Long Distance Learning

Do you ever want to learn new skills, get training, coaching, or development – personal or professional? But you have limited time or live off the beaten track?

Back at the end of 2012 I wasn’t looking for a violin teacher…in fact I was happy to ‘go solo’ and work alone for a while.

The teacher whom I had been working with, here in Madrid, had just left to go and live in Germany and so those lessons had tailed off. It was the perfect moment to take some time off from weekly lessons and see how I got on on my own.

But I quickly found that I still needed advice on certain aspects.

What better than to use Google? So I typed in: ‘How can I trill faster on the violin?’

And up came a website entitled ‘Violin Mastery’, belonging to a Los Angeles based violinist, Mr. Clayton Haslop.

Through the site I discovered that he had several programs based on standard violin fare: a number of DVD series featuring studies by Kreutzer (pretty much the ‘bible’ of violin instruction), Paganini (ah hah, getting more exciting here) and one entitled enticingly: ‘The No BS Guide to Violin Technique’.

There were more, but I bought those three and soon the packages arrived at my house in Spain.

I loved working this way – long distance learning ‘a la carte’.

It was blissful being able to play over my virtual instructor while he was talking, make up my own mind what worked for me, and go over and over the content at my own pace. I loved his ‘take’ on so many aspects of playing and violin technique and the fact that his method was directly descended from the legendary violinist Nathan Milstein, with whom he had studied for three years.

So I continued extremely happily with the DVDs for a few months.

But then a little voice kept popping into my head.

How would it be to study directly with Mr. Haslop? Never mind the fact that we are separated by a few thousand miles and the Atlantic Ocean, not to mention a nine hour time difference.

But I was already a Skype expert after my sessions with my Life Coach, Brad Yates, who also has a Californian address, so I was very used to adding and subtracting nine hours to our time zones! I had already experienced the benefits of long distance learning for myself.

I still had my doubts.

I wasn’t very sure how Mr. Haslop would respond (if at all!) or whether this was really a very good idea… but it kept coming back to me over and over. And over the years I’ve learned to recognise that when something won’t let up, the best thing is to ‘trust my gut’ and go with it.

So I wrote an email to Mr. Haslop enquiring whether he gave online classes and whether he would be prepared to take me on as his student.

I didn’t really expect a reply.

I knew from his website that he was an extremely busy performer, working as concertmaster and recording the soundtracks for such movies as Avatar, Titanic, Ratatouille, and UP, to name just a few.

But he replied the next day saying that he’d never tried coaching by Skype before but that he was willing to give it a try.

Well that was nearly two years ago and we have had more than sixty classes since then. 

All from the comfort of our own homes, at times convenient to both of us.

I reckon that there have only been about three lessons that got interrupted because the Internet connection went haywire! A very good success rate. And I have the added advantage that I can record the audio of our sessions and relisten (and relearn!) over and over again.

I have learnt an incredible amount without being in the same room as him even once.

And meeting him in person is definitely something to look forward to in the future! 🙂

Clayton – and his teaching – has been instrumental (sorry, couldn’t resist) in my move back into performing.

And one of the things that is great about this teacher is that he’s into all the whacky energy stuff, which I love so much, as well. Must be the Californian in him. I still haven’t convinced him to use EFT, but we have great chats about all kinds of things that I’d certainly never touched on with any of my previous teachers.

So, if in doubt, give it a try. You have nothing to lose and potentially a great deal to gain. Long distance learning is a great way to learn!

Key Takeaways


  • Sometimes it’s the right time to work alone and sometimes we could do with a guide or teacher
  • ​Just Google it!
  • Take the first step, reach out, and you will be amazed at the journey which will unfold for you
  • Long distance learning can be incredibly rewarding…and you always have the anticipation of the incredibly special moment when you actually get to meet in person!

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