My teaching approach is centered around music as community. Music connects us to other times and places, to our family and friends in informal jam sessions, to an audience in recital, or to the performer as an audience member in turn. The study of music encourages empathy, exploration of our own emotions, and courage in giving these ideas sound and breath before an audience.
For 4 to 8-year old beginners, I teach through Suzuki method, learning music as we do our native language with an emphasis on listening and parental support. For students with prior experience or those beginning as part of a band program, we work together to set goals that match their interests and commitment, always prioritizing beautiful tone and a solid technical foundation. I enjoy incorporating folk, jazz, or pop music according to student interest. I encourage all students to share music with their families, join area ensembles, and participate in Twin Cities flute events. In addition to formal and informal recital opportunities, we take concert and opera trips as a studio and have occasional pop-up performances in local retirement homes or even grocery stores.
If you are interested in joining the studio, please reach out to schedule an observation.
Online Lessons: Online lessons are always available in case of severe weather or for students for whom travel distance is prohibitive. Where possible, I prefer in-person lessons as it results in a more satisfying musical experience and smoother progress.
Scholarships: We are very fortunate in the Twin Cities to have scholarships available through the Upper Midwest Flute Association. If affordability is a concern, please reach out to me about applying and for information about other possibilities to make lessons available to every interested student..
We can’t say enough great things about Vanamali. My daughter is starting her fifth year in her flute studio, having begun in elementary school. Vanamali is a gifted flute teacher for younger kids and teens alike. She is dedicated and engaging and helps her students learn effective practice and performance skills. Her students not only become proficient on the flute but are also introduced to a greater flute community that includes masterclasses, youth symphony, and music camp experiences. It has been a full and enriching experience for my daughter. And, as a parent, it’s been amazing to watch kids start with Vanamali at a young age and see their musical growth through high school. I give her the highest recommendation.
--Franci, studio parent
How do I join the studio?For young beginners, parents should plan to observe at least one lesson and group class. This provides a low-pressure introduction to what a lesson looks like and studio expectations. Parents should purchase the Suzuki Book One CD and begin listening daily. The first several lessons are for the parent(s) alone. We discuss how music currently fits into your family's lives, setting up a good practice environment, and learn the basics of flute to better support the student at home. If multiple students of a similar age and ability are considering beginning at the same time, lessons may be done in small groups of 2-4 for the first year or so, depending on age. School-age students with previous experience should observe a lesson. Depending on age and practice independence, parents may be asked to come with the student for a session or two. Adult students may request a trial lesson instead if preferred but are also welcome to observe.
What is Suzuki philosophy?Suzuki philosophy, also known as the "mother tongue" method, was developed by Shinichi Suzuki for violin in post-WWII Japan. His goal was first and foremost to raise the next generation with a "beautiful heart" and he guided his young students to treat themselves, others, and their music with dignity and care. Suzuki lessons may vary by teacher but are always centered around a few key ideas: Every child can learn music. Parent, teacher, and student all have an equal role to play. "Talent" has more to do with environment than inherent traits. The support of a community of peers/family is essential to long-term interest and success. For more information on the Suzuki philosophy, please visit the Suzuki Association of the Americas.
How are Suzuki lessons different than a "traditional" lesson?"In a Suzuki studio, children as young as 4 may begin formal lessons. Students may start in small groups of similar age/ability during the first year or so of study. Children younger than 4 can consider Suzuki Early Childhood music classes, which prepare children well for future study of any instrument. Parents serve as practice partners, supporting the child as they mature into independent practice. Parents are supported in turn by the teacher, who offers guidance in both what to practice and how to keep it both effective and enjoyable. The child's role is to be a child, exploring and learning through play and natural desire to grow. Daily listening to current and future pieces in the background while doing chores, homework, or other daily quiet time. Students, especially young ones, are very excited to learn pieces they already know and start playing it with the freedom to focus on the skill of learning their instrument without dividing their attention watching a page to learn the notes and rhythms. Most importantly, they train their ear to recognize good tone and musicality, much as we learn our native language with a distinctive regional accent. Students learn a set of carefully selected core repertoire, with variations according to their interests and needs. Concepts introduced in one piece are deepened on the next or return in a new way. Through frequent review and repetition, students gain mastery over each piece and concept, like refining a swimming stroke. Students love hearing other students play pieces they know are coming soon, getting together with friends and instantly having a "set" they can play as an ensemble, and the sense of accomplishment from completing each level. Reading printed music and sightreading are taught as distinct skills, initially separate from the core repertoire and converging as students mature into intermediate repertoire. Students participate in periodic group classes to provide a peer group, build confidence in performing, allow younger students to learn from the older, and the older to learn through mentoring the younger. They are also the perfect setting for larger musical games and activities!
Can I join the studio if I'm not interested in Suzuki lessons?Yes! We all come to music in our own way. For students who are joining the studio with some band experience or as adults playing for enjoyment, we will discuss what is the most appropriate course of study. All students are invited to participate in our studio recitals, concert trips, etc.
At what age can you start playing the flute?First and foremost, the age you are right now! For young children, 4-6 is a perfect time to begin, with a nice balance point between brain plasticity and maturity. There are flutes sized correctly for young bodies that allow them to learn with healthy posture.
My child is very young. How do I know flute is the right choice for a first instrument?Many children form a connection with an instrument at a young age. If they do change preference as they grow, many of the skills they learn are transferrable. They will already have developed their musical ear, fine motor skills, reading abilities, and good practice strategies and habits. And a flute fits in a carry-on suitcase!
What investments are needed?A quality instrument. I am happy to guide you to a reputable brand. A dedicated, quiet (at least during practice time!) space in the house, furnished with a music stand, table for accessories, safe place to store lesson materials, etc. Daily practice and listening time. Tuition is set out in my studio policies. Plan on a few small additional costs throughout the year for lesson books, concert tickets, etc.