Since he was 5 years old, Aaron Berofsky has known he wanted to be a violinist, but it wasn’t until recently that he found a second passion — teaching.
“I’ve always love performing,” said Berofsky, professor of violin at the University of Michigan. “But seeing students grasp something for the first time is (special).”
Berofsky has toured as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and in Germany, Italy, Spain and Canada. He’s performed in renowned venues, including Carnegie Hall and the 92nd Street Y, and his music’s been featured on NPR’s Performance Today and on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Now, he’s returned as a full-time instructor at Chautauqua Institution and will share his violin expertise in a master class at 2 p.m. Friday in McKnight Hall.
Berofsky said one of his friends jokes that “I teach to support my playing habit.” But Berofsky doesn’t see it that way.
“At first I was afraid it would take energy away from performing,” he said. “But I play a lot and the two don’t get in each other’s way.”
Ten or 15 years ago, Berofsky said, he might not have felt the same way. When he was offered his teaching position at the University of Michigan, Berofsky was hesitant. He said that he feared it would interfere with his performance career.
Now, he understands the two positions don’t fight each other, but actually complement one another.
Recently, while teaching a master class at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, Berofsky had an experience that reminded him of his love for teaching while working with a gifted 11-year-old boy.
“We started talking about how to produce sound, sound with textures,” Berofsky said. “And listening to him grasp that was exciting.”
Although it’s only Berofsky’s third year teaching full-time at the Institution, he’s been coming as a guest instructor on and off for 10 years. What stands out about the music program at Chautauqua, Berofsky said, is the friendly environment.
Berofsky said while Chautauqua receives the highest level of talent, it’s also a less competitive atmosphere than other music festivals.
“Chautauqua attracts a certain type of student,” Berofsky said. “Very serious students, but ones looking for support. The students are generally very open to new ideas, and are hardworking and devoted.”
In addition to teaching at the Institution, Berofsky will perform later this summer, on Aug. 11, in a violin recital.
Chautauqua is an ideal location for Berofsky because it gives him an outlet to fulfill both his love for performing and teaching.
“I can’t imagine stopping either one,” Berofsky said.