Thomas Plante

Instructor of Viola & Violin

Check out Thomas’s Profile!

How long have you been teaching?

I’ve been teaching since 2019. I started teaching on the side in 2019 and decided I wanted to do it as a career right before the COVID pandemic shut everything down.


Which Opus Music Academy locations do you work? Do you have your own studio? If so, where is it located? Do you offer in-home lessons?

I primarily teach at Opus’s Plymouth location. I don’t have my own school, but I do travel to a few different places to teach, and I offer in-home lessons.


What is your studio story? How did you get to where you are now?

I started teaching violin and viola on the side when I was working as a sales associate at Groth Music Company. I found that I enjoyed it and was planning to transition away from sales and into teaching full-time when the COVID pandemic shut everything down. I’ve since started teaching at Opus, and I’m always looking for new students and teaching opportunities.


What is one thing you think you do really well as a teacher?

I’d like to think I’m very patient with students, especially younger children. My focus as a teacher is mainly on technique, especially when it comes to using the bow. It’s something that is harder than many people realize, but it’s something that I think I can explain very well.


What is one thing you really struggle with as a teacher?

I think my biggest struggle is time management during my lessons. Most of my lessons are 30 minutes, which isn’t a long time if there’s a lot of work to do. 45-minute or hour-long lessons are easier even though they’re longer.


What do you do to retain your students?

I do my best to listen to them and provide the best lessons I can give them. I also make sure to make up lessons that I miss whenever possible and keep the parents of my younger students informed of what their children are working on and where they need to improve.


Share a funny student story:

There was one lesson where I was teaching a student about dynamics using Haydn’s “Surprise Symphony” theme. The beginning of the piece is very quiet, but there’s an incredibly loud chord that plays out of nowhere (that’s why it’s called the Surprise Symphony). I played it for him, and he jumped when we got to the loud chord. He thought it was really funny and wanted to learn how to play it.


What is your niche? What sets you apart from other teachers?

I can’t say that I have a specific “niche,” but I do teach viola, which is relatively rare when compared to teachers who only teach violin.


What is your favorite band, artist, or composer? Why?

My favorite band of all time is Led Zeppelin. As much as I like classical music, I grew up on blues and hard rock, so that is mostly what I listen to for fun.


What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

My musical tastes are pretty eclectic. I love classical music, but I also listen to classic rock, metal, punk, and even some bluegrass. I’m also part of a rock band where I play my viola through an amplifier. I’m still learning how to play hard rock and blues, but it’s fun to play guitar solos on a viola.


Let’s say you’re having coffee with a brand-new teacher.  What’s one piece of advice you wish you would have known when you started?

Be patient with students, and understand that each one will learn at their own pace. You will only see them for 30 minutes or an hour every week, so most of their work will be on their own when they practice at home. The key is to guide them as they learn.


Let’s say you’re visiting with a teacher who is feeling burned out. What advice would you give to them to give life to their studio?

I would tell them to mix up what they are teaching. I’ve found that teaching the same things to different students gets boring, so I like to mix things up by teaching them more challenging music or encouraging them to find a song that they want to learn that might not be in our usual lesson books.


We’ve all had that one student or parent that drives us crazy.  What do you do with that student or family?

I have a lot of students who have trouble staying on task during lessons. Something that works for one student is letting them take short breaks after they play a piece that they’ve practiced during the week. It obviously can’t be a very long break (we’re talking one minute at a time in most cases), but it keeps them mostly on task.


What is your craziest idea? What is something you would do if money, time, and space weren’t an issue?

I’d probably have my own recording studio in my home if I had the space and money for it. I’d use it to spend all my time recording my own music, which would probably be some weird combination of classical, metal, and blues.


If you weren’t a music instructor, what else would you do with your life?

I would try to make it as a full-time musician if money and time weren’t an issue.


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