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Ode to Joy

By Steven Dawson

Allie Martin

Allie Martin discovered the joy of music early in life. 

“I was five,” she explains, “and they had these things called ‘petting zoos’ for instruments, which is where they have a bunch of people demo instruments. I played the violin—and there it was. After that, I started studying in the Suzuki method. I’ve been playing violin now for almost 16 years.”  

After graduating from high school in Bowie, Maryland, at age 16, Martin attended American University. “My mother was not ready to let me go far,” she jokes. “The conductor we had at AU two years ago was also the conductor of the DC Youth Orchestra, which I was part of. So he sort of led me to AU.”  

Currently studying under Theresa Lazar, a musician in residence, Martin says that the collaboration and the new music she has found at AU have enriched her experience. 

She recently was named a Director’s Musician of Accomplishment by program director Nancy Snider. But her accolades do not end there. Last March she won the MTNA Eastern Division Young Artist String Competition and went on to compete as a finalist at the national competition at Disneyland in Anaheim, California. (The Music Teachers National Association is the oldest professional music association in the United States.) 

“Your program must feature two contrasting works but cannot be over 30 minutes,” Martin says. “I played the first movement of the [Samuel] Barber [Violin] Concerto and two movements of Bach with an accompanist.” 

Nancy Snider is justifiably proud of Martin and her accomplishments. “This is a highly competitive national competition, and it is a great honor and a great tribute to Allie’s hard work and talent that she has earned this very impressive distinction,” she says. “Congratulations must also go to her wonderful teacher, Teri Lazar.” 

Martin also helps other D.C.- area youth discover the beauty of violin music. “I teach at Sitar Arts Center, which actually has an instrument petting zoo, too. I’ve been teaching there for two years, and before that I was their development intern. I teach six kids now, 7 to 14 years old. Some of them are beginners, but my two 14-year-olds have been playing for a while, so we work on some more advanced things.” 

After she graduates in December, Martin plans to pursue graduate study in music in the fall of 2014. “The