Ms. Cathy Mulligan Young
Violin, Viola, Cello, Piano Teacher, Parent
My love of music grew from a musical family. My three older siblings and I all took traditional music lessons. but I did grow up in an environment congruent with the Suzuki philosophy for musical training. I was immersed in classical music. My father played piano. My two brothers played violin, and my sister played piano and cello. My mother sang and played the autoharp for children at the library and a day care center.
As Suzuki philosophy would predict, music immersion led to musical/talent development. My mother tells me before I could talk, she heard me humming a Schubert Violin Sonata. This was the piece my oldest brother was diligently practicing at the time. This brother now plays violin with the Baltimore Symphony. My sister teaches and conducts an international-award winning high school orchestra in Charlottesville, Virginia. My other brother teaches architecture at Harvard Graduate School of Design. He still performs violin in chamber music concerts in the Boston area, and he sings with the Tanglewood Chorus.
I started piano lessons when I was six years old. Even though I protested (at age 8) that the violin was lighter to carry, my brother talked me into choosing viola next, to complete our sibling string quartet. I feel grateful for all the opportunities I had to play and learn viola in the Alexandria Public Schools, Northern Virginia Youth Symphony, regional and state orchestras, later with Friday Morning Music Club, Vassar College Orchestra, Harvard-Radcliffe Orchestra, at Brevard Music Center and other music camps, and always among friends and family.
I studied viola with Stefanie Fricker at Vassar, where I graduated with more music credits than psychology (my major). I started playing violin in college. From Vassar, I worked for six psychologists who helped people with learning disabilities discover their strengths and weaknesses, to find effective learning strategies given that information. I applied to become a Peace Corps Volunteer. Just when I was about to give up on that idea so I could instead pursue more music education, Peace Corps invited me to teach string music in Belize City, Belize. That’s where I started cello practice.
The generous people of Belize helped raise funds to send me and two other Belizean musicians to my first Suzuki Institute, for violin. I fell in love with Dr. Suzuki’s teaching ideas and the way teachers interacted with students to engage them in learning. I began attending Suzuki Institutes every summer, at first enjoying teacher training, later watching my own students participate, and finally as a proud mother of two budding violinists.
Missing the tropical climate of Belize, I moved to Hilo and nearby Keaau, Hawaii, where I teach privately and direct the Orchid Isle Orchestra, a community string ensemble. Last summer, I was thrilled to conduct the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra (for a few minutes) as part of the week-long BSO Academy for Music Educators. My son studies violin at Boston Conservatory; he is also an accomplished pianist. My daughter plays violin; her favorite activities are singing and acting in musical theater. I continue to learn, even as I teach, and am grateful to be in a profession where life-long learning is part of the environment.