After-School Activities

Music Master Diaries: Ernest Kinsolving, Fiddle

Ernest Kinsolving is a pro at placing a different spin on the typical music lesson experience. With the San Francisco bay area swarming with aspiring performers, Ernest focuses upon refining skill and inspiring a love of music in a fun and relaxed environment. In addition to the traditional summer camp experience your child may be craving this year, consider some time with private music lessons. Playing something out-of-the-ordinary like the fiddle only adds to the fun and quirkiness of your child’s summer.

Q: Tell us more about your class philosophy.

A: When I was a kid studying music I was actually fired by my piano teacher for not practicing enough.  I don’t think that really

helps much.  Kids (and their parents) are busier than ever and sometimes the only chance a student has to practice is during a lesson. I start from wherever the student is when they walk through the door, even if they’re mostly asleep and forgot to bring their fiddle (it happens!).

Q: What surprises/delights the kids most about your class?

A: I welcome and celebrate what makes them unique – from the student who chooses to never speak during lessons to the one who likes to end every lesson with a Rubik’s cube competition. I expect them all to be different, and I make plenty of room for their individuality.


Q: Which student milestone do you look forward to?

A: I love it when a student comes in and shows me something that they’ve worked out on their own; that’s when I know that they’re excited about what they’re learning.

Q: What is one important question that parents should ask you before joining this kind of class?

A: It’s really a question they should ask themselves and their children: are you here to have fun and explore, or are you here to excel and conquer?  If you’re here to excel and conquer, then you should be looking for someone strict and inflexible, but if you’re here to have fun and explore I’m eager to help.

Q: What is the one thing that kids can only do in your class and not anywhere else you know of?

A: When a young fiddler is too timid with their instrument, I have them concentrate on making the loudest and most horrible noise with it that they can.  They love that…  But I encourage them not to practice that particular skill at home.

Q: A tip or technique or any other useful bit information for students/parents?

A: Something small and actionable: ex: do 5 pushups before and after every meal, soon you’ll be very strong; practice music first thing in the morning when you don’t have to worry about homework. (sorry, these were my best guesses!)

My best tip is this: when you’re practicing a new skill — whatever it is — there is no such thing as a mistake.  What you think is a mistake it just your body telling you to slow down, focus, and try again.  If you can truly see it that way, you move forward much more quickly and happily.

Interested in checking out a private fiddle lesson with Ernest? He’s located in Mountain View, which makes it a great gateway point for both San Francisco and South Bay parents who are looking for a summer opportunity away from traditional summer camp programs. He can even throw in a tin whistle lesson from time to time.