I’ve always had a preconceived notion that one cannot teach strings if one didn’t begin private lessons at a young age. The TBSME course changed my perception of strings teaching and boosted both my confidence and playing skill in just a few short weeks.

Grace’s course is highly beneficial for novice or non-strings teachers as it uncovers many common mistakes that they might make due to lack of experience in teaching and handling the instruments. The course provides insight into the many details that come with the construction of the instruments and the techniques involved in playing them.

Lindsey Wen - Toronto

I would recommend TBSME to any music teacher who is teaching beginner strings. Whether you are a string player or non-string player, you can learn practical teaching strategies that will help you better address the common difficulties beginners experience.

I am a secondary music teacher with a band background who has taught strings for the past two years.

My limited playing experience before the course meant that I was only able to provide students with advice that was informed by second-hand observations and pedagogical readings. I lacked the practical insight needed to address common difficulties beginners experience.

I came away from the course with a much better understanding of bow grip, hand position, and posture, and a set of teaching strategies that I can use to help students.

The format of the course allowed me to ask questions about specific string techniques and get practical solutions to the common difficulties students experience.

I feel more confident in my ability to demonstrate playing techniques for students and to provide meaningful feedback. I am excited to see how it impacts the bow grips and hand positions of this year’s beginners!

Michael Jameer

I teach middle school and high school beginners to advanced strings. I’m always looking for easier ways to present technique, and I find Grace’s system is better organised than others I have looked at. Her class was a great review and I registered for the full program so that I can learn more.  After taking this class, I feel my class will have a better flow, and it will be easier for the kids to grasp concepts. I have already recommended this program to others because I believe it’s well presented, straight to the point and coming from a great experienced teacher, which I value more than many books on the subject.

Giovanni Bobisse - Italy

I am a woodwind player teaching strings.  Before Grace’s class, my challenges were bow hold and positioning, which made me feel like I wasn’t better able to help my students. Grace had a lot of easy to implement ideas! The online interactive format was very helpful. I’m sure I will be able to apply my new knowledge once school reopens to improve my student’s playing positions. I would definitely recommend this class. Grace had a lot of easy to implement teaching strategies and she was extremely helpful in correcting my own playing!

Karen McKenna - New York

Grace’s Smart String Teacher method is an organized and clear system that makes sense. Before Grace’s course I was having a hard time transferring my knowledge as a violinist to a beginner level explanation, without overwhelming the students with information. Grace has a clear and very natural manner of relaying information and teaching. I loved that we actually learned by playing secondary instruments instead of just listening to someone lecture. After this course I think there will be much less frustration for both students and teachers. I absolutely recommend this course to other string teachers.,

Julia Sullivan - Massachusetts

This was a great opportunity to experience a step-by-step process for teaching beginner strings. Valuable insight from the perspective of both teacher and student! I was encouraged to see how the Smart String Teacher system connects to the different teaching approaches and strategies used in classrooms without an existing strings program. The process is key!

Elizabeth Seo - Toronto

This class has given me valuable tips on how to correct student mistakes. I liked how this course was hands-on and not just talking. I teach 6th 7th 8th grade strings as a non-string player.  Before Grace’s class, my biggest challenge was teaching bow hold and left hand placement. I feel more confident now that I will be able to help my students’ technique improve. Grace is very relatable, and I highly recommend this course to others!

Melanie Johnston - Tempe Middle School

Grace’s class is very focused and hands-on. It gives all of the tools one needs to be successful in the string classroom in a way that is engaging and creative. Grace has tried and true teaching strategies that are a testament to her expertise as a string player and years of teaching experience.

Will Snodgrass - Toronto

I teach private beginner violin and viola. Taking Grace’s class gives me a great way to both be inspired and to have practical tools to easily impart information online! It has given me a format to fall back on to get people of all ages started on strings. The ease of presenting the material was helpful, and I could see using this with anyone who wants to learn a stringed instrument. I have a new student starting online on Sunday, and hope to find other new students! Yes I would highly recommend this class to anyone who wants to teach orchestral strings. The class is well crafted, the material clearly presented. And it’s fun!

Mac McCord - Louisburg, North Carolina

I took Grace’s online class to push my technology skills and to use my “down time” from school in a constructive way. I have never done a class online! I also wanted to see if I could learn a few new tricks to refresh my teaching. I love teaching strings and I will incorporate some of Grace’s ideas into my class. I love and will use the bass scale fingering chart. I definitely would recommend this course to others, especially for non string players!

Mardi Smith - Orchestra Director, Reed Intermediate School, Newtown, CT

Beginner set up tends to be overlooked because time is not always on our side and the concert has to be perfect! I now have the proper vocabulary and techniques to demonstrate what I want from the students. I feel much more comfortable and eager to put into practice what I have learned.I definitely would recommend Grace’s beginner set-up methods because as musicians, we tend to get trapped into our own habits; sometimes teaching younger students requires a reset button on our part!

