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Spotlight on Faculty: Nina Sandberg - Violin

Our faculty are the masterminds behind each of our student's progress and success. While most of our teachers are also performers, their incredible pedagogical work stays behind the scenes. It is time to shine a light on the amazing teaching skills of these inspiring individuals.

Today the spotlight is on violinist Nina Sandberg. Originally from Houston, TX, she has been teaching violin, viola, Suzuki classes, and Eurhythmics at the Academy for the past three years. We asked her some questions about her life as a violin teacher, and it is our pleasure to share her insight.

  • How did your music journey bring you to teaching?

I started teaching when I was studying violin performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music. I student-taught Dalcroze Eurythmics in the preparatory program and worked for the school's Distance Learning department, which presented educational programs for students and adults around the world through video conferencing. I enjoy being able to teach private and group lessons in addition to performing.

  • What are some of the most important goals in your work of instructing music students?

I would like my students to learn to enjoy the process of practicing. I think it can be difficult to enjoy the day-t0-day work, but it teaches us about patience and the value of hard work. In addition, I want the focus to be on the development of their character, rather than their playing ability. I think good music education fosters kind and compassionate individuals.

  • What excites you the most about teaching?

I love that every lesson is different. Some days I bring stuffed animals to Zoom and wear them as hats, and other days I get to talk about the details of articulation in Bartok.

  • How did teaching online during this past year change the way you teach music?

At the beginning of the pandemic, I recorded much of my students' repertoire, so they could play along with me, even though we couldn't meet in person. I don't think it's a substitute for in-person instruction, but I think it has changed the way many students practice at home, and I find myself using recordings more and more.

  • How do you want your students to remember this year? What do you wish for them to learn from it?

I hope their music lessons have provided a sense of stability in an unusual and stressful year. I think it's important to maintain a sense of connection with other people, even when a pandemic makes that difficult, and I hope they strive to maintain that in both music and other areas of their lives.

  • What age of students do you like working with the most?

I teach students aged three to adult, and I don't think I could pick a favorite age group.

  • Was there a memorable moment in your teaching career that made you particularly proud and rewarded?

I love hearing from students after performances, when they tell me how much fun they had or how exciting it was to play with piano. It's also rewarding to see young students make a breakthrough in the first year of lessons. Starting violin can be difficult and it can take a while to learn the basics, but it's fun to see them play through their first piece of music.

  • What in your opinion is unique about your teaching style?

With younger students, I try to involve the parents as much as possible. Many of my parents take lessons along with their children, which I think is wonderful. It becomes an activity they can do together, and it brings music to the center of the child's education and development.

  • What advice would you give to families who are considering education choices for their children or themselves?

It's never too late to start! I have many adult students who tell me that practicing violin helps them relax after work or better understand the tension they hold in their bodies. For families with children, I would encourage them to listen to music at home, to read children's books about instruments, and to enroll in a general music class or pick an instrument for private lessons.

You can hear Nina Sandberg play a beautiful Mediation by Thais here.

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