A Minimalist Guide to Equipping Your Violin Studio…
by McKenzie Clawson
I’m a minimalist.
Did you hear that faint sound in the distance? Yup, that was my husband laughing. Okay, okay, I’m not a minimalist, but I want to stop being a packrat. I like the idea of a streamlined, organized studio. This summer I realized how terrible my studio corner looked (I teach in the major living area of my apartment) and that I could never find anything I needed. Now, I’m in the slow process of getting rid of what I don’t need and organizing the rest.
The first apartment I lived in after I got married was a modified studio. It was tiny. Seriously. I knelt on the bed while looking in my closet every morning. Even the kitchen sink was half as deep as a standard sink. I had a small couch for violin students’ parents and siblings, a camping chair that I sat in, and a wire music stand. That was pretty much it. Now we’re in a two bedroom and I have a lot more space, but my teaching stuff is still in my family’s regular living space.
Two days a week I also teach non music majors at Utah State University which means I have to keep my studio semi-portable. (Especially because the parking passes are expensive so I end up hiking several blocks, urgh.) I keep trying to lighten my load (quite literally, since I carry my teaching supplies across campus), but here are the things I would never get rid of in my studio.
A picture is worth a thousand words. Student doesn’t believe her bow is really crooked? Take out the mirror. (I have a simple $10 long mirror that I slide behind furniture when I’m not teaching to keep it out of the way of a curious baby.) The classrooms I teach in on campus don’t have mirrors and it is so hard to do without them. All I can say is, “Please practice in front of your bathroom mirror and ignore your roommates’ weird looks.”
2) Small box with office supplies: pencils, pens, highlighters, and post-its.
For marking music, sending reminders home, taking my notes on the lesson, etc. These are part of my portable studio.
3) Finger Puppets
I could probably could write an entire post about everything I do with finger puppets. Some of my favorite activities: “talking” to young, shy students, putting on top of a bow tip, or balanced on a drooping scroll. I don’t bring these with me because I usually use finger puppets for young students (not college students), but they are small and light so I can slip them in my purse.
4) Book shelf or filing cabinets
Inevitably, my students will leave their music at home. I could keep copies of all their music or I could try to fill a half hour with other things…yeah, I think not.
5) Magazine Folder
I tuck the music I use most often into a magazine folder that I keep on top of a bookshelf so that it’s easily accessible. I also keep an envelope in there for all tuition payments.
6) Shoe box with extra shoulder rests and sponges
As my students grow, I am constantly reinventing their setup. Read my recent post for shoulder rest tips.
7) White Board or Chalk Board
I use a white board to write studio announcements (tuition due today, recital countdown, etc.), keep score when playing games, and to teach music theory.
The next three essentials need no explanation.
8) Music Stand
My portable violin studio consists of my violin, tablet, post-its, a couple sponges, and pencils. The end. I am not willing to cart around copies of my students’ music or my box of shoulder rests. I realize this would be so much more difficult if I was teaching children (who need more stuff).
Keeping my violin studio equipment to a minimum keeps me from wasting time while searching for things, and allows me to keep my living space (that I see every minute of every day) tidy.
What are your studio essentials? Did I leave any off the list? If you don’t teach in your home, what do you bring with you? I would especially love to see pictures of your studio! Post your studio pic on the Plucky Violin Teacher Facebook Page!
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