As the sun set last Friday evening, about 50 people sat in chairs lined up in rows in the Midas Tires parking lot on Valley Boulevard. The ocassion? A violin concert ranging from hip hop to jazz to Michael Jackson. The mastermind of this unique performance was Lucy Xi Lu, a musician and owner of Violinbaby Music Studio.
I started taking violin lessons with Lucy five years ago. When I first saw her thin, long fingers, I could not believe that they were strong enough to press down on metal strings, but I was surprised to find out that she sometimes plays for more than four hours at a time. I spoke with her a few days before the show about how she began playing violin in China when she was just three years old, why she decided on an outdoor concert at a tire shop, and what she hopes to achieve with her students.
Why an outdoor recital in a tire shop on Valley?
Well, we’re located here. Since Main Street usually gets all the attention, I thought this event might help attract more locals to Valley. It’s also really practical – there is space outside and it is summer. All our neighbors are excited because it’s something to attract people to us and hopefully to their businesses as well.
Can you tell me about your education as a musician?
I started playing violin at age three with my father who is also a violinist. Then I went to art school in Yunnan, China. After art school I went to Beijing and studied at the Central Conservatory of Music for five years. I came to the United States to get more education, to learn more about playing the violin, and to get different kind of experience from another part of the world. When I came to Los Angeles, I studied first at Pasadena Community College and currently I am have a scholarship at the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at Cal State Long Beach.
Why did you start teaching?
My father is a violin teacher in China; he has a violin school with more than 200 students and six teachers. I've been helping him teach at his school since I was 15, so teaching is something I've been very familiar with. After coming to the US, I got a job working and teaching at Johnny Thompson Music in Monterey Park. From there I started my teaching career.
How did Violinbaby Music Studio start?
I started teaching violin first and then I began having too many students. It seemed like I needed a place that would be my own, just in case we had rehearsals with groups or needed more space. So there we go, we started Violinbaby. As more people started to learn about it, people started asking for piano and guitar lessons. Right now we have two piano teachers and one guitar teacher.
How many students do you currently teach?
We give lessons to about 50 students. That is including violin, piano and guitar lessons.
Why do you like teaching music?
It’s fun. I like kids, and music has always been my passion. Being able to share my passion with other people is always a great thing. Since I love talking and sharing, it seemed natural for me to be a teacher. I really enjoy doing what I do.
Interview was edited and condensed.