bad habits to avoid


#7 How to do vibrato Part 1

Introductory vibrato exercises.


#8 How to do vibrato Part 2

Vibrato exercises - the next step.

 


Starting with your new teacher

Frequently asked Violin questions and Answers

 

1/ Why choose Lawrence as your teacher?

Lawrence has been a violin teacher since he was 17 years of age. After 40 years of teaching in state, independent and private practice, he has a huge wealth of knowledge gained through experience teaching students of all ages and abilities. He always maintains a contemporary mindset however, and is constantly monitoring, and where appropriate, incorporating; new teaching principles and ideas into his existing well-honed teaching practices.

Lessons with Lawrence are enjoyable and challenging. He always manages to maintain a balanced approach; in so doing, providing great motivation for his students to excel, and enjoy fulfilling their full potential.

He is fastidiously thorough in his approach to developing technique and musicianship in his inspired students, who have fun as they learn. He teaches students to think for themselves, as opposed to the tunnel vision approach used by many teachers, of just encouraging their students to blindly copy them, irrespective of whether they really understand what they are doing or not!

“I like to build musicians - not performing monkeys!” - Lawrence

 

2/ Which examination board is “best”?

It is a case of “horses for courses”.

Generally I prefer to enter my students for ABRSM Exams, keeping their theory knowledge on a par with their practical level, and ensuring that students have a full understanding of what they are trying to achieve in the music. The AB Exams suit my students well, as they can readily meet the theory requirement of grade 5 theory prior to advancing to the higher grades.

Many teachers who do not fully incorporate theory into their lessons, prefer the Trinity/Guildhall examinations, as they require no theory qualification for the higher grades. It is therefore possible for a very modestly qualified student to “pass” a fairly high grade exam with this board; without really having the full skill set to consider themselves completely at the stated level of the exam – not the real deal.

Let me give you analogy of the film set, where the cowboys ride into town; past the bank, the saloon and other “buildings”, which upon closer inspection, off camera; are revealed in fact to be dummy building fronts, with nothing behind them but air – not the real deal! It is a case of “horses for courses”.

Generally I prefer to enter my students for ABRSM Exams, keeping their theory knowledge on a par with their practical level, and ensuring that students have a full understanding of what they are trying to achieve in the music. The AB Exams suit my students well, as they can readily meet the theory requirement of grade 5 theory prior to advancing to the higher grades.

To summarise – performance standards are pretty similar between the 2 examination boards, but I personally will only enter a student for a Trinity Guildhall exam if I have inherited them from another teacher who has not incorporated theory into their lessons, or they have already commenced exam preparation for that board, prior to them becoming my student.

 

3/ How long should I practice for every day?

With young children aged 6 and below, a little often; is the key to success; as attention span with youngsters is much more limited. So if a young child manages 10 or 15 minutes maximum at a practice session, they have done quite well. I encourage students over the age of 6 years old, to try to manage 30 minutes regular daily practice, gradually increasing the practice quota as they mature, to attain in an ideal scenario eventually, one hour per day.

 

4/ How long does it take to learn the violin?!

There is no simple answer to that question as it depends upon multiple factors –aptitute, application, dedication, inherent musicality, etc.

What I will say however, is that it is certainly a realistic proposition for a student with average levels of the above ingredients, to be able to play at an acceptable level of say grade 2-3 after about 3 years - enough to be able to read and play music themselves for pleasure.

A high proportion of my students, in fact, achieve a considerably higher level than that, in that space of time.

To become a truly accomplished player, takes several more years. If a student of mine maintains a progress rate of one grade per year that is a satisfactory result.

Exceptional students can achieve grade 8 standard in 5 years!

 

5/ Do you teach adults?

Yes of course! I love teaching adults, because I am always certain that they really want to learn. After all; they are paying for their own lessons, and therefore they want results!

 

6/ Do you teach theory in your lessons?

Excluding under-fives, who initially need to play by rote and imitation, in order to accelerate early progress, maintain interest, and receive instant gratification and success; over-fives, will be learning music reading and simple theory right from the start - although they may realize it at the time! I normally use 3 playing books simultaneously with young children, plus a very simple theory book. This works very well, as we can “ring the changes” to maintain interest with always something exciting and “new”.

 

7/ What do I do in my first lesson?

See “Notes for new students” *for the answer.

 

8/When do you commence teaching students second and third positions?

I do not commence teaching second and third positions, until the student exhibits sound accurate intonation in first position. In practice, this means after students have attained a grade 2 level.

Third position and sometimes a little second position will be encountered in grade 3 music. Unlike most teachers, I like to introduce second position before third position. Students always take longer to master second position than third; therefore it makes logical sense to get started on it early.

In practice, I do introduce third position shortly after second has commenced, along with shifting; so they actually soon run in tandem with each other.

 

9/ When do you teach vibrato?

When a student has a good facility in the first three positions, and some experience of third and fifth positions, I will commence vibrato instruction. Effectively this will occur around the grade four level, as some degree of expertise in vibrato is expected, and desirable, for grade five examinations.

IMPORTANT . Never do vibrato in scales! - Lawrence

 

10/ When can I take my first examination?

This obviously varies from student to student, however as a rule of thumb; an average student should expect to be working on grade one exam music, after 12 months or less. Some of my more talented students have passed grade one within their first year.

 

11/ Do I have to take examinations?

Not at all – it is totally optional!

 

12 When can I start lessons?

Now!!! Please contact me immediately!