“Since beginning our Suzuki experience together with Ronda Cole in 2008, our journey has been filled with growth and joy – both musically and through our character development. What makes NVSMS unique is the caring environment through which hard work is accomplished. Mutual respect exists between students of all levels. Everyone learns from one another. Even the youngest students are given opportunities to share and lead. As a Suzuki student, parent and teacher work and learn together in this environment, magic happens!”
–Amy Oswald, Professional Violinist, Violin Teacher and Suzuki Mom
“NVSMS offers second-to-none musical and technical training for young violinists. As both a former student and now a parent of students at NVSMS, I’m grateful for the wealth of experience and enthusiasm that Ronda and David bring to their work. The group classes are a marvel-professional-level focus, initiative and involvement from students of all levels.”
–Daniel Foster, Principal Viola, National Symphony Orchestra, Parent of NVSMS Students
"I joined Mr. Strom and Mrs. Cole's studio three years ago when I found where I was just wasn't doing the job anymore. I seemed to be one of the few fully committed students and I wanted that to be different. I wanted to be in a place where everyone cared and everyone felt the same way I do about music. Switching to NVSMS has fulfilled all of my wants and even more than I could have imagined possible. Being in this studio has helped me start to become an independent musician, while simultaneously helping me feel the music at a deeper level and developing me into a more mature, expressive person. I am so proud of the person that I have become today and could not have become the person I am without the unconditional support and love of Mr. Strom, Mrs. Cole, and all the students in our studio. I think this idea of unconditional love and support is what makes Mr. Strom and Mrs. Cole stand out from other teachers. While they might push you to your upper limits just as much as other teachers, I can guarantee, from personal experience, that they will always be there for you when you stumble to help you get on your feet and learn from the experience. This constant support and love for me that I feel makes me enjoy every minute of group class, lessons, and yes, even practice. Without it, I would become easily discouraged when encountering difficult passages, but the support, especially recently, has allowed me to have no fear and just go for it. I warn you, if you are thinking of joining this studio, having no fear will allow to make the most of your experience. I have learned this throughout my time in the studio and wished I could have learned it earlier, so I could fully take advantage of the great teaching Mr. Strom and Mrs. Cole provide us."
--Jane, Age 16
“It has been a delight to see the wonderful and enriching journey our son has taken since beginning in this studio in Kindergarten. From expanding his music listening skills and his ear becoming so finely tuned as a musician to his being able to read music from a very early age and his memorizing abilities strengthening, this studio has exceeded our expectations. The continued support and understanding given by Ronda over the years have made it a warm, nurturing environment in which to embrace the Suzuki methodology. It has gone so much more beyond the traditional, typical Suzuki studio. The sensitivity of all the musicians here continue to inspire one another!”
–Caroline, Mother of Home-Schooled Fifth Grader
“As a professional musician, conductor and teacher, I have learned in every lesson attended over the past 14 years! My children, age 17 and 11, have been influenced even more dramatically by Ronda’s creative, dedicated focus on training the mind. Musicianship, sensitivity, wonder, enthusiasm, work ethic, poise, good judgment and an unparalleled commitment to excellence are hallmarks of Ronda’s teaching. This ‘studio’ is truly a gem.”
–James Kirchenbauer, Parent of NVSMS Students
“Dr. Suzuki said: ‘If love is deep, much can be accomplished’. Learning with love is what we really appreciate. Our daughter Joy has not only learned a lot of violin playing skills, learned how to enjoy music itself, but also been learning to develop a heart of loving and caring of others through music. We really appreciate Ms. Cole and Mr. Strom for their dedication to the music education by providing a very strict, but fun and loving learning environment. Children not only learn and play by themselves, they are also provided group study experiences so that these children can interact with and learn from each other. We really appreciate and enjoy the group study environment a lot.
As parents without any music background, we feel we are growing as well, especially my husband who takes Joy to classes and practices, has learned tremendously too. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Cole and Mr. Strom – thank you very much for your dedication and commitment for making this world a better place by conducing music education to the younger generation!”
