Get to Know the DSSO: Amy Eichers, Violin II

Name: Amy Eichers

Member of DSSO since: Briefly in 1991, Sub for 2003-04, and current chair in 2005

DSSO Position: 2nd Violin

Education: I got my start on the violin in the public schools of International Falls, MN with John Faith. My family moved to Duluth in 1987 where I was a student of Anita Rauschenfels, Beryl Pettigrew, Jerry Jones, and Diane Balko. I studied under Diane Balko for my undergraduate degree at UW-Superior, plus a year and a half with Mary Horozanieki at Augsburg College.

What made you decide to pursue a career in music? 
Music has always brought joy to my life. I began playing the piano at age 8 and wanted to be a pianist. Looking back now, I feel like the violin pursued me. Jerry Jones came to Woodland Junior High to give lessons during the day as part of Orchestra class. He encouraged me to become more serious about the violin. When I went to East, Beryl Pettigrew was filling in for Jerry Jones, who was getting his masters degree. Beryl was the one who pulled me aside and told me that I had promise and that I needed to be studying violin outside of school. He got me connected with Diane Balko. Studying with Mrs. Balko changed my life. It was that next year, my junior year of high school, that I decided to become an Orchestra Teacher. I am now teaching Orchestra at Superior High School.

What has been the highlight of your career thus far? 
There are so many! Music has been so good to me! Playing in Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, first with the MN All-State Orchestra and then again with the DSSO. As a kid my class took field trips there so it was a big deal to me! My first ever season with the DSSO we traveled to Thunder Bay to play The Planets by Gustav Holst with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra. Wow! Taking my Mom backstage to meet Davy Jones after one of our Pops Concerts.

 What made you choose to play violin? 
In 5th grade, the band teacher came to demonstrate the instruments. I really wanted to play the flute. It was a small case and it was so shiny. The flute was $35 a month to rent and violin was only $15 for the whole year. My parents saw that and told me I was playing violin. It really wasn’t a big deal though, I just wanted to play another instrument. Bonus: After I signed up I found out the my grandpa had a violin and he gave it to me. It was pretty awesome! Can you see how the violin has pursued me?

What’s the most challenging thing about playing violin?
Finding/Making time to practice. I think that is true for any musician at any age. It has to be a priority and you have to make time for it. There are always other things that you could fill your time with.

Do you have a favorite piece of orchestral repertoire to play and/or listen to? 
Favorites to play: The Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinksy, The Planets by Gustav Holst and Aaron Copland’s Third Symphony. I love being surrounded by the big sound of all those pieces. The hair standing up at the back of your neck and all the way down your arms and sometimes tears in your eyes…the physical reactions to music can not be beat!

When you’re not performing, what do you do for fun? 
Spend time with my husband and two girls. We love hiking, gardening, spending time at the lake swimming, fishing, and kayaking. I love to do puzzles and play cards. I also claim that I am a golfer and a runner.

What’s one thing you hope people take away from a DSSO concert? 
Besides reigniting a love and passion for music because it is such big part of our humanity, my hope is that DSSO audiences will always support music in our schools. Our young people need it and so does our society. I have had students tell me that music has literally saved their life. It is especially important for underprivileged students. What you see and hear on our stage starts in our schools. I am a only one example of this out of many!

Do you have any advice for those looking to pursue a career in music? 
College Degree: Start learning piano now (if you haven’t)! Start learning the basics of music theory. Education Specific: Start giving beginning lessons, because there is no better teacher than experience.
Performing: Take advantage of every opportunity that you have to play and perform. You never know where that opportunity will take you next. Keep striving! Stay hungry for the next challenge, the next performance, the next opportunity.