Patricia M. Burton

Cello Teacher

Patricia Burton

SAA Member


Flagstaff, AZ

Hello, my name is Patricia Burton. I am a senior at Northern Arizona University pursuing a Bachelors of Music Education and Music Performance on the cello. I am certified to teach Suzuki in Pre-Twinkle cello and Book I, and I am getting Book II and III certified this summer. I can teach a wide range of students, from the age five beginner to the seventy-five year old who would like to start playing again. In my lessons I give most of my focus to cello technique because I believe that with the proper technique, the sky is the limit for what the student can then achieve.

As a cello teacher, I believe that it is my job to give every cellist a good base and knowledge in cello technique. Without a good base in technique, a cellist cannot reach their full musical potential. Though sometimes seen as tedious, technique is the most important part of practice. When practiced well, one hour of technique can improve a student’s overall playing more than spending three hours on a solo repertoire piece. In my own practice, if there are days where I can only spend an hour of solid practicing, I work on technique because I know that it will help more than anything else will in the long run.

From a good base in technique, a student is able to focus on intonation. Students will know how to correctly and effectively fix intonation problems in a way that is healthy and will not cause them pain and injury in the future. Technique practice will also set students up to listen to intonation by playing with a drone or checking notes with open strings. This introduction to checking intonation makes students become accustomed to listening for intonation, so that when it is brought up in the future, it is not a hassle to try and fix.

Once a student begins to realize the true difference between being in tune and out of tune, then their tone begins to develop. I believe that there is not one true cello tone that all cellists should strive for, instead, tone is a combination of what the student likes from listening to great cellists play. In this, the student’s tone becomes uniquely their own.

As a musician who suffers from performance anxiety, it is important to foster a community of support in my studio. I believe that criticism and feedback is an important part of the music making process, as long as it is constructive and gives suggestions of how to make problem spots better and does not only cut the student down. This constructive criticism is balanced by specific praise to the student because many times what a musician is doing well is easily overlooked. It is easy for a student to become discouraged when all they hear is criticism; specific praise is a way for a student to know that their progress has not gone unnoticed.

Technique, intonation, tone, and a supportive community are the most important parts of successfully teaching a student. With this, a student will leave prepared to be their own musician and have a lifetime of music making.