–Hongfei, Parent of NVSMS Student
We joined the NVSMS studio when my middle child was just 3 years old. Jasper was a wiggly, tricky, and tenacious person who would ex-jasper-ate many adults over the years. At one lesson, Jasper refused to get out of the car. After being carried into the room, he refused to participate in the lesson. Instead of wasting the time with further admonishment, Mrs. Cole proceeded
to give the lesson to me instead of him. As the years progressed, Mrs. Cole continued to show infinite wisdom and patience in working with him. Mrs. Cole’s ability to ask a lot but not too much is a gift that I have rarely seen in other teachers: she would always find a few aspects of playing violin that he could grasp that week, raising the bar, but not overreaching.
Malva effectively joined the studio when Jasper did; she came to all of the group classes and many of the lessons. When she was finally allowed to officially start violin two years later at the age of 3 ½, she was nearly desperate. Whether Malva’s easier time at the beginning is related to her character or whether it was related to the time she had spent watching and listening, it is clear that her engagement to the violin was established. Having two kids in the studio might have been challenging except that Mrs. Cole enjoys the music made by all of her students and I have never known her
to foster competition between her students.
Jasper and Malva are now 12 and 10 and are already fine musicians and respectful, enjoyable, exciting people and we owe much of their growth to the time spent with the community in the NVSMS studio. The NVSMS studio is a dynamic group of young musicians and two great teachers. While we have seen the community ebb and flow, there has been an unwavering goal of nurture and compassion, of working to develop the whole child. Jasper continues to push the envelope, Malva continues to bask in the work that has come before, and Mrs. Cole remains unwavering in her uncanny ability to gently push them both
to be better musicians and people.
-Geneva Moore, Parent of two NVSMS Students
“The violin group classes are fun with Mrs. Cole and Mr. Strom! I think I have advanced musically because I can read music very well and I have had perfect pitch since I began in Kindergarten!”
–Lance, Age 10
“Looking back as a graduating senior, my experience as a student in this studio has been formative in every aspect of my life. I learned the lessons of discipline in the practice room and acquired the self-confidence and conviction necessary to be a performer in all situations, musical or otherwise. The cooperative work in studio group classes has not only prepared me for various types of chamber and orchestral playing, but also nurtured my development as a complete human being at a level that most studios do not. I love my teacher Ronda Cole and consider her a part of my family. In many ways, my love of music and desire to become a professional musician can be credited to her years of passionate coaching and encouragement.”
–John Kirchenbauer (NVSMS Student, 2000-2014)
“While most people may think music lessons teaches you an instrument, the Suzuki method teaches you far more than that. We have been with Ronda and David’s Studio for six years, since my son was four years old, and they have truly captured what Suzuki intended, to have the child grow to his/her full potential as an individual. I, in fact, refer to my son’s violin lessons as ‘life-lessons’. My son has developed in so many ways. For instance, every week he recites a poem and a Special Listening piece. At the beginning, he would mumble and stumble through both of these. He now speaks in front of people, happily, with ‘Ronda Cole/David Strom style’ diction, clarity, enthusiasm, and confidence. He has an amazing memory and I credit much of this due to the fact that every day he is memorizing something new everyday – a new piece, a new poem, listening to a new Concerto, on top of reviewing the pieces in the previous books for memory. He is a very intelligent ten year old boy that still struggles with the wiggles, but while he may not become a concert violinist, I am confident he will become a virtuoso in life, much of this attributed to our violin lessons.
Ronda, our private teacher, knows my son inside and out. She is really the best teacher of ANY subject I have ever seen. She is able to pinpoint exactly what he needs to push him to his true potential at every single lesson. I am so thankful to be a part of this inspiring studio and look forward to many more happy years!”
