Donna L.

Arlington, MA


Writing, the Arts, Sciences, History, and the Life of Faith

In-person lessons

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Ohio State University
Lesley University
Boston University
Graduate Coursework


Ohio State University

Lesley University (Master's)

Boston University (Graduate Coursework)

About Donna

Lively, engaging, thorough educator seeks open, energetic, committed students with whom to work towards proficiency in their studies. In particular, I love the arts and history, as well as beginning maths and sciences. I have a strong background in teaching people of all ages the things they want and need to know, and how to use them.

I have worked with early childhood classes, taught in classrooms from the elementary to the university level, and given private music and dance instruction. I have also taught workshops on the local and national level, and created conference papers, PowerPoints and Excel charts and graphs for peer-reviewed journals and books in both the sciences and the humanities.

I continue to research, write, and present on the medieval French and American colonial liturgical arts, working with early manuscripts and colonial gravestones, among other things. I also have a strong background in elementary science and math preparation. I have taught classes and private ESL students in English, math, and citizenship studies, and have coached books and dissertations to completion as well.

I'm very good at figuring out what learning strategies work for individual students and enjoy watching them grow in their own capacity to absorb and understand new things. I will make sure you really understand the material, and I will listen to your concerns, hopes and dreams for the sessions that we share together.

I look forward to meeting and working with you!
Lively, engaging, thorough educator seeks open, energetic, committed students with whom to work towards proficiency in their studies. In particular, I love the arts and history, as well as beginning maths and sciences. I have a strong Read more

Travel Radius
Travels within 8 miles of Arlington, MA 02474
In-person lessons
Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Elementary Math, Geometry, Prealgebra, Precalculus, Trigonometry
Anatomy, Geology, Philosophy
Composition (Music),
Ear Training,
General Music, Music History,
Music Theory, Piano,
Salsa Dancing, Sight Singing,
Songwriting, Voice (Music)
Architecture, Art History, Art Theory , Ballroom Dancing, Composition (Music),
Drawing, Salsa Dancing, Theatre
Bible Studies,
English, ESL/ESOL, Grammar, Literature, Proofreading, Public Speaking, Reading, TOEFL, Vocabulary, Writing
Test Preparation:
General Computer, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Word, Oracle
ESL/ESOL, French, Latin, TOEFL
American History, Classics, European History, Geography, Government & Politics, Music History,
Religion, Social Studies, World History
Special Needs:
Elementary Education:
Elementary Math, Elementary Science, Grammar, Phonics, Reading, Spelling, Study Skills, Vocabulary
Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, Public Speaking
Ballroom Dancing, Needlework, Salsa Dancing, Sewing, Swimming, Tango

Approved subjects are in bold.

Approved subjects

In most cases, tutors gain approval in a subject by passing a proficiency exam. For some subject areas, like music and art, tutors submit written requests to demonstrate their proficiency to potential students. If a tutor is interested but not yet approved in a subject, the subject will appear in non-bold font. Tutors need to be approved in a subject prior to beginning lessons.


I have taught ballet for studios in the Col's, OH and greater Boston area for many years, most specifically in my work in liturgical dance, but also for those wishing a basic classical preparation in dance. I offer a fun, carefully developed barre with a good understanding of anatomy and dance requirements so that my students are challenged to work well without injury (I do not "press" for extreme turnout but work to increase the student's natural ability in that and other areas, for example). I have a good eye for movement and placement, working closely with students to improve turns, footwork, extensions, timing, accuracy of placement and bodily coordination.

Bible Studies

I have read and studied Hebrew and Christian Scriptures throughout my life. I have taken courses in "The Bible As Literature," developed theological statements about particular issues taken from Scriptural texts, and written on the use of particular terms for movement as sources for dance history. I have developed teaching materials for the analysis of each book of the received canon and have worked extensively from medieval uses of Scripture in the liturgical books of the 13th c. at Sens and elsewhere.

Composition (Music)

Based on many years of instruction in music theory, composition, and analysis, I can assist students with beginning to intermediate musical compositions, including short classically styled pieces, as well as popular and jazz-based works. I can help students generate motifs and plan the narrative shape of the piece; teach formal structures as options for organizing the work; and trouble-shoot solutions for chords, melodic lines, and phrasing that may need more delineation or nuanced work. Spontaneous work is a starting place from which to generate ideas, then communicative pieces are developed from such spontaneous products, using the disciplines of creative musicianship, including careful listening, revision, and inviting others' input. The final work will have the composer's own legible speaking voice; will have both a well-considered shape, and content; and will be satisfying to its hearers.

Ear Training

I have taught and performed as a musician since completing high school. I have had ear training myself in high school and college and continue to use the analytic techniques learned in those courses in my teaching and performing since then to the present. I work with my students to be sure they can identify chord qualities, intervals, scale types and chord progressions, even in very rudimentary ways for children, and in more developed ways for adults.


I teach beginning flute up through 2-3 years of work, to prepare students for more focused classical work with a professional teacher, or to do ongoing work in a less structured way for those who simply wish to enjoy playing. I work to develop a good embouchure, to prevent tension in the neck and shoulders, and to develop good finger facility and an effective stance while playing. I have a strong background in both classical and popular music, so I can help students preparing pieces for competition, or for enjoyment, always seeking to make the competitive work enjoyable and the work done for pleasure reliably good as well.

Music History

In addition to my undergraduate and graduate coursework, I research, write on, and give conference presentations on medieval French liturgical works. I teach, perform, and study music of many different periods and sources, looking at the background of the composer, the theoretical and expressive interests of the composers and performers of the period in which they were writing: I require my students to do the same. I have an extensive collection of teaching tapes from around the world, and I help students to hear the differences in the types of music from these places and periods--including rhythmic, tonal, and organizational forms of the works to be studied-- to be able to compare and contrast such works, and to listen to, discuss, and play them with the insights gained from their theoretical and aural analyses.


I accept beginning piano students, up through 3-4 years of study (if they wish to pursue classical piano), or for longer (if they wish to pursue the broader and more popular world of piano literature at large). I focus on hand and finger placement, technical dexterity and the nuances of touch and weight in the hand as those skills enhance expressivity and dynamic fluency. I select repertoire suited to the student's goals and level of ability, with a mind to moving their study forward in whatever literature interests them, while maintaining high performance standards. I teach basic theory with every lesson, so that even early students begin to be able to analyze the chords underlying the pieces they are studying, and to know how the melody is moving (motifs in sequence; RH and LH lines in parallel or in opposition; using scalar 'steps' or arpeggiated 'skips' etc.) I help students appreciate music from various sources, and play it well, whether or not it is the music they want to focus on, so that they receive a well-rounded exposure to various styles and periods of work. We begin a lesson with scales and a speed drill, which are graded and increase in difficulty throughout the time we work together. We then work, either out of a method book or from sheet music, or both, on 2 or 3 pieces that are graded so as to provide challenges, yet also yield the final, satisfying experience of being able to play them well. I seek to develop intentional musicianship in my students, so that they can both 'stand alone' in their playing, and play with others (either myself, a parent or a sibling), and I encourage the memorization of works already completed so as to develop a repertoire of pieces to be played easily on request by others.

Sight Singing

I have relative (but not perfect) recognition of pitch; I have taught others to learn and improve their sense of pitch recognition and its use in reading and following notational conventions in Western common-practice-period music. Having been instructed in this work in undergraduate and graduate courses, and putting it to use in teaching and performance ever since, I can teach sightsinging using either the "fixed" or "moveable 'do'" systems, or I can work more casually to teach tone recognition and accurate tone production for students with a less classical background in music. I teach good basic vocal production, while helping students find applications for their increasing capacity for accurate sightsinging in their broader study and performance of music.


I have taught on theater history, performed and coached performers in theatrical works, and discovered and written on a French medieval liturgical play, Based on undergraduate and graduate coursework in costuming, stagecraft, directing, and theater history, I can assist students who are studying the craft and the science of theatrical productions from the earliest known classical dramas to the present. I have strong command of the use of language onstage, including the use of the voice and body to communicate character, and I have taught these skills to others in a variety of settings, as a director or teacher. I can assist students with the analysis of playscripts, investigation into characters and plot devices, and in imagining and designing the mis-en-scene as well as costumes and basic lighting schemes. Having performed in musical theater as well as straight plays, and having danced as well as sung in such works, I can help students to understand the ways the performative arts work together to create a temporary "world" onstage. Having written critcally for local journals on area performances, I can also help students understand and discuss the theory of criticism and aesthetic analysis as those areas of study have developed in the more recent past.

Voice (Music)

I sing professionally and I have been trained by very careful teachers, whose work I seek to pass along. I begin warmups with full-body movement so that stance is good, tone production is properly supported and the coordinated bodily work required in singing is prepared for properly. I can assist those wishing to do popular or classical works equally well; I should point out that I am not a teacher of the "belting" style used onstage, or the "American Idol" type of work that is seen on TV.

Ohio State University
Lesley University
Boston University
Graduate Coursework


Ohio State University

Lesley University (Master's)

Boston University (Graduate Coursework)

Hourly rate

Standard Hourly Rate: $60.00

Travel policy

Donna will travel within 8 miles of Arlington, MA 02474.