I have a degree in French literature from the University of Minnesota and education in music theory and Suzuki pedagogy from San Francisco State University where I studied with Walter Haderer, credited with bringing the Suzuki program to the United States. Other principal teachers were Alice Schoenfeld of USC, Andor Toth of Stanford University, and Jorja Fleezanis and Zoya Leybin, both of the San Francisco Symphony. To keep my teaching fresh, I continue to study pedagogy with master violin teachers.
For over 20 years I was a member of the first violin section of the San Jose Symphony and the follow-up orchestra, Silicon Valley Symphony. During this time I also played with many other orchestras and chamber groups in the Bay Area and taught violin. Playing with 90 other musicians and learning music in four rehearsals gave me a skill set not attainable elsewhere, helped me build an extensive library of orchestra music, and allowed me to coach youth orchestras.
I also have a Certificate in Professional Editing from UC Berkeley. I have taught high school English and French, edited for non-profits, businesses, and coached writing and college essays for a college counseling service.
Cheryl Bjorklund Larson
Susan Stein, Director of the San Jose Chamber Youth Orchestras:
Cheryl and I have been friends and colleagues in the San Jose Symphony for many years, and I highly recommend her as a violinist and teacher. As the Director of the San Jose Chamber Youth Orchestras, I hear dramatic improvement in her students' playing from year to year. I have been impressed again this year as I listened to their auditions. She is a violin "doctor" who diagnoses challenging technical issues with students and prescribes the right "medicine." Furthermore, she is compassionate and supportive and as a result, her students thrive under her tutelage.
Testimonials from parents:
My daughter started violin lessons as a beginner with Mrs. Larson, when she was 9. She has progressed tremendously since then. Now one year after, she made into San Jose Youth Chamber Orchestra. We are very excited about this! Mrs. Larson is humorous, solid with technique, and very encouraging. My daughter feels she is helped right where she needs, and she always has a big smile when the lesson is done. We are grateful for Mrs. Larson's teaching! (Mother of 10 year-old)
My daughter has made a lot of progress since beginning violin lessons with Ms. Cheryl. As a teacher, she has exacting standards, but is patient and maintains an encouraging and positive environment. She is familiar with a vast array of repertoire and does not hesitate to change out one song for another in order to accomplish her teaching goals. Ms. Cheryl cares deeply about her students and puts a lot of thought into individual lesson plans for each one. She partners with parents and invites feedback to provide the best experience for each child. Logistically, her make-up policies are very reasonable and fair. I highly recommend Ms. Cheryl for anyone looking for a violin teacher. (Mother of 9-year old)
After a couple of years with another violin teacher, my daughter came to Cheryl Larson for private lessons, and two years hence, my daughter is a different player. She now produces more sound, plays with greater precision, practices with better focus, and is overall a more confident, even joyful, violinist. Cheryl tailors lessons to my daughter’s needs and emails personalized practice notes directly after the lesson, so my daughter knows exactly which elements to focus on each week. To help her gradually master news skills, Cheryl thoughtfully selects pieces from a variety of sources and points to quality online tutorials to consult for independent practice. My daughter also participates in a monthly small group lesson with Cheryl so she can play with her peers. Two times a year, parents can attend the recitals Cheryl organizes, and compared to other recitals I’ve attended, these are cozy and delightful. And her students are impressive! Cheryl also successfully prepared my daughter for her audition to the San Jose Youth Chamber Orchestra. Recently, at her instigation, Cheryl found music for my three children--all of whom play different instruments--so they can begin playing together. In style, Cheryl’s teaching is a balance of firmness, praise, and music appreciation—a combination that motivates my daughter not just to learn the violin but also to enjoy it. All Cheryl's efforts reflect her dedication to her profession and her students. (Mother of 13-yr old)