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© 2019 by NEIL FONG GILFILLAN and RACHEL SAMSON.

Special photo credit to Keli Cardoso de Melo who took so many of the photos we use on our website :)

Testimonials

"Our daughter Eva started her first violin lesson with Mrs. Rachel when she was 3 years old. We couldn’t ask for a better teacher for Eva. Rachel is patient, talented, understanding and very professional. We were amazed at how much she went above and beyond to try different things to make sure that Eva was not only learning but also having fun. During our home practices, anytime we were stuck or had a question, we never hesitated to call or send a text and Rachel would be so quick to respond and be sure we were on the right track. She gave us great tips on how to improve our home practices. Eva was the youngest in the group class and Rachel was very good at making sure that she was always included and did not feel left out nor intimidated. The fact that Neil joined us during the group class and we could have Cello/violin hangouts was just icing on the cake. The recitals were always awesome because we get to see our daughter in the spotlight (and she never gets scared) and she also got to see her peers perform. We have watched our daughter blossom into an intuitive, talented, confident, and independent violinist and we owe it all to Rachel’s hard work. We are sad that Rachel is moving. She has raised the bar really high and we have very high expectations as to how an effective, professional, nurturing, talented, and patient violin teacher should be. We wish Rachel and Neil all the best. "

 

Marie-Anne, mother of Eva, age 5

"Rachel has been such a gift to us and I feel we really just lucked out! She was such a good match for Cullen's energy and temperament. He worked hard for her because he felt completely respected and supported--never criticized. She frames things in an easy-to-hear way, made it accessible to him and always helped put his learning in context for me. Rachel also knows just when to push and how to motivate. Cullen really has come so far in their work together."

 

Andrea, mother of Cullen, age 12

 

 

 

 

 

 


“Josephine’s first experience with a musical instrument was under the teaching and guidance of Rachel Samson. It has been such a positive experience for both Josephine and myself. Not only is Rachel experienced and knowledgeable in the Suzuki Violin Method, she is truly gifted with children.

 

The lessons are positive, encouraging and fun. Lead in this manner, my daughter enjoyed practicing and playing for others. She was proud of each step along the way. Even when there were moments of challenge or doubt, Rachel was open and there to help guide us.

 

Learning to play an instrument is such a valuable tool in life. We are so grateful to Rachel for being such a positive, strong musical role model  to our daughter.”

 

Lisa, mother of Josephine, age 6

"We have been so fortunate to have Rachel as our violin instructor over the past two years. Our daughter has learned so much, starting from simply how to hold a violin, all the way to starting to read music and feeling comfortable performing during recitals. Rachel is amazing with children. She has endless patience and she is always amazing me with her creative ideas to engage and excite children about playing violin. My daughter is a big fan of her colored pencils and the games that she plays to keep lessons and practice interesting.

 

She and her husband have a very family-friendly studio. We have younger children who are made to feel welcome to attend lessons, group classes, and recitals. She is incredibly patient and kind, while also maintaining her authority as the instructor. 

 

Rachel has a gift for working with children. She brings so much creativity to group classes for the children to have fun while also learning to work and play together. She developed "Violympics", and even a treasure hunt to motivate the children. Children can earn "belt bucks" by practicing and she even allows them to trade them for prizes periodically to keep the kids motivated. It really works! 

 

We have struggled a little bit with helping our daughter learn to practice. Rachel has been very supportive and shared a lot of resources with us, and has worked to find creative ways of keeping the experience positive.

 

I asked my daughter if she would recommend Rachel to another child. Without any hesitation, she said "yes!"  She told me Miss Rachel makes learning violin fun, and that she is neither too hard nor too easy. She told me "Miss Rachel makes learning violin easy!" We are going to have a really hard time finding another teacher to fill Rachel's shoes.

 

We have been so fortunate to have Miss Rachel as our violin instructor. She will be terribly missed. She has been the perfect instructor for our daughter and our family!!"

 

Melinda, mother of Amelia, age 6

"Five stars for Rachel Samson from the Kaniarz family!!!  My children were ages 18, 16, and 14 when we met Rachel.  Their much-loved previous teacher had moved, and, devastated, we had searched for six months for a new teacher with no success.  We were so excited after the first lesson with Rachel!  Her intensity, expertise, and creativity were refreshing and energizing.  She combines musical excellence with a positive, encouraging approach that brings out the best in each student regardless of ability or skill level.  Her enthusiasm is contagious, and her kindness winsome.  My oldest has gone on to major in violin performance at Moody Bible Institute and is presently concertmaster of the Moody Symphonic Band.  We can't say enough about Rachel!  I would urge you to take a trial lesson and see for yourself.  She's the best!"

 

Valerie, mother of Josiah, Joanna, Zuzu, and Nathan

"How do you get a fourteen-year-old boy excited about music lessons?  My answer:  Neil Gilfillan!  I so wanted my son to learn cello to complete our family's string quartet, but he was less than thrilled.  He reluctantly agreed to lessons with Neil.  What a joy to watch Neil win him over with genuine personal interest, contagious enthusiasm, creative and humerous teaching techniques, and stunning musical skill!  Nathan's love for Neil really boosted his interest in the cello and motivated him tremendously.  If you are looking for that rare blend of musical excellence and masterful teaching skill, Neil is your man.  In Nathan's words, "Neil is awesome!"  Five stars!" Valerie

I have been studying viola with Rachel since October of 2011. She has been a good teacher and helped me a lot through the years by her attention to detail and insightful comments. Her lessons are both fun and enlightening. She makes the concepts and techniques behind playing the instrument well easy to understand and often has good ways of instilling and incorporating the new concepts into repertoire that is being covered.

She also covered many of the technical aspects of playing the instrument. With her teaching, I have learned material from Suzuki Book One to advanced literature such as Hindemith’s Der Schwanendreher. Additionally, under her instruction, I have earned three all-state titles so far. She has inspired me to explore more viola literature and to continue playing. I would highly recommend her as a teacher because of her experience and expertise.

 

Samuel, 14-year-old, student of Rachel

 

I would not have unlocked my soul for music had you not sparked my passions. From day 1 to now, I've grown to understand to no longer have fear of my own expression on these four strings- even if it means to play loud and bold or delicate by the quiet yearning of the heart. I feel blessed to have met you, for both joys of what has happened and what will become. Thank you for everything you've supported me through on this musical journey we've begun.

Hailey