I remember the exact moment I first heard the viola. I was in fifth grade, and I was sitting in the elementary school auditorium listening to our new music teachers demonstrate various instruments for us to choose from. My best friend and I chose the viola because of its luscious sound, and because it was “different” from the violin. I also remember the first time we were allowed to take our instruments home: I spent the entire afternoon figuring out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” It was tough, but I persevered, buoyed by my excitement and determination.
In the ensuing years the viola became a constant companion. No matter what was going on in my life, music was there for me, a place for me to work through my feelings, where I always felt understood. During college at Brown University, I decided to pursue performance full time, which led to a Master’s degree in Viola Performance from SUNY Purchase and my subsequent career as a freelancer and recitalist. Shifting my focus from academics to performance wasn't easy, but it has been tremendously rewarding.
All along, my greatest teachers were the ones who recognized how much I had to say through my music, and helped me remove the obstacles to expressing myself with clarity and conviction. They knew how to balance being challenging and nurturing in order to call forth my natural desire to play my best. And they gave me a solid and reliable technical foundation on which to build my artistry.
Besides traditional instrumental teaching, numerous other practices have greatly aided my ongoing musical growth. The Alexander Technique has helped me get more grounded in my body, giving me greater control and freedom, and most of all a sense of healthy body mechanics that prevents injury and overuse. Mindfulness meditation and the Art of Practicing have given me tools to manage performance anxiety and connect with my deepest desire as a performer—to give generously to my audience. And the Lucid Body technique has expanded my emotional range and dynamism as an artist, freeing me to communicate with greater creativity and less inhibition.
Through my involvement with music I’ve learned about discipline, perseverance, and integrity. I’ve enjoyed deep and joyful friendships and experiences. And I’ve learned to appreciate the value of who I am and what I have to share, and to recognize this value in all of my students and everyone I meet. It is my solid conviction that the study of music presents enormous opportunities for personal growth and courageous engagement with life. I aspire to pass on these opportunities to my students: regardless of their background or ultimate aim as musicians, the insights they will gain through the challenges they face will light up their world.