Dakota Geneva Kievman
I developed a strong passion for the violin very early in my life, at age 2! My parents told me I was extremely excited the first time I heard classical music. It was a recording of my (now) favorite violinist playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major on the radio. My parents were both musical and I’m grateful for that, they got me a cardboard violin and put me in a small group class until I was old enough to fit that smallest size violin. I started private lessons shortly after and have continued to study, perform, and eventually teach. Because of my love for (and dedication to) music, I am grateful to have had opportunities and experiences beyond what I could ever have hoped for. I sincerely hope that my students will go on to pursue these opportunities as well. For years, I expressed my philosophy that “anyone can do it” and “we all have an innate musical ability” – and I still believe that wholeheartedly. However, just because one has the ability does not mean one will foster it. I have learned through the last 15 years of teaching the violin, that the best guidance I can give my students is how to love to learn and guide them toward the most essential requirement to master an instrument: curiosity.
I continue to teach because of the authentic connections that are made through music. Helping my students to think critically about the inevitable challenges along the way and teaching them to take ownership of their own development are two of the goals I have for our lessons together.
I look at the ‘whole’ person and the many facets of life to make our lessons together attainable and relatable while empowering my students to play with confidence and find their musical sound.
Here are some extra pieces of my formal bio in case you want to learn more:
At the age of 6, Dakota played as the soloist for the world premiere of “Starving Angels” with the Serioso String Quartet from Julliard. After joining Stretto Youth Orchestra, her passion for chamber music grew, and she went on to become the concertmaster of the orchestra.
Dakota received both her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees while continuing to perform as a soloist and ensemble musician. She has played in multiple world tours and music festivals including, Orvieto Strings Festival and The Philadelphia International Music Festival. She has performed with Grammy-nominated pianist Mark Livshits as well as in concert under Maestro Kensho Watanabe, assistant conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and studied with some of the most distinguished musicians in the world including the renowned members of the Philadelphia Orchestra.
Since the age of 14, Dakota found teaching to be a profound and rewarding experience and hopes to extend her love and appreciation for classical music to today’s youth. She believes that music should be accessible to everyone and that everyone has an innate musical ability that can be nurtured with guidance and dedication. Her goal is to inspire others to participate in this journey to unlock that ability through learning to play or hear music in new ways. She dreams of spreading music as a tool for expression and self-discovery to as many people as possible, whether it be through performing or teaching.
When did you begin playing Violin, and why?
I began playing the violin when I was 2 years old. My father is a composer and loves to play classical music in the car. One day Anne-Sophie Mutter was playing Beethoven’s violin concerto on the radio and I loved it! The following week, my parents got me a tiny violin and I began group lessons. I fell in love and it has been a part of my life ever since.
What other instruments do you play, and what is your experience with them?
I have learned and taught beginner piano as well as intermediate viola in the past. Growing up, I also experimented with the sax, clarinet, trumpet, and guitar for fun!
What are your personal goals as a musician?
I want to continue to learn and grow as a violinist for the rest of my life through performing and analyzing music as well as teaching and spreading the love and knowledge of music to others. I have really enjoyed recording projects and built an entire home recording studio! I would like to record an album in the near future.
Do you have a memory of a time when a musical concept or technique really clicked? Something you’ll remember forever?
I remember when I was about 7 years old I was playing in my local youth orchestra. At the end of each rehearsal, the younger group would join the older group to sight read their music. I always had a difficult time keeping up until I remember one day it just clicked. I told myself that I could do it and something about that allowed me to play through that music with almost no mistakes! Soon after, I was invited to start playing with the older group. I really think that mentality plays a big part in musicianship and skill acquisition, so I make sure to keep that in mind when I am teaching.
What is your favorite piece of advice from one of your past (or current) teachers?
It’s best to do what you love.
What was your most challenging moment learning an instrument?
I had one teacher who decided that they wanted me to unlearn and relearn my entire approach to a specific technique! This took a lot of discipline, but it really paid off and taught me more than just a new technique. It taught me to be patient with myself and that there is always room for improvement.
What is your biggest musical achievement?
I’m not sure if I would say it is my biggest musical achievement (probably more like the achievement with the biggest impact) but I still look back to when I was 6 years old and played a solo with the Serioso String Quartet. This was my first concert (aside from recitals) and I will never forget thinking that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.
Favorite thing about teaching?
I love seeing my students grow throughout their musical careers; when they recognize that they have made an improvement and are now able to do something that they would have never thought possible when they first started. As their teacher, seeing this moment of clarity and realization for them is amazing.
What is a piece of advice you would like to share with anyone learning music?
If you get frustrated, just take a break. Don’t quit and don’t push yourself to the edge, learning music should be an enjoyable and fun experience! Try again later with a clear head and remember to stay curious.
Personal music projects:
My career as a recording and performing artist, my studio, and leaning into new genres and styles of playing.