Performing and teaching violin became a career, but I remember coming into Paul’s studio as an 11-year-old with some technical habits that needed fixing. He straightened that out right away, and although he is excellent at that, Paul’s teaching goes beyond the training of good habits and technique. What I remember learning (and what I refer to with my own students the most) are things Paul told me about how to practice, how to find “practice solutions” to musical problems. I still remember his sayings like, “Whatever you do over and over again, you get very good at.” Paul also introduced me to the idea of improvising on fiddle tunes and suggested I attend jam sessions, which led me to discover a passion for both.
At my last lesson, Paul handed me a copy of the Paganini Caprices with a note saying he thought I could, in time, get to the level of technique they demand. It was a nice vote of confidence and it closed by saying he enjoyed working with me and was also glad we had become friends over the years. Thanks Paul!
I started taking violin lessons with Paul Rowinski and Woodsong Suzuki Violins just after starting violin in my fifth grade orchestra. In my years studying with Paul (I remained with him until graduating high school) I learned the technique required to do what I wanted to with the instrument, not just a list of songs – as is the case with so many other programs. I am now a professional fiddle player and I utilize the skills and discipline that I learned from my classical violin lessons every day of my life. The violin not only turned out to be my profession, but also my passion in life. None of that would have been possible without my time with Paul.
I began taking lessons with Paul when I was eight years old. He took me from a beginning violinist with many bad habits to an accomplished musician who won the Longmont Symphony Young Artist Competition at age sixteen. Paul was a patient teacher who always offered honest feedback (both positive and negative) and pushed me to do my best. After graduating from Paul’s studio, I studied with several other violin teachers, but missed Paul’s sense of humor and the clarity of his instructions. In college, I took a break from violin altogether, while I pursued my academic studies and other extracurricular interests. But, as Paul had predicted, I couldn’t stay away from the violin forever. As an adult I picked it back up and now I am a 4th grade teacher who plays regularly with the Longmont Symphony and other chamber ensembles.
In reflecting on why I came back to the violin as an adult, I realize that playing violin has taught me many important life skills. Through daily practicing, something I hated as a kid, I learned self-discipline. I learned to take things slowly at first and to pay attention to the details. I learned patience. I also learned that hard work pays off. Violin performance taught me confidence. At first I was incredibly nervous to stand up in front of an audience, but after countless recitals and concerts, I am comfortable standing up in front of any group.Performing also taught me forgiveness. After crashing and burning on a Mozart violin concerto at a recital, I began to learn to let go of my mistakes. Playing violin keeps me in the present. When I play, I forget about everything else and am totally focused. As an adult I treasure these moments of balance in my busy life. Violin has been a shaping force in my life and I can’t
imagine who I would be without it.
Two of our kids have been taking violin lessons with Paul for almost one year. When they started I didn’t know it would be such a big commitment for the “home-teacher”. But it has been extremely rewarding and totally worth the effort. Anna and Thomas have learnt discipline, pacing themselves when learning a new song, and feel proud when they can play it well. For me, as the parent-teacher, it has been a wonderful opportunity to slow down, spend time with my kids, learning about music, and their learning styles.
Paul is a great teacher, he can pin-point mistakes to the detail, and tell the students how to fix them to get the right sound. Some of the things Paul has taught them, they are applying to other areas of their lives.
Twelve years ago, my five-year-old son Ian came to me and said, “I want to learn how to play the fiddle, Mommy.” I called Paul and told him I knew nothing about fiddling, but that I thought my son’s request meant he needed to learn how to play the violin? Paul was the perfect teacher for us to find (when the student is ready, the teacher will appear). Ian learned not only how to play the classical violin, and how to play his fiddling goal of the “Orange Blossom Special”, he learned how to learn, practice, and what it takes to be committed to something. I also believe my son began his appreciation for the arts from his time with Paul.
His violin studies have led him to dance, musical theater, and eventually to a performing arts high school and college musical theater program. My daughter Elle also takes violin with Paul and I am seeing the same progression of violin and personal growth for her as well. Paul has been one of those special adults in my children’s lives—not only has he taught them the lessons that are part of learning the violin, but he also teaches life lessons that go well beyond learning the violin, that will serve them for the rest of their lives. Thank you Paul.
I took lessons with Paul for twelve years, from when I was five until seventeen, and the weekly ritual was an important part of my development — providing an outlet for creativity and a source of accountability. Paul’s teaching style is focused on students taking ownership of their own learning, but with a lot of support, encouragement and guidance. The challenges I was set as a violin student were some of the most rewarding in my young life, and while I put down the violin after high school, I always brought it with me (physically and otherwise).
When I pulled my violin out for a friend’s birthday party talent show seven or eight years later, someone in attendance recommended me to a country band that was looking for a fiddle player. Even though I was rusty and hadn’t played country music before, I had Paul to thank for a good ear, a sense of rhythm and a musical flexibility that allowed me to translate my mostly-classical training into an improvised alt-country environment. Playing music again for the past few years has been a lot of fun and a reminder that life is richer with that outlet and that accountability.
Woodsong Suzuki Violins
Learning to play the violin should be fun and rewarding. Our focus is to help each student reach their full potential in a nurtured, and very effective way.
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