When I began playing the cello, I was two years old. Many people don't understand how a toddler can learn to play an instrument but thanks to Dr. Suzuki, my dedicated mother (Gaye Detzer, who has now been teaching the Suzuki violin method for 40+ years!), and my first cello teacher Barbara Balatero, I eventually learned music the same way I learned to talk.
Being a cellist was a big part of my identity throughout my early education and into my high school years. I attended many Suzuki institutes, played in the Seattle Youth Symphony, and attended camps or festivals every summer (Marrowstone Music Festival, Olympic Music Festival, Indiana String Academy, ENCORE School for Strings, Music Academy of the West).
One of the most important teachers and mentors in my musical education was Richard Aaron. After taking private lessons from him in Seattle he encouraged me to continue working with him at the ENCORE School for Strings and then at the Cleveland Institute of Music for my Bachelor of Music in cello performance. In addition to being a great cello teacher, Richard has trained extensively in the Alexander technique (a method for studying body awareness) and helped me begin the life long process of learning how to move and play with relaxation and efficiency.
During my college years, it became clear to me that I wanted to play in a major orchestra and I began to focus on that goal. I began seriously taking auditions while studying with Norman Fischer at Rice University for my Master of Music and quickly realized that winning a job required an incredible ability to focus under pressure. This skill did not come easily to me but my persistence paid off when I got a tenure track position with the Kansas City Symphony. After three years there, I won a job with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra where I played for a year before moving to Saint Louis to be with my wife Emily, who is a violinist in the Saint Louis Symphony. Ever since Emily got her job in Saint Louis I dreamed of being able to play in the same orchestra together, which to my great satisfaction happened in 2010 on my fourth audition attempt.
While cello performance was my primary goal throughout this period, teaching was also very important. I taught in the preparatory departments at both the Cleveland Institute of Music and Rice University, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Suzuki program, and was an adjunct faculty member at Mercer University. In 2009 and 2010 I was asked by Richard Aaron, now a professor at the University of Michigan and the Juilliard School, to teach his studio at UM while he was away. It meant a great deal to me that my mentor felt I was up to the task of teaching one of the top groups of students in the country.
After playing with the Saint Louis Symphony for six seasons, I decided I had reached the right moment to change my priorities. Having experienced a wide range of what the music world has to offer I felt the desire to pass this knowledge on to the next generation of aspiring musicians. I revisited my Suzuki method roots by attending the Chicago Suzuki Institute for teacher training and am happy to be a part of the thriving music education community in Saint Louis.
My teaching philosophy is based firmly in the concepts of Dr. Suzuki and the continuing revelations of neuroscience on how learning takes place. Incredible talent exists in every person; it is the role of the teacher, parent, and student to cultivate our ability to learn.