Violin Lessons

Searching for low-cost private music lessons for your child? Look no further; learn, improve and master violin skills with suzuki private lessons at the St. Paul JCC.



More than 1,000 students have participated in the St. Paul JCC’s Suzuki program since 1983. The Suzuki method is an educational philosophy that creates high ability and beautiful character in its students through a nurturing environment, including:

  • Immersion
  • Encouragement
  • Small Steps

Dr. Shinichi Suzuki pioneered the idea that any pre-school age child could play the violin if learning steps were small enough and the instrument fit their body. Suzuki believed that every child, if properly taught, was capable of a high level of musical achievement. Our Suzuki lessons are provided by Northern Lights School for Strings, managed by Ellen Kim. Teachers include Julia Bartsch, Susan Crawford, Ellen Kim and Laurie Petruconis.

Established in the fall of 1982 with six students, the Suzuki Violin Program at the St. Paul JCC is celebrating its 32nd year with a faculty of four teachers and over 90 students. Each year students in the program perform in both solo and group recitals throughout the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota. They have participated in two international tours to Italy, 2003 and again in 2013. Several graduates have gone on to establish themselves as highly engaged professionals – many of them as musicians – having studied at such institutions as Indiana University School of Music, UW-Madison School of Music, McGill University School of Music, and The Juilliard School.



Suzuki Teachers:

Ellen Kim is a graduate of Bowling Green State University in Ohio where she earned a double degree in Violin Performance and Music Education. She is the Founder and Director of the Northern Lights School for Violin at the Jewish Community Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, and was the recipient of the Studio Teacher of the Year Award by the Minnesota String Teachers Association in 2013. Ellen completed her Suzuki Teacher Training Units at the Greater Washington Suzuki Institute in Washington D.C., the Chicago Suzuki Institute and the American Suzuki Institute in Stevens Point, Wisconsin. She was a founding member of the Suzuki Association of Minnesota and has served as its Treasurer and President. Currently, she is the Soloist Coordinator for the annual SAM Statewide Graduation Recitals. In addition, Ellen has been instrumental in the founding and development of the highly acclaimed Chamber Music Society of Minnesota along with her husband, Artistic Director, Young-Nam Kim. All three of their children were graduates of the Suzuki program, and studied the violin.

Laurie Petruconis maintains a diverse musical career as an orchestral, opera and chamber music player and as a Suzuki violin teacher. Ms. Petruconis performs regularly with the Minnesota Orchestra and is Principal Second Violin in the Minnesota Opera Orchestra. She is on the faculty of the Northern Lights School for Violin. She received her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance from Oberlin Conservatory and her Master of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Minnesota. Her Suzuki pedagogy training came from Doris Preucil, Nancy Lokken, Sue Baer, Alice Joy Lewis and Edmund Sprunger.

Julia Bartsch has been a Suzuki violin instructor at the St. Paul Jewish Community Center for more than 25 years.  Julia holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from the University of Minnesota; and has attended Teacher Training in the Suzuki Method through level 7 at the American Suzuki Institute, Stevens Point, Wis. Julia has also taken Jazz Improvisation classes at Vandercook College of Music in Chicago. In other work, Julia was the orchestra director at Edina High School from 2003-2009 where she took her orchestras on tour to Brazil, Greece and Puerto Rico. As an active freelancer, Julia has performed with the Aurora String Quartet, Guthrie Lab and the Minneapolis Children’s Theater.

Susan Crawford is delighted to have been been teaching at the JCC in the Northern Lights School for Strings for 20 years. She also teaches at several chamber and Suzuki music festivals around the country. As an active freelancer in the Twin Cities she is a member of Minnesota Sinfonia, performs widely with many groups and has held the position of concertmaster for the Ordway Broadway Series for many years. She feeds her passion for education and performance with regular participation in music conferences and festivals. She serves on the board of the Suzuki Association of Minnesota.


For more information or to set up lessons, contact Robyn Awend, Director of Cultural Arts, at or call 651.255.4759