I have enjoyed playing music on the viola since 1987. Before that, living in Baltimore City, I remember listening to my mother play a baby grand piano on our sun porch.
After a few months of playing a tiny viola in group string classes with Mr. Kerman at Hammond Elementary School in Laurel, Maryland, I began private lessons in the home of Gina Naples in Savage, Maryland. Very soon after starting lessons, I was accepted into the Howard County Gifted and Talented String Orchestra under the direction of Annette Schwann and Robert White -- I never forget the first time I played music with such a big group of inspired young musicians as this!
During my middle school years (ages 11 to 14), I was greatly influenced by my experiences playing percussion in the Hammond Middle School Band directed by Robert Miller and playing viola with the Maryland Junior All State Orchestra, (with Jacqueline Dillon. director).
During my high school years, I then played viola with the Hammond High School Orchestra under the direction of Judith Gill, while also participating in the wrestling team, varsity baseball team, and men’s chorus. I continued to participate in the Maryland All-State, Howard County, and Greater Baltimore Youth Orchestras (notable directors were Ann Harrigan and Paul Zdunek), while also studying chamber music at the Peabody Preparatory (with members of the Peabody Trio). Academically, I especially enjoyed world history (Mr. Burke), English literature (Ms. Bayton) and science (Ms. Sullivan).
I attended Indiana University during the 1997-1998 school year, studying a wide range of topics such as music (viola with Sarah Sutton), biology, and English literature. Then, to focus more closely on viola performance, I studied independently for two years with Peter Minkler of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
After winning auditions with merit scholarship offers from Eastman School of Music, Boston Conservatory, and Boston University in the year 2000, I decided to take a different route instead. From 2001 until 2004, I studied Environmental Science and Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park, focusing primarily on soil science, agriculture, economics, politics, and environmental education.
The world of music beckoned me back, though. I have since become a professional violist by way of this unconventional path. I think music can help individuals, families, and societies be healthy. Some other activities in which I have had profound interest recently include tai chi, meditation, agriculture and gardening, culinary and nutritional arts, philosophy and ethics, creative writing and drawing, and education.
Some music teachers I would like to thank, in order according to when they appeared in his life:
Mr. Kerman Gina Naples Annette Schwann Bob White Sherrie Norwitz
Jose Caceres Ms. Busbice Robert Miller Ms. Jennings Jaqueline Dillon
Ann Harrigan Seth Knopp Violaine Melancon Thomas Kraines Judith Gill
Paul Zdunek Sarah Sutton Mary Weir Sharon Meyer
*** Peter and Bonnie Minkler
*** A special note: Peter Minkler and Bonnie Minkler... I do not know if I would still be playing viola without the intensive musical instruction and moral support I have received from them.
Some musicians and bands which currently come to mind as having strong influence on me include:
Ani Difranco Tori Amos Bobby McFerrin Pearl Jam Flyleaf
Johann Sebastian Bach Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Antonin Dvorak
Ludwig Van Beethoven William Primrose Anner Bylsma