Mahendra Morales - Freeport, NY

Smart Scales for Violin is a wonderful tool for any aspiring string student. The method is comprehensive, smartly organized and effective. The results are immediate and students enjoy this easy approach to scales.

Ivana Popovic - Toronto

Before Grace’s masterclass, I just taught fingerings and used low/regular fingerings. Thinking about fingerings in terms of finger patterns will make them much easier to teach. Having a consistent language will also be helpful for the students. I feel that I have another tool my students can use!

Isaiah C. Mason - North Brunswick, NJ

Hello. I am a beginning Viola student and I wanted to take the time to tell you how wonderful your teaching system is. If I were to reorganize a music system for my own comprehension, I would have done it just like yours!! Your insights into how a beginner needs to perceive patterns is fantastic!! You have catapulted my comprehension immensely. And your love of Celtic Music is after my own heart!!
Thank you for your insight and inspiration!!

Rob Windsor

As a band teacher, I had never taught orchestra before. I was determined to make this a successful year for my students, despite my own shortcomings. Your materials and your website have immensely helpful. My first year players sound great, and they are motivated to keep progressing. I was very concerned that I could not do a good job for these kids when I was assigned to teach strings, but Grace’s techniques & pedagogy have made this first year a success. Many, many thanks!

Erin Bray - Middle School Band & Orchestra, Knoxville, TN

Smartmusicteacher.com is the one place you will find everything you need: blog posts, reviews, teaching materials, inspiration, and just great ideas that I’ve never come across before. Not only are they great ideas – they work! I’ve tried them with my students, and with myself as a professional violinist and educator, and especially can’t wait to implement the Smart Scales into my teaching materials!

Alessia D. - Toronto

This workshop should be a mandatory course or unit of study for music teacher training. It was a practical workshop where we took apart the instrument and the bow and reassembled them afterward. Through the hands-on process, I gained a deeper insight into the components of the instrument that contribute to its sound quality.

Being able to restring the instrument and check different parts to assess the playability or need for professional repair of the instrument is crucial for music teachers, yet rarely discussed. Being a music teacher is more than teaching students how to play a certain instrument. What goes on behind the scenes of teaching such as being able to do small repairs on instruments contributes to the livelihood of a music program.

Lindsey Wen - Toronto

Smart Music Teacher contains a lot of very useful resources that Instrumental teachers can use in their classrooms. I have used Smart Fingering Charts for Strings with Middle School and High School students. The students found them very useful and easy to read. It helps enhance their understanding and visual memory of notes and fingerings very quickly. The videos and tips have helped me as a teacher to help students solve technical problems and new ways to teach and introduce music theory materials. I am so glad I found such helpful resources at SMT.

Vivian Peng - Toronto

Thank you for offering this masterclass, Grace! I am beginner fiddler and very much enjoyed the literature and techniques taught in this session. You did a great job managing all of us in the group lesson and got the most out of us by focusing on specific ornaments. Highly recommend for anyone interested in Irish/Celtic music 🙂

Tom McInnis

Smart String Teacher is a wonderful website that contains all the things you need to making teaching strings easy. The major key acronym system that Grace developed is amazing and should be learned in all classrooms. Her finger charts she uses to teach kids scales is an incredible way of combining visual aid and theory for kids to easily understand where their finger should go for the different major and minor scales. One of my favourite things on the website are the fun and informative posters she has, they are a great tool for the classroom. I’m positive that any strings teacher will find something of benefit on this website!

Kemi Lo - Toronto

It was wonderful to listen how Grace plays Celtic style music using an easy tune. She demonstrated first and gave feedback on how you can improve. Besides, I also got chance to listen to other people’s interpretations of the same tune.

Elsie Lo

I love Smart Scales! I have been a private teacher for over 30 years and have found most scale systems to be visually overwhelming for my students. Many are written in small fonts, or in octaves, and with generally too much on the page. This makes scales intimidating and hard for young students to read. I love that Smart Scales focuses on just one scale per page, with the option of playing one or two octaves, or both, depending on the level of the student. Also, for those who need the visual aid of the fingerboard geography, there are great diagrams. I also like that students learn all 3 forms of minor and not just melodic. In addition, there are optional fingerings provided, and since scales are not close together, there is room to write in other fingerings at the teacher’s discretion. Smart Scales is the best scale system out there for beginning and intermediate students!!

Cindy Bryan - Chesapeake, US

Grace’s maintenance and repair workshop should be a required course for all music education majors! As a wind player, I didn’t learn string repair in college, and as a teacher I’ve been a bit intimidated to dive into repairs without the necessary skills and background. I’ve always been afraid of breaking the instrument. After taking the workshop I feel much more confident and comfortable addressing repair issues that might come up.

