Robin Williams - Violin/Fiddle, Viola, Cello


Where and how did you get your start in music?

My mother was a fine pianist, so some of my earliest memories are of sitting very still in her lap and watching her fingers as s
he played. Daddy had a beautiful voice – although he only knew the first line of any given song, and could change keys at least 3 times before he got to the end of the line!  At 5, I heard a lady play the violin at our church. I had never heard such a lovely sound. That was it for me. I knew the violin was going to be my instrument. I took piano lessons, but never caught the bug. It seemed so easy for Mamma and it was so hard for me! The piano and I have maintained an adversarial relationship ever since. Though I did pass my piano barrier, there was that little proviso that I never play the piano in public. I’m okay with that! In 6th grade my school offered orchestra and I finally got the chance to play the violin.


What is your favorite style of music to play/ What is your primary instrument?

I have eclectic taste in music. I love to play Bach but I also enjoy playing fiddle tunes – anything from good ol’ Texas swing to bluegrass and Irish fiddle. The fiddling kind of came about by necessity when we had first opened Arbor Music.  Rachelle Butaud came in wanting fiddle lessons for her son, Mitchell. I told her that I was classically trained but would do my best to learn along with him. It opened up a whole new world for me.

Who is your favorite composer/musician?

The 4 B’s : Bach, Brahms, Bartok, and Bob Wills.


What inspired you to teach/what do you enjoy about teaching?

Oddly, the thing that made me want to teach was having a bad teacher. The wonderful teachers I had (and they were many!) shared their love of music with me and gave me lots of confidence. The awful one – by doing the exact opposite- made me see just how big an impact one person can have – for good or ill.  I wanted to have a good influence.
What do I not enjoy about teaching? I get to play music with people every day! What could be more delightful?!


How do you motivate students to practice?

I try to find what ignites their spark. M&M’s work pretty well, but some people like Starbursts better!


What are some unique things you do to make a positive impact on students’ musical growth?

I spend a great deal of time in setting the bow hand and posture. So much frustration can be avoided by making sure their technique is healthy from the start so that they will be able to make steady progress without having to backtrack to fix bad habits.
I insist that my students play in tune, and most importantly,I try to help people become teachable.


If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

I would be a pine tree – because because they are so lovely and tall and somebody in our family should get some altitude