–Mia Lee, Mother and Professional Violinist
“Being a part of Mrs. Cole’s studio has truly changed my life. I remember my very first lesson on my 8th birthday. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 9 years since I first met her, and it’s even more incredible how much she has changed the way I see music. Through learning from Mrs. Cole, I have discovered a deep passion for classical music and my violin studies have completely altered my perspective of my own life as well. I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher to patiently work with me on my technique and then on how to channel my personal expression into the music I make. At the studio, I developed not only my love of violin, but also singing, and I appreciate such a wide variety of music due to what I have learned.
I am so thankful to have received such a rich musical education and I look forward to continuing it in college. I will absolutely cherish my final year with Mrs. Cole, and I’ll be sure to visit in the years to come to see what other amazing things she’s accomplishing with the studio! Thank you so much!”
“Ronda and David have created a studio where children not only learn to play the violin at a high level; they develop a love for music, and are treated as musicians, always asked to search deep within themselves in an effort to express emotion through their playing. Ronda and David also teach many skills that carry over into all aspects of the child’s life, always striving to help the child become the best person s/he can be. Leadership, confidence, respect, tenacity, focus, care, attention to detail, listening, taking ownership, camaraderie, expression of ideas and feelings; these are all qualities and concepts which come to mind that are, often in a fun and creative manner, woven through every private lesson and group class.”
–Stephanie, Parent of NVSMS Student
“The best thing about this studio is that the children aren’t treated like children. They’re treated like human beings.”
–Jen Furlong, Creator of The Evolution of Contentment, and Director, The Masterful Person Company
“Our daughter Melissa has been with Ronda for about 10 years now and she has loved the experience. When she started in the studio, Ronda worked with her patiently to correct the bad habits that had developed in the past. Ronda is a great teacher and she sets high standards for Melissa, not only in playing music but also in understanding the meaning and conveying the emotional aspects of it. The training received at Ronda’s studio has helped our daughter audition for and play in all four levels of the American Youth Philharmonic Orchestras (AYPO).
Playing violin has become a passion for Melissa–it has become a part of her and she enjoys it very much. Not only is Ronda a great violin teacher, but she is also a wonderful life mentor for Melissa on topics not related to music. When faced with emotional issues, Melissa never hesitates to open up to her, and Ronda helps her to rationalize and recover. As parents, we are very grateful to have such a wonderful teacher and mentor for our daughter. We truly appreciate the well-rounded education Ronda has given to Melissa over the years. Melissa will be graduating soon, and all of us will miss Ronda greatly.”
–Ann and Larry Lu, Parents of NVSMS Student
“We began our family Suzuki journey in a good program. After attending the summer Greater Washington Suzuki Institute for a few years I was left with a quandry. Every summer my children would leap forward in just one week. How could that be? Change was necessary. We transferred to the NVSMS and haven’t looked back.
In the short period that we have been at NVSMS, my children have grown incredibly as musicians and people. That is not to say that transferring to this program has been easy, since un-learning comes with many challenges. However, when my youngest child began violin de novo, the relative ease of progress at NVSMS in just a few months is remarkable. I especially enjoy the care and feeling that my children are learning to give to their music.
What is the difference? The difference is the commitment and dedication of Mrs. Cole and Mr. Strom to the children. It is the belief that with mindful practice, achievement is possible, no matter what age. Dr. Suzuki’s ‘practicing to make it easier’ is applicable to all facets of life. I am thankful to Mrs. Cole and Mr. Strom for this stable, enriching experience. It is worth every tuffy-wuffy moment.
P. S. A Suzuki parent need not be a musician to join this program; it is not easier even if you are one!
P.P.S. Most folks will not be playing soccer when they are 80, but they might still play the violin!”
–Maybelle, Suzuki Graduate and Suzuki Parent
“There are no words to describe the magic that Mrs. Cole has for teaching not only violin, but music. We have had many music teachers (because we’ve moved around so much!), and no one has ever approached teaching music the way that Ronda Cole does. Other teachers will hone in on fingering, bowing, and even phrasing. Mrs. Cole embraces the artist in each of her students–expecting and demanding the technicalities required by the music–and then taking the student to the richer and deeper realm of understanding how the music speaks to his/her soul.
