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Faculty Profile: Elise Dalleska

Elise Dalleska is one of the rare violinists who has found a perfect balance between performance and pedagogy. Elise teaches four days a week at the Community Music Division. Her students have gone on to receive numerous awards while she herself has appeared on stage in performances ranging from symphony orchestras and fiddling contests to playing for Mary J. Blige. Elise is now in her sixth year of teaching at the Community Music Division.

Q. What are the traits of a good teacher? A good performer?

Patience. And patience.

Q. What is your teaching philosophy?

That answer could go on forever! What is most important to me right now is that, as a teacher, I listen to my student's ideas, thoughts and questions as a human being, regardless of their age or skill.

Q. What has been the most rewarding part of teaching? Of  performing?

Seeing my students grow into young adults as they move into high school or the wonder in the eyes of my five year old students as they learn a new piece. Watching/hearing my students sight-read, hearing their questions and learning what wonderful people they are.

For performing it is all the different venues I get to play in: Symphony Center, weddings in Chicago, performing with R&B artists, fiddle contests with friends and in recitals with my students.

Q. How did you begin teaching and why have you continued?

I started teaching in college and grad school to help pay the bills. But for me, teaching is far more rewarding than performing and so I have shaped my career around that.

Q. Has teaching had an impact on your playing?

Teaching has helped me in every aspect. I've become a better violinist, a better listener, a better aunt and a better problem solver. Performing has given me the experience I need to help my students perform well, and hopefully, better then I do!

Q. How do you balance your performing and teaching schedules?

As many of my students know, I promised myself when I started teaching that if I wasn't successful at it, I would find something else to do, otherwise it would not be fair to them or their families. I still feel that commitment and therefore my teaching takes priority. There are exceptions! Sometimes I get calls for gigs that only come once in awhile, or are important to take to continue my performance career. When those come up, I have to make them my priority on those days. Before student recitals I do not take gigs, though, because I've made a commitment to my students to be there for them as they prepare their pieces. If I expect them to take their preparation seriously, I must do the same.