Biography and experience
Drew Robertson began his musical studies at age four on the piano, and began studying viola at age seven. His principal teachers were Leslie VanBecker, principal violist of the Grand Rapids Symphony and Mark Jackobs of the Cleveland Orchestra. He studied viola performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music (CIM), music therapy at Nazareth College, and Dalcroze Eurythmics at the Eastman School of Music. Drew has performed with the CIM orchestras, CIM Baroque Ensemble, Firelands Symphony Orchestra, Genesee Symphony Orchestra, and numerous other ensembles. He has performed in masterclasses with acclaimed teachers such as Peter Slowik, Yizhak Schotten, Pamela Goldsmith, and Jeffery Irvine. Drew has participated in festivals including the Pilsen Music Festival in the Czech Republic and the renowned Tanglewood Institute. A performing teacher, Drew frequently plays solo recitals, outreach concerts, and chamber concerts.
Since founding and performing with the award-winning Kalliope String Quartet, Drew has been an avid teacher and advocate for musical entrepreneurship and chamber music. In addition to playing countless gigs and concerts as both a violinist and violist, Drew coaches chamber ensembles and leads chamber music masterclasses. Drew's passion is not only to inspire musical excellence in his students, but also to endow students with useful life skills such as professionalism, dedication, business acumen, and entrepreneurship.
Drew's teaching career began at Grand Rapids Christian High School, where he led orchestra rehearsals, chamber ensembles, and taught private lessons. While at CIM, Drew played and taught viola and violin with the Sato Center for Suzuki Studies. Additionally, Drew has extensively studied Suzuki Method, string instrument repair, Creative Ability Development, Dalcroze Eurhythmics, and Guided Imagery in Music. Drew consistently pursues further studies to improve his playing and teaching through institutes, conferences, and degree programs. Incorporating his background in psychology and music therapy, Drew is very aware of the developmental stages and learning styles of his students, and tailors lessons to each student while maintaining focus on standard classical curriculum. He keeps lessons and rehearsals interesting, diverse, and exciting by incorporating his experience in performance, music theory, music history, Suzuki pedagogy, improvisation, anatomy, physics, composition, and eurythmics.
Training and Certification
Drew Robertson studied viola performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music with Mark Jackobs of the Cleveland Orchestra. While at CIM, Drew performed extensively as a soloist, orchestral player, and chamber musician. He intensively studied music theory with Jeanette Davis, music history with Eric Charnofsky, and Dalcroze Eurhythmics with Dr. David Brown.
Drew Robertson received his Suzuki certification in Suzuki Violin Books 1-3 from the American Suzuki Institute at the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point under Nancy Lokken. He studied Suzuki Book 4 and Teaching With an Open Heart at the Ithaca College Suzuki Institute with Edward Kreitman. Continuing training into the higher books, Drew studied Suzuki Book 5 with Nancy Jackson at PhoenixPhest Grande, Suzuki Book 6 with Alice Joy Lewis at the American Suzuki Institute, and reviewed Suzuki Book 1 with Ronda Cole at the Greater Washington Suzuki Institute. Most recently, Drew completed the Suzuki Principles in Action course, the final course requirement for the Certificate of Achievement in Suzuki Pedagogy. Drew maintains an active membership with the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA).
Music Therapy Background
Drew Robertson studied music therapy as a graduate student at Nazareth College under Dr. Bryan Hunter and Dr. Betsy King. Despite ultimately deciding to pursue music education as a career, Drew's experience in the field of music therapy has contributed to his expertise and interest in working with students who have Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Tourette's Disorder, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and other mental or physical health challenges.
Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies
In 2015 and 2017, Drew attended the Starling-DeLay Symposium on Violin Studies at The Juilliard School as a teacher participant. This unrivaled opportunity features young artists and renowned teachers in a series of intensive pedagogy classes, masterclasses, and recitals. The 2015 artist faculty included Sarah Chang, Ronald Copes, Brian Lewis, Kurt Sassmannshaus, Daniel Heifetz, Laurie Smukler, and Giora Schmidt. 2017 faculty included Shmuel Ashkenasi, Stephanie Chase, Paul Kantor, Joan Kwuon, Donald Weilerstein, Nicholas Kitchen, Kurt Sassmannshaus, Brian Lewis, Areta Zhulla, and Sirena Huang
American String Teacher's Association Member
Since 2012, Drew has been a member of the American String Teacher's Association (ASTA), the largest network of school and private studio string teachers in the United States. He attended and presented at the national conferences in 2014 in Louisville, KY and 2015 in Salt Lake City, UT, and attended the 2016 conference in Tampa, FL, 2017 conference in Pittsburgh, and 2018 conference in Atlanta. The ASTA conferences offer an enormous wealth of knowledge from experienced music teachers, music publishers, equipment manufacturers, and violin shops, and instrument makers from across the United States.
Creative Ability Development Instructor
Drew Robertson is an active teacher and advocate of improvisation and alternative styles in performance. CAD is a method of improvisation that allows students to expressively create 'answers' to a series of musical 'questions.' Drew co-presented CAD workshops at the 2014 and 2015 ASTA National Conferences and edited Basslines and Fantasias: Creative Ability Development Book Two.
Drew seeks to find the optimal sound from each instrument, whether at a student or professional level. Unlike most teachers, Drew frequently meets with parents and students outside of lesson times to find the perfect instrument or adjust setup to improve a student's potential and reduce risk of injury. Drew's studies as a luthier's apprentice under Dalton Potter allow him to find the proper instrument and setup for each student. Always interested in pursuing further studies, Drew has as one professional goal to continue his training in string instrument setup, restoration, and repair.
Academic Studies in Music
Believing musical knowledge is integral to becoming a complete musician, Drew teaches courses in music history, music theory, improvisation, and science of sound. In order to prepare students for the rigors of college, Drew's classes provide students with collegiate-level instruction and opportunities to receive credit for their work through the Royal Conservatory Music Development Program and CollegeBoard AP.
The Harley School
From 2016-2017, Drew directed the orchestra program at The Harley School in Rochester New York, and led the three orchestras through challenging repertoire such as Bartok's Divertimento for Strings and Biber's exciting Battalia. Additionally, Drew taught studio lessons to all beginning students, coached chamber ensembles including Tchaikovksy's intense Souvenir de Florence, and led classes in music appreciation and AP Music Theory.
McQuaid Jesuit High School
Drew Robertson taught at McQuaid Jesuit High School from 2013-2016, directing the orchestra program, teaching courses in general music and music history, and teaching private lessons. Under his leadership, the orchestra performed original professional-level works such as Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, The Corelli Christmas Concerto, Gluck's Dance of the Furies, The Beethoven Violin Concerto, Mendelssohn's sparkling String Symphony No. 10, and Beethoven's monumental Egmont Overture. Drew arranged concert trips for students to see world-class ensembles such as 2Cellos, The Piano Guys, The Cleveland Orchestra, and The New York Philharmonic. In addition, he organized frequent community outreach concerts to local elder care centers, and began the McQuaid Jesuit Instrumental Music Competition.
The Kanack School of Music
From 2012-2015, Drew established himself as a leading teacher at the Kanack School of Music. In addition to teaching privately, Drew coached chamber ensembles, assisted and conducted within the orchestra program, led group classes, and taught courses in a variety of musical subjects, including, music appreciation, acoustics, music history, and AP Music Theory. During the summer, Drew led group classes and coached chamber ensembles at the Kanack School's summer camps. Additionally, Drew performed regularly on faculty chamber concerts and in recital.
Cleveland Institute of Music Preparatory Program
While studying at the Cleveland Institute of Music, Drew led sectionals and assisted with the preparatory orchestra program from 2008-2010. The strong Suzuki and youth orchestra programs at CIM, along with the opportunity to work with outstanding faculty, was an inspiration to pursue music education.
Grand Rapids Christian High School
Drew Robertson began his teaching career as an orchestral teaching assistant under Dr. John Blakemore at Grand Rapids Christian High School from 2005-2007. At the age of 15, Drew led rehearsals and conducted portions of school concerts, led violin and viola sectionals, managed chamber ensembles, ran the orchestra library, and improvised with the school's worship team.