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Teacher Spotlight on Karin Addis, Suzuki violin & viola

Interview by Erin Cano, violin

Karin joined MIC as a Suzuki violin and viola instructor in 2012.


What led you to become a Suzuki teacher? 

I've always loved teaching and working with kids. Having started within a Suzuki program when I was young (if not fully a Suzuki student myself), Suzuki training was a logical step when I started to look for teaching opportunities in Chicago. I love the level of involvement of the parents. I also like that within a common curriculum and the Suzuki Program at MIC, I have the freedom to work with students at their own pace and tailor my approach to their personalities.


Which of your teachers inspired you the most? What aspects of their teaching have you integrated into your own style?

All of them, in one way or another!  One of the things that always amazed me from a teaching point of view about Kim Kashkashian was how she could address something in so many different ways, until she found the angle and words that clicked with the student in front of her.  I try to draw on that any time I’m not making sense to a student; how can I say it differently or come at the fix from a different place? I continue to learn a lot about my own playing with that approach as well.  Bill Preucil Sr., from whom I've been so lucky to be able to take teacher training as a grown-up, still inspires the character and imagery for me in music.  


What was your favorite Suzuki piece to play when you were a young student? 

The Suzuki viola books were not published when I was beginning, so my repertoire was a mix of some pieces that made it into the books and others that did not, either by choice or for copyright reasons.  In the earlier books, Humoresque is one of my favorites to play and to teach. It provides an opportunity to explore characters in the music, and I always picture my teacher, Betsy Stuen-Walker, leading it in group class.  The Marais Four French Dances were always fun, although “La Musette”, which was my favorite because of its great C-string drone, didn't make it in to the Suzuki books.  


You’ve performed in numerous orchestras around the country. What is one of your favorite performance experiences? 

There are so many!  Otello and Don Carlos with Sarasota Opera were highlights.  Playing in the orchestra for the Star Wars in Concert Tour was a great experience. The orchestra was terrific, and it's not every day an orchestral violist plays for an arena full of fans screaming enthusiastically.  I also enjoyed playing Messiaen's Des canyons aux étoiles... at Tanglewood, which introduced me to Messiaen's music.   

What’s on your listening list right now? 

Always in the mix are Beethoven string quartets, Bach keyboard works, and an opera or two.  Recently I've been listening to Vijay Iyer.  

Teacher Spotlight on Aubrey Faith-Slaker, piano
Teacher Spotlight on Aubrey Faith-Slaker, piano

"Hiding a Nancy Drew mystery book in the piano bench while keeping one eye on the front room window so I could go back to practicing when my mom drove up was NOT effective practicing."