Testimonial from M. Gullo, New York

It is my great pleasure to recommend Katie Smirnova as a violin teacher.

Katie is passionate and gifted about the violin. Her love for the art is evident in her enthusiastic and energetic performances, and also translates into her teaching techniques. She is exceedingly patient with students of all ages and levels, encourages them and coaxes the very best effort from each and every one.

My daughter had taken violin lessons from Katie for about two years. We were extremely fortunate to have Katie as her first violin teacher. Along with the technical aspects of violin, Katie addresses performance techniques as well as guides my daughter to explore the musical aspects of every piece. She customizes the music and lessons to my daughter’s current skill level while at the same time providing challenges to keep the learning process going. My daughter improved tremendously under Katie’s guidance. She started out with Katie showing her how to hold a violin two and half years ago, and now she is serving as the concertmaster of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra of New York (Suffolk Concert Orchestra season 2017 - 2018).

Although Katie is one of the best teachers in our region, her prices are extremely reasonable. In my opinion, she is worth every penny she charges and I certainly believe I have received excellent service for my money.

We were very sad when Katie moved from Long Island, New York to Rapid City. I am forever grateful to her for everything she had taught my daughter. South Dakota is very lucky to have such a wonderful violin teacher.

- M. Gullo

Testimonial from S. & L. Rebic, New York

Katie was the first violin teacher for our young daughter. The three years of her teaching were inspiring, progressive, and educational. Katie’s background in music is impressive, and the broad spectrum of knowledge of classical music - its history, composers, performers – makes learning and practicing violin an attractive journey.

Katie has a great understanding of children’s psychology in terms of approaching the issue of regular practicing, and her patience is her biggest strength. Her technical expertise coupled with artistic musicality sparks in young learners passion for playing violin at their best, and most importantly to keep them engaged in music in general.

There is one more asset that Katie brings along with her teaching, and that is sharing detailed information about future options for all those interested in playing violin on a higher level, or making the knowledge of playing violin as an advantage. She is also dedicated to preparing students well in advance of their next achievement level, making them aware of demanding tasks in the world of music with ever growing number of tough, competitive players.

Apart from her professional skills of playing and teaching violin, Katie has strong interest in violin as an instrument for itself. Having close connections with the best luthiers, researching the soul of the instruments, she leads the student through many combined aspects of violin, some of them yet to be discovered.

For all young violin players Katie is a highly recommended teacher. The most patient, knowledgeable, and engaging teacher that kids will fondly remember for life.

- S. & L. Rebic

Testimonial from H.Y. Moon, New York

My son has played the violin since 3rd grade, and now he's a junior at Northport High School.

Brett was the third tutor for my son. The one before him had to move to Philadelphia--- he highly recommended we go with Brett, so we met him soon afterwards.

I soon learned that Brett has a strong passion for teaching younger students. For our case, my son was at a point where he needed a breakthrough in order to reach a higher caliber of playing -- Brett was there for him every step of the way! He knows what he's doing for sure.

Every year, Brett and his fellow teachers would host a concert for their students to perform, with no additional cost. The kids all had an opportunity to play a solo, learn performance attitude, and so on. Those concerts helped my son to be much more comfortable and confident in front of an audience!

When my son wasn't all too confident about his qualifications as a player, Brett persuaded him to apply for the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra--- he managed not only to make it into the Suffolk Principal Orchestra, but he also got second chair of the first violin section for its winter concert cycle!

I understand the importance of who tutors my child (so usually, we're very fussy when picking one), and I'm sure anybody who has Brett as their tutor will be really happy and never regret it!

- H.Y. Moon


Testimonial from M. Kumar, Massachusetts

My daughter took lessons from Katie Smirnova for 5 years, and she was, by far, one of the best teachers my daughter has ever had. On top of being a very talented violinist, Katie is a very skilled teacher. She was able to incorporate many things, like theory and technique, into lessons to give Ruchitha a very well-rounded musical education. 

From the beginning of lessons, Katie made sure Ruchitha learned to play with the correct technique, and if she learned something wrong, Katie spent time working with her until she was able to correct her mistakes. She was always very engaged, offering to critique videos of Ruchitha’s playing over email, hosting masterclasses with her other students, and concerts for all the families to attend. On weeks she was unable to teach lessons, she also offered to give lessons over Skype, making sure students did not have large gaps between lessons. She was always very attentive and careful to make sure everything was being received and understood well by the students. 

Katie also incorporated theory into the lessons, using different workbooks to give students a complete music education. She would help them recognize different aspects of music, and teach them how to identify them. The students were always practicing scales, and learning to recognize what certain pitches should sound like, and the relationships between different  notes. 

Every piece learned by the students would be taught with close attention to sound, pitch, and rhythm. In the first few years, she also started a very engaging and creative activity called “piece of the week”. She would send the kids a piece of music to listen to, and they would listen for certain parts, write down things that stood out write a story on what they thought the piece described.

Katie was one of the best teachers my daughter has ever had. She was direct in her teaching style, making sure what needed to be learned was understood, and she also encouraged creativity and growth of the student in their musical capabilities and beyond. We are so grateful to have had her as a teacher for so many years, and know she will make a great teacher for any future students.

- M. Kumar