Besides her online courses, private lessons, and sharing music in venues, festivals, and house concerts, violinist/violist Laurel also enjoys giving the gift of music as a workshop leader, a visiting clinician in schools, and also in online workshop. Interactive and supportive, Laurel's passion for music inspires students of all ages and abilities to ELEVATE their playing to the next level.
Please check Laurel's calendar for upcoming workshop dates.
If you'd like to host Laurel for a workshop, either in-person or online, here are some of her most popular offerings. If you have another idea for a workshop, or would like to talk dates and fees, please be in touch.
Please click a topic to learn more.
Laurel is passionate about sharing tips and tricks for backing up singers as a lead instrument, such as a violin.
In these “Complementing the Vocalist” workshops, Laurel helps participants explore how to improvise around a vocal melody line with harmony and rhythm techniques and how to support the message and genre of a song, elevating the melody line and the vocalist.
Laurel enjoys sharing tips and tricks for composers, helping students find their muse, melody, and rhythm. A particularly involved topic, composition workshops can certainly be a few hours, but work best over a few days.
Held ideally as a 4+ day “camp” with a concert for the participants at the end, the first day we explore exercises to spark students’ creativity and cover composition basics, including stylistic forms. The second day we home in on a song topic and start writing together, focusing on melody, rhythm, and structure. The third day we cover arrangement and style. The fourth day, we piece it all together and cover performance topics, including presentation, stage presence, managing performance anxiety, and audience engagement.
Experiencing significant performance anxiety herself as a child in competitive orchestra and audition situations, Laurel enjoys hosting workshops to help players overcome stage fright. Besides experience over 25 years as a violin and viola teacher, in these workshops, Laurel draws on her training as a certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and certified yoga instructor, sharing mind-body techniques to help participants release past traumas and “future pace”, as many athletes do, for successful upcoming concerts.
Participants explore the specific and often surprising triggers for performance anxiety, and we drill a quick, but effective centering meditation used by many of the most successful players and taught at the Julliard School of Music.
Though shorter timeframes are possible, this topic is best held as a 4+ hour workshop or better yet, a multi-day camp where we can dive deep and see lasting results.
An interpretation workshop would use a few pieces/tunes to help attendees explore how to bring emotion and storytelling into their music and is often held as a master class, with each participant sharing a piece/tune they’d like to polish - modifying bowing, vibrato, dynamics, and the message of the song, and learning to hear music in a broader context of feeling and genre.
An improvisation workshop could start with the basics of melodic and rhythm improv or look at the details of a specific genre, such as Rock, Pop, Blues, or Jazz, helping students gain confidence in finding their unique voice while giving a nod to tradition.
For a more general multi-instrumental workshop, Laurel enjoys sharing insights about how to move from "technician" to "musician", helping students get in touch with or rekindle a joy for music, and sharing creativity and confidence exercises.
For elementary through high school settings, and students who may or may not have prior musical experience, Laurel and her partner Dan Frechette enjoy combining a short concert program with an interactive workshop.
Laurel enjoys exploring violin topics that focus on technique, interpretation, or improvisation.
She has authored two Strings magazine multi-media projects which provide a curriculum of technique topics frequently of interest to classical musicians and fiddlers alike, including bowing and tone topics, phrasing and groove, emotion and dynamics, shifting and intonation, etc..
And she also loves to help students develop or fix their vibrato, and has created a comprehensive curriculum which includes both classical and fiddle style vibrato techniques.
Please see the online courses page for more details about all of these topics.
It can be possible to mix and match topics depending on the age and abilities of the workshop attendees. While we can certainly focus on learning new repertoire as many workshops out there do, many students, both privately and in workshop enjoy taking advantage of Laurel’s keen ability to get to the heart of troublesome playing issues and articulate step by step routes to mastery. This learning can be applied to any repertoire and these workshops often include students who play a broad range of genres, yet everyone is generally interested in improving, for example, their tone, demystifying dynamics, mastering vibrato, etc.
Laurel enjoys diving deep into the inner workings of both tunes and classical repertoire. Workshops may run either as a masterclass, or offer students new tunes and pieces which we build from the ground up. These could be either fiddle tunes for a fiddle based workshop, or classical repertoire and ensemble work for a classical based group.
These workshops may be geared towards beginning students, where we start with even just the basics of playing the instrument, or all the way through advanced students, where we might be focusing on bowing, vibrato style, ornaments, phrasing or groove, and other topics which will polish a tune or a piece to performance ready.
Looking for more help with your playing? Besides attending or booking her for a workshop, Laurel offers a number of online courses and private violin and viola lessons in-person and online via Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom. To inquire about private lessons, please visit her general Teaching page as well as her Online Lessons page for more information.
Laurel Thomsen Violin, Viola, Vocals Performance, Instruction, Recording Based in Santa Cruz, California