My name is Baker Peeples, and I’m an Oakland-based violinist who enjoys performing and teaching wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world! Both of my parents and my sister are also classical musicians who teach and perform, so it has been in my blood my entire life.
I currently hold tenured positions with the Oakland Symphony, Symphony Silicon Valley in San Jose, and the Sacramento Philharmonic. I also teach private lessons and in public schools. I hold a Bachelor’s of Music degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and a Master’s of Music degree from Northern Illinois University. My principal teachers have included Roy and Lynn Oakley, Roy Malan, the recently-retired Concertmaster of the SF Ballet Orchestra, Shmuel Ashkenasi, former first violinist of the Vermeer Quartet, as well as two current members of the SF Symphony: Catherine van Hoesen and David Chernyavksy.
Whether it’s simply the fun of learning something new for its own sake, receiving more specific instruction than a school orchestra teacher can provide in a group situation, or you would like to attain entry into a more prestigious program, such as a youth orchestra or college program, I would be delighted to help show you how to achieve your goals.
I teach classical music technique exclusively. Very much like being trained as a Shakespearean actor, this kind of foundation gives one the tools to be able to be adaptable to many kinds of styles.
My teaching is very much based on instilling muscle memory and precise coordination so that students get off on the right foot and remember how it feels physically to play something. It’s one thing to remember what something looks like or sounds like, but entirely different to remember how something physically feels. One of the biggest challenges that I help students overcome in addition to how to play notes, is how to get from one note to another, which includes having to consider the preparation, just as much as, if more so, than the actual execution.
One essential element of making progress in regards of learning to play an instrument is the often “dreaded” regular practice outside of the lesson. To be more specific, practicing 30 mins each day is a much greater return on investment than it would be to practice one day a week for 3 hours.
When we play the violin, we are familiarizing ourselves with how it physically feels to play the instrument. We are trying to connect mind and body, so most violinistic challenges are simply a matter of lack of familiarity, and not necessarily insurmountable difficulty.
When we hold a pen, pencil, fork, knife, spoon, or tie our shoes, or brush our teeth, we are constantly re-familiarizing ourselves with how to do those tasks. The main reason why, as a child, we considered those tasks difficult? We simply hadn’t done them enough!
The main challenge I find, even with myself, with practicing the violin, is that it is a conscious decision. We unconsciously “practice” holding a toothbrush everyday, preferably twice! If your mother or father had you practice holding a toothbrush, or a pencil, for 30 mins a day, and no other task for those 30 minutes, OF COURSE you would hate it, but, in retrospect, we see that it was absolutely essential that we “practiced” holding a toothbrush, pencil, pen, fork, knife or spoon with that much regularity. Though there is no “official” way to hold a toothbrush, pencil, fork, knife, there are certain ways of holding each that have been proven over time to be more effective than others. Violin technique employs essentially the same principles: find a way that helps you perform that task consistently and confidently, and then repeat over, and over, and over, and over again.
Music transports us to different dimensions and enriches our lives in ways we often cannot even explain. I would be happy to show you how to travel to such places. Come join me!See more