MEET THE STAFF: Betsy Pabon, RI Philharmonic Music School Faculty Member


Where did you grow up? San Juan, PR and Bloomington, IN.

Favorite meal or restaurant? Hard– INDIAN because of the spices, Sushi because of the fish!

Coffee or Tea? Coffee!!!! Dark roast– cafe con leche:)

What instrument do you teach at the RI Philharmonic Music School? Suzuki Violin and Cello and Suzuki Group Classes through Suzuki Volume 3.

What inspired you to take up that instrument and how old were you when you started? I was 10 when I started playing violin. My parents are both classical musicians and they were very concerned that nothing they were signing me up for seemed to be “sticking”– they sat me down at McDonald’s one day and said– you choose! I had always loved watching the synchronicity of the violins and cellos at orchestra concerts– and once I had a violin in my hands it was love at first hold!

Who was your best teacher and why? I have been blessed with wonderful teachers.
Donna Bricht — my first teacher was the warmest, kindest, loveliest woman I have ever met. Henry Kowalski for being willing to reconstruct my violin technique from open strings! It was ROUGH, but he stuck with me! Mimi Zweig for her non-judgmental approach and for taking me under her pedagogical wing! Franco Gulli for playing the violin so beautifully and helping me understand the possible composer’s view of the music.

What inspired you to start teaching? Mimi Zweig’s String Pedagogy 101 class at Indiana University. From the first day I was on the floor with the kids and by mid-semester she pulled me aside and asked me to consider teaching. I am soooo grateful!

How long have you been teaching at the RI Philharmonic Music School? I don’t remember– maybe 2015?

What do you enjoy most about teaching? The people and the AHA! moments. I also get to see some of the best music making– when a student is in the zone, working hard, no anxiety– it can be magical!

What do you want people to know about the RI Philharmonic Music School? I love how quality music and people centered it is. When you walk into the Carter Center it feels like EVERYONE’S lesson is important, and that this place is about MUSIC. It is wonderful having the main lounge be comfortable and attractive and outside the rehearsal rooms so that all the great ensemble work can be heard. Awesome!

How are you keeping yourself occupied while being at home all day? I also am a middle school orchestra teacher, so I am just as busy as if I was teaching my regular schedule. One nice thing is that I am done earlier in the day!

You’re stuck on a desert island… what book, music/album/artist and movie do you want with you? The Bible Album– very hard. These days I am digging The B-52’s, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, David Byrne and the Talking Heads. For all-time favorites–Beaux Arts Trio Schubert Bb trio, Oistrakh’s Beethoven Violin Concerto, Yo-yo Ma’s Bach Suites, Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations– BOTH versions! The young because it is so brilliant and old because it is so deep! Life is Beautiful.

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