Violin Violin Lessons
at
Boston Latin School
with
Robert Curtis

"Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable." -- Leonard Bernstein, BLS Class of 1929

Welcome

If you're a Boston Latin School student and you’re interested in improving your violin skills with a great violin teacher, you’ve come to the right place.

About Robert Curtis

Mr. CurtisRobert Curtis has been a violin teacher at Boston Latin School since 2006.  He began teaching private violin in 1978 in Danvers, MA.  He later taught in Needham, MA and at Phillips Academy in Andover, MA.  Students in his studio range from beginner to advanced.

Mr. Curtis is originally from Danvers, MA where he began studying the violin with Kenar Rothaug at the age of nine.  He quickly fell in love with the violin and made rapid progress.  Weekly private lessons provided a solid foundation for his playing and allowed him to win auditions on the district and state levels.  He played with The Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra from grade seven through twelve.

Mr. Curtis’ formal studies were at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell where he earned a bachelor’s degree in violin performance while studying with Joseph McGauley and Alfred Schneider of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  He later went on to study chamber music on a full scholarship at the American Conservatory of Music in Fontainebleau, France.

After finishing his studies, Mr. Curtis began a career as a freelance violinist performing throughout the US, Canada, the West Indies, Europe and Asia.  Highlights included playing opera in Spoleto, Italy and touring Japan and South Korea as assistant concert master of the Mantovani Orchestra.

Feeling the need to put down roots, he settled in Boston in 1990.  Since then, he has been a busy freelance violinist, performing in a wide range of musical settings.  Mr. Curtis has performed with Opera Boston, Opera New England, The Boston Landmarks Orchestra, Boston Classical Orchestra, The Pro Arte Chamber Orchestra, Boston Academy of Music and many other ensembles.  Mr. Curtis has been assistant principal violinist with Boston Lyric Opera since 1994.

He has also performed for national touring companies of Broadway productions such as "Wicked", "The Lion King", "The Producers" and "Beauty and the Beast" to name just a few.  In addition, Mr. Curtis has performed with many solo acts including Placido Domingo, Harry Connick, Jr., Idina Menzel, Josh Groban, Rod Stewart, KD Lang, Dionne Warwick, Burt Bachrach, Sarah Brightman, Johnny Mathis and Mario Frangoulis.

Mr. Curtis is the founder and first violinist of The Woodvale String Quartet.

Student Feedback


"Mr. Curtis, as my first private violin teacher, was in large part responsible for cultivating my love for music and giving me the technical means to succeed in it.  He helped me build the right habits from the beginning, on things as basic as holding the violin and bow correctly.  He was very persistent and foresighted in fixing issues in my playing that might have severely handicapped my playing down the road." -- M. Jacobs

"When I began taking violin lessons with Mr. Curtis in my latter years at Boston Latin School, his teaching was the only thing that kept me playing the violin.  Mr. Curtis really understands the stress of BLS life and, with that understanding, negotiated my violin lessons with an attitude that kept me feeling positive about playing and practicing.  Despite a packed academic and extracurricular schedule, Mr. Curtis kept my love for the violin alive." -- T. Inagaki

"Mr. Curtis brought me to the next level of playing when I began taking violin lessons with him in the sixth grade; I was introduced to the world of scales, arpeggios, and etudes, which, to my surprise, required even more dedication than the pieces we worked on.  He also prepared me for my first major auditions, giving me advice beforehand and consoling or congratulating me afterwards, as the case may have been.  Additionally, Mr. Curtis always carefully considered the pieces we would play together, choosing ones he knew I would enjoy.  Mr. Curtis imparted so much knowledge to me and I so enjoyed my time with him, that I cannot imagine having learned from anyone else!  In addition to being the best violin teacher I had, he was just a wonderful human being--thoughtful, compassionate and with a great sense of humor.  I have the greatest respect for Mr. Curtis. -- A. Skelly

"I learned more from Mr. Curtis in one year than I could have otherwise learned in my whole time at Boston Latin School." -- J. O'Halloran

"Studying the violin with Mr. Curtis over the past few years has taught me more than just the technicalities of music; I learned what music is as an art form and how anyone can be a successful musician if they practice and put their own feeling, expression, and love into their instrument.  Mr. Curtis truly inspired me to embrace my music and become the best violinist that I could be." -- M. Stavros

"Mr. Curtis is a great violinist.  Not only is he friendly, funny, and extremely talented, but also a very understanding violin teacher.  I've been studying with him for two years, and though I'm not the best player, he helps me with everything.  My violin skills have improved because of him." -- J. Horgan

"Under Mr. Curtis’ tutelage, I learned not only musical skills and lessons, but also important life skills and lessons.  Despite my lack of innate ability, he taught me to be the best I could be.  Mr. Curtis has cultivated my appreciation for classical and orchestral music, helping me to experience music as both a listener and a participant."  -- S. Parnell

Teaching Goals

My goal as a violin teacher is to nurture the student’s love of music and to provide each student with the necessary skills to play well.  This is accomplished through personalized attention to proper technique and musicality.

The foundation of all good playing is scales.  Students will be taught major and minor scales through three octaves.  In addition, a series of personalized studies will be used to focus on strengthening weaknesses in technique.

Students will be taught the fundamentals of music theory.  A basic understanding of the underlying structure of music allows the student to play more intelligently.

Making music enjoyable is a vital part of keeping the student interested.  I keep this in mind as I assign solo literature that will both suit the student’s taste and provide them with musical challenges.  Ensemble playing is an important part of every violinist’s development.  I will help students with their BLS ensemble music and help prepare those who wish to audition for extracurricular ensembles such as the District and All State Orchestras.

FAQ

Do I have to audition to take violin lessons with you?
No.  Just send me an e-mail to get started.

Do you only accept advanced players?
I teach students of all levels.  Whether you’re a beginner or advanced student, taking lessons on a regular basis will improve your playing.

Will I be graded for my lessons?
No.  After-school lessons are extracurricular.

Will I have to play a solo in a recital?
No.  There is no recital requirement.  However, I would be happy to help you prepare for one if that is your wish.

Where do the lessons take place?
Lessons are at Boston Latin School.  The room assignment will depend on which day you choose to have your lesson.

How do you partner students for semi-private lessons?
If you like, you can choose your own partner(s) for semi-private lessons.  It is important that students in semi-private lessons be at a similar skill level.  If you would prefer, I can make recommendations for lesson partners.  You can also ask the orchestra teacher for recommendations.

What days do you teach?
Lessons are scheduled Tuesday through Thursday, starting at 2:30 p.m. and finishing at 5:30 p.m.

Do you ever give lessons on weekends or at night?
No.

Are you really strict?
The beauty of private and semi-private lessons is that the lesson can be tailored to suit each individual student.  The level of strictness varies from student to student based on their specific needs and personalities.

How much will I have to practice each week?
I understand that students have responsibilities at home, lots of school work and extracurricular activities that might make it difficult to practice on a daily basis.  Practice is essential to making progress.  I would hope that each student would find time to practice every week.  Practice makes improvement!

Will there be a lesson every week?
Not necessarily.  There are only 30 weeks of lessons per school year (fewer than the number of weeks in the school year).  I will let you know well in advance when there is a week without lessons.

Are there lessons during vacation weeks?
No.

What if I have a conflict with my lesson time?
You are expected to attend your lesson as scheduled.  Missing a lesson can be avoided by careful scheduling of your other activities.  If a conflict is unavoidable, you might be able to swap lesson times with another student for that particular week.

What if there is a snow day, or after-school activities are canceled due to bad weather?
I prefer to give lessons on snow days via video conferencing (Skype or Google Hangouts).  If you do not have video conferencing capability, I will schedule an in-school makeup lesson at a later date.

What if I can’t attend my lesson because I’m sick?
Each student is allowed one excused absence per school year (provided that you have given at least 24 hours' notice of cancellation).  If you are home from school and are well enough to have a lesson via video conferencing, we can have the lesson during your regular time.

What if I want to discontinue lessons?
Once you’ve signed up, you are expected to complete your commitment to violin lessons through to the end of the school year.  There are no refunds.

New Student Discount

New students who begin lessons before October 1 are eligible for a $50 discount.

Video Conferencing Lessons  (Skype and Google Hangouts)

I have had very positive experiences giving lessons via video conferencing.  Teaching via video conferencing is my preferred method for teaching on snow days and for giving makeup lessons.


Skype logo Google Hangouts logo

Lesson Fee and Payment Options

Checks should be made payable to:  ROBERT CURTIS.

Payment in full should be brought to the first lesson in September.  If payment in full presents a hardship for your family, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  I will be happy to work out a monthly payment program with you.

Payments are nonrefundable.  Students who sign up for lessons are expected to attend all lessons.

New students who begin after lessons have already started will have their payment adjusted to the appropriate amount.  Please contact me for an exact amount.

New students who begin lessons before October 1 are eligible for a $50 discount.

There are 30 lessons per school year.  The lesson fees are as follows:

Cancellation Policy

Once you start lessons, you are expected to attend all lessons.  There are no refunds.

You are expected to attend your lesson each week at the scheduled time.  If for some reason you are not able to attend your lesson, you may consider swapping lesson times with another student.

Each student is allowed one makeup lesson per school year (provided that you have given at least 24 hours' notice of cancellation).

Contact

For more information, contact me via e-mail at RCurtis-at-BLSViolin-dot-com.