If you’ve been around the shop, you’ve probably seen Kathie Raymond, she’s the sweet lady teaching violin who’s usually accompanied by her faithful companion, the puppy-dog Prima-Donna. You may or may not realize that Kathie is a world-class performer and a dedicated and energetic teacher. Ask her students- they love her! Recently I sat down with her to discuss her outlook and musical history. Music runs deep in her family – all of her siblings have been professional musicians and her father was a performer and music instructor as well.
Mick: All right Kathie, just how long have you been playing violin?
Kathie: I’ve been playing violin since I was 8.
M: and you’re 56 now?
K: um no, I’m 54.
M: Oh, whoops.
K: You’re in trouble now.
M: Sorry, I should know better. Let’s talk about some of you’re musical history.
K: Well, I have a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from
M: And as for your time here- you’ve been teaching at Steilberg String Instruments since you moved to
K: Yes, here in Louisville I perform with Bourbon Baroque (a period ensemble using original Baroque-style instruments), I am the Concert Master for Music Theatre of Louisville, I play weddings and such with the Highland Chamber Players, and have done adjunct work with both the Louisville Orchestra and the Louisville Bach Society.
M: What about before you moved to
K: While in
M: In the violin world, education holds great importance. Who were your key teachers?
K: I had two important teachers in my life. The first one was from age 8 to 18 and he was very influential on me. His name was Nick Stamon and he was a very thoughtful teacher who had everything very well organized. He had a method worked out where besides just music, he would also use visual aids, and taught me things (like scales) both by music notation and by rote – which was pretty unusual at the time. I still use a lot of his teaching techniques, and his dedicated interactions with the parents, as well as students, influence my teaching today.
Then when I was 18, I went to
M: Some people may be surprised, though most will not, to find out that you still practice regularly. You do right?
K: Ha! Oh yes, I still practice.
M: So you mean you don’t reach a point where you don’t have to practice?
K: No, you’re never done practicing. There’s always something that you’ll suddenly have to play, and people may think that once you’re really good you can just play anything, but that’s not true. What’s important is truly learning your instrument, so when you’re given something new to play, you can learn it quickly - you only need to focus on the music – not the technique. That’s why technique practice is so important. So I still practice all of my scales, various etudes. I am also reworking old pieces and learning new ones as well.
M: Who are some of the noted musicians you’ve played with?
K: Well, I think one that’s notable for who I’m surrounded by here at Steilberg’s would be (Classical Guitarist and Conductor) Angel Romero and his brother Pepe, who both did work though
M:…and Johnny Mathis!
K: Right, we can’t forget Johnny Mathis!
M: What are some of your records and/or favorite pieces of music of all time?
K: One that comes to mind as a longtime favorite is Isaac Stern playing The Baal Shem by Ernest Bloch.
M: Cool. I’ve not heard it – I guess I should! Are there any other musicians who stand out as inspirations to you?
K: Well, the most recent one is Joshua Bell, who I just heard playing with the Louisville Orchestra and I’d say he’s inspired the second half of my life playing the violin!
M: Wow, that’s a strong statement. It’s awesome that as fine of a player as you are, and as far as you’ve traveled down the road of learning your instrument, you can still be moved so deeply by someone’s playing! That, in itself, is inspiring!
K: Yes, but he’s a total phenomenon - so good that I can hardly put it into words; no one I’ve talked to really can either. He’s an amazing musician and can do ANY
M: Is there an album you have and love that you think your students might be surprised to know about?
K: Ha! Yes, well, how about all of the Led Zeppelin albums? I love them; mostly because of Jimmy Page, who I think is a genius. He inspires me too!
M: That’s great. Just what I was looking for! Okay, we’ve gotta wrap this up, ‘cause you’ve got a student waiting. So, lastly, what do you think sets the music education available from the teaching staff at Steilberg String Instruments apart from most other places?
K: Well, that’s easy. I think that here you attract the type of teacher who is very serious about teaching, not just playing their instrument. We are all very fine performers here, but also our teaching is something we enjoy. We also all have some sort of serious educational background in all of our respective fields and have studied with a variety of qualified instructors – which shapes us as players and teachers. There’s also specialization in the variety of styles in which we teach – I believe each style we teach can be taken to the ultimate, or apex of that style.
The other thing that I see, is that on all the instruments we teach, classical technique is stressed – not in terms of classical music, but in terms of intelligently and systematically understanding and executing certain things on the instrument – and that’s so important!
Reading music is also important, and I think the general public thinks it’s hard to do, which is totally false – it’s very easy if approached correctly. And if that skill is one a player possesses it’s infinitely easier to learn more information quickly. People can be afraid of it, but that’s unnecessary!
M: Kathie, thank you for your time – your students are most fortunate to have such a dedicated caring teacher who can play so doggone well to boot!
K: Thank you, this was fun.