FACULTY: VIOLIN, VIOLA
Chicago Referral until May 2018 or SKYPE
Alex Giger enjoys a varied musical career on violin/viola that spans across chamber music, orchestra, new music, old music, and teaching. Currently based between Chicago and Washington D.C., Mr. Giger currently plays as a member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and as the Assistant Concertmaster of the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra. As an accomplished orchestral musician, he has also performed most notably with the Britten Sinfonia, Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, National Philharmonic, and as a fellow at the Lucerne Festival Academy the past two years. Additionally, Mr. Giger has performed as a scholarship recipient at the New England Conservatory’s Festival Youth Orchestra, The Meadowmount School of Music, National Orchestral Institute, Aspen Music Festival, and St. Endellion Easter Festival.
Mr. Giger founded the Melanson Quartet in September 2014 as its 2nd violinist. Established at the Royal Academy of Music under its Davey-Posnanski Quartet Scheme, the quartet received high commendations and performed for the Schubert Society of Britain and in masterclasses and workshops at the 2015 Wigmore Hall String Quartet competition. His quartet playing has also garnered numerous awards and honors recitals at the University of Maryland, and has performed Mendelssohn’s String Octet in collaboration with members of the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. He continues to perform chamber music with his Civic Orchestra colleagues around Chicago.
A native of Washington DC, Mr. Giger graduated from the Royal Academy of Music in London, studying under the tutelage of Sophie Langdon. Additionally, he studied Baroque Violin with Elizabeth Wallfisch, and viola with James Sleigh. Mr. Giger has previously studied with Phyllis Freeman at the Peabody Preparatory, and with James Stern the University of Maryland. He is currently completing his L.RAM in teaching. At UMD, her received of the Creative and Performing Arts Scholarship, the Wallace Loh Music Scholarship, and the President’s Scholarship. Mr. Giger has held a private teaching studio for many years, where his students have earned successes from merits on ABRSM examinations to admission to collegiate-level music degree programs. He believes that introducing questions and stimulating critical thought during the lesson can profoundly benefit one’s musical, intellectual, and spiritual development.
In his spare time, Mr. Giger enjoys reading, biking, and yoga. He is currently pursuing his 200HR RYT certification, and his goal of completing every book written by Haruki Murakami.
Beginning August 20th, 2017, Mr. Giger will be on referral for Chicago bookings as he performs with the Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the Northbrook Symphony Orchestra. He will return to the M4Arts faculty May 2018. Mr. Giger will be offering M4Arts students SKYPE lessons while in Chicago.
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What age should I start my child playing the violin? Is it ever too late for me to start?
Learning to play the violin can start as early as four years old. Research shows that music aptitude is shaped the most before the age of six. Afterwards, music aptitude stabilizes around age six to seven. Although new skills can be learned later, it becomes much harder, especially to determine pitch and rhythm. However, if you or your child is starting later in life, do not let the absence of prior musical education deter your musical pursuits. I have had many older adults who are surprised at their own high music aptitude even without having studied it in the past. I have taught students before who were in their eighties before they had ever started to learn any musical instrument. It is never too late
What is the structure of the first lesson?
For the first lesson, I will start off with a conversation of your musical (if any background), what type of music you would like to play and what you hope to accomplish through the lessons. If it is your first violin lesson, we will:
-Learn the parts of the violin and bow
-Learn how to stand correctly and hold the violin
-Learn how to hold the bow
-Learn about the different angles required for the four strings
-Identify your strengths in musical aptitude
-Start playing the violin with pizzicato and get a sense of the bow on the violin
If you are already a violinist, I will ask you to play a piece you are working on so that I can determine your ability and we can start working right away.
How often should I come for lessons?
It depends on how quickly you want to advance. String playing involves many small details and until you reach a certain level of aptitude, require the weekly or at the very least bi-weekly attention of a teacher. In my experience, those who have weekly lessons will improve almost twice as quickly as those who have a lesson every other week.
How often should I practice?
It is better to be consistent in your practice than to practice for a large quantity of time once or twice a week. I would rather have a student come to a lesson who practiced ten minutes a day, six days a week than a student who practiced for one hour in one sitting. That being said, string playing takes commitment and time. Beginners should try to practice at least twenty to thirty minutes a day, six days a week.
What do I need for my first lesson?
If you are already a violinist, please bring your violin and any recent music you have been working on or are comfortable playing through during the lesson. This will help me ascertain your level and help me design your individual lesson curriculum.
If you do not have a violin, then do not worry about bringing anything. The M Institute has a studio violin you can use in your first lesson.
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