Today we have the opportunity to share the third installment of our “Instructor Features” blog series! This week we have Rob Lowman to celebrate. Rob is a freelance cellist performing in and around Indiana and Illinois with session recording work for The Varsity Recording Co. and Orangehaus Studio (both in Anderson, IN), local orchestras, Christmas concerts, weddings and special events. Rob is also an established composer in both contemporary and traditional music for quartets, solo performances and scoring for short films.
Read more about Rob below, and at the link near the bottom of the post.
To begin, what do you teach at Vibe and how old are your students?
I teach cello, guitar, and piano, and my students are anywhere from 5 to about a junior in high school.
What is your favorite concept or skill to teach?
Say a student has something down really well. Finishing the musicality piece of it is really neat and transformative... As a musician, I’ve had times where I’ve had the right technique, the right notes, and all of the above, but the times that have helped the most was when someone told me how I could play a section and emote.
I also love rhythm!
Talk about your background in music, all the way from your very first experience with an instrument.
My parents started me on cello when I was four years old, and then I also started three years of private piano lessons around middle school. After that I continued sitting down and learning theory and applying it on piano. In seventh grade, I got my first guitar: a miniature Strat. I’m basically self-taught on guitar all the way up to college, where I did two years of lessons on cello and two years on guitar. My whole family is musical, and so it’s been a lifetime of it.
A penguin walks through your front door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
I’d probably be speechless for a second… probably ask if it speaks English, and if so maybe invite him in for a cold fish. I wouldn’t say anything about the sombrero, but I’d be bothered by it the whole time.
When you begin lessons with a beginning player, what are some initial goals you help create with the student?
On cello or guitar, making sure the student is holding it correctly. I think if you get a foundation of feeling, it makes it way easier to get into the more musical aspects of playing. On piano, your hands and posture are super important as well. I always ask students what their musical interests are and what they’d like to play. It’s always different for each student.
What are some of your favorite method books to utilize and prescribe?
For cello, I use the Suzuki method (what I grew up using). It is very useful in the way they present the pieces. On guitar and piano, I’ve used a lot of the Alfred introductory books. Honestly, if there’s a song that someone really wants to learn, I’ll find a tab and teach them from that.
Do you remember one of the first times you “fell in love” with music?
I saw a cellist by the name of Rostropovich and he is a very famous Russian cellist. I got to see him at Symphony Hall in Chicago perform Shostakovich’s first cello concerto. At that point, my teachers had taught me a little bit of that piece, so seeing it live with the world’s best was incredible. Also, performing in front of people were always great moments for me to experience the passion of music. The more I performed, the more I loved playing my instrument.
You are the newest addition to a crayon box. What color are you and why?
I would be teal. I really like teal. [laughs]
Why do you feel that music education is important for developing members of society?
I haven’t done a ton of research on this, but even if music isn’t your career path, it is still very good for the brain. I don’t think everyone is going to want to be a lifetime musician, but it requires a lot of critical thinking and even math skills! Aside from the psychological benefits, learning to work with other people is so helpful. In a public school setting, you don’t get a lot of one on one time, and so this is a great opportunity to learn how to contribute to others’ work. This can be transferred to other areas of life as well. Also, the community between musicians is the best.
Rob is such a great addition to our team, and he is doing such incredible work with his students! Read more about Rob here.