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Violinists – a dying breed?

It’s that time of the year when amateur orchestras around the country are preparing to give concerts. As the concert date draws near, I see more and more of these orchestras sending out appeals for additional violinists to support the orchestra and provide the necessary balance. The problem is, as older violinists ‘retire’ from orchestral playing, the number of younger players coming in has shrunk alarmingly. Quite apart from the fact that instrumental lesson provision in schools has declined generally, numbers of young violinists are often particularly low.

The ‘problem’ is that the violin is perceived as ‘difficult’ when compared with more classroom-friendly instruments such as keyboards and ukeleles – even young wind players can usually get on quite quickly. A school might have a band for the wind and brass players – but nothing for the young string players who may need help with tuning etc. Some parents shudder at the thought of living with a ‘beginner violinist’ – and may even discourage practising! As the numbers of string players decline, the violin is no longer seen as ‘cool’ – so fewer youngsters want to learn…

Yet the violin, with it’s long, long history, is an instrument of real beauty – as some of our players would love to demonstrate. You can listen to them here as they play “The Star of the County Down”. The world of music, from Symphony Orchestra to folk group, needs violinists – we need to save them from extinction!


I’m often asked why I haven’t raised my tuition fees for quite a while… At the moment, money is tight for everyone. When I was growing up I could never have afforded music lessons. It was only because (very short) lessons were available at school, free of charge, that I was able to play. For that reason, I try to keep lessons as affordable as possible – so I will NOT be increasing my fees this year!

But sunshine costs nothing and some of our players would love to brighten up your day! You can listen to them here.

Merry Christmas

Now that we have all enjoyed our ‘virtual’ Christmas concert, some of our players would love to wish you a Merry Christmas. You can listen to them here to get you in a festive mood!

No White Rabbits

It may be the first of the month but we can’t offer you white rabbits. Instead, our violinists are here to brighten your day with some cabbage-fun! You can listen to them here to cheer us all up!

Spring is in the air!

It is now over a year since I saw some of my students ‘in person’ but we have managed to continue with music making through the wonders of online lessons. At last restrictions are beginning to ease and with it comes a sense of optimism that orchestras and other group music-making will return before too long. In the meantime, Perhaps this is why our ‘isolated violinists’ are full of the joys of Spring – you can listen to them here to cheer us all up!

All At Sea?

As restrictions begin to ease, it is lovely to be able to welcome more of by students back for ‘in-person’ lessons – although the online option remains where necessary. We hope that orchestras and other group music-making will return before too long. In the meantime, the Society of Recorder Players in Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Sheffield have continued to meet online and have come together to produce a performance here to cheer us all up!

Not only are the players members of the Society of Recorder Players but many are also members of the East Midlands Recorder Orchestra – and some are also my own students. The music, Bobby Shaftoe’s All At Sea, by Ken Garfield is published by Willobie Press. I do like it when things come together…

Christmas online

This year, Christmas will be very different! There are no orchestras able to give concerts and meetings of the Society of Recorder Players will be taking place online.

Fortunately, lessons have been able to carry on using a mixture of Zoom and in-person sessions – although I haven’t met up with many of my students since March! Nevertheless, we have been making music and our virtual December concert will soon be available. Meanwhile, here is a Christmas offering from some of our ‘isolated’ violinists – we hope you enjoy it!

Try our Christmas Carol Quiz to get you ready for the Big Day…

A Digital World

After a summer of Zoom lessons, it is lovely to be able to teach some of my students ‘in person’ again.   Of course, some are continuing to learn online for the time being – but I think we are well used to that by now… The latest newsletter can be found on the Peebles Post page.

At the moment everything seems to be digital. Our summer concert was put together from recordings we had done at home to make a very enjoyable performance and an opportunity to share our music. Even the examination boards have moved to video submission – probably more stressful than a face to face exam!

Due to the current Covid restrictions, music groups and orchestras are not able to meet to rehearse at the moment and, for the time being, my conducting diary is empty. Of course, that is deeply disappointing but members of the East Midlands Recorder Orchestra have put together a short video to keep things going… Other groups, such as Lincoln SRP, have been holding their monthly meetings via Zoom.

We are lucky to have access to digital technology to allow us to continue to make music together – even if it is in a limited capacity. Even so, I’m sure we will all be delighted to meet up again and play together as soon as we can.

Virtual Concert!

I’m so excited that our ‘virtual concert’ has finally gone live! Huge thanks to all those students who offered videoed solo performances – and to those string-players who took part in the virtual ensemble. I have to say that actually putting the video together was a huge learning-curve for me – but it will be much easier next time. Well done!

Zooming along!

Online lessons have now become a way of life and are proving to be very successful.  It maybe that this will remain an option for some people even after things get back to ‘normal’. See the latest newsletter for some other ‘virtual’ plans.

Here is a little something to reward us for all our hard work…

If you would like further information about online recorder or violin lessons, please contact Sheila Richards for further details.