Freddy Contreras-Romero – Violin Teacher, Piano Teacher

Violin Teacher, Piano Teacher
Currently attends Temple University for Performance
Teaches all ages and skill levels
Classical and Contemporary
Also offers instruction in Spanish

I was born in San Cristóbal, Venezuela. At age 8 I started my musical studies at “El Sistema”, the Venezuelan orchestral program under the tutelage of Professors Pedro Navarro and Maria Alejandra Guerrero. I was member of the children, the youth and the semi-professional orchestras throughout my studies in this institution. During my time in “El Sistema” Parallel to this I was enrolled at the “Miguel Ángel Espinel” School of music where Marco Sayago was my violin teacher.

 In 2010 I started my professional music studies at the “Universidad de Los Andes” in Mérida, Venezuela in the studio of Maestro Simón Gollo. In 2012 prior to my acceptance to Temple University I was invited to participate in the ArCoNet Pre-College program by ArCoNet to enter its Pre-College violin, piano, philadelphiaprogram where I continued my violin studies with Mr. Gollo. I have participated in summer festivals such as the “Nuevo Mundo” Festival and Academy and the Dalí Quartet Chamber Music Camp and Festival. I have received instruction in both solo violin and chamber music masterclasses with Dmitri Berlinsky, Daniel Phillips, Kurt Nikkanen, Netanel Draiblate, Benjamin Sung, Francesca Anderegg, Dalí String Quartet, Enso String Quartet, Cavani String Quartet, and the Dover String Quartet. In Summer 2015 I served as the Student Services Director for the Nuevo Mundo Festival and Academy as well as the Festival Assistant’s Coordinator For the Dalí Quartet Chamber Music Camp. I’m currently pursuing my Bachelor´s degree in Violin Performance as a member of Dr. Vladimir Dyo’s studio at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music and Dance in Philadelphia, USA.

 

When did you begin playing violin and piano, and why?
I started playing violin at the age of 8 in my home country of Venezuela in the renowned orchestral program “El Sistema”. I started playing piano at the age of 16 as my secondary instrument, prior to my acceptance in collegiate music programs in Venezuela and in the US. Because I am the first musician in my family, a friend of my parents recommended El Sistema as a place where I could learn music while making good friends, it started as a hobby which then transformed to a profession.

What are your personal goals as a musician?
I truly believe that music changes people for good. Its presence in society is necessary to create empathy and tolerance in people. Playing a musical instrument not only teaches you how to make sounds out of that instrument; it builds your character, makes you humble and forges discipline. My personal goal is to pass these values on to create better members of society.

Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked?  Something you’ll remember forever?
Intonation is a big challenge for string players, simply because we rely mainly on our ears to hit the correct pitch. This is something that every musician works on every day. A few years back I had a really rough time with intonation and my teacher at the time, Maestro Simon, told me to develop my internal ear further: He said “you need to hear the note in your head before you play it.” That moment of reacting vs scanning to then react makes all the difference. Since then my intonation began improving greatly.

What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
Be honest with the music! It might seem like a little phrase but it has many meanings. There are several attitudes that a musician should embrace to honor music. Music is an art that many people have lived and suffered for. Having respect towards the music spans from your practicing time, to the way you relate to others.

What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
Transitioning my violin playing from just a hobby to a serious career. This was very challenging for me, it is a completely different mindset and it took me a while to adapt.  I believe a person should try to embrace what he loves as a career; I know sometimes this is not possible but there should be an opportunity to try. When you mix love with hard work, results will follow. I was not sure about playing music as a career at the end of high school, so I tried to stop playing, but by the 2nd week of not playing violin I just couldn’t handle it anymore. That is the moment when I realized that my violin was going to be very important in my future! It is very different when you practice because you like it and you want to have fun, compared to practicing to achieve objectives.

What is your biggest musical achievement?
For me this is still in process. Graduating from Temple University will be my biggest achievement to date. It has been challenging not only musically, but also personally and emotionally. It has made me pull out the best of me to make it through these 3 years; one more to go!

Favorite thing about being a piano and violin teacher?
Getting to know my students! Every person is in a way, from a different world. Every lesson is a learning experience not only for them but for me as well. I find it very interesting to see how each person deals with every challenge, and how I can be helpful in every corresponding situation. My goal is to build a bridge between my student’s hearts to the listener’s ears.

What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
Be patient and work hard. Music may come easier for some people, but talent is only good if it’s nurtured with discipline. There will be lessons where you will practice a lot and still won’t be good enough– don’t despair, as long as you keep practicing you will improve.

Personal music projects: i.e. bands, groups, shows, recording, etc. (if any):
As a personal long term project I want to arrange traditional Venezuelan tunes into violin pieces, so the music of my country could be heard in classical venues worldwide.