Violinist and teacher, Caroline Holden, can see her late father walking her sister down the aisle every time she hears or plays Edward Elgar’s “Nimrod,” from the “Enigma Variations.”
Johannes Brahms’ “Symphony No. 2” means good times with good friends. “Symphony No. 6” by Ludwig van Beethoven transports her back to the very first time she met and played with her now husband, a clarinetist, while their friend conducted them.
The power of the musical line saturates every memory for Holden, who is a part of the Tallahassee Bach Parley and is preparing for their upcoming concert on June 3. To motivate her during technically demanding pieces, she might visualize the notes in her head, but when she’s performing a piece that holds deep personal meaning, she will allow that emotion to permeate her playing.
“Music gives a reality to our emotions in a way,” describes Holden. “It makes them almost tangible if we can express them through music. I’ll often tell my students to have a storyline in their head while they’re playing so they can express themselves more. It helps them to be able to convey a message with their music.”
Though her mother steered her towards the piano, Holden took destiny into her own hands at the ripe age of 8. It was after a group of violinists visited her school that she came home with a sign-up sheet for lessons, forged her mother’s signature, and turned it in. The tenacious act led to her mother giving her the go-ahead, and Holden was fitted for her first violin.
She went on to attend and graduate from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and earned her master’s and post-graduate degrees in music from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
While overseas, she adapted to a very different classroom setting. Instead of solo practices with a teacher, she and three other students would sit for four hours and watch each other’s lessons — an intense, performance-oriented experience that taught her “how to deal with nerves in a different way.” She remains grateful to her instructor, Yfrah Neaman, and his teaching techniques, which greatly influence her current methods.
“He would walk around you and underneath you while you were playing to look at every aspect,” recalls Holden. “You could play the exact same thing as somebody else and he would have a completely different lesson for you because you’re a completely different person. Your set up was different, your hand shape was different, and your brain was different.”
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