The Downing Orchestra has excellent private teachers this year! All students are strongly encouraged to take private lessons. Once a week, students are pulled out of orchestra class to work one on one with an experienced teacher. Lessons are also available before and after school. These lessons are incredibly convenient for parents and students, and very affordable!
What are the Benefits?
In private lessons, students are able to address certain things that they may not get in a larger class. Private teachers work very closely with the Orchestra Director to give the student every advantage possible in the classroom.
Private Lesson Instructors
Originally a native of New Zealand, Miriam Oddie grew up in Boulder, Colorado. She comes from a very musical family, and began playing violin at the age of 7. While in Colorado, she played in the Colorado All State Orchestra, the Western States Honor Orchestra, and the prestigious Denver Young Artists Orchestra. At the age of 18, she enrolled at the internationally recognized Eastman School of Music on a music performance scholarship. At the Eastman school, she had the distinct privilege to study with the violists John Graham and Carol Rodland. During college, she attended multiple summer programs of very high caliber, such as the Aspen Music Festival, the Manchester Music Festival and the Castleman Quartet Program. She moved to Texas in 2011 to get her Master’s degree from the University of North Texas, where she had the incredible opportunity to study with renowned viola pedagogue Susan Dubois. For both of her two years at UNT, she was co-principal violist of the University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra. She is a contracted violist with the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra, under the direction of David Itkin. In her free time, she loves reading, running, knitting, and baking.
A native of Eastern Idaho, Rob Amberson began violin study at age 10. At 18 his debut as soloist with orchestra gained the attention of the Case-Western University faculty resulting in a summer of study with principals of the Cleveland Orchestra. He later completed B.Mus in violin performance and theory, studying under Robert Davidovici, as well as further independent violin studies with Igor Borodin. Rob has played under distinguished conductors including Yoel Levi, Louis Lane, Anshel Brusilow, John Giordano and others, often serving as principal or section leader.
Always an explorer, Rob’s style palette includes bluegrass and country, as well as blues and jazz. He is active in the DFW area as a freelance violinist, violist and fiddler. He has over 25 years experience teaching privately and in private school settings. His students have participated in metro area youth orchestras, routinely get superior marks in UIL solo competitions, and have been accepted into music programs at UNT, Hardin-Simmons and other universities. As a teacher Rob strives to remove the technical, mental and emotional barriers to musical expression to make music an enjoyable lifelong experience.
Rob and wife Karen have been married 31 years, have 3 grown daughters, and live and teach just north of Denton. When not doing music, they keep gardens, tend poultry, and care for a large retinue of other animals.
Javier Betancourt is a native of McAllen, TX, where he learned cello in the middle school orchestra program at age 10. Mr. Betancourt began his professional music career at the age of 16 with the Valley Symphony Orchestra, including solo appearances the following year with the McAllen High School Orchestra, South Texas Youth Symphony and a chamber music performance for President George W. Bush, (while Gov. of Texas). He went on to study with Eugene Osadchy at the University of North Texas (UNT). While at UNT, Mr. Betancourt performed with the Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra, Opera Orchestra, and various chamber music ensembles. He continued to perform with the Las Colinas Symphony Orchestra, Arlington Symphony, Garland Symphony, San Angelo Symphony and guest appearances with the Trans Siberian Orchestra (American Airlines Center; 2004, 2005), Sheryl Crow (Texas Stadium; 2005) Josh Groban (Smirnoff Center;2005) and tours in the Czech Republic and Slovakia (2005 and 2006). His recording experience includes solo, orchestral, opera, chamber music, rock, christian rock, R&B and country. Mr. Betancourt's performing experiences inspired him to share the joy of making music with students, through private lessons and chamber music coachings. He also has experience as a clinician working with Middle School and High School Orchestras, College level students and ensembles, cello ensembles, chamber music ensembles, and All-Region/All-State Masterclasses around the DFW Metroplex and West Texas. He currently runs his own Cello studio, serves as private cello instructor at Marcus High School & Downing Middle School in Flower Mound, TX and is a freelance musician. In his spare time, Mr. Betancourt enjoys watching sports of all kinds (especially baseball), listening to music, dabbling with different instruments like guitar, piano, electric bass, and anything to do with strings. He is working on recording all 6 of the Bach Cello suites in 3 installments starting December 2013.
Caleb grew up and resides in Double Oak, Texas and is a former student at Downing Middle and Marcus High Schools. He began playing percussion and bass at the age of 9 and has been performing professionally since the age of 16. While at Marcus, he made the Regional Orchestra in 2013 and 2014 and has received recognition for UIL solo performance in 2016. As a recent Marcus graduate, he plans to major in Secondary Music Education and recently accepted and offer to join the Flower Mound Symphony Orchestra under Esteban Rojas starting in the fall of 2106. As an experienced electric bassist and performer, he has toured nationally and recorded with Above It All, a Dallas-based alternative rock band as well as supporting a variety of pop artists from the DFW area.