Lafayette Cello Academy  - Company Message

Our Teachers,
 Lessons, Classes, Workshops and Recitals
 Founded in 2006, we were the first Cello Academy in Northern California!

Free initial consultation/lesson offered to all students

Comfortable, quiet academy atmosphere great for concentrated learning

We specialize in beginning cello but teach all ages and levels

**Free bi-monthly workshops with piano accompaniment including chamber ensembles

Two (2) recitals per year at Saint Mary's College in
Moraga, CA.

Weekly Adult Group Cello Appreciation Classes

**Special 8 week summer program for 4th and 5th graders

**Drop-In lessons for Adults and finals or audition preparation for High School students

 LCA has reasonable rates with no registration fees

  Open for lessons 50 weeks during the year
Our flex-schedule will work around yours during holidays and summer to allow for vacations without missing lessons

Highly recommended teachers and performers since 1983



Adults can begin cello at any age and their success will be based on their ability to keep practicing and enjoying playing. 

For children, starting at the right age is a key element to the success of their lessons.  So at the Lafayette Cello Academy 6 years old or a 1st grader, is the youngest that we recommend starting a child in private lessons.  Sometime there are exceptions, but at this age they have developed longer attention spans, can retain material with ease and have good control over the manual dexterity needed in their arms, hands and fingers to play.  



   Dawn Foster-Dodson 
 Professional Cellist
Dawn Foster-Dodson, is a highly recommended cello teacher, performer and creator of the famed "Vibrato Doctor Course" with over 40 years professional experience.  She is passionate about her work, an attitude that's sure to spread to any of her students of all ages and levels.  Dawn was born and raised in Lafayette. She received her B.M. degree in music performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1982. Since 1982 she has performed as a soloist on most of the Major concert series in the Bay Area. She was frequently the Principle Cellist at the Best of Broadway theatrical productions at the Orpheum, Curran, and Golden Gate Theaters in San Francisco on plays such as "Phantom of the Opera", The King and I", Miss Saigon", "Jekle and Hyde", "Peter Pan", "Scarlet Pimpernel", " "Sound of Music", "Rag Time", "Fiddler on The Roof", "Kiss Me Kate", "Les Miserables" and "White Christmas".  She has also acted as Principal Cellist with the San Diego Chamber Orchestra, Reno Philharmonic, Fresno Philharmonic and the California Symphony.  For 27 years she played with the San Jose Symphony and then the Silicon Valley Symphony and is currently a member of the California Symphony, the MidSummer Mozart Festival Orchestra and has freelanced with most of the other Bay Area Orchestras.  Dawn has been concerto soloist with the San Francisco Concert Orchestra, Oakland Youth Orchestra and she premiered the "Concerto No. 1 Scenes from the Wildwood" which was written for her and the Los Angeles African American Chamber Orchestra by Josephine Saunders Herbison. 
She has also played with many of the world's favorite artists including Pavarotti, Marion Anderson, YoYo Ma, Andre Watts, Jon Nakamatsu, Mercedes Ellington, Ray Charles, Liza Minelli, Stevie Wonder, George Benson, Al Jarreau, Ben Vereen, Rod Stewart, Johnny Mathis, Smokey Robinson and others.  
She has recorded with the San Jose Symphony, Midsummer Mozart Festival Orchestra, done independent recordings at SkyWalker Ranch and has recorded her own CD entitled "Dawn Plays" Kol Nidrei released in 2003.
 She began teaching private students in the early 1980's.  From 2007-2012 Dawn was the LPIE assistant strings coach at all 4 of the Lafayette elementary schools.  She is currently a Performing Arts Department faculty member at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, teaching chamber ensembles and private cello lessons. Dawn is also the Director of the Faculty Chamber Sunday's Series at Saint Mary's she started in 2013.  Dawn was proclaimed "The Vibrato Doctor" for a tutorial course she created and teaches to improve Vibrato technique.

Dawn Foster-Dodson

"Mrs. Foster-Dodson is as professional and competent a teacher, or even more so, as any professor I have witnessed during my tenures as a member of the chamber music faculties at Mills College, the University of California Berkeley and California State University Hayward."
NATHAN RUBIN (independent assessor of music teachers, Saint Mary's College)

"Wonderful!......she is a true artist"
PAUL TORTELIER (world - renowned cellist)

"Dear Mrs. Foster-Dodson,  Thank you so much for teaching me!  I really learned a lot about cello!  It was such a pleasure and I will really miss you!  I am going to keep doing cello when I go back to Korea too!  You were so nice and really helpful!  I learned a lot of songs from you and those were the songs I wanted to learn!  Again, thank you and I'll miss you!"   Sincerely, Sarah Park (6 years old)

"Thank you for another great year" .....  Ardice

".....gratitude is due to Dawn Foster-Dodson for her teaching and encouragement at a time when I still was playing little cellos. " 
Matthew Kuan Johnson 

"You should know that the cello remains my true love.  Guitar and piano, sure, but Nobody will ever replace my love for the cello.  Your teaching methods, kindness and giving soul will always be with me.  I've been wanting to write this for years because I have never forgotten you.  Your website underscores your accomplishments:  I, as your former student, am not at all surprised to see how LCA has developed".    Siobhan Devin

"The boys performed for the orchestra today, and you should be so prowd.  When they finished they achieved that magic moment when no one wants to start the applause!  Brava!  Thanks so much for being a part of the fun! 
Loretta McNulty, Orchestra Director at Stanley Intermediate School

   Thank you so much for putting so much into my music.  You truly have brought it to life.  Your cello lessons and your musicality have taught me so much.  I hope we can work together in the future.  Thank you. 
Luke Riches, (2013 graduate cello and composition student at SMC) 
                                   "Mrs. Foster-Dodson is an exceptional cello teacher and performer.  She is especially kind and patient with young beginners.  She has inspired my 9 year old son to love to play cello.  Under Mrs. Foster-Dodson's instruction, my son was able to make huge improvements since he started taking lessons  from her at the Lafayette Cello Academy two years ago.  I greatly appreciate Mrs. Foster-Dodson's dedication and passion for teaching cello."  
              Amy Zheng, mother of student Peter Zheng 

I took cello lessons from Mrs. Dawn Foster-Dodson for 6 years and it has been a great experience.  She has taught me so much about music and the cello.  She is always very knowledgeable and helpful.  Her passion for cello always shines through her teaching and playing.  Her passion always inspired me to try my best to become a better cellist.  Through her passion I was able to see the value and beauty of the cello.  One of the many lessons I learned from cello is perseverance.  Mrs. Dawn Foster-Dodson would always encourage me even when I got frustrated and she made me laugh.  In addition, she taught me the value of collaboration.  I played lots of chamber music with her which was always fun and she taught me how to work with others to create music.  Mrs. Dawn Foster-Dodson gave me an appreciation for music that can never be lost.  
                                  Cristina DeMattos 

                        ABOUT OUR CLASSES

Beginning students entering 1st grade or higher,  Intermediate and Advanced students are also invited to come to the Lafayette Cello Academy to take advantage of the following classes:

 The *starred classes above are open to other instrumentalists as well as cellists.
All classes are targeted to help develop good technique and sound, as well as true musical understanding and interpretive skills.  During each lesson students receive instruction in music theory, scales and arppegios, foundation studies, duets and solo pieces to have fun playing with expression and style.  We also make it a priority to work on each students orchestral literature so they can play at their best in school and youth orchestra.

We specialize in beginning cello students.  Our Director Mrs. Foster-Dodson has helped hundreds of 4th and 5th grade students to start playing their instrument in all 4 of Lafayette's elementary schools, as the assistant strings class teacher from 2007 - 2013. She has also been teaching privately since the early 1980's.  

**We offer a special 8 week summer program for youths going into 4th or 5th grades to prepare them and keep them practicing for the following semester's school string programsStudents can also use these lessons like an AP course, to go beyond what's being taught in school and further their development.

**LCA also offers drop-in lessons for Adults.  We also offer high school and college students drop-in lessons to prepare pieces for finals in school, or audition material for orchestras.  Over the years, we have prepared many cellists who were accepted in to several orchestras in the area including: Berkeley Youth Orchestra, Oakland Youth Orchestra, Walnut Creek Performing Arts Orchestra, Youth Orchestra Of Southern Alameda County and Young Peoples Symphony Orchestra.

There will be no scheduled lessons on the following Holidays: Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Christmas and New Years Day.

The Academy offers private weekly lessons and The Vibrato Doctor Course all year 'round, so please Click on our CONTACT  US page to fill out the brief information form and someone will contact you promptly.
We look forward to meeting you and to provide you with the means to make beautiful music! 



 **Workshops are a great tool used to give students the opportunity to conquer any fear they might have of performing in public, the opportunity to work out the bugs everyone has when learning new repertoire, the opportunity to work on solo pieces with piano accompaniment, the opportunity to get to know other peers in the academy, the opportunity to think critically, make and hear constructive comments and accept and learn from comments given by their teacher and peers.  It's also an opportunity for them to have fun playing chamber music with others in the class and to perform for their friends and family to display the skills they've learned throughout the year

All "Contracted Weekly Students" are required to participate in the bi-annual class recitals.  Workshops are not a requirement but you must participate in the workshops in order to be included in a chamber music group.  Most students do participate in the workshops and the recitals.
 However, you are only required to sign up for the dress rehearsals and recitals.

Students outside of the Academy are welcome with special permission from our Director to participate in our workshops and recital programs if there is space.  Click on the CONTACT US page to find out about workshop/recital class availability.

The workshops take place at the LCA on Thursday nights at 7:30pm for the Adult workshops and there are 2 separate workshops on Sundays at 3:45pm for the Young Musicians through 8th grade then at 6:30pm for High School age.

Workshops usually begin in October (TBA) and again in April (TBA). 

Recitals are held twice per year in December and again in June  in the "Orinda" room inside the Soda Center Building at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California. The Academy has 3 separate class recitals: 1 for Young Musicians, High School and Adults.


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