Photo by Stephanie Matthews

"Hope shares her love of music & dance with focused attention & a gentle spirit."
~ Pat Cannon, music educator

HOPE HOFFMAN

Fiddle & Violin Teacher

All levels & ages

Rockland & Belfast, Maine


Online lesson inquiry forms are at www.hopehoffman.org

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A natural and complex acoustic documentary fresh from the fields and old dance halls of Maine — loaded with surprises and free-wheeling, robust traditional barn dance music.

The “liveness” of acoustic music, and of the social scenes it’s played in, is presented with a real sense of theater — listeners get a unique package of intricate improvisations, solid dance tunes, and plenty of good humor.

These field recordings let listeners in on the musical dialogue between fiddle and guitar, and also into the living rooms and dance halls where even more characters’ dialogue bounces between comic ruminations and the shouts, claps and stomps of dancers.

Nuanced and vigorous fiddling is matched with bold, inventive guitar accompaniment, in a style founded on an older generation of dance musicians and flavored with each scenario’s spontaneity.

I often teach people brand new to music, including many adults, as well as coaching experienced students.

For the experience of playing as a duet, I can accompany students on guitar.

Another specialty is parent-child lessons for children ages 3 1/2 - 5, which can include elements of my popular program of Parent-Child Creative Folk Dance.

My early training was classical violin, and since moving to Maine a decade ago, I have learned a variety of techniques and tunes by listening to and playing with local traditional musicians.

I work as a violinist/fiddler for festivals, dances, weddings, concerts and other events.

Performances often include original compositions from my CDs.

I teach private lessons (for children ages 3 1/2-5 with parents; for ages 6 and up; and for adult students at all levels including beginners).

Small group classes are also possible (2-3 students, scheduled/organized by those students).

Lessons are weekly, bi-weekly or monthly.

Online lesson inquiry forms are at www.hopehoffman.org.

Please read on for more details ... Enjoy!

Teaching Experience

I've been self-employed since 1999 as a performing artist, dance teacher, writer, editor and musician. I studied and performed dance continuously since 1980, and have taught ballet, modern dance and creative movement since 1998. I also performed many original theater shows featuring live music at the Bowdoinham Town Hall.

Highlights of my work include assistant teaching at a Montessori preschool, and directing a modern dance company and a children's dance camp. I've worked with children often, in academic and in artistic settings, including teaching children's theater and movement classes which feature musicians as part of the teaching staff.

Building on all this experience as a teacher, and as a music student, I look forward to assisting many more students in their musical adventures.

Musical History

As a child I had private lessons in piano, clarinet and violin. I'm familiar with the Suzuki method as that was part of my early training, and sometimes incorporate aspects of it into my teaching. Through high school, I continued to play in the public school orchestra and had serious weekly private violin lessons with Dr. Joseph Conte of Brown University.

I began performing in vocal and string ensembles in 1987, and read lots of sheet music but meanwhile became more and more interested in folk music. In 1998 I received my Bachelor of Arts degree with honors, majoring in creative writing and journalism and also earning minors in cultural studies and dance. It was fun and enriching to be working closely with professors on my honors thesis and on many extracurricular projects.

After moving to Maine, I was inspired by dance fiddling's energy and rhythm and began teaching myself to play fiddle tunes by ear. I attended Maine Fiddle Camp for four summers, and have taught myself guitar accompaniment, viola, and some basic tunes on cello and accordion.

I now perform, teach and write full-time, leading several concert and dance bands and composing.

Teaching Style

The technical aspects of playing the violin I learned as a child are important to pass on to students, and my wealth of experience as a performer and performing arts teacher have expanded my teaching methods.

My proficiency as a fiddler, including improvisation, accompaniment, and subtle and rhythmic bowing techniques, is an ever-growing study in style, artistry and practical methods inspired by playing with and closely observing master fiddlers in Maine.

Years of teaching ballet and modern dance, and studying yoga and therapeutic stretches, has given me lots of insight into how to explain the positioning of hands and arms and helps me coach students on maintaining a healthy technique.

I read and write music fluently, and teach mostly by ear, unless the student prefers otherwise. I play basic rhythm guitar to accompany students as they play the melody, and to help them learn to play chords and rhythm parts on the fiddle.

My nurturing, encouraging teaching style incorporates ideas learned as a writer, dance teacher and theater director.

I strongly encourage students to explore their own ideas and follow their own style of creative expression; and I guide them in developing a practical and sophisticated technique, balanced repertoire, and perpetual excitement about learning more on their instrument.

 

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Text © Susan Hope Hoffman 2001-2018. All rights reserved.