The Early Days
I have been playing the violin for close to three decades. I was lucky to have private lessons from a very young age, and from a combination of luck, family support, and lots of hard practicing, had the chance to study the violin at the New England Conservatory, Yale University School of Music, and the Vienna University of Music. Already while I was finishing my degrees, I loved teaching. I had so much respect for my teachers, and how they could unravel the mysteries of violin playing. Often by trying something just slightly different - practicing in a certain way, repositioning the body slightly, or even just thinking about something a little differently - suddenly a challenging piece would transform from unplayable and frustrating to pure music and joy! It was amazing to learn these techniques, and to share them with my students.
Getting My “Sea Legs” as a Violinist and Teacher
Since those early days, it has been my passion to “collect” more and more knowledge about playing the violin. I’ve been fortunate to have many chances to use this knowledge on the concert stage, playing all over the world (Carnegie Hall in New York, Crystal Hall in Japan, Beijing Performing Arts Center in China, Pallais Palfais in Vienna, and many more). In addition to performing as soloist, I’ve also been honored to perform at the renowned New England Bach Festival at Marlborough, as associate concertmaster of the Cape Cod Symphony, section leader in Grammy-nominated A Far Cry, 1st violinist in the Boston Philharmonic, and other wonderful ensembles.)
I was loving playing the violin, but also passionately thinking and organizing all this information into my teaching. I taught privately in Vienna, working with a number of extraordinarily advanced players - some of whom are currently pursuing professional concert careers in London and Vienna. I then returned home to my native Boston, and joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory Preparatory School. Here I had the chance to work also with beginners and students of all ages, from young children to adults. It was fascinating to think about how to break down complex ideas so that a complete beginner could understand them! My students were able to pass the auditions at the Eastman School of Music, Peabody Conservatory, Manhattan School of Music, Boston Conservatory, Longy School of Music, the Prayner Conservatory in Vienna, the San Francisco Conservatory, and others.
The Idea for “Peckins Studio Online” is Born!
As I taught for more and more years, I realized that many of the fundamental lessons were the same for all students. Every person is different, but the violin itself is the same! As an experiment, I recorded a series of short videos, each only about 5-10 minutes long, going over some of the etudes my students would be studying that week. (An etude is a short technical study.) I emailed the students the videos, and asked them to watch them before their private lessons.
The results were very encouraging! The students were able to see and hear me playing the etude, they learned how to practice them, and they had a good understanding of the important techniques. Suddenly, my students were more prepared, more independent, and we didn’t have to keep reviewing the same basic things in the lessons because they had a small video library they could consult at home!
Building the Collection
Over time, I added more lessons to the collection. The Études section grew to over 140 lessons. Then came the Technique section, with over 50 progressive lessons on vibrato, scales, shifting, bow strokes, position/posture, and more. The Repertoire section has pieces from Suzuki and Mozart. And the Practicing section teaches clear and specific practice methods that professional violinists and series students use all the time.
I continued adding lessons until now there are over 200 lessons (over 23 hours of video!) from total beginner to professional level. You can browse through the full collection using the navigation menu on the top of any page to see exactly what’s included.
Who is Using Peckins Studio Online?
I use these lessons every week with my private students, but also want them to be available to anyone who wants to learn the violin.
I put together a Beginner Guide for newcomers. It recommends a progression of lessons from total beginner to intermediate level. These lessons start with the popular method books Essential Elements and Suzuki Book 1, and build from there. Having video lessons is so helpful because you don’t just see the notes in a book with a few written suggestions, but you can see a real violinist actually playing them and get advice about how to practice. Of course, there are clear lessons on how to hold the violin and bow, how to practice, and other critical points that are just so hard to get from a book alone. Independent adult learners and students in group classes who don’t have private teachers will most benefit from this part of the website. (Click here to see the Beginner Guide.)
Intermediate and advanced players can use the lesson categories like a “video textbook.” (Use the menu on the top of any page.) . The more advanced etudes are at the heart of this program - there are hours of valuable lessons to learn, and this one of the best ways to take your playing to a higher level. The technique lessons can be a valuable reference and guide for you - something to consult when you want to learn a new technique or need a little review. In my teaching experience, many advanced players still do not really understand the fine points of violin technique: how to keep the hand relaxed in vibrato, how to play advanced bow strokes with a beautiful sound, or even just how to practice effectively. I remember searching for answers to similar questions as a student, and wish I had had a resource like this website back then!
Making Something Different
There are some other violin lesson websites out there, and I wanted to make sure this would be something new and valuable. My first goal was just to make sure all the lessons were as high quality as possible, which for me means: having correct information (oh my, there’s a lot of misleading info about violin playing on the internet!) and explaining it clearly in a way that students can really understand. I also wanted to organize the lessons for usability, so everything is grouped by category. (I.e., the menu on the top of each page.) In terms of quantity of lessons, this website currently has over 22 hours of recorded video and 200+ lessons - more than enough to keep a student busy for a good long while! Some other sites advertise a huge number of lessons, but they may be extremely short clips of just a minute or two, so you also have to think about the total length. Other sites have a huge number of lessons, but they are just computer simulations, not a real-life teacher really teaching you. Take a look around at your options, and see what fits your needs.
It really comes down to the student-teacher match. Some students might find my teaching style too analytical or detailed, and that’s fine! In these lessons, I am speaking to the motivated and thoughtful student, who is willing to work hard and really wants to learn a high-level technique and way of violin playing.
How You Can Learn Violin with Peckins Studio Online
The violin is such a beautiful instrument, but it is also quite hard. I’ve seen so many students doing everything right, but without the proper guidance, particularly about learning the correct technique. It is my deep hope that this website can bring that guidance to aspiring the violinists around the world.
I only want you to use this website if you really love it, and you’re really learning a lot from it. You can browse the site totally free to get an idea of what’s included and how it works. Use the navigation menu on the top of the page to browse. There are some sample lessons embedded, so you can take a look at those to see if your learning style matches my teaching style. You’ll see lots of text links, too - those are the videos for members only. Members can click the text links, and a video will pop up.
If you want to give membership a try, you can start a 2-week free trial, and you’ll get instant, unlimited access to everything. If you decide to cancel, no hard feelings! You can always cancel - there’s no commitment to continue - and you will not be billed if you cancel before your free trial ends. As a reminder, the website will email you three days before your trial ends, so you won’t forget! Click here to start a free trial.
I hope this website will be an extremely valuable resource for you. It would be my honor if these lessons can help you with your violin playing goals!
All the best,
Imagine Having a Professional Violinist On-call 24/7
Easy to use and navigate, the Peckins Studio helps you become the best violinist you can be.
Each lesson breaks down the technique, demonstrates everything in HD, and gives clear practice instructions.