A highly integrated programme of violin teaching in a relaxed and child sensitive environment


About the school

Welcome to Little Strings Violin School. I established Little Strings in Autumn 2016 after more than 15 years teaching violin, piano and Kindermusik here in the Cowbridge and the Vale of Glamorgan area. Little Strings is a highly integrated programme of violin teaching which I provide in a relaxed and child sensitive environment. It involves aural and musicianship training as well as instrumental tuition. Alongside teaching technique, I specialise in building music literacy and nurturing innate musicality at each stage of learning the violin - from the very beginning to Grade 8.

I studied the violin under Catherine Frith and the piano under Timothy Barrett at the London College of Music. I am a graduate of the London College (GLCM) and have attained ALCM, LLCM (Teaching Diploma). I am a fully trained Kindermusik educator with 11 years experience of 0-7yr olds, and am now currently training to be a Colourstrings teacher.


Lessons

5-18
yr olds

Learning the violin is available for children aged 5 and above. There's no upper limit!

Those children who are complete beginners will be taught with the Colourstrings method. Those who are already established learners will be taught in the conventional way but drawing on this Colourstrings technique.

Read about the Colourstrings technique

Colourstrings Method

The Colourstrings Method is the brainchild of Professor Geza Szilvay and Csaba Szilvay. Originating from Finland, with roots in the Hungarian musical teaching concepts of Kodaly, the method seeks to give a child a firm musical foundation through early training of technical instrumental skills, musical hearing/ aural skills, theory and understanding of the music, as well as early encouragement of musical expression. The Colourstrings concept calls this a "musical parcel", which will be continually developed during years of musical training, and prepares the individual well as an all round musician.

Alongside instrumental lessons, the child is taught Solfege (or relative Solmisation) according the the principals of Kodaly. This prepares the child's inner hearing and musicianship skills, which progresses alongside technical development on the violin.

Violin Technical Development using the Colourstrings Method

There are multiple points of difference in the Colourstrings method initial technical training which I think helps solve many of the problems encountered by other methods, and potentially some common problems which violinists later encounter:

  1. Early use of left hand pizzicato: children start playing open strings with left hand pizzicato. This is used to develop finger independence in the left hand, as well as in assisting the development of an ideal left hand shape and left arm position.
  2. Early use of shifting movements: Children shift up and down the fingerboard, playing open string left hand pizzicato, very early (even to the very end of the fingerboard!). This means the free movement of the left arm.
  3. Early use of harmonics: Before any stopped notes are played with the bow, the child plays natural harmonics in various positions on the fingerboard. This encourages early lightness of of the left hand fingers, as well as absolute precision of intonation at a very early stage (the harmonics don't sound unless you're at the right place!).
  4. Early focus on efficient postural set up and movements: There is a major emphasis on setting up the child well in the initial lessons. The bow arm is guided, and free, efficient movements are encouraged.

The teaching of note reading and theory

Note reading is taught early, but simplified for the child, using a series of colours (a different colour for each violin strings) and simplified notes and a reduced stave. As the books progress, the music starts to resemble more and more traditional written notes placed on a normal stave. This makes the learning of note reading a progressive, age appropriate and child friendly/centered process. It also takes some of the burden of complex note reading away from the beginning player, and allows for more attention to technical development, musical listening, understanding and expression.

You will need to provide your child with a violin. Violins are one of the more affordable musical instruments – a brand new good quality student violin set-up will cost around £90-100, and can be re-sold when you upgrade. Second-hand violins are also available from many music shops, and hiring is sometimes possible. It’s essential to get properly measured for a violin before starting, and they start from 1/16th for the very smallest students.

General musicianship class is compulsory for beginners aged 5-7.

Violin tuition fees

£12 for 20 mins, £15 for 30 mins, £25 for 45 mins, £30 for 60 mins

music lesson underway

Leonie has taught my daughter violin for 5 years now. She is the type of teacher that parents willingly wait for a place to open up so that she might teach their children. Leonie is ever positive and smiling and encouraging- she finds the music in everyone and encourages them to express it. Leonie truly goes above and beyond what any parent hopes a teacher can give to their child; she is generous with her time, her talent and her passion. Nicole


General musicianship classes

5 ‒ 7
yr olds

Classes are held on a Saturday morning at 9:20-10 at United Free Church, the Broadshoard, Cowbridge

This class introduces basic musical concepts in an enjoyable and easily accessible way, enabling children to maximise their potential at a young age. The lessons will include the use of solfège/sol-fa (a music education method used to teach pitch and sight singing) and Kodály-based learning. Pitch (high/low), rhythm (short/long) (), tempo (slow/fast), dynamics (loud/soft), character, mood and style are introduced through a variety of musical activities, including nursery rhymes and songs, folk songs, action songs, call-and-response games, memory games and copying games. We encourage solo singing throughout.

General musicianship class is compulsory for beginners aged 5-7.

General musicianship fees

£70 per term

My daughter started violin lessons with Leonie in year 6. Leonie is inspirational and I feel, has a sympathetic approach to my daughter's playing. She achieves excellent results and has inspired my daughter by giving her confidence to aim high with her playing. She is very thorough and my daughter has gained immense knowledge as a result. An excellent teacher! Sarah


String Orchestra

The string orchestra rehearses on a Saturday morning at 10-11 at United Free Church, the Broadshoard, Cowbridge

This string orchestra is open to anyone up to grade 3. Spaces are available for violin, viola and cello players from around the Vale.

Little Strings emphasises the communal aspect of music making as well as developing real reading skills and the opportunity to perform in concerts in a relaxed environment. Therefore Little Strings students of the required standard will be very much encouraged to attend.

Orchestra fees

£36 per term

Orchestra performance

Theory of music

Private tuition is available in Theory of music Grade 5 for those wishing to take ABRSM exams Grade 6 and above.

Theory of music for Little String students will be taught during instrumental lesson time.

Theory tuition fees

£15 for 30 minutes