Deeply inspired by the relationship between music, movement, and dance, violinist and teacher Sylvia Schwartz is a passionate chamber musician in both modern and historical performance practices. The power of music to heal and to bring us together drives Sylvia to teach through the Suzuki method and to perform wherever she can, from the Scarborough, ME COVID-19 vaccine clinic to Shostakovich Hall in St. Petersburg, Russia—and many places in between.
Sylvia’s history with the Suzuki method goes back to her first experiences with the violin. After a demonstration in her Kindermusik class by Stow, MA-based Suzuki teacher Doris Goldman, Sylvia was very definite about starting lessons. Her mother believes at least in part Sylvia was drawn to Doris’s vibrant, deeply kind, nurturing, and loving spirit, as well as her joy in making and teaching music. Sylvia strives to bring that same deeply kind spirit to her own students, sharing her own love of performing and music in community as she gives students the technical, artistic, and practice tools to develop into capable, creative, and healthy musicians—and people! She has taught at Winchester Community Music School, Vienna Music Institute in Irvine, CA, the Boston Music Project (when it was JQOP), and was Interim Orchestra Director for three fabulous orchestras at Woodbridge HS, a Grammy Signature School.
She steadfastly believes that every child—every person—can learn, and makes it her business to meet each individual where they are on their journey of learning, discovery, and mastery. Sylvia enriches the Suzuki curriculum by drawing on her own experiences with Feldenkrais and Alexander Technique somatic approaches for healthy technique, dance, theatre, and historical performance—something that in particular offers great insights into Shinichi Suzuki’s choice to include so many baroque works in his foundational repertoire. Truly, a sense of rhetoric in this music sets up compelling musicianship in music of any era and genre and speaks to our own humanity.
Sylvia is an active and committed performer, enjoying the ways her performing and teaching inform and enrich each other. With her partner, cellist/gambist John Ott, as Guts Baroque, she has been determinedly reimagining the possibilities of historically-informed chamber music performances, rising out of the ashes of March 2020 to play a new livestreamed concert each month and looking ahead to the collaborative opportunities of digital production. In the “before times,” Sylvia performed with Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, Los Angeles Baroque, L’Esprit Baroque, LA Master Chorale, Harvard Baroque, Eudaimonia: A Purposeful Period Band, and the Amherst Baroque Academy opera orchestra. She was thrilled to return to live performances with Portland Bach Experience 2021, playing ten concerts in two weeks as Concertmaster of the festival orchestra and as Guts Baroque.
Sylvia earned an M.Mus. in Violin Performance from Longy School of Music, where she studied violin with Laura Bossert and historically-informed performance with Dana Maiben, Na’ama Lion, and Vivian Montgomery. She has continued her education with Julie Andrijeski and Elizabeth Blumenstock. She also earned a B.S. in Engineering from Olin College, where she was Concertmaster of the Olin Conductorless Orchestra.
I’m learning how to play the viola da gamba—being a beginner again gives me a lot of empathy for my students!
I’ve flown (but not landed) a plane.
I’m good at falling up the stairs—including when I tripped and ripped my dress going onstage for a (successful) audition.