Education: Meet Carolyn, a Professional Violist and Teacher in Bellevue, WA

Interviewed by: Nandini Daga, June 8, 2020

Interviewee: Carolyn Wyman, Violin/Viola Teacher & Professional Violist

The Lake Washington Symphony Orchestra was previously named the Bellevue Philharmonic and works to spread the study of music (Toronto Star).

Could you tell us about yourself and your occupation? How does your occupation impact the local community and your students?

My name is Carolyn Wyman, and I’m a Suzuki method teacher in Bellevue. I’m also a professional violist with the Lake Washington Symphony Orchestra (LWSO) (formerly called the Bellevue Philharmonic). I’m a violin and viola teacher, and I am helping to better the world through the love of music and the development of music, as well as the enjoyment of music by the students themselves. The study of music helps bring joy, but it also helps develop the brain and it helps discipline in each of the students, not only for the study of music but for other fields.

How has COVID-19 affected the functioning of your occupation? What worries you most regarding the effect COVID-19 has/will have on your occupation?

Fortunately, due to technology I have been able to continue to teach through FaceTime on cell phones. So, it really hasn’t affected my profession. However, I think the quality of the teaching is not quite the same as in person because of technological reasons. I will be very happy to get back to teaching in person.

What issues are your students having? What triumphs are they having?

The successes are the fact that they can continue to develop their musical ability and technique, and the challenges are that I don’t think they’re quite as motivated as they would be with a live in-person lesson. There are also technological challenges that affect the quality of the sound of the music they’re making and also the delay of the transmission of time. And this is affected differently with different students, technology. For instance, I have a student in Hawaii, and the Internet delay is such that I have to wait three seconds each time I talk.

"...the Internet delay is such that I have to wait three seconds each time I talk."

You’re holding an online recital — could you explain the shortcomings and positives about this recital?

I’ve had one for Violas this Saturday, and I will have one for Violins this Saturday. One drawback is that we can’t have piano accompaniment. The other drawback is that we weren’t able to have a rehearsal and after hearing the recital last Saturday, I think the quality of the student’s performance is not as high as it would have been if they had had a live in-person recital.

Are you able to practice in any ensembles or groups?

The pandemic has put a hold on that. I play in a professional orchestra and off course that’s been canceled, The Lady’s Musical Club has also been cancelled, I’m also a coach for Bellevue Youth Symphony, and that coaching has been cancelled as well. Those students of course don’t get the opportunity to play in their orchestras either because of the cancellations. The other thing about my teaching is sometimes I do duets with my students and that’s not possible with FaceTime.

"...sometimes I do duets with my students and that’s not possible with FaceTime."

Are there any other comments you would like to share?

I’ll just be glad when its over and we are back to normal. I’m actually very pleased that I’ve been able to continue on with the teaching and that the students have been able to participate in their lessons, I’m very grateful for the technology we have today.