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String lessons at Octopus Music School are taught using our proprietary OPUS curriculum (Octopus Poly-Instrumental Units of Study). OPUS consists of ten grade levels, each with a requisite assessment and certification. Our curriculum combines elements of Suzuki (emphasizing aural skills) and more traditional Franco-Belgian and Russian methodology. From the beginning, students learn to read notes on the staff as opposed to learning through mimicry and rote lessons. By focusing on technique and reading skills early on, many of the common roadblocks that students experience as they advance simply disappear and steady progress may be made much more quickly.


With consistent practice at recommended intervals, our carefully designed curriculum prepares students to quickly advance from day one by equipping them with the necessary tools and scaffolding to build a comprehensive understanding of the string family of instruments. In addition to learning note-reading, rhythm interpretation, and proper technique, students are exposed to theory, aural training, music appreciation, and collaborative courses with peers to help cultivate an immersive environment in which to thrive.

Lessons are still tailored to individuals' unique learning needs, and repertoire remains flexible so that students are able to learn music which interests them, however the core content and benchmarks have been standardized to ensure fast and steady progress for students of all ages and skill levels.

Amelia, String Teacher


Amelia began playing the violin at a very young age, gracing the stages with many local youth orchestras, such as Greater Youth Princeton Orchestra, Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey, Rowan Youth Orchestra, and Stretto Chamber Orchestra. She is currently the concertmaster of Sinfonia at Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts and is principal second violin of the semi-professional Tim Keyes Consort. Amelia has been teaching since 2016 and is currently working towards her music education and violin performance degree. She has countless performance experiences as a solo artist for a variety of events including her time as concertmaster at the Philadelphia International Music Festival. In her free time, Amelia shares her passion for strings at the New Jersey Suzuki Workshop and Chamber Music Camps.

Gennaro, String Teacher


Gennaro began his musical journey at the age of 12, starting with a traditional Venezuelan instrument, the Cuatro. Three years later, he discovered his passion, the double bass. This led Gennaro to participate in El Sistema, studying with masters such as Felix Petit, Luis Guillermo Perez, Freddy Adrian. After several years conducting and performing in Symphony Orchestras across Venezuela, Gennaro looks forward to sharing his love of music theory, analysis, and performance with all levels of string students.

Heather, String Teacher


Heather has been an active teacher and performer of the piano, violin, and viola for over 30 years. At the age of 18 she attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester NY where she studied piano and viola performance, graduating with a Bachelors of Music degree and subsequently became certified from the Suzuki School of Music to teach piano and violin. Currently she teaches both Suzuki as well as traditional forms of pedagogy. She began teaching very young children music at the YMCA nursery school and between the years of 1994-1998, she switched her focus to older children and was employed at the Westminster Choir College Conservatory in Princeton NJ. Since then she has taught countless students both young and grown the joys of music. Maintaining a full performing schedule, she performs piano in various churches and for special events professionally. She played both the violin and the viola, in the Capital Philharmonic Orchestra and is an active musician for Sweet Harmony Music.

Jaime, String Teacher


Jaime holds a Bachelors of Music in Cello Performance and Pedagogy from Kean University. He has performed in several local orchestras in New Jersey with the cello as well as being the bass guitarist for local post-hardcore band With Sails Ahead. In addition to his cello training, Jaime has played the guitar and bass for most of his life and is a collector of various stringed instruments (guitar, bass, cello, mandolin, ukulele). HIs students benefit from his wide variety of performance experience and eclectic taste in music.

Lia, String Teacher


Lia is a graduate of Berklee College of Music and holds a degree in Violin Performance. Following in the footsteps of her musical family, she took an interest in the violin at age five and from an early age, Lia began playing in orchestras and chamber music ensembles, which eventually lead to her acceptance into the New Jersey Region II and All-State orchestras and participation in the New Jersey Youth Symphony. Her diverse musical taste inspired her to delve into studying jazz music and improvisation in addition to the traditional classical string repertoire. Before attending college, Lia studied in the Jazz for Teens Program at NJPAC. Later, she attended the Berklee Five-Week Summer Program, which culminated in her receiving a full-tuition scholarship towards her undergraduate studies at Berklee College of Music. During her time there, Lia studied under jazz violinists such as Sara Caswell, Jason Anick, and Rob Thomas, as well as jazz trumpeter Jason Palmer and jazz saxophonist Ed Tomassi. Throughout her time at Berklee, Lia was involved in a multitude of different recording sessions and performances on-campus and in the greater Boston area, including projects with Jacob Collier and Harry Gregson-Williams. Lia has performed with orchestras and smaller string ensembles at venues such as Boston’s Symphony Hall, MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, Boston University’s Agganis Arena, Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, and Berklee Performance Center. In addition to session work and string section playing, Lia has led her own jazz quartets and quintets, playing original arrangements of jazz standards and original compositions.

Nathaniel, String Teacher


Nathaniel expressed great interest in music at an early age and began taking violin lessons at age six. He attended Arts High School in Newark and was the leader of the Arts High Orchestra and Chamber Ensemble until graduating. He attended the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music where he began a degree in Music Education. He was a Teaching Artist at Philips
Academy Charter School with the New Jersey Symphony’s CHAMPS El Sistema program,
teaching violin and later primarily viola to young musicians grades 4-7. During this time also focused on completing his degree in Music Education at Montclair State University pursuing a degree in Music Education studying under Mary Ann Mumm. Nathaniel’s wealth of experience studying and performing the violin and viola, as an ensemble leader, orchestral coach, and director informs his well-rounded approach to teaching. As a life-long lover of music, he aspires to be an impactful and influential music teacher and performer with the noble goal of keeping music and the arts relevant, engaging, exciting, and thriving for future generations.

Orion, String Teacher


Orion began playing the cello when he was seven years old, and has been playing ever since. Before attending college, Orion studied with Madeleine Golz and was first chair in both the Manhattan School Youth Orchestra and Montclair State Youth Orchestra. Orion received his degree in Music Education from the Mason Gross School of the Arts where he studied under Jonathan Spitz, principal cellist of NJSO, and performed in various chamber ensembles as well as the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra. He spent several years teaching in the East Brunswick school district where he taught all string instruments and conducted a multitude of orchestral concerts. It was through his time freelancing and working with students in public school districts that Orion discovered his real joy - teaching private music lessons and encouraging his students to hone their craft.

Toyoko, String Teacher


Toyoko holds a MA from the New England Conservatory of Music, MA, and a BA from the Sakuyo College of Music, Japan and is also trained in the Kodály method of music instruction. She has 30 years of international experience as a violin instructor, and was the Assistant Director of the Suzuki Institute of Boston. She has performed with the Fukuoka City Philharmonic, the New Symphony Orchestra, and the New Philharmonic Orchestra, Boston. She enjoys working with a variety of age groups and relishes seeing students learn and grow and finds it immensely rewarding to see a whole new world open up to children through music.

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