Clayton Tillotson
Madison, WI
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Clayton Tillotson

Clayton T.

Madison, WI
Profile-background-check Background Check
This teacher successfully passed a thorough criminal background check with SterlingBackcheck. This badge verifies trusted teacher status.
Teaching Locations:
Profile-location-online Online
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio
Teaching Locations:
Profile-location-online Online
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio
Levels taught:
Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced
With over 20 years of experience, I've helped students of all levels become efficient problem solvers, develop comfort and ease in playing, and express their musicality. My students grow to be well-rounded musicians with the curiosity and skills to be lifelong learners and music lovers.

About Clayton T.

I love teaching violin because the quest for progress and creativity is so delightfully contagious. I remember feeling excited by new possibilities after lessons with my teachers growing up, and I still feel that way after I teach my own students today. My students and I work together to identify long and short-term goals and clear pathways forward. We’ll determine your current level and find appropriate material and practice strategies to nurture and cultivate your development. I often help my students as they prepare for important events like recitals, orchestra auditions, concerto competitions, summer festivals, master classes, public radio performances, and college auditions.

Many of the ideas I teach stem from my studies with Paul Kantor and David Perry, both of whom are distinguished performers and university professors who studied at The Juilliard School with Dorothy DeLay, one of the most important figures in modern violin pedagogy. Other influences find their way into my lessons through the ideas of venerable teachers such as Ivan Galamian and his profoundly influential "Principles of Violin Playing and Teaching"; John Kendall, who played a vital role in bringing the Suzuki Method to the United States; Simon Fischer, the brilliant teacher and prolific author; and many others.

I guide my students through standard violin repertoire including: Suzuki books 1-8, selections from Solos for Young Violinists compiled by Barbara Barber; concertos by Mozart, Kabelevsky, de Beriot, Bruch, Mendelssohn, Barber, Saint-Saëns, Vieuxtemps, Lalo, Sibelius, Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, Brahms, Prokofiev and Shostakovich; concert pieces pieces by Kreisler, Dvořák, Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Sarasate, Wieniawski, Ysayë, and Paganini; the Sonatas and Partitas by J.S. Bach; Sonatas by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, Debussy, Fauré, Franck, Ravel, and Schubert; etudes by Sevcik, Schradieck, Dounis, Wohlfahrt, Kreutzer, Dont, Fiorillo, and Rode; standard orchestral excerpts, as well as scales and arpeggios.

Other topics I frequently discuss with students include: tone production, intonation, rhythm, phrasing, ear training, music theory, body efficiency, reducing tension, stretching and warming up, finding a balanced left hand frame, developing a natural bow hold, bow arm basics and bow direction, string crossings, articulations, shifting, vibrato, visual feedback and practicing with a mirror, breathing exercises, memorization and mental practice, collaborating with pianists, giving cues in ensembles, instrument maintenance, and what to look for when shopping for new instruments.

*COVID-19 update: I am fully vaccinated and am beginning to offer in-person lessons again. I'm still wearing masks with unvaccinated students, but am comfortable working without masks once a student is fully vaccinated.


Write a Review
4 Reviews
Profile-location-online Online

Clayton is a fun, kind and engaging teacher. My son had a great experience with him this year and absolutely loved Clayton’s class. He learned a lot, from being more musical to practice techniques that will serve well in the future.

Posted May 24, 2021
Profile-location-online Online

Clayton is a great teacher who puts an emphasis on fundamentals and long-term safe Violin playing. I've found his teaching to be invaluable. He provides information and exercises that are useful at all levels of playing.

Posted Apr 28, 2021
Profile-location-studio Teacher's Studio

Clayton is one of the best violinists I know! To learn from him is to learn from an absolute pro. He is patient, detail oriented, and fun to work with. He is a great violin teacher and I have learned so much from him!

Posted Apr 15, 2021
Profile-location-online Online

Clayton is a great violin teacher! His students absolutely love him.

Posted Apr 15, 2021

Photos & Videos

9 Photos & Videos


Violin Teacher and Chamber Music Coach
Sep 2014 - Present

Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras

•Develop curriculum and teach weekly virtual violin class for intermediate and advanced students featuring solo performances with feedback, technique lessons, and guidance on orchestral excerpts. •Coach middle and high school students in weekly chamber music rehearsals. •Panelist for “The Art of Practice” virtual lecture series, 2021. •Lead elementary, middle, and high school students in orchestral violin sectionals.

Private Violin Teacher
Sep 2009 - Present

Violin Studio

•Teach personal studio of private violin students of all ages and levels. •Teach private lessons to middle school students through the Madison Metropolitan School District and Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District. •Taught private lessons through the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Community Music Lessons program. •Taught private lessons through the Aspen Music Festival's PALS program.

Orchestral Violinist
Sep 2007 - Present

Various professional orchestras including:

Madison Symphony Orchestra, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Iowa, Dubuque Symphony Orchestra, Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Aspen Chamber Symphony, Aspen Festival Orchestra

Graduate Fellowship: Hunt String Quartet
Sep 2014 - May 2016

University of Wisconsin-Madison

•Taught K-3 classrooms musical topics such as Melody, Rhythm, Form, and Expression and gave 50 performances in Dane County schools as part of the Madison Symphony Orchestra’s nationally recognized Up Close & Musical® program. •Lectured and performed in UW-Madison’s popular Music in Performance course for non-music majors. •Performed in master classes for the Takács and St. Lawrence string quartets. •Performed live on Wisconsin Public Radio’s The Midday with Norman Gilliland.

Master Classes
Sep 2011 - May 2016

Performed for:

Ida Kavafian, Almita Vamos, Leon Fleisher, Jennifer Koh, Victor Danchenko, Soovin Kim, Timothy Ying, Takàcs Quartet, Tokyo String Quartet, St. Lawrence String Quartet, Fauré Quartett


Master of Music — Violin Performance
Sep 2014 - May 2016

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Artist Diploma — Violin Performance
Sep 2011 - May 2013

The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory

Bachelor of Music — Violin Performance
Sep 2007 - May 2011

University of Wisconsin-Madison



Fluent / Native Proficiency


Suzuki Association of the Americas
Apr 2021
The Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA) is a coalition of teachers, parents, educators, and others who are interested in making music education available to all children. The SAA provides programs and services to members throughout North and South America.

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