Why I Teach

Watching a student absorb and process information brings me unbelievable joy. The feelings that come up for me are on par with those that I have when playing a big hall, winning an award, or recording a great tune in the studio. Witnessing even the smallest “aha” is enthralling and consuming, and I think that that is perhaps the greatest gift I give to my students.


“I have so enjoyed watching Lisa introduce my daughter to Irish and American fiddling this past year. I love Lisa’s sensitivity to who Zoe is as a person, and whether at that lesson she needs her mind to be challenged, or her heart opened to the joy of music – or both. It is a pleasure to experience the creativity Lisa brings to teaching Zoe and her willingness to experiment until she finds the way to reach Zoe’s mind.”

– Amy Grush Lonsinger, Zoe’s mother

“What I like about miss Liasa teaching is the exsiment that she gives to her student.”

– Zoe Lonsinger

Zoe at 5 years old, studied classical violin, at first with her mother and then with Joey Corpus, and had already performed in several recitals.


The KlezKanada  beginners Orchestra led by Lisa Gutkin &  Fern Lindzon

The KlezKanada beginners Orchestra led by Lisa Gutkin & Fern Lindzon

My teaching philosophy is similar to that of Shinichi Suzuki, although I have only superficially studied the Suzuki method. My goal is twofold: to help a student develop the habit of looking for the ease in everything: once a moment of comfort is recognized, it is that much easier to get back to it; and to help the student gain his/her own ability to break each technical issue down to its components. This also ties into learning by ear, which is one of many tools in Classical music, and is the essential tool for any form of folk music. We cannot force the mind to be comfortable learning by ear (especially if a student has spent much time already reading) but we can encourage and coax it. As the mind relaxes, the ear gains confidence, and we can tackle the next few notes. Then we bring together the ability to sound out the notes with techniques for memorizing them, and the student is “playing by ear” when they never thought they could.

Playing by ear seems insurmountable to some. But within one lesson, a connection is made to internal singing, and every student, without exception, has learned to find notes.


I am available for private lessons in my studio in the West Village, around NYC, and via Skype, as well as for master classes and workshops internationally, and as a consultant. I will consider all forms of full or partial barter, and occasionally give scholarships. I use the Suzuki books as a start for children and teach mostly Irish, Klezmer and American fiddling, some Classical, Blues and Jazz, and have helped students studying Swedish, Norwegian, Middle Eastern, and many other styles of music as well. 

I take joy in every level of learning and look forward to offering you, or your child, a first lesson at half price.

To contact Lisa, please send an email to lisa@lisagutkin.com.


Lisa on DVD!

Available from Homespun Music in hard copy as well as digital download. Click here form more info.

Check out a sample of the DVD in the video on the right

DVD cover by: Happy Traum