Simply Violin

Simply Violin Blogs
Lisa Berman
About the Violin Teacher
Lisa Berman, M.M.

Lisa Berman holds a Masters Degree in Violin Performance from the Yale School of Music and a Bachelor of Arts degree in music history and theory from Yale University. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota,

Lisa began violin lessons at age four at MacPhail Center for Music, where she studied with Mark Bjork and Mary West. She went on to study with Erick Friedman at Yale School of Music. Lisa has been teaching private violin lessons for over a decade to students of all ages and levels in New Haven, CT, Pittsburgh, and now the Twin Cities area. Lisa is a past first prize winner in the Schubert Club Solo Competition and has been a guest soloist with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and at Tanglewood.

Lisa is the producer and an author of the Simply Violin Series of instructional books for violin, available online from, Southwest Strings, The Sound Post (Canada), and in music stores across the country.

sheila Graves
About the Violin Dealer
Sheila Graves

Sheila Graves holds a degree in viola performance from Northwestern University and has been a violin dealer for almost 30 years.  She has worked for Kenneth Stein Violins in Chicago, Sioux Falls Music, and Claire Givens Violins, and has also owned her owned violin shop. 

Currently, she is Sales Manager at House of Note Violin Shop in Minneapolis, where she specializes in selling and appraising instruments and bows in the violin family. Sheila is a member of the Violin Society of America, the American Viola Society. She has lectured as a dealer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas national convention about the Lark Stradivarius violin. Sheila is available to answer questions about violins, bows, and accessories, as well as to do online appraisals.

Sheila is also the author of Serious Fiddling: Fiddle Tunes for Violin published by SimplyViolin.
Susan Giannantonio
About the Artist
Susan Giannantonio

Born in Bradford, Pennsylvania and educated in voice, piano and violin in Princeton, NJ and Philadelphia, Susan developed an appreciation for watercolor when first inspired by visits to the Andrew Wyeth collection of the Brandywine Museum along with other Philadelphia area museums and galleries. There, in 1983 she began private study in watercolor.

Moving to Houston in the mid 1980s, she began formal studies of drawing, oil painting and composition at the Glassell School of Art. She eventually became employed by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, first in the Publications Department and, later, the office of director Peter Marzio.

Through the Watercolor Art Society-Houston (WAS-H), Susan has enjoyed many workshops, studying with some of the country’s finest watercolor instructors. Establishing her own studio in 1996, she continues to investigate watercolor’s wonderful transparency, brilliant color and versatility. She is now a WAS-H instructor of mixed watermedia techniques.

Susan has served as president of WAS-H, and most recently as volunteer development director. As a result of her hard working team, WAS-H is enjoying the first building in the US known to have been constructed for the specific purposes of teaching and exhibiting watercolor.

A mother of two grown sons, Susan also offers private instruction in piano, violin and cello. She and her husband Bruce Winquist divide their time between Houston and Chautauqua Lake in western New York.
Ute Zahn luthier
About the Violin Maker
Ute Zahn

Ute is a graduate of the Newark School of Violin Making and Repair and a violin maker and restorer whose instruments are played all over the world.  She has worked for Beverley Music Centre in England, Sandra Wagstaff in Hong Kong, Vintage Violins in Vancouver, B.C., and Claire Givens Violins, Minneapolis among other fine shops. She is currently a luthier at House of Note Violin Shop.

Ute grew up in Duesseldorf, Germany, where she studied cello under Professor Juergen Wolf of the Duesseldorf Conservatory. At the age of nineteen, she moved to England to attend the Newark School of Violin Making, and has worked as a violin maker and restorer ever since, while still maintaining an active life making music.

Ute spent the 1990s living in Hong Kong, combining the running of her own violin business with a busy freelancing schedule. She performed with the Hong Kong Sinfonietta, touring Taiwan and China several times, as well as the Hong Kong Chamber Orchestra, the Mount Davis String Quartet, and the Mandarin Trio; and played in numerous theatre, opera and ballet productions. The venues she performed in ranged from junks to the governor’s mansion to Chinese sports stadiums.

Since moving to the Twin Cities, Ute has focused on playing chamber music, while also exploring the colorful world of pop by joining the avant-garde indie-pop band Smattering. She currently plays with the West End String Quartet, as well as the Ayana Quartet.

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