About Marnie Thies

Suzuki Violin Educator


Website PictureMaster’s Degree
Violin Performance,
DePaul University, Chicago

Bachelor’s Degree
Violin Performance,
University of Wisconsin, Madison

My Story


I began studying the violin and grew up with the Suzuki method when I was nearly seven years old.  My kindergarten teacher’s son gave a demonstration with the violin when the class was studying the letter v.  When my teacher asked if anybody wanted to learn to play the violin, I raised my hand and was set up with violin lessons soon after.  If it weren’t for the Suzuki method, it would be harder to learn other genres of music such as fiddle music which is shown here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQv7VnKLs78.  Since the Suzuki method has taught me how to play by ear, I have been able to play different styles of violin music.  This was and is still important to me because I hear different pieces that I would like to learn that are not always written out in sheet music form.

During my high school years, I studied with the legendary Mary West who was known as the “Dorothy Delay of Minnesota.”  Dorothy Delay was world renowned and taught at the famous Julliard School in New York.  Mary West has played a pivotal part in my teaching when working with a student on sound and other violin technique.  The biggest impression she made on me was that she loved people and really cared about her fellow man.  For my first year of graduate school while pursuing my Masters Degree in Violin Performance from DePaul University, I really enjoyed playing in Chicago Civic Orchestra.  During my second year at DePaul University, I started teaching Suzuki group violin lessons in the Chicago public schools.  I really enjoyed seeing the transformation of various students while teaching and have been teaching with the Suzuki method since 2002.

I am a professional, full time Suzuki violin educator who has received annual training in books one through ten at The American Suzuki Institute, UW, Steven’s Point, WI.  In addition, I have studied the Suzuki Violin Practicum unit with Christie Felsing.   I give private Suzuki violin lessons to students from the beginning to advanced levels. I currently teach in Crystal, close to Minneapolis, St. Anthony, Maplewood (across from 3M) and East Bethel, Minnesota.  I believe that it is never too early or late to study the violin. In previous years, I have taught students ranging in ages from two and a half to 80 years old.

One of the cornerstones of the Suzuki method is parental involvement during the lesson and have noticed that these students advance more rapidly. I like the delayed note reading with the Suzuki method so that the student can focus on technique. However, when a certain level of technique is developed, perhaps as soon as book one, I begin teaching note reading skills.  The Suzuki method has been a well established way to study the violin.  Concertmasters of major orchestras including the Cleveland and Minnesota Orchestra began studying the violin with the Suzuki method.  Other notable violinists who started playing the violin with the Suzuki method include Leila Josefowicz,  Sarah Chang,  Hilary Hahn among others.  Although one may not have aspirations of becoming a professional violinist, I firmly stand by this method of teaching the violin given the results it has produced.

In my opinion, a few important objectives during lessons include instructions and demonstrations about how students should practice playing things slowly so a student can practice along with a recording and learning about music theory.  Practicing efficiently is important for learning pieces at a faster rate.   Additionally I will sometimes ask a parent to record a musical excerpt of me playing slowly.  The reasons for this are two-fold; to check to see if their child is playing the right rhythms and playing in tune.  Another lesson goal is to explain how music works, ie music theory.  I think a great opportunity to explain music theory is through introducing scales in the lessons.

I also believe that having the correct set up will help students play more comfortably.  For example, the right shoulder rest and chinrest is essential to avoid later problems with TMJ and other jaw disorders.  The right shoulder and chinrest setup is also important for developing good shifting and vibrato. I feel that one of my strengths as a teacher is striving to make students as comfortable as possible while playing the violin.

As a reliable and patient teacher, I have worked with students of all ages/abilities and backgrounds.  I have experience working with students who have ADHD and Asperger’s syndrome as well as those who are gifted and talented. I believe that studying music can develop one’s work ethic, concentration and patience.