Our Opus 1 students study with internationally recognized faculty who were once students themselves and have undergone a lifetime of lessons, practicing, and hard work. But it's not always serious - comical moments pop up that can bring a laugh to an often intense lesson or performance. Our violin teacher, Dr. Stella, shared a few comical memories from her time as a student, professional musician, and teacher.
Can you share a memory you have of one of your teachers that would seem bizarre to your students today?
"My very first violin teacher was a wonderful older lady, who sat behind a majestic desk, on which there was an old fashioned dial up phone.
During my hour-long lesson, while I was playing, she would always have elaborate conversations with her friends and family, only occasionally to shout out a direction at me. While playing my violin pieces for her, I'd hear her shouting on the phone, 'Chicken? No! How about meatloaf tonight and chicken tomorrow?!' then she'd yell at me, ' Wrong note! It's C# and STACCATO!! PLEASE!!" I'd go back to playing the violin and she'd go back to her phone calls."
What's something funny that happened to you when performing?
"One summer I was performing a funny show with the Ohio Light Opera called Mikado. There were many beautiful arias and duets and the orchestra enjoyed performing with the opera singers. We performed it more than 20 times, sometimes even twice a day! At one of the last shows, a singer forgot his line, and was trying to recover....then from right next to me in the orchestra pit, my very good viola friend started singing the line for him. The singer “got the clue” and continued triumphantly!"
How has having experienced this humor in your life affected your overall experience as a musician and teacher?
"While performing, I focus on the joy and the spontaneity that we experience in our every-day moments, which comes from the interaction with on-the-spot music making. In teaching, I add humor and tell my students stories, with the hopes that they can approach music learning with a light heart and delight."
What's the funniest moment you've had at one of your student's lessons?
"One of my very talented students was holding lots of tension in his face and playing for a long time without taking a breath. I jokingly suggested that he should chew bubble gum while playing. The following lesson he came prepared - he had a double stack of bubble gum, chewing proudly and loudly while he played. I immediately wanted to say, 'let’s put the bubble gum in the trash' when I remembered that it was me who suggested it in the first place! So I thought to myself, 'well, this is what you asked for....' and continued the lesson with him chewing away."