Welcome to Studio Kingma 2.0, providing quality instruction in violin, viola and piano for students of all ages, musical genres and ability levels. Find out more about lessons here.
Finding your why
My teaching philosophy is based on the Japanese philosophy of Ikigai. In Japanese, Ikigai means “a reason for being” and it’s often represented visually as the intersection of:
- What you love
- What you are good at
- What the world needs
- What you can be paid for
Ikigai doesn’t necessarily have to come from a single activity; after all, not everyone can make a living following their passion (unless you’re a music teacher!) But having a passion is important, and your passion exists at the intersection of “what you love” and “what you’re good at”. I call this “finding your why”.
My job as a teacher is to help students find their why. When children are young, they don’t yet have enough exposure to the world to know their why. Teachers and coaches introduce kids to new concepts, helping them identify what they love. Teachers also help kids to get good at things, so they can identify what they’re good at.
In order to help you find your why, we need to have two things in our lessons: Fun & Discipline.
First and foremost, learning music has to be fun so that students are free to discover their own love of music. I encourage students to find their own musical styles that they like, be it jazz, gospel or movie theme music. If your three-year-old has been singing the theme song to Frozen over and over, maybe when she’s ready to start music lessons, we can arrange the Frozen theme for violin or piano and get her playing it.
I also encourage students not just to play their instrument, but to play “with” their instrument. Once in a while, skip the scales and just have some fun. Maybe try to improvise a new melody, play a duet with a friend, figure out how to play a melody you’ve heard by ear, or get the grandparents to come over for a mini-recital.
In order to get good at music, however, we also need discipline. Discipline means we practice our instrument faithfully, several times per week. But discipline also means having a positive attitude toward our practice. We don’t simply practice because our parents or teachers tell us to practice, but because we personally want to develop our skills. And even though it’s a lot more fun just to practice our repertoire, remember that we still need to work on our scales and exercises if we want to get better.
Putting it all together
Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Perfection is a laudable goal, but playing an instrument is hard, especially at first! Concentrate on one thing at a time. For instance, if you’re practicing scales on the violin, concentrate on hearing your pitches. If you’re practicing fingering technique on the piano, think about making your finger crossings as smooth as possible. And when you’re playing repertoire, remember to enjoy yourself and express yourself through the music, without worrying too much about the little details. You’ll be surprised when you sit down after a few months of lessons and look back at how far you’ve come already.
I started my study of music at age 4, learning the Suzuki method for violin and piano in Calgary. After being relocated to Quebec at age 10, I met my mentor, well-known Quebec violin educator Mr. Claude Letourneau. From him, I learned not only the love for the violin but also the passion of teaching young children. I later became a student teacher in Mr. Letourneau’s non-profit school, the Societe Musicale Claude Letourneau.
As a graduate of the Letourneau method, I have studied violin repertoire to a level equivalent to Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM) Grade 10. However, as a lifelong learner, I recently began taking lessons again myself in Calgary, and I am pursuing qualification as an RCM ARCT Teachers (Violin). My first step on that journey is my grade 8 violin exam, which is only a few weeks away!
I have been playing piano nearly as long as violin, and I have a great fondness for Chopin and Debussy. I have accompanied violin students as a collaborative pianist at music festivals and RCM exams, and I have an elementary piano teacher qualification from the Royal Conservatory of Music.
I also spent several years taking voice lessons and singing soprano as a chorister, most notably my 10+ years with the Orchestre Symphonique de Quebec choir. I have performed works such as Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s 9th symphony and Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe.
My fondest memory is of meeting Itzhak Perlman (and his 1714 Soil Stradivarius) backstage at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa in 1999 at the NAC’s 30th anniversary concert. As an encore, he performed a duet with Pinchas Zuckerman, who was preparing to take over from Mario Bernardi as the NAC Orchestra’s Musical Director at that time. Through my attempt to listen to everything Itzhak on YouTube, I discovered my latest musical interest, klezmer fiddle.
For the past 20 years, despite relocating across Canada again twice, I have tried to pass on the love of music to a new generation of students, most recently in Brooks. This spring, at the Brooks Music Festival in April 2019, one of my beginner violin students was commended by the adjudicator for his excellent sound and was chosen to perform at the Gala Concert. Quite an accomplishment for a young man who started playing only six months before!