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Teaching and Workshops

Besides sharing music in venues, festivals, and house concerts, Dan and Laurel also enjoy giving the gift of music as private lessons instructors, workshop leaders, and as visiting clinicians in schools.

Here are some of our most popular offerings. Feel free to contact us for more details or an educational idea you have for us to present.

Private Instruction (in person or online via Skype)

  1. violin/viola/fiddle

  2. guitar

  3. songwriting

Dan and Laurel are available for one-on-one instruction with committed students of a variety of ages and ability levels. Whether you are looking for a single coaching session to help you through a technical stumbling block, a series of lessons to explore a new approach and add a new dimension to your playing, or regular weekly lessons, building technique, confidence, and repertoire, Dan and Laurel are interested in helping you reach your musical aspirations.

For violin, viola, and/or fiddle lessons/coaching in person or via Skype please contact Laurel and visit the teaching section of her website for more information:




For guitar and/or songwriting lessons/coaching in person or via Skype, please contact Dan and visit his website:





  1. violin/viola/fiddle/guitar technique topics

  2. improvisation (general or genre specific)

  3. back-up techniques (accompaniment for guitarists or complementing on violin or other “lead instruments”)

  4. songwriting

  5. performance anxiety

Whether held in conjunction with a concert or festival performance or privately, Dan and Laurel enjoy sharing their extensive musical knowledge and experience in workshop, and depending on the topic, both as co-instructors and individually. Interactive and supportive, the duo’s passion for music inspires students of all ages and abilities to create their own musical magic.

Violin/Viola/Fiddle Technique Topics: (timeframes of 30 min. to multi-day camps)

Laurel enjoys exploring violin topics that focus on technique, interpretation, or improvisation. She has authored two Strings magazine multi-media projects which provide a curriculum of technique topics frequently of interest to classical musicians and fiddlers alike, including bowing and tone topics, phrasing and groove, emotion and dynamics, shifting and intonation, etc.. See:



She also loves to help students develop or fix their vibrato, and has created a comprehensive curriculum which includes both classical and fiddle style vibrato techniques. The online version is available here http://www.completevibratomastery.com

It can be possible to mix and match topics depending on the age and abilities of the workshop attendees. While we can certainly focus on learning new repertoire as many workshops out there do, many students, both privately and in workshop enjoy taking advantage of Laurel’s keen ability to get to the heart of troublesome playing issues and articulate step by step routes to mastery. This learning can be applied to any repertoire and these workshops often include students who play a broad range of genres, yet everyone is generally interested in improving, for example, their tone, demystifying dynamics, mastering vibrato, etc. Contact Laurel directly if you’d like to explore the possibilities for a string technique based workshop.

Violin/Viola/Fiddle Tune/Repertoire Workshops: (timeframes of 1 hour to multi-day camps)

Laurel enjoys diving deep into the inner workings of both tunes and classical repertoire. Workshops may run either as a masterclass, or offer students new tunes and pieces which we build from the ground up. These could be either fiddle tunes for a fiddle based workshop, or classical repertoire and ensemble work for a classical based group.

These workshops may be geared towards beginning students, where we start with even just the basics of playing the instrument, or all the way through advanced students, where we might be focusing on bowing, vibrato style, ornaments, phrasing or groove, and other topics which will polish a tune or a piece to performance ready. Contact Laurel directly if you’d like to explore the possibilities for a string technique based workshop.

Guitar Technique Topics: (timeframes of 30 min. to multi-day camps)

Dan enjoys teaching his style of “one man band” guitar playing which allow students to play rhythm, bass, and lead lines all at once. He also enjoys teaching various picking and slide techniques, and accompaniment techniques for vocals/lyrics. Contact Dan for more information about guitar workshops.

Guitar Tunes: (timeframes of 1 hour to multi-day camps)

Dan has been called a “walking folk fest” and enjoys teaching songs ranging from flat picking Norman Blake style folk and bluegrass tunes to the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkle, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, CCR, Tom Petty etc.. Contact Dan for more information about guitar workshops.

