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Teacher Spotlight on Elizabeth Anderson, cello

 

Interview by Erin Cano, violin

 


Elizabeth Anderson joined MIC as a Suzuki cello teacher in 2017.


 

What led you to become a Suzuki teacher? 

I’ve had an interest in teaching ever since I myself was a student. It is a way to pass on to others the musical training that has had a profound influence on my life, it helps me to think about and analyze my own playing and music-making, and it is a path toward continued personal growth. 

I was a performance major in college and graduate school, and I came to Chicago for the playing opportunities available in this large freelance market. At the beginning, teaching was mostly a way to provide steady income, and I found it to be unsatisfying. While teaching at an institution with a strong emphasis on social change, I met a young cellist and his mother who volunteered as practice assistants for students in the program from the Chicago Housing Authority. The young volunteer was a student in Tanya Carey’s Suzuki program, and he and his mother were an amazingly efficient practice team. I began quizzing them about their working methods. I  realized that having an actively involved, informed parent made all the difference in how a student progressed, and that the method this young man was learning was very well organized and effective. I started Suzuki teacher training with Tanya Carey immediately, and my experience of teaching was changed for good.

 

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

Janos Starker was a huge inspiration because of his long career as a concert artist, his virtuosity, and his command of the cello repertoire. Nothing in his playing or teaching was left to guesswork. He had analyzed all aspects of making music on the cello, and I hope that I’ve integrated that problem-solving approach into my own teaching style.

 

What is your favorite Suzuki piece to teach? 

A fun and satisfying piece to teach is “Scherzo.” Students love its virtuoso style. The groundwork for the technique is laid in Book 1, so it gets learned pretty quickly, and gives the student a sense of achievement. 

 

You have performed in the cello sections of many orchestras in the Chicago area. What is one of your most memorable performances? 

For the past 15 years, I’ve played in the orchestra for a production called “Too Hot to Handel” at the Auditorium Theatre. The music is Handel’s Messiah, reimagined in jazz and gospel arrangements. The arrangements are great, the vocal and instrumental soloists are fantastic, the venue is a treasure, and there is a spirit of joyous music-making that is different from every other concert I play. I look forward to it every year, and it never disappoints.

 

Do you have any upcoming projects or performances, about which you would like to share some information? 

I have performed several times in Zürich, with a group of Swiss musicians called News from Penguin Mountain. The group’s music defies easy description, but very broadly, we play contemporary folk-influenced compositions, arranged for a quintet of violin, clarinet, accordion, cello and piano. We recently made a recording entitled Southern Jukebox Music. We are in the process of searching for a distribution label, and then I’ll be returning to Switzerland to perform again with the group. 

ILMEA Auditions Workshop with Quintet Attacca
Free Virtual Audition Workshops for ILMEA with Quintet Attacca

Open to all woodwind, brass, and percussion students!