Maureen Isbister - NY, Band Teacher

Because of Grace Law’s breadth of knowledge along with her expertise in planning and instruction, I feel very well prepared to perform many small repairs and adjustments on string instruments. From changing strings and correcting chronic tuning peg problems, to bridge and tailpiece adjustments, I will be able to quickly address most of the typical instrument problems that often occur during rehearsals and lessons. This course is worth its weight in gold for any string educator!

Gregory Tarbox - MA

Thank you very much for your workshop on fingering and positions to our third year music education students. Your approach is very logical and efficient; it seemed to me that our students caught on very quickly and the systematic method you employ would be easy to grasp for teaching intermediate and high school students, and younger students as well. Your manner was friendly and clear, and I and the students enjoyed your visit very much.

Jeffrey Reynolds - Professor, University of Toronto

Take the course! For the non-string specialist, it will make you more marketable if you are searching for a job, because you will have the flexibility to take a variety of different music positions. After only ten class sessions, you will have the tools to set a good foundation for your string students, and you will be a more confident and effective teacher as a result.

As a wind player, I felt like I didn’t have a strong enough foundation to properly serve my string students. This course provided a very practical approach for non-string playing musicians wishing to teach string students in an organized and sequential manner.

Each class covered so much more than my string pedagogy course in college, and my playing improved quite a bit as a result! After only ten classes, I feel confident diving into teaching a group of beginning string students! If put in the position of teaching strings again, I will have a much more pedagogically sound and organized approach and I have the tools to be an effective teacher and to serve my students well.

I learned so much!

Maureen Isbister - NY, Band Teacher

This course was one of the best Professional Development classes I have ever taken. Grace Law’s teaching style, along with her wealth of knowledge and outstanding pedagogical structure made for an incredible course. Every lesson was packed with easy to understand and teach methods for building your beginning string players’ skills. I was amazed at what I actually accomplished which was so much more than I expected. I can’t believe that I am playing in third position and having some success with vibrato.

I have played the string bass semi-professionally for many years and for the past six years I have been a High School Orchestra Director and music teacher. As a director, I have been able to help my bass players with technical issues but I had to rely on my advanced students to provide technical assistance on the other string instruments.

I was recently notified that, along with my other duties, I will be teaching beginning strings this fall. When I received this news, I was petrified and I began searching for resources to help prepare me for this daunting challenge. I was incredibly lucky to find Grace Law’s free online Teaching Beginning Strings Master Class. I got so much helpful information from that session that I decided to register for the full Teaching Beginning Strings Made Easy course.

I learned many things that will help me become a more effective director for my high school and middle school orchestras. If the students are successful, I believe they will continue through the program and I would hope that they will inspire other students to get involved.

I can honestly say that before I took the Teaching Beginning Strings Made Easy course I was terrified to teach the beginner string classes. Now I can’t wait to start teaching this fall!

 

Gregory Tarbox - Pembroke, MA

I’m decades older than most of Grace Law’s students, and adults who have been playing for a while are much harder to teach than kids. But her scale method is changing my technique for the better in all sorts of ways!

Pamela Young - Toronto

I absolutely loved your fiddle camp SO MUCH. I learned TONS and it is SO practical.  I thought you had a great structure to it and everything we did was of value and can be transferred forward into the classroom. Really great all around. You are fantastic. Seriously amazing. Thank you so much for doing it!!

Olivia

Among all the teaching materials I have used and collected so far, Smartmusicteacher.com is unique in the way it presents technique clearly, getting straight to the point yet remaining easy to use for the teacher and the students. I look forward to see the next publications and I strongly advise to integrate all the materials from this website into your daily classes. Smart and time saving materials coming from a great teacher!

Giovanni Bobisse - Italy

SMTheory’s method of teaching rhythm is one that addresses all the small details that we as educators might think are obvious to students. It also provides opportunities for students to practice their understanding in many different ways. Other theory methods often test understanding through limited lenses, but SMT looks at theory from multiple angles and ways of thinking.

Leonidas Varahidis - Toronto

Working with Smart Music Theory has been of great benefit to me and to my students.  With multiple split grade classes, the ability to provide students with clear units of work that allows them to work independently with confidence is a game changer.  I am now able to address individual student needs by circulating around the classroom as they work to ensure student understanding and success!

Deborah Pady - Toronto

I used Smart Music Theory with my strings and vocal classes with great success. The lessons are sequential and worksheets are very nicely laid out to enhance students’ understanding. I love that they are packaged into booklets so you can hand it out at one time to students to work at the pace you set.

Camilla Rayman - Toronto

Smart String Teacher’s Advanced Fingering Charts are invaluable for illustrating finger patterns. The charts are particularly useful when figuring out shifting arrangements. I refer to them constantly when learning a new piece and while practicing. The Advanced Fingering Charts takes the mystery out of shifting!

Sharon Scanlan