Tubes Needed

Have any spare tubes lying around?

As you go through your gift wrapping this season and end up with bare cardboard tubes, I would love to take any off your hands. I use these as a teaching aid for my beginning students. I only ask that they be thick and sturdy cardboard, NOT quality of toilet paper or paper towel rolls. Thanks!

Creative Strings Workshop: Part Three

There is a magnetic field that a group of fiddlers creates when playing fiddle tunes or improvising around jazz leads that attract other musicians to listen and often join in a play along. Jam sessions were scattered throughout our residence hall - in basement classrooms, outside on courtyard and within the kitchen common areas. It was a beautiful cacophony of fiddle, jazz, funk, R&B styles prominent throughout the week.

Let’s Talk About Practicing

Let’s face it, establishing a routine is not easy. Whether getting yourself motivated or encouraging your child (without nagging), establishing and maintaining a practice routine is a challenge. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve been working with my young students to promote the importance of practicing and setting goals as we begin a new year of lessons.

I am obsessed with finding ways to help your child improve their playing. As our lesson time is short yet directed, I have come to find that time between lessons is when quality improvement can happen. The past couple years, I’ve offered practice cards as a tool to help students know what to practice. That custom will continue at the end of each lesson. This past week we are going deeper beyond setting targets and goals and looking at "How to Practice.”

How to Practice Poster

The essence of our deep dive into practicing comes back to the essence of music: listening. When practicing their violin, students have been instructed to ask themselves while playing.

Am I playing in tune?

Am I playing in time?

Am I playing touch?

I have provided a more thorough explanation in an infographic that also offers strategies to help tackle tricky spots and break down new tunes.

Click to view the full infographic. I am planning to print this in poster format and would be happy to offer prints to families for a small cost.

Prior to working a tune out, students should have listened and committed it to memory. Once internalized, these questions offer clear targets students can aim for beyond just knowing what fingers to play in what order. With consistent practice, student will slowly build confidence in the tune and in their playing.

I will continue to offer tips and strategies students can use  while practicing throughout the year. I am happy to work with any parents who might experience any struggles in maintaining practice routines. Be on the lookout for an upcoming practice challenge and incentives as I continue to put emphasis on practicing throughout the year.


Help Build Our Musical Family

As part of my studio's objective, I want to use our instruments and the music we make to help build community. Market jams, Christmas caroling, and studio jams are beginning to bear the fruit of this effort. Growing our community of families will go a long way toward this objective. I would love any help you can offer by sharing your experiences as a "violin family" with your social and school networks. As you consider helping, reflect on the following questions: 

  • Have you seen grown as a result of taking violin lessons?
  • Have you noticed increased confidence their in playing or other areas?
  • Has music in your child’s life brought about times of joy for themselves? others? or to you? 
  • What other qualities has your child developed since beginning lessons?

If you are willing I hope you could share the experience of joy and confidence in learning the violin has brought you or your child. Here are some simple ways to start:

Follow, share, and post: #BeInstrumental #PlayViolin

Instagram: @bjviolin - share a photo or clip of a practice, performance


  • “Like” and share the Page
  • Share a post from the BJVS Facebook Page
  • Post a review

Nextdoor: I just added my business to Nextdoor. If you happen to use this website/app, please use the link to recommend me to your neighbors

Flyers: I plan to post flyers around major Columbia City/Hillman City establishments. If there are any community boards where you can post small flyers come by the house and pick up a few copies. I will leave some inside our “Smith Bros.” Milkbox

Referral Discount - "Share-a-month” As a reminder, that with each family that names you as a referrer, you will receive a 50% referral discount toward one full monthly payment (1 student) during the current school year. The new family will also receive a 50% discount off one full monthly payment (1 student)  for their connection to you. 

I will be hosting another Violin Discovery Workshop in the Fall and will send details and opportunities to refer any friends and family to the studio. Stay tuned.

Thank you for choosing to learn about this wonderfully challenging and versatile instrument and your continued support of this studio. I hope you continue to experience the confidence and joy it can bring.

All the best,

BJ Montoya
violinist...teaching and performing

Creative Strings Workshop: Part Two

Creative Strings Workshop: Part Two

Small ensembles offered personal coaching within a supportive cohort.

For much of our day, work was centered around small chamber style ensemble of 5-6 players. Each group was paired with two coaches who brought their unique style and background to our nascent string band. Our morning coach, Micah Tomas offered his expertise and experience as an accomplished jazz pianist. We swung into more fiddle stylings in the afternoon with Andy Reiner. However distant jazz and fiddle genres seemed, I found many common threads.