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passion with a fine sense of balance - Syracuse Post-Standard
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Teaching History

Caroline Stinson

I have been graced with remarkable teachers who inspired, pushed and supported me at essential points, providing insight and guidance to this day. I am proud to teach a full class of students in the Pre-College Program at the Juilliard School, to be a coach in chamber music, and to assist Joel Krosnick with his remarkable class at the college level. I also have a private studio that is engaged, hard working and excited about music. My students' dedication and love of music is reflected in their varied endeavors, from community outreach concerts, to concerto performances and competitions. I am wildly proud of their extraordinary work and accomplishments.

When I joined the Cassatt Quartet and moved to New York from Germany in 2000, my first teaching took the form of chamber music coaching and working with serious student composers through the quartet residencies at The University of Pennsylvania, Syracuse University and SUNY at Buffalo. This was teaching and learning. I was 25, and amidst performing a full Beethoven Quartet Cycle, I was learning to work with composers (like George Rochberg, Steven Stucky, Joan Tower and Andy Waggoner), while teaching students how to do the same. After leaving the quartet in 2003, I joined the faculty of Syracuse University, where I taught every possible level of cellist from secondary-instrument learners to graduate-level performers, formed and implemented a chamber music program, established outreach for the program, and coached chamber music until 2013.

Caroline StinsonI have been Joel Krosnick's assistant since 2010 and Pre-College faculty in cello and chamber music since 2012. I have given masterclasses in Europe, the United States, Mexico and across Canada at Universities and Conservatories in cello and chamber music.

In my work as a performer I have refused being pigeonholed either in terms of genre or historical period. We must be able to play all roles, transform ourselves immediately when the situation demands it, support, lead, follow, and recognise that none of these demands are mutually exclusive. Teaching this in all its implications is what I see as my job - the musicians we send out into the world must be armed with a formidable process for learning technique, but, more than anything else, they will have to make creative flexibility their greatest asset.

My Philosophy

Students2015

For me, teaching is as important as performing, passing on the insight, the tools and the inspiration. My teachers taught me that anyone can potentially play, that there is always a way to teach technique, no matter how difficult, and if we do this well, we free the musical instincts to lead the way. There will always be natural ability, and faster learners, but we all have something to say through music and teaching well makes that possible.

Showing by example is a big part of what I believe in, and being on the stage keeps my advice grounded and human. If we do as we say, successfully and to great artistic effect, it gives us teachers a tremendous amount of credibility with our students and with ourselves! What a lot of time that can save us, and what a joy to be able to inspire others!

There is no more important job we have as musicians than to ensure we treat our bodies well, that we listen to them and analyze when and why things fatigue or hurt. I always say that not even a little bit of pain is okay and it's important to distinguish fatigue from pain. Start from health. We have to keep the body happy; is it finding a new alignment? releasing more tension? or simply practicing fewer hours and be more efficient and varied in our kind of study?

Oh the benefits of mental practice! When I was a junior at the Cleveland Institute of Music, I memorized the 25 minute Britten Suite for solo cello while running through Lakeview Cemetery. I practiced all the shifts and oscillating string changes in the Brahms F Major Sonata while walking on the grounds of the Museum of Art. There are always new ways of practicing and establishing new habits. My teacher and mentor Tanya Prochazka practiced with no left hand for months when she injured her rotator cuff picking up one of her twins. By the time she was better, she needed to rebuild strength but much of the dexterity was still there as she had been exercising all the same neurons in her brain, just not executing the physical side of the equation. The more we know about the brain, the more it is mysterious and amazing what we can accomplish away from the instrument.

Family Tree

Janos Starker spoke often about the cello family, and recognizing our parents and grandparents. It's no wonder - there is likely no contemporary cellist who taught more young cellists through his decades at Indiana University. Reflecting on this I realized that until my 30's, all of my major teachers had at some point studied with Starker. I hear all these teachers' voices when I practice and when I teach, and behind them are all of their influences as well.

So, here is part the lineage that I feel I am passing on in my teaching work - big shoes!

Tanya Prochazka
Janos Starker

Andre Navarra

Marianne Hunt
Paul Bazelaire
Alan Harris
Janos Starker
Maria Kleigel
Janos Starker

Mstislav Rostropovich
Joel Krosnick
Luigi Silva

Claus Adam
Emanuel Feuermann

Student Composers

Working with students is an exciting process and one that is important to me. When talented composers have the chance to write for someone with experience, flexibility and a full technique, they learn both the limitations and full potential of what they write. In workshop and reading style, I have worked with composers at The Juilliard School, Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, Syracuse University and SUNY Buffalo. Jennifer Bellor (Soliloquy), Ian Hartsough (Afterglow) and John Liberatore are all students whose works I have premiered.