Violin and Viola, Teacher and Performer

St Petersburg, FL


For beginners: I’m glad you’re interested in learning to play! Music should be a joy to create, so don’t expect lessons with me to be stuffy, dry, or regimented.  Everyone learns differently, and my job is to make learning easy and enjoyable for you. My job is to teach you how to teach yourself so that you can keep advancing for a lifetime.

For more intermediate students: String playing is highly technical, so I emphasize relaxed, healthy technique which will allow you to progress quickly and without injury. Let’s figure out together how to make your practice time as efficient as possible, so that you can progress as rapidly as possible.

For advanced students: Audition prep, orchestra excerpts, and chamber music coaching are all some of my favorite things. My background in Alexander Technique and the Karen Tuttle approach make me an excellent fit for a student with either performance-related injuries or performance anxiety.

I charge $50 / hr, and will happily supply references on request. I welcome all students over 10 years old, and I specialize in adults. Please keep reading for some Frequently Asked Questions.



I started playing the violin when I was 8, switched to viola a few years later, and have 2 degrees in Viola Performance (BM, Oberlin Conservatory and MM, Cleveland Institute of Music). I play the viola with The Florida Orchestra (or “TFO”), the Tampa Bay Area’s full-time professional orchestra. You can see me onstage weekly in Tampa, St Petersburg, and Clearwater throughout TFO’s season. I have toured nationally and internationally and have performed at many summer festivals including the Aspen Music Festival, Britt Festival, Colorado Music Festival, and Crested Butte Music Festival.

Some of my major teachers have been Heidi Castleman, Jeffrey Irvine, Lynn Ramsey, Evelyn Jacobs, Connie Heim Stambaugh, Robert Vernon, Ellen Rose, Patricia McCarty, and Karen Tuttle.

Teaching is one of my great loves, and I have been teaching for over 25 years. My students vary widely in age and in their personal music goals, but some have gone on to become nationally-known full-time performers and teachers.


Do I need to find an instrument before I can begin?

You do need an instrument, but not before your first lesson. I suggest you read my blog post on finding an instrument.

Are you a Suzuki teacher?

I was a Suzuki student myself, and I am registered as a teacher with the Suzuki Association of the Americas through Suzuki Violin Book 2.  I’m happy to talk with you about the Suzuki Method.  I’d also be happy to let you sit in and observe a lesson.

What’s the difference between a violin and a viola?

Most people are more familiar with the violin (also called a fiddle).  The viola (vee-o-la, not vy-o-la) is larger than the violin but played the same way–under the chin.  Since the viola is larger, it has a lower range and more mellow sound than the violin–if the violin is a soprano, then the viola is an alto.  The viola has the middle voice range between the violin and the cello (the cello is even larger, is played between the knees, and has a voice that is one octave lower than the viola).

Do I need to read music before I begin lessons?

No, you don’t.  And don’t be intimidated, music reading is not hard! You’ll learn as you go, and I’ll give you materials for home study, so that we can spend most of our time together learning to play, not learning music theory. There are full-time orchestra musicians who have dyslexia, so don’t hesitate over any music-reading concerns.

I played as a child, do you think it’s been too long for me to go back to playing?

It is very common for people to put down the instrument for years and then come back to it. I have never had a single “returning-to-music” adult student OR a single “first-timer” adult say that they were sorry that they started music lessons–on the contrary, most of them say it’s the most rewarding thing they do!

Do your students get to perform?

Absolutely!  Part of the fun of playing an instrument is playing with and for other people.  I want to help you become a confident and joyful performer in any setting and my studio has performance opportunities for everyone.

Can you suggest a teacher for my child who is younger that the age range that you teach?

I have many wonderful colleagues who teach all over the Tampa Bay area.  I’d be happy to help.

Do you teach via skype, or through some other distance learning platform?

Distance learning is a method that can be useful on occasion, and under very specific circumstances, but it is not an approach I’d recommend to replace regular in-person weekly lessons.  This is especially true for beginners.

Get in touch at:



Alison Heydt
St Petersburg, FL

Copyright Alison Heydt 2019 – All rights reserved