Skip to main content

Parent Kenyetta Giles Haynes interviewed violinist and CMPI Mentor Emelina Escobar. Their conversation is below.

When I typed your name into my browser one of the first things to pop up was “Lieta Music.” I love origin stories. What sparked your “eureka” moment in creating Lieta Music?

Emelinda2I started Lieta during the pandemic. It was right when everything shut down and all of our performances went away. I had a lot of friends in the same situation. I was lucky in that I had a full teaching studio. I would teach students outside in their backyards for safety. One day a neighbor came over and said she loved that I was teaching outside and that she enjoyed the sound.

The parent asked about my overall wellbeing. I said that I was doing fine but had lots of friends who don’t teach. It was sad for us that we couldn’t do what we love to do, which is to perform! The parent looked at me and at the backyard and said, “We can put on a concert in our backyard.” I took her up on the offer. I contacted a friend and asked if they wanted to join me. We started to advertise and sell tickets. The first concert was so successful that we booked ten more after that. We realized that we could bring the music directly to people in their neighborhoods. We had a built-in audience because everyone was stuck at home. People were so kind and generous. That’s how Lieta started. For me it was very rewarding, during the pandemic, to give myself and my colleagues a chance to perform while also making a meaningful impact on communities.

I’m envisioning a traveling Ravinia. I read that you perform as a soloist, in chamber ensembles, and in orchestras. Do you have a preference?

Emelinda3The simple answer is that I enjoy performing everything. I perform with the Chicago Opera Theater Orchestra, Elgin Symphony, International Chamber Artists, and the Fort Wayne Orchestra. The more complicated answer is that I used to be in love with string quartet and I focused a lot on that. When I started doing everything – orchestra, teaching, and solo recitals – I realized that I just love having the violin in my hands and playing. I still think I enjoy chamber music the best. Chamber offers a very close and personal connection with the other musicians. It’s the most satisfying.

You mentioned that you were fortunate to have a teaching as well as a performance career – especially during the pandemic. Did you always know that you wanted to teach and perform as a professional musician?

My mom is a violin and piano teacher and I grew up helping her. I’ve always taught. My mom gave me my first student to teach at age 15. I was helping her and she was beginning to teach me how to be a teacher. I learned how rewarding it can be. I always knew I wanted to teach and perform. The musicians who I looked up to in college were high level performers and teachers. I knew I had the capacity to do both as well.

How do you discuss careers in music with your students?

Emelinda1I encourage them to do their best and to try everything. They will find their niche.

How long have you been a CMPI mentor and what made you want to join?

It was during the pandemic when I looked around and said, “OK, now what?” Many people I knew had to pivot. I looked around and realized that I really wanted to perform. I knew that I had to be patient. I found out about CMPI during the pandemic. The program is amazing. My father is a minority student affairs counselor at a university. I saw parallels in what he does and the mission of CMPI. I wanted to help in some way, and James told me about the mentorship program. There is something so meaningful about being a part of the solution to a collective goal.

Technical juries start next week. What advice do you have for students?

I feel like each student is uniquely different in terms of their learning process. I try to help students find their strength and learn their process. Some students need a structured process and routine. Some students might benefit from a mock jury to get over performance anxiety. Some students might need to relax and could benefit from yoga. Different things can help different students. I’m most interested in helping students find what works for them. I have one mentee who likes to write everything down and another who is more of a free spirit. One key is to balance things. It’s most important for students to learn what works for them. That’s what I love about music. It can help us figure ourselves out.

What is something that you do that helps you to elevate your performance?

For me it’s very important that I am rested and relaxed. The days leading up to a jury I switch from practicing the repertoire to only practicing the performance. You need to switch your mind from focusing on the mistakes to big picture performing. You want to get away from fixing things. So, I’m practicing less and performing more. It’s tricky for some students to actually practice performing versus practicing to fix mistakes. In a performance if you make a mistake the goal is to recover as fast as possible and move forward.


Provided by Emelinda Escobar

Would you like to make a gift to support CMPI?

Donate today