Lifetime professional musician, trained in great music schools, including the North Carolina School of the Arts (high school), the Paris Conservatory and Indiana University.
Had brilliant teachers, including Milly Rosner, Bernard Greenhouse, Raya Garbousova, and Fritz Magg.
Had excellent musical work – played in the Iceland Symphony Orchestra, taught at the Reykjavik Conservatory, taught at University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, was a tenured member of the Houston Symphony Orchestra, was Principal Cellist of the Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra (for 25 years), was and still is a member of the Bach Choir of Bethlehem Festival Orchestra.
Loves to teach – has worked with students of all ages for decades, especially focused on how to help students become confident, competent and highly skilled on the cello for personal fulfillment, whether as an amateur cello player or a professional cellist.
My background in greater detail:
Summary of schooling: I was one of the earliest high school graduates (1968) of the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, received a 1st Medal from the Paris Conservatory (1969), a Bachelor’s of Music cum laude, from the Hartt School of Music (1973) and a Master’s of Music degree from the Indiana University School of Music (1977) in Bloomington, Indiana. The Indiana University music faculty honored me with a Performer’s Certificate, which Wikipedia describes as an award for “students who demonstrate exceptionally outstanding performance ability.” Among my teachers were Milly Rosner, Irving Klein, Bernard Greenhouse, Raya Garbousova and Fritz Magg.
Summary of work experience (from earlier to most recent): I interrupted my graduate degree to become assistant principal cellist with the Iceland Symphony Orchestra and taught at the Reykjavik Conservatory for two years. Then I finished my Master’s Degree and was hired as the first full-time cello teacher on the music faculty of the University of Notre Dame, in Notre Dame Indiana. During the time I taught at Notre Dame, I was Principal Cellist with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra. Subsequently, I married and joined the Houston Symphony Orchestra where I was a tenured member of the cello section for five years. Then my family moved to Pennsylvania and I became the Principal Cellist of the Pennsylvania Sinfonia Orchestra in Allentown, Pennsylvania for more than 25 years. In the last twenty years I also played with the Lyra Trio (a piano trio), Satori (a mixed chamber music ensemble) and the Bach Choir of Bethlehem Festival Orchestra. I’ve always enjoyed playing cello recitals, including several with the outstanding pianist, Father Sean Duggan.
Teaching experience: Aside from teaching at the University of Notre Dame, I taught cello for more than a decade at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA and had a busy private cello teaching studio with students of all ages, from beginners to adult amateurs and professionals seeking coaching. One of the hallmarks of my teaching studio has been monthly cello ensemble rehearsals which I called “The 24 Cellos.” The 24 Cellos is a unique opportunity for my students to get to know each other, play and learn ensemble music together under my guidance and then play cello ensemble concerts each year at a residence for disabled adults.
Some of my thoughts about cello teaching: There’s an old saying, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”
This is a good metaphor for cello teaching: “Give someone a cello and they may fool around with it for a little while. Teach someone to play the cello well and they will be able to enjoy playing music for a lifetime.”
To do well, students need two things: a good teacher and the willingness to practice.
Practicing: I am fascinated by practicing because it’s both vital for success and the biggest challenge of all for most students! No one is born knowing how to practice. One of my major goals is to help students learn to practice well and efficiently, to understand what practicing is and what it is not.
Having an arsenal of creative practicing techniques and a problem-solving mentality will get anyone far. Practicing needs to be seen for what it is: the only pathway to mastery and enjoyment, whether in playing an instrument or any other endeavor in life.
What is it like to play a cello? Playing a cello is a little like driving a car. Driving a car isn’t especially hard but it has some technical challenges (parallel parking, as one example), requires alertness (seeing stop signs, etc.), predicting the behavior of others, (when merging, for example), seeing and understanding road signs, and many more. A successful cellist needs to be highly alert and prepared, thinking ahead, aware of their surroundings (aurally speaking), assertive as well as sensitive. Furthermore, playing music is fun and I want my students to have a great time doing it!
Administrative experience: I founded and for 14 years ran a set of music camps in Allentown called MADCAP (Musical Arts Day Camps of Allentown, PA). The signature camp each summer was MADCAP Chamber Music camp, featuring string quartets for players aged 10 to 18. Additional camps I administered over the 14 years were: Jazz Camp, Flute Camp, Clarinet Camp, Guitar Camp and Folk Music Camp. Hundreds of children had high quality musical experiences at these camps and returned year after year.
I founded and was President of the Pennsylvania Cello Society for five years. The cello society sponsored workshops, guest artists and speakers and yearly cello ensemble concerts to benefit various charities.
I also administered and taught (with an excellent violin teacher) week-long workshops for public school music teachers to enhance their understanding of how best to teach cello and violin in the public schools.
My working life in Chapel Hill: Since moving to Chapel Hill in June of 2015, I have established a private teaching studio, performed with the North Carolina Opera and North Carolina Ballet, subbed with the North Carolina Symphony, played cello/piano recitals on several concert series, and played five concerts as Guest Principal Cellist with the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle. I also helped found the North Carolina Cello Society, now enjoying its sixth year of operation.
Personal: My family moved to Chapel Hill in 1966 when I was 14 years old. My dad, Morris Davis, was a professor at UNC in the Physics and Astronomy Department. My mom, Dorothy Davis, was a dedicated and prolific potter. One of my sisters, Kitty Davis Stalberg, is a viola player in the Chapel Hill area. I have two daughters, one living in Portland, Oregon. My younger, married daughter lives and works in Chapel Hill, so I have the joy of spending lots of time with my delightful granddaughter, Miranda, now six years old.