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String Teacher Workshops

Caryl McAllister: SAW Student and Volunteer

by Trischa Seaman

Caryl McAllister is well known at the String Academy for the professional graphics she has added to The Quarter Note, The Eighth Note, and faculty recital programs. For the past two years I have known Caryl as an enthusiastic and devoted cello student. It is inspiring and illuminating to me that despite a more than full-time job at IBM, Caryl maintains a  igh level of musicianship and continues to strive for the next level.

As a student in the Milwaukee Public Schools, Caryl had the opportunity to join the orchestra in Junior High. After attending Chicago Symphony concerts at the Pabst Theater she had picked the cello as “her sound.” To this day Caryl is grateful to her mother for her determination in getting Caryl private lessons, a fine cello and bow, and demanding good, consistent practice. Caryl performed a Goltermann concerto with her high school orchestra. Her cello then and now is a Caressa and Francpis to which Caryl fondly refers as “Abigail.”

Caryl majored in chemistry at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. She played under Karel Husa in the university orchestra and took lessens from John Hsu. Caryl moved to Europe where she and her husband, Stratton, both worked for IBM for fifteen years.

While in Germany, Caryl began investigating the viola da gamba. She found her first viol, a Bachle, at the Frankfurt musical instrument fair. She now owns ten viols ranging in size from the smallest, a pardessus to the largest, a violone. During her time in Europe, Caryl remained active musically with orchestral playing and chamber music with viols and recorders.

IBM brought Caryl back to New Haven, where she resumed cello playing in an amateur orchestra, and eventually back to Milwaukee. After joining the Concord Chamber Orchestra, Caryl wanted to take cello lessons again. She signed up with Julie Hochman at the Wisconsin Conservatory and after a few years switched over to Sara Edgerton for specialized instruction on baroque cello. When Sara left for Missouri, Caryl resumed modern cello lessons with me. Caryl is a spirited, multi-faceted woman who also enjoys gardening, collecting jewelry (including over 60 one-of-a-kind pairs of earrings), and instruments.

I asked Caryl why she felt the drive to continue improving her cello playing. She replied that any thing worth doing is worth doing well and described the exhilaration felt after one to two hours of practice. Music is an important presence in her life. It should be noted that Caryl does have a TV set – safely packed away in a box in the basement

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