My musical road began at an early age with the sound of a stereo. My parents love music and had an extensive record collection that rotated through my ears constantly. I remember my mom, Maurna, clapping to the rhythms with me and before long I was strumming a guitar and banging on a piano. My father plays those instruments and he helped teach me the basics before I started going to different teachers. Ahhh, teachers!! I've been blessed to spend many hours, days, and years with all kinds of teachers; some transcendent, some inept, but all of them are responsible for how I hear and think about music to this day.
I remember sitting at the piano and my mom would throw visual images at me: Thunderstorm, angry bees, a rainbow; and I would try to sonically describe each term. That was extremely valuable for me and I still think in colors and imagery when I'm improvising and writing songs.
The violin came into my life when I was 10 years old. The local public music school director would go around to the elementary schools and bring clarinets, trumpets, cellos, violins, flutes, and more. I naturally gravitated to the violin. I can't really explain it. I never tried it before; didn't have a friend who played; I don't know! Maybe I liked the way it looked or that you got to hold two things and one kinda looked like a sword?
I took lessons for awhile but decided to let it go when I started to dread going to my violin lesson. My teacher was quite capable but we weren't jiving that well together. Mom and Dad were adamant that I only play music if I wanted to and didn't force me to practice. I continued to play a little bit of guitar but let the violin go for a few years.
Sophmore year of high-school was spent in Israel. I went to an American program within an Israeli school in a little town called Pardes Hanna. It was an amazing experience that allowed me a freedom of spirit which has stayed with me to this day.
Upon my return to California (and Junior year of high-school) I had to make an important decision: Auto shop, band, or orchestra?
I had a violin and saw this as a good opportunity to reconnect with music. The orchestra was at a high level and I sat in the back of the second violins and tried to keep up! Halfway through the year, the conductor introduced me to a violin teacher who really got me started again. After about a year I started to study with his teacher who was one of the leading pedagogues in the Bay Area, Serban Rusu. It is with him that I really started to practice and play concerts.
When I was 20 I was involved in a terrible car crash. A car I was driving was hit at 90 mph by some men fleeing the police in a shootout/chase scene out of a movie. They went up the wrong way on a one-way street and ran a red light into my door. Thankfully, no one died and I spent the next months recovering from a ruptured spleen. It was a huge change of reality for me and I spent many hours reading empowering material and visiting with friends. You learn a lot about people when they see you at your worst...
I had a tearful reunion with the violin when I regained the strength to play again. There was a sense of joy at the idea of being able to express myself with such a beautiful instrument. At the same time I was getting involved in acting at the local community college. It felt very comfortable improvising and riffing with other actors. I've always loved musicians like Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Danny Kaye, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis Jr., and others who realize the theatrical nature of music.
My next big stop was at U.C. Irvine where I continued my education in both music and drama. After the first year, I dedicated myself to the violin and was lucky to study with Haroutune Bedelian, and incredible violin virtuoso and my most compassionate teacher. He prepared me to move on to the next level which came in the form of graduate school.
I attended and received my master's degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Eric Rosenblith was my teacher there and he was an example of the finest tutelage one could find. He studied with Carl Flesch, a famous violin teacher to many of the world's finest. I was exposed to amazing artists at NEC in various genres and styles. Some of those colleagues have gone on to live rich musical lives and I'm proud to call them friends!
After my time in Boston and few years spent in Seattle performing and teaching music, I went to Lawrence, Kansas to continue my education with a great Russian-Israeli violinist, Ben Sayevitch. It is in Lawrence that I joined my first band, $2 Shoe Revival Story. I started playing mandolin with them and contributed some original material. I planned on living in Lawrence longer but ended up moving back to the bay after 9/11. I felt the need to be close to my family again and I moved back on Mother's Day, 2002.
4 months later I played my first gig with Hot Buttered Rum and 8 years later....
It is with Hot Buttered Rum that I have seen every state in the US and traveled beyond as well. I love my band and am excited to continue making music with those brothers!
Now I'm reaching out in new directions and have loved playing with new musicians to flush out the songs in my heart.