Deep Listening

I often tell my students to “listen deeper”. The more you practice, the better you get IF you are listening to what you’re doing. It starts out simply – listen to your tone, your intonation, your rhythm. The more you listen, the more you hear aspects of your playing that are possibly not what you intended. You carry this further into dynamics and phrasing and articulation. There is no end. You can always listen deeper and hear more things to improve. And then you carry this out into the world and you notice more of the world around you – the tone of someone’s voice, a color in the leaves, a bird call you never heard before, the sound of a bicycle going past your house.

But enough of that – there’s always the Deep Listening Bot on Twitter to stir your imagination.

Lesson Fees

Notice: Lesson Info for “Stay at Home”

All lessons are currently online and I am charging a reduced flat fee of $40 per lesson (an hour more or less) during this time. Contact me HERE.

Current lesson fees for private instruction in my studio.

1 hour lesson – $60

45 minute lesson – $45

*30 minute lesson – $35

I am aware that most of my colleagues charge more for lessons but I feel it is important to keep music instruction accessible to as many people as possible. And to that end I will try to accommodate anyone who can not afford these fees. I also have some students who voluntarily pay more and I am grateful for that.

Lesson fees are to be paid at each lesson. Cash, check, or Paypal.

*30 minute lessons are for children who have a limited attention span. For others I recommend a minimum of 45 minutes. An hour is best.

About Lessons

My first teaching experience, other than helping out friends along the way, was in 1976 at the Wilmington Music School in Wilmington, DE. I was fresh out of college and among my first students was a teenage girl who wanted to play electric bass in a rock band and a 76 year old jazz player (with an Ampeg Baby Bass) who claimed to have played with Charlie Parker and who wanted to learn to read music. It’s been that way ever since. I’ve been blessed with an incredible range of students from precocious 5 year olds to seniors citizens just starting out on their first instrument. Some come just to get help with a specific problem or to learn a new piece. Others come weekly for years. Many just want to play for fun alone at home or with their friends. Others have their sights set on being a professional performer. Some are professional performers who want a different perspective or want to improve their skills. All are welcome. All it takes is an interest in learning something new.

I enjoy teaching all styles of music: classical, jazz, folk, rock. My own initial training was as an orchestral bassist and I joined the Richmond Symphony and Richmond Chamber Orchestra right after high school. A few years later I continued my studies at Indiana University studying jazz and classical music while also performing with several folk and world music ensembles. In 1980 I moved to North Carolina and eventually got involved in the period instrument performance scene playing viola da gamba and violone. I also started performing on cello at that time.

I try to work with each student according his or her needs and interests while at the same time introducing new ways of thinking about and approaching music. The nice thing about playing bass is that it is an essential instrument in almost every kind of music so I encourage my bass students to expand their musical horizons as much as possible. The cello has also seen a resurgence in many kinds of music outside of the “classical” setting. Whenever it seems appropriate I try to incorporate music theory, composition, and improvisation into lessons. I use various method books for students who work well in that format as well as solo pieces and always help students with any ensemble music they are working on as that also can provide great learning experiences. I feel that most music practice is really “problem solving” and I encourage students to identify problems and address them in creative ways sometimes making up their own exercises to solve a particular problem. I strive to give students the skills to teach themselves.

I enjoy teaching students at all levels from total beginners and first time players to advanced and professional players. There is always something to learn. I am also happy to work with ensembles – whether it’s just a student wanting to play a duet with a friend or a small group working on preparing a piece for performance.

Instruments Taught

I teach all levels and types of music and technique on:

Double Bass (bass, contrabass, string bass, upright bass, acoustic bass or whatever else you want to call it)

Electric Bass Guitar (for students wishing to fully learn and explore the instrument and music. I do not teach “rock licks”)

Viola da Gamba


Cello (beginning to intermediate levels).

I also teach general music theory, reading, musicality, and improvisation – suitable for all instruments.

All ages (young or old) and levels are welcome. I prefer not to start cellists younger than age 7 and bassists younger than age 10 though exceptions have been and will be made. Adult beginners don’t be shy! It’s never too late to start and I love working with beginners!

Ensemble Coaching – I always encourage students to participate in ensembles. Feel free to bring a friend or two to a lesson for help and suggestions on pieces you would like to play together. Ensemble coaching is available for all types of small groups either in my studio or at your location.   


How Much Should I Practice?

It’s not quite “put the music under your pillow and you’ll learn it while you sleep” but an interesting study on passive learning. You don’t actually have to be physically practicing your music to continue learning it. Read the article from Wired Magazine HERE. 

Singing for Snorers

Singing for Snorers was featured on NPR this morning. Oh, the muscles we never think about exercising and the unforseen consequences of a flabby soft palate. This makes sense and the exercises would probably be helpful for anyone who has to do a lot of speaking, too. I see more employment for voice teachers. So if your spouse suggests that your shower performance could use a little tweaking and buys you some voice lessons there may be an ulterior motive.


Singing for Snorers says:
August 8th, 2005 at 5:36 pm

Hi there, I’m Alise Ojay the person who created “Singing for Snorers”. I found this link because people have been coming to my website from here. I just want to correct the sound you’ve all been singing! What I sang on NPR was “uNg-gah” (not “umgah”)- that “Ung” sound gets the soft palate right down onto the back of the tongue before the “gah” sound lifts it up, maximising the movement of the soft palate up and down. Cheers.