A private violin student of Paul Rolland’s since eighth grade, Susan Starrett’s parents made weekly trips from Peoria to Urbana for the privilege of working with The Master. Her teacher from fifth grade to 8th, J. Elmer Szepessy, a fellow Hungarian, who had done some summer work with Paul, took her for her first lesson in Urbana. She studied with him through high school and college, as well as years afterwards. In other words, Paul Rolland was her sole violin teacher other than a year with famed violinist Roman Totenberg who was at U of I, during Paul’s sabbatical, her Junior year. During high school, She was a two-time Concertmaster of the Illinois All State Orchestra and soloist with the Peoria Symphony. She studied viola with Anthony Devroye of the Avalon String Quartet of NIU.
An honors graduate of the U of I School of Music She enjoyed a career in Music Education before devoting myself entirely to her private Studio. Public School Orchestra work included: Conductor of high school orchestra programs in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, Proviso Township in Illinois, and Bryan Adams High School and the Dallas Youth Symphony (Dal-Hi) in Dallas, Texas. During her career in school orchestra work, she conducted: The Illinois All State Orchestra at the International Society of Music Educators in Dijon, France, The Dal-Hi Youth Symphony, founded/conducted the Fox Valley Youth Symphony – Illinois, conducted numerous IMEA and All State festivals in Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Texas and National seminars. Ms. Starrett served as an adjudicator and seminar presenter on violin/viola technique.
Ms. Starrett has performed with symphonies in Wisconsin, Illinois and Texas. In 1970, was named “Orchestra Director of the Year” in Texas (TMEA/ASTA), in 1994, named “Orchestra Director of the Year” in Illinois (IMEA/ASTA), and the 2011-2012 “Educator of the Year” by the Elgin Youth Symphony. Two high school orchestra programs – Bryan Adams H.S. Symphony of Dallas and York Community H.S. of Elmhurst, IL – named “National Honors Orchestra” for MENC in 1970 and 1994.
Susan S. Starrett was honored with a U of I endowed Violin/Scholarship Chair given by former violin student Sheila Johnson – who also edited Mr. Rolland’s Strings in Action. Listed in “Who’s Who in Music,” a London publication.
The Susan S. Starrett String Studio offers excellence in teaching upper middle school and high school violin and viola students with a serious desire to improve. Lessons include a strong emphasis on: scales/arpeggios, etudes, and solo repertoire. This is the pattern of all Paul Rolland lessons. Students of this Studio have excelled with nearly 200 All Staters in Illinois or Texas, 17 named Concertmaster and 15 named a Principal chair, and nearly all are college scholarship winners. 100% of students striving for a college scholarship have successfully receive one or more. Currently, 14 former students playing in major symphonies in the U.S. or Europe.