FiddleQuest Teachers

FiddleQuest teachers have a wide mix of backgrounds and teaching experiences. A common link between our teachers is the passion for teaching and the determination that our students go on to enjoy music long after lessons end. Below are some of the teachers that use FiddleQuest. Click below if you'd like us to help you locate a teacher that is taking new students. 

Duane Whitcomb

Ashland, Oregon

Music background

I grew up in a musical home. My mom was a singer and piano teacher and my siblings and I participated in all of the local musical opportunities in Raleigh, NC.  In my 30s, I discovered Irish music which led me to Scottish, Scandanavian and Galician music. Eventually, my musical journey took me back to America and the wonderful world of Blues & Jazz. 

 

Start of teaching

I have been teaching since 2002. I got into teaching because I wanted to help out in my children's classrooms and discovered that I had a real interest in teaching.

What I want students to take away from their time with me

First, I want them to have fond memories of learning and laughing together in lessons. Second, I want them to leave lessons with the knowledge, confidence and experience to engage in music recreationally anywhere that captures their interest.

What I enjoy about teaching

It is work that combines creativity, community-building and problem-solving and has the potential to make a real difference in a person's life.

A meaningful memory

A few years ago, I got an email from a former student traveling in Asia. She wanted me to know that she took her violin on her trip and wound up meeting many people through her music and she was grateful to me for teaching her how to do that.

Carla Arnold

La Grande, OR

Music background

I studied private piano, school classical violin and cello grade 4th grade through 2 years of college. I married a banjo player after college. My husband wanted me to learn guitar to accompany his banjo playing. I took guitar, fiddle and mandolin lessons and my husband has been accompanying me ever since! I was taught by a man who did not read a lick of music. Learning phrase by phrase has affected the whole trajectory of my life. I went back to college to became a teacher and have been teaching private fiddle, guitar and mandolin lessons and Elementary school music for 27 years.

Started teaching

In 1992

What do you want students to take away from their time with you?

The self-confidence that they are able to teach themselves by ear and successfully play with others in a group setting whether it is Melody, Harmony or chordal accompaniment.
 

What do you enjoy about teaching?

I enjoy figuring out individual learning styles and adapting how to teach to that style. I also love to group adults and kids together in different ensembles to enjoy Bluegrass and Old-Time music. Best of all, I love to teach how to play for Contra dances.

A meaningful memory

My very first private student is now a dad with six children of his own. He is teaching his own children how to play traditional fiddle music. My favorite memory is jamming with his family this past year.

Laura Dalbey

Billings, MT

Music background

I began music as a 3-year-old Suzuki violin student. By the time I was 11, I knew that I wanted to teach and play music as my calling in life. My wonderful elementary and high school violin teachers had profound influences on my life. During high school and college I had the opportunity to teach a few students and discovered my love for teaching. As an adult I've had the privilege of getting to play professionally with some orchestras, string quartets, and perform and teach at fiddle camps and contra dances.

What I want students to take away from their time with me

I want my students to learn the language of music and to appreciate the beauty around them - beautiful music, great friendships, joyful music-making. In a success-oriented, competitive world, it is so important for all of us to just take a step back and appreciate that each person is a unique and beautiful being, and life isn't about "winning", but about creativity and comradery.

What I enjoy about teaching

I love watching students grow and develop - each one with different gifts, desires, and ways of learning.

Shaina Evoniuk

San Francisco, CA

Music background

I grew up in a musical home listening to and playing music with my father who performed in a bluegrass band. I studied classical music and played with the local Youth Symphony. I earned my Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and currently lead the Jazz Mafia String Section. I perform as both an electric and acoustic violinist, as well as work as a composer, band leader, and arranger.

Start of teaching

I began as my teacher's assistant when I was 12 years old and had my own small studio by the time I was 16 years old. I took a break when I began conservatory and quickly realized something was missing in my life. I started back up with teaching the following year, and have been teaching ever since. I spent 10 years on faculty at The San Domenico School Music Conservatory as well as several years at Crowden in Berkeley CA.

What do you want students to take away from their time with you?

There are so many different ways to be a musician, and engage with music. Beyond that, there are so many different musical styles that violin/fiddle can play. My focus is around giving students all of the tools I can so that they can enjoy a lifetime of playing, whatever genre/s they are. drawn to.

What do you enjoy about teaching?

My favorite thing is seeing a student light up when they do something they previously thought they weren't capable of. Music study is just like the journey through life: with commitment, focus, and a steadfast nature, we can accomplish anything.

A meaningful memory

For a few years I taught in a neighborhood of San Francisco that is very disadvantaged. All of the people there live in government housing, and things get pretty rough sometimes. Ill never forget my student whose father didn't allow her to bring music into their home. My colleague and I teamed up with the students mother and hid her violin for her at school. We worked out a schedule with her other teachers so that she had practice sessions during the school day so she never had to bring her violin home. This little girl absolutely loved playing, and would light up when she made music. It warmed my heart, and still does, to remember what music brought to her life.

Carme Tobias

Sant Vicenç de Castellet, Catalunya

Music background

I studied classical violin, but I always have been interested in traditional music.

Start of teaching

I started to teach violin in 1995 using different classical methods. I discovered FiddleQuest at the Barcelona Fiddle Congress in 2018 and began to use it immediately. I found it to be a very motivating method and easy to get going.

What do you enjoy about teaching?

I like music and I like kids. And I like to find the best way to help pupils learn and grow on a personal and musical level. Since I have been using FiddleQuest, I see how much more motivated my students are now that music has become more of a family activity.

What do you want students to take away from their time with you?

Musical knowledge and enjoyment of the violin

Ahnika Emery

Fairfax, VA

Musical Background

I started playing the violin at school in 4th grade and never stopped. I sang in church choirs and played my violin in a youth orchestra and for family gatherings and church events. For my undergraduate degree, I attended West Virginia University and earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Education.

What year did you start teaching?

I started teaching elementary school String Orchestra in 1997 for Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia. I started teaching private lessons during the summers when I was in college.

What motivated you to begin teaching?

Teaching was something I was always doing since I have 4 younger siblings. My high school orchestra director asked me to work individually with some of the middle school students at one point and it was so rewarding to work with them and see their improvement. Before that experience, I didn’t realize what teaching was really about and that it was something that I could do for a career.

What do you want students to take away from their time with you?

A love of playing their instrument or an appreciation for what goes into learning to play an instrument.

What do you enjoy about teaching?

Being able to help students work through challenges and discover the joy in playing music. I also enjoy working with very excited beginners. Their enthusiasm is contagious!

A meaningful memory

There are so many! A recent interaction was with a young lady I taught for 2 years. When she came to my class she did not speak any English. We mostly worked hard at communicating that first year and she didn’t make much progress on her instrument. To my surprise, she signed up the following year. Our communication was much improved the second year and we had many conversations about how to go about practicing the skills she wanted to improve on. We also had conversations about how to improve her behavior in class since she was often off task. When it was time to sign up for middle school orchestra, she didn’t sign up. I didn’t make a big deal about it and honestly, I expected this decision. A few weeks later she came to me and said she had changed her mind and would like to sign up or middle school orchestra. She said that I had put so much work into her and her violin that she couldn’t let that go to waste. I look forward to seeing what she does in the future. We don’t always get to know the impact we are making on students’ lives. Sticking with the challenging students is worth it!

Laurel Diskin

Los Angeles, CA

Music background

I started playing the violin at age 9, and unlike most of my friends who tried the school
orchestra with me, I just forgot to quit. I feel so lucky to have music in my life. I earned a
BM and an MM as a classical violinist (and violist as needed). Along the way I started
exploring different genres of music through rock bands, pick-up sessions, and eventually
Baroque ensembles. However, I didn’t get much exposure to traditional fiddle sessions, so
what I’ve been able to pick up is mostly from listening to recordings and finding published
music. Learning and teaching by ear through FiddleQuest has been a game changer.

 

Start of teaching

I started teaching in 2000. I was interviewing at a non-profit music program that provided
group lessons to kids from kindergarten through 12 th grade. One of the violin teachers
called in sick at the last minute, so rather than do an interview, I was asked to substitute. It
worked out! I’ve been teaching music (primarily in group settings) ever since. I also have
an official “clear” teaching credential from the State of California.

What I want students to take away from their time with me

I’d like my students to feel confident enough in their musical and technical skills to take on
whatever kind of music they want to pursue, in whatever capacity they want to pursue it.

What I enjoy about teaching

Interacting with students is probably my favorite thing about teaching. It’s a great pleasure
to be a meaningful part of someone else’s development. Teachers help students negotiate
the immediate challenges of pieces and exercises, but they also help students find their way
forward as artists.

A meaningful memory

At my first private violin lesson, my teacher showed me some simple sheet music and said
we would begin with an open string exercise. I was nine, and for some reason I was
convinced that I had to perform perfectly right out of the gate, or everything would fall apart.
Obviously that didn’t make any sense, but no one ever said anxiety was rational. I couldn’t
figure out the music in front of me, and I was such a mess that when my teacher said, “Let’s
get going,” I blurted out, “But I can’t do that!” and started to cry. My teacher, rather than
yelling at me to pull myself together or telling me to pack up, was just quiet and calm, and
let me be. She waited until I was done and then very kindly said, “That’s why I’m here. I’m
going to teach you.” And she did! Thanks to her, the ideas of compassion, respect, and
patience are what I always bear in mind in my own teaching.

Sarah Cecilio

Silver Spring, MD

Music Background

I have two professional musician parents, and started playing the violin at a very young age. As a kid I most enjoyed playing in a Celtic music program, and as I earned my degrees in performance and violin pedagogy I always dabbled in fiddle music. In addition to a short stint as a full-time performer, I have taught in many different settings and have always maintained a private studio.

 

What year did you start teaching?

In 2004 I got my first teaching job doing outreach violin programs in public schools. Shortly after, I began teaching privately.

 

What do you enjoy about teaching?

Working with kids is fun, engaging, and no two lessons are exactly the same! I love the imagination and creativity that each of my students brings, no matter what their level of playing, and I enjoy the challenge of tailoring lessons to each new person I work with.

 

A meaningful memory

Once I was hired as the director of a violin outreach program that promptly had all the funding cut. Local teachers came together and we managed to run the program with instrument donations and volunteer teachers for the entire year. It was very moving to see so many professionals in the field come together to provide that musical learning experience to so many students who could not afford private lessons. It proved to me that the music teaching community was where I wanted to focus my career.

Janet Tolley

San Diego, CA

Music Background

I grew up in a large, musical family.  I began piano lessons at age 7, and violin lessons at age 8.  I was a Suzuki violinist--my dad learned how to play the violin right along with my younger brother and me. My mother was our accompanist.  By the time I was a Senior in high school, and enrolled in four music classes, I knew I wanted to major in music.  

What year did you start teaching?

I graduated from Brigham Young University in 1985 with a Bachelor of Music degree in violin pedagogy. I began teaching violin lessons while I was in college and have continued teaching for most of the past 35 years.  As a mother of 8, and a homemaker, teaching violin has been an ideal profession.  

What do you want students to take away from their time with you?

I hope they will leave with the skill, understanding, confidence, and desire to continue playing, exploring new music, and participating with others in making music. 
 

What do you enjoy about teaching?

Working with children.  Especially working with young children, whether teaching private violin lessons, volunteering in the local schools, or working with young musicians at church.  I like building confidence and skill.  Teaching requires creativity.  It is both challenging and rewarding, and I continue learning, too.

 

A meaningful memory

I have many memories from teaching a little girl who had Down’s syndrome.  She was the middle child of three and I also taught both of her brothers.  One time when I was working on getting her to feel the beat, I set her violin down, took both of her hands, and started dancing with her to the beat.  She caught on.  If she wanted to do something she could, but if she made up her mind that she didn’t want to--that was that.  One day I was teaching her and her 5-year-old little brother.  The little girl had just begun her lesson and then she said, “I’m done”.  So, I said to her little brother, “Okay, it is time for your lesson.”  Eventually I had both of them playing with me at the same time.  The joy of teaching comes when I figure out what works at a specific time with a specific student.  It is very individualized and very rewarding. 

Jessie Monter

Ashland, OR

-

Mirabai Peart

Portland, OR

-

Ellery Klein

Boston, MA

-

Rachel Buklad

Talent, OR

-

Susan Landry

Clinton, MS

-

Sumer Noel

Allentown, PA

-

Ross Debardalebem

Miami, FL

-

Odile Meister

Wrangell, AK

-

Martha Delaney-Hotz

St. Augustine, FL

-

Landon Strine

Medford, OR

-

Diana Bright

Portland, OR

-

BJ Montoya

Seattle, WA

-

Denise Hatten

La Grande, OR

-

Ronit Rieser

Sacramento, CA

-