Mrs. Cole’s expertise in understanding how the Suzuki method works carefully introduces the young child to the mechanics of violin playing as a tool of emotional expression and extends all the way to the more mature serious advanced violinist, now transformed almost into the artist, and ready to re-approach the great masterpieces. Our daughter has studied with Mrs. Cole for over 10 years, and we are continually amazed at how each lesson inspires and elevates how she thinks and practices music.
Being in Ronda Cole’s studio is like being a part of a family. As the beginning students observe the more advanced violinists in group classes and private lessons, they learn leadership skills, group dynamics, and are inspired by the music performed. Similarly, the advanced players in the studio learn to nurture the up and coming students by guiding their playing–often with a sense of humor–and observing how instruction is communicated to elicit the music that is desired from a student who may not yet have fully developed musical interpretation or technique.
Lest it be thought that classical music learning is all seriousness, Mrs. Cole quickly dispels that myth. From shooting marshmallows at players who forget their bowing, to the phrase “Tuffy Wuffy” (i.e., no excuses!), students know that going prepared to private and group classes is just the beginning of an engaging and often fun journey of musical learning. We are so grateful to Mrs. Cole for her influence on our daughter’s musical education. We are serious music hobbyists, and love what she has done to make music so beautiful in our home and family!”
–Alice, Parent of NVSMS Student
“What amazes me about Ronda and David is not only their incredible abilities as ‘technical’ teachers of the violin, but their unfailing devotion to the whole child. They teach the kids early on that music is not just about correct notes and rhythm, but it is, above all, a human experience that even the smallest child can bring to life. It is about finding those emotions and then communicating and sharing them with the listeners. To me, this is exactly what music should be and this is what they are so good at teaching.”
–Karen Johnson, Professional Violinist, Former Concertmaster of Richmond Symphony, Currently Marine Orchestra, Suzuki Mom, Homeschooling Mom
“Ronda Cole is a genius, one of the most outstanding teachers anywhere. She is skilled in nurturing people into their best selves; their hands into technically adept violinists; and little souls into musicians. She treats each person, even at the youngest ages, with genuine respect and love. She creates a joyful atmosphere of discovery with little ones; it is like magic to watch her teach. She brilliantly lays each building block of violin technique, piece by piece, over time to create a whole, solid, physically-healthy foundation that enables players to go on to the highest levels of the music field.
Ronda encourages the musical soul inside each child, to help each one find and develop his/her voice at the earliest stages, so that heartfelt music-making is the goal and result. Yet one of her greatest distinctions as a teacher is her ability to nurture the whole person. She has extraordinary insight into the uniqueness of each student, how to uncover specific obstacles to growth, and how to resolve those challenges. She is brilliant at lovingly and truthfully addressing present behavior and performance, calling students to their highest selves as people and musicians without ever diminishing their sense of self in their current stage. Those who study with Ronda will grow as people and be better equipped for life as a result of time spent with her, regardless of what role music ends up playing in their lives. They will also have the guidance necessary to become mature violinists if that is their goal.
I studied with Ronda Cole for fourteen years, from my first moments on the violin at age 3-1/2 until enrolling at the Curtis Institute of Music after high school graduation. I count it one of the greatest gifts in my life to have studied with her.”
–Lisa-Beth Lambert, First Violin Section, National Symphony Orchestra
Mr. Strom brings to our lessons a superb sense of what each child needs at the moment to help them grow musically, developmentally, intellectually and personally. He thoughtfully nurtures self-confidence as he expertly teaches violin technique, musicality, and fosters personal responsibility and growth. Our children have developed skills for excellence in presenting not only violin repertoire, but also a wide variety of self selected poetry. Violin lessons are a mindful balance of exploration, joy, self-reflection, and the just right challenge. Group classes offer highly energetic and thought provoking learning opportunities in many areas including leadership and musicianship. Ms. Cole and Mr. Strom are truly master teachers in the broadest sense, and we are very lucky to have them in our lives.
--Holly Clemans, Suzuki mother and grandmother