What was your first impression of NEC? How has that changed since you’ve been here?
I felt intimated because the level was so high and I thought there was a serious atmosphere. Now, I feel everyone is just as serious, but it’s a small school and has a nice family atmosphere.
Tell me about your musical backstory…what got you to where you are today?
I started the violin when I was 4. Then I went to the Special Music School so I was doing music pretty seriously from a young age. When I was 11, I moved to Germany to study with Vakhar Bron because I was just so interested in his teaching and my parents were on board. I studied with him for 8 years. My interest in teachers has been what moved me, so I immediately looked at Donald Weilerstein at NEC.
What is the best thing about life as a strings major?
It’s a very supportive atmosphere within the strings and violins. There’s a competitive spirit, but only against our own playing. I don’t feel competitive against others, it’s really just pushing each other to be better against ourselves.
Who has been your favorite teacher? Why?
My studio teachers, Don Weilerstein and Soovin Kim, are both really great. Also, Peter Row. He has great liberal arts classes and is just a great guy. He brings instruments into class and plays them for us and really wants us to learn. He’s always excited to be teaching us, which is really great to find.
What makes NEC unique? Why did you choose here over other schools?
Again, being competitive against ourselves has been really great. In strings, the level is just kind of unbeatable. The familial aspect is also really great.
What is the biggest challenge you’re proud to have overcome here?
I was coming from the Russian school of violin playing, which is a very strict way of playing. My ears weren’t open to how they played here. Not only could I not do it, I couldn’t even hear it. Now, I’ve completely morphed how I play, listen, and study music. My teachers encouraged me to do what I want to do with the music, not just do what I’ve been taught.
What advice would you give to incoming students?
NEC offers you a lot of opportunity. It’s easy to feel like you should only work on your own to better yourself. Don’t not do an ensemble or class just because you have to practice another 4 hours. Everything you do here will make you a better musician.