Circuit Rider Program
Wendy Gillespie on a Circuit Ride in Flo

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Circuit Rider program will not be accepting or considering applications until further notice. Questions should be addressed to the chair of the Circuit Rider Committee (contact info below). In the meantime, you may apply for the Private Lesson Subsidy Program.

In 2008 the VdGSA initiated the "Circuit Rider Program" to provide support to communities that do not have a local viol teacher and wish to set up an ongoing relationship with a viol teacher. The purpose of the program is to provide an opportunity for players in such communities to have ongoing lessons that will give direction to practice time and help set goals.

"...participation in the Circuit Rider Program with Viols Houston has engendered a strong sense of community and family among us, enabled us to coalesce as a viol community, and has emboldened us to tackle ambitious projects..." Brady Lanier

The Circuit Rider program has expanded to include both 2- and 4-visit Circuits within the calendar year. The Full Circuit consists of 4 visits completed between January and December. The Half Circuit consists of 2 visits to be completed within 6 months, and is offered on a one-time basis as an enticement for new groups to try out the program and hopefully get ready for a Full Circuit the next year.

The application deadline for the Circuit Rider program is October 15 of each year with award decisions announced by November 1. The contact person must be a VdGSA member in good standing. See below for full information, including the "piggy-back option" (for a group close enough to an established Circuit to be able to offer their teacher another partial Circuit with coordinated dates).

Contact the Circuit Rider Coordinator, Isabel Hendry for more information.

Program Guidelines:

Consult with other local players and assemble a group interested in having lessons and willing to make either,

  • a one-year commitment to the program for a Full Circuit of 4 visits, or

  • a six-month commitment for a Half Circuit of 2 visits (The Half Circuit is a one-time only, introductory option to the Full Circuit Rider program)


You are advised to have one person in charge of organizing the finances in advance to guarantee the success of the program. This can be done in a number of ways. Here are two examples of successful programs that may be used as a model.


Next steps:​

  • Select a teacher from the list of participating teachers below and contact that teacher directly. Our teachers list includes airports nearest to them so that you can factor in the travel costs.

  • Contact the teacher and set up a schedule of 2 (Half Circuit) or 4 (Full Circuit) visits to take place before the end of the calendar year.

  • Agree to guarantee a minimum of 10 hours of teaching at a rate of US$50*/hour for each 2-day visit; this time could be used for private lessons, group coaching, master classes, and/or beginner sessions. (Note: Your group may decide to divvy the payments up as they see fit, but must provide the teacher with a minimum $500* per visit.)

  • Arrange to provide local transportation as needed, housing, and food for the Circuit Rider teacher during each visit. The Circuit Rider teacher’s airfare, taxis, shuttles, and if possible, rental car, can all be included in the travel budget, as long as the total falls within the $500 per trip allowance.

  • Additional funds are available for a second area to "piggy-back" onto a pre-existing Circuit if it is within reasonable traveling distance from the target area listed above. This is a good arrangement for groups not large enough to support a full ten hours of teaching, but interested in benefiting from a teacher already traveling. The piggy-back group must guarantee 5 hours of teaching (a minimum of $250) and may apply for a travel stipend up to $125 per visit ($500 for 4 visits) to cover the additional travel expense between areas. Circuit Rider applicants, both principal and piggy-back, should fill out the application form separately. It is the piggy-back group's responsibility to coordinate with the principal group on details. The terms of the Circuit Rider funding are the same for both groups.


*Canadian applicants may submit a request with their application for a subsidy to cover the difference between CA$50 and US$50 (use the "comments" section of the application for this).

Here's what you'll get from the program:
  • Full Circuit: A stipend of up to $2000 for 4 visits/year ($500/visit) to cover the Circuit Rider's long-distance travel; OR

  • Half Circuit: A stipend of up to $1000 for 2 visits/6 months ($500/visit) to cover the Circuit Rider's long-distance travel.

  • Travel stipends are paid directly to the teacher by the VdGSA.

  • Additional funds are available for communities that can "piggy-back" their visits so that the teacher can make one multi-destination trip.

  • Continuity: four (or two) personalized lessons from the same teacher with time to practice in between.

  • Coaching for any size or level of group, on music chosen by you or provided by your instructor.

  • A choice of teachers who are committed to the goals of the program.

  • A special hourly rate below the national average. Because of the Circuit Riders’ generosity and desire to reach as many interested players as they can, the teaching rate for a Circuit is discounted by the teacher and set at only $50 per hour.


Circuit Rider Teachers:

You must choose a teacher from amongst the VdGSA teaching members who have agreed to participate in the program. To browse the list of participating teachers and read about them, please visit the Circuit Rider teachers page.

How to apply

Please download and fill out the application form and return to the Circuit Rider Coordinator, Isabel Hendry:

By email

To mail a hard copy, find her address in the Membership Directory

Deadline: The deadline for applications for each calendar year is October 15 of the previous year.

For information about applications or general information about the Circuit Rider Program, contact Coordinator Isabel Hendry.