What We Do At Lessons
Listen to Bernard and Marsha on YouTube
Contact Us



Hi and welcome! Thanks for visiting my website.

I've been excited about music since I was born. My sister Renee was already starting to play piano, so I was a natural to play music also. She was my first piano teacher. What fun we had! Early on I saw that teaching and learning can be a great time. I started when I was 6 years old. Most kids are ready to start at age 5.

My other sister Denise got started early, before me, on violin. I loved the violin and wanted to play it too!
My mom had recordings of all kinds of music with all kinds of instruments. And it was the violin I fell in love with; oh, how I wanted to learn to play it! So after a couple of years of piano my mom let me add on violin.

I loved playing violin. But I didn’t love practicing. Sound familiar? But my mom always encouraged me to do it. I guess I was lucky because the practice I did was focused and effective, so I made excellent progress. Perhaps having excellent and motivating teachers helped.

My first violin teacher Isabel Stovel was also Isaac Stern's first teacher. Later I studied with Carol Weston, student of the great Leopold Auer. By age 14, I was lucky to begin my years of study with SFSO violinist Zaven Melikian soon to be concertmaster of the San Francisco Opera Orchestra. On piano my teachers included the
very knowledgeable Oakland-based teacher Caroline Irons, Dr. Robert Vetlesen concert pianist and student of Josef Lhevinne, and Herman Vanderkamp, internationally known concert pianist and pedagogue.

Up to age 16, my musical education was primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area. But from that time forward, I'd have great musical experiences in many locations: summers in Interlochen Michigan at the National Music Camp and at the Aspen Music Festival; study, master classes, and private instruction from many great musicians. During my university bachelor's and masters programs, I studied conducting, orchestra performance and chamber music from Lazlo Varga, principal cellist NY Philharmonic, chamber music from Andor Toth Sr. of the Alma Trio and Ferenc Molnar acclaimed violist and instructor. Additionally I had private violin study with Frank Houser, concertmaster SFSO, Zaven Melikian, and Rolf Persinger principal viola SFSO. Ivan Galamian at the Curtis Institute, Stuart Canin concertmaster SFSO, the Juilliard String Quartet, and Lillian Fuchs of the Juilliard School of Music were all major influences in my musical life. My stint at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia gave me a
big taste of music and culture in the East. I was ready for it and loved the competition!


But then, as great luck would have it, a position in the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra opened up. I auditioned and was invited to join. Suddenly I was performing with an incredible professional group of fabulous players,
not just in the orchestra but also playing quartets and other chamber music, too. I learned so much from these great musical interactions and experiences. Another huge learning aspect was meeting and playing with the superstar soloists and conductors who visited and performed with the SFSO every week. Maestro Josep Krips
was a friend and mentor for me for many years as I was growing up, but it was Masetro Seiji Ozawa who invited
me to become a member of the SFSO. He told me he was excited to build a great orchestra with players of my skills and positive atitude.

As the years rolled by, almost 20 of them with the SFSO, I played music, talked music, and learned from the greats: Perlman, Zukerman, Milstein, Francescatti, Watts, Du Pre, Barenboim, Ma, Serkin, Mazur, Blomstedt, Tilson Thomas to mention just a few. They taught me a lot about music, but also about attitude and positivity and self belief.

I love to encourage others in their gifts. My musical skills are
highly developed so that I feel no threat from any other musician or student. When I attend professional music performances, I can hardly wait to tell the performers how much I loved what they just shared with me.

As a quick aside, I remember once hearing the SFSO conducted by Kurt Mazur in a piece by Beethoven. (I was on vacation that week!) The performance was fairly sloppy but so musical and exciting! I went backstage, and Mazur and some musicians were standing around talking about the problems. I wriggled into the group and hugged Kurt, saying “But Maestro, it was sooo exciting, I loved it!”


And he stopped, gave a big smile, and said, “Really? Wow, yes, I guess that’s what we’re all about, yes, we make exciting music! Even if there are a few mistakes! Ha, ha!” He was smiling from ear to ear as if I had reminded
him of a fundamental concept that often is forgotten.

When my students perform, I praise them to the skies for their success. They are never perfect (who is?), but they know that what I value most highly, is what they have succeeded in accomplishing.




Meet Marsha

What We Do At Lessons


Listen to Bernard and Marsha on YouTube

Contact Us