Ask the Teacher - Louise Zeitlin


The Ohio-based pedagogue shares her tips for helping students find their identity as a viola player

What ages and abilities do you teach?

My primary focus is college-age students and talented high-school students. I am also trained in the Suzuki method and I start a few young players. I feel I am most effective at developing technique and musicality.

Are there advantages to starting on the viola instead of switching from the violin?

The advantage of starting on the viola is that students get a real sense of their identity as a viola player and become proud of what they do. There’s a bit of a stereotype for those who switch – some think they change because they don’t play the violin well. But that’s just not true. To encourage a ‘viola identity’ I have a viola group every week. We play ensemble music and practise technique. We also have purple parties. Someone once told me that purple was the viola colour because it’s deep and rich like the viola sound. At the parties, everyone wears purple, brings a purple treat, and we play viola ensemble music. The students really look forward to these parties.

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