Columbia College Chicago

Meet the Faculty

Christie-Keiko Abe

Violin, Suzuki Violin
Chamber Ensemble

Undergraduate: B.M (Honors) University of Sydney - Sydney Conservatorium of Music (Violin/Piano).

Postgraduate: M.M - Australian Institute of Music (Violin/Piano) PhD Specialist in Music Performance ( Violin) - University of Michigan School of Music (Pi Kappa Lambda Music Honors). Post-graduate Artist Certificate in Performance ( Violin) - University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music.  Suzuki Pedagogy (Violin & Piano): Capital University Suzuki Institute, Ohio & Music Institute, Chicago, IL.

Hometown: Sydney, Australia

Preferred age: 3.5 years and up 

Preferred student level: All levels (beginner to advanced / professional level)

How long have you been at Sherwood? Since fall 2009

About Christie-Keiko:
I perform extensively as a soloist, chamber, orchestra musician and accompanist.  I have given solo recitals in the USA, Japan and Australia, and have appeared as a soloist with the Sydney Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, Australian Musicians Academy Recital Series, Starling recital series in Aspen, Akademie Konzert series in Austria, Pan Pacific Piano festival, PianoForte foundation Schubertiade series, and a concert series sponsored by Chicago Japanese-American Association. Additionally, I have performed at numerous music festivals in North America, Oceania, and Europe, including the Aspen Music Festival, the Pacific International Music Festival, and the Mozarteum Sommerakademie in Salzburg, Austria.

I have held the position of Concertmaster at the Michigan Musical Theater Orchestra, International Pacific Music Festival, and Mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra, which made their first appearance at the Sydney Opera House, Australia and also a principal second violin at the recent Lincoln Center Theater production - Broadway musical tour in Chicago, " South Pacific".

I have won many Violin and Piano competitions and have recorded on the NAXOS, Arabesque, Albany, and Equillibrim labels. I am a founding member of the Chicago Trio, Ensemble 312 and the IRIS Orchestra under music director Michael Stern in Tennessee, which regularly performs with world class artists including Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Midori, Gil Shaham, and Yo-Yo Ma.

My major violin teachers include Harry Curby, David Perry, Paul Kantor and Masao Kawasaki. I have studied piano with Junko Nagata, Gabriella Pusner, Margaret Hair, Russian concert pianists, Oleg Stepanov and Prof. Lev Vlassenko from the Moscow Conservatory.

What do you want to impart to your students through your teaching?
I want to teach students correct violin and piano technique and musicality, which are the most important factors of playing both instruments. My approach comes from sharing the knowledge I have received while working with world-class musicians to bring out the best in my students, technically and musically. I always try to keep lessons focused on the most important elements while making them fun, with a positive and encouraging environment.

Are there specific methods/techniques that you use in your teaching that may be important to share with new students?
I teach my newest students by introducing traditional and Suzuki methods together, with a combined technical and musical approach. I also introduce note reading and basic music theory early on to ensure long term success in music.

What do you most enjoy about teaching?
Teaching excites me because I see my students grow musically and personally, and pick up what I taught them through the lessons. It is very rewarding to see students get excited about playing music and accomplish something after we have worked hard together.

Describe your musical pursuits outside Sherwood.
As a violin performer, I work with IRIS Orchestra, Chicagoland pops Orchestra, Chicago Philharmonic Orchestra, Ravinia Festival Orchestra, and Elgin Symphony Orchestra. As a pianist, I accompany students for recitals, juries and competitions. I teach privately at my studio in downtown Chicago, and I also teach at several high schools. In addition, I give recitals, master classes, and I am frequently invited to serve on juries at competitions and auditions. Every summer, my Chicago Trio hosts a summer chamber music workshop, which teaches students valuable chamber music skills.

What is your earliest musical experience or best musical memory?
I began studying the piano at the age of 6, and violin at the age of 9. I was attracted to music by going to classical concerts while I was young, and enjoyed going to music camps, where I made many friends playing music together. My aunt, a concert pianist in Japan, was my first teacher; had weekly solfage, aural skills, music dictation and piano lessons, which I loved.  I was also a school accompanist every morning at my high school assembly and loved to harmonize the part every morning!

Please describe one of your favorite teachers or mentors.
My favorite teacher was more than just musically inspiring; he always taught me to be more aware of my playing, which helped me to become a better player. In addition to his remarkable patience and relentless encouragement, his sense of humor made lessons fun.

Who is your favorite composer or what is your favorite musical period?
I enjoy all eras of classic music; however, I particularly love the repertoires from the Romantic period, which are very emotional and expressive, with lots of tonal colors.  My favorite composers are Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninov, and Shostakovich, as their musical depth, richness of sound, and contrast with beautiful yet melancholic tunes really touch me.