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Violinists hone their passion with Studio 451

Photo courtesy of Dr. Katherine McLin.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Katherine McLin.

Photo courtesy of Lauren Blair Lauren Blair in her element with her violin. Photo courtesy of Lauren Blair

At 5 years old, she knew she wanted to play the violin. She was persistent for an entire year, begging and praying that her parents would come around. In a family where she and her sisters were required to play the piano, she would be heading into uncharted territory. With her parents unfamiliar with the instrument, she continued to push for the chance to play the violin.

Her vying finally paid off and she received a violin for Christmas.

That was just the beginning for violin performance and music education freshman Lauren Blair.

Photo courtesy of Dr. Katherine McLin. Dr. McLin teaches in her Studio 451 for ASU. Photo courtesy of Dr. Katherine McLin.

Similarly, violin professor Katherine McLin recalls how she came to play the violin at 6 years old. She too had to beg her mother for the chance to play the instrument. With the desire to be like her older sister, she persisted and her mother allowed her to play as well.

Unlike McLin and Blair, music therapy senior Victoria Gilman was asked by her mother if she wanted to play the violin in an effort to diminish potential boredom at school. Thus, she accepted the challenge and began playing at 5 years old.

“Music’s always been a really big part of my life and something that I’ve been really passionate about and really put a lot of myself into,” Gilman says.

McLin teaches Blair and Gilman in her Studio 451 class offered at ASU.

The class consists of one-hour individual lessons for each student every week, according to McLin.

“Every student is different and I think part of the challenge of teaching and ultimately the great reward of teaching is figuring out how best to unlock that particular person’s potential,” McLin says.

McLin gets the opportunity to know her students on a more personal level with these individual lessons.

“I think she’s really good at understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each player and helping us grow from where we are and not in a way that makes us feel like we’re the worst ever,” Blair says.

According to McLin, “much of the study of music is mental.”

“I guess the easiest way to put it is helping a student remove any barriers or limitations that they’re putting on themselves, which we’re very very apt to do,” McLin says. “If I can remove those for a student they will develop and progress much faster.”

In addition to the personal lessons, McLin teaches weekly technique classes.

“She has taught me lots of good practice techniques and just that it’s really important to have a firm foundation technically,” Blair says.

Another part of this class is the performance aspect, also known as the studio class. About four to eight people perform for all their classmates during this weekly two-hour class.

“They’re basically practicing how to become performers and be more successful communicators with each experience,” McLin says.

Blair says she really enjoys listening to her classmates perform.

“I love hearing my studio mates play,” Blair says. “I’m so inspired by them. It's awesome and I think it makes us closer and I love hearing what they have to say about the music that everyone plays.”

Gilman says McLin is very supportive and creates an encouraging environment.

“She really fosters an environment of supporting each other and having a community based in the studio instead of being competitive and against each other,” Gilman says.

According to Gilman, the Studio 451 class as a whole has two studio recitals throughout the semester. The next recital is free at the Katzin Concert Hall on December 4 at 5 p.m.

McLin offered some advice for those who are looking to pursue a career in music.

“I think the most important thing is that you have the passion and desire to make your life out of music, and if you have that you will find your path,” McLin says.

Reach the writer at or via Twitter @ShelbyHyde.

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