Complementing the Singer, a workshop for “lead” instruments: (timeframes of 1 hour to multi-day camps)

Dan and Laurel are passionate about sharing tips and tricks for backing up singers as a lead instrument, such as a violin. See http://www.laurelthomsen.com/Laurel_Thomsen/Blog/Entries/2014/5/23_%22Complementing_the_Singer%22_workshop.html

In these “Complementing the Vocalist” workshops, Dan and Laurel help participants explore how to improvise around a vocal melody line with harmony and rhythm techniques and how to support the message and genre of a song, elevating the melody line and the vocalist. Contact Dan and Laurel for more information about holding a Complementing the Singer workshop.

Songwriting/Composing: (timeframes of 2 hours to multi-day camps)

Dan and Laurel enjoy sharing tips and tricks for songwriters and composers, helping students find their muse, melody, and rhythm. A particularly involved topic, songwriting workshops can certainly be a few hours, but work best over a few days.

Held ideally as a 4+ day “camp” with a concert for the participants at the end, the first day we explore exercises to spark students’ creativity and cover songwriting basics, including stylistic forms and prosody. The second day we hone in on a song topic and start writing together, focusing on lyrics, including lyric rhythm, rhyme, and meter. The third day we cover lyric melody, instrumental hooks, accompaniment, and arrangement. The fourth day, we piece it all together and cover performance topics, including presentation, stage presence, managing performance anxiety, and audience engagement. Contact Dan and Laurel for more information about holding a Songwriting camp/workshop.

Overcoming Performance Anxiety: (timeframes of 2 hours to multi-day camps)

Experiencing significant performance anxiety herself as a child in competitive orchestra and audition situations, Laurel enjoys hosting workshops to help players overcome stage fright. In these workshops, besides experience over 20 years as a violin and viola teacher, Laurel draws on her training as a certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and certified yoga instructor, sharing mind-body techniques to help participants release past traumas and “future pace”, as many athletes do, for successful upcoming concerts. Participants explore the specific and often surprising triggers for performance anxiety, and we drill a quick, but effective centering meditation used by many of the most successful players and taught at the Julliard School. Though shorter timeframes are possible, this topic is best held as a 4+ hour workshop or better yet, a multi-day camp where we can dive deep and see lasting results. Contact Laurel directly if you’d like to explore the possibilities for a workshop focusing on overcoming performance anxiety.

Interpretation/Master Classes: (timeframes of 1 hour or longer)

An interpretation workshop would use a few pieces/tunes to help attendees explore how to bring emotion and storytelling into their music and is often held as a master class, with each participant sharing a piece/tune they’d like to polish - modifying bowing/strumming, vibrato, dynamics, delivery of vocals and the message of the song, and learning to hear music in a broader context of feeling and genre. Contact Dan and Laurel for more information about holding an interpretation workshop.

Improvisation: (timeframes of 1.5 hours to multi-day camps)

An improvisation workshop could start with the basics of melodic and rhythm improv or look at the details of a specific genre, such as Blues, or Ragtime, helping students gain confidence in finding their unique voice while giving a nod to tradition. Contact Dan and Laurel for more information about holding an improvisation workshop.

Musicianship: (timeframes of 30 min. or longer)

For a more general multi-instrumental workshop, Dan and Laurel enjoy sharing insights about how to move from "technician" to "musician", helping students get in touch with or rekindle a joy for music, and sharing creativity and confidence exercises. Contact Dan and Laurel to discuss holding a musicianship workshop.


Rates for workshops depend on the time commitment of the course, whether Dan and Laurel are co-instructing a topic, or teaching separately, and the nature of the event. General pricing starts around $200 for an hour workshop in a school.

For many workshops, especially those held in conjunction with a house concert, participants generally pay a fee for the workshop which constitutes the instructors’ take. A range of $20-40 per student is customary for a 1-3 hour afternoon workshop. For workshop participants who wish to experience both the workshop and the performance, we can offer a discount package rate.

For workshops and assemblies in schools we will negotiate a rate based on the timeframe.

For workshops associated with festivals/camps we will negotiate a rate based on the timeframe of the commitment, travel and lodging expenses, preparation requirements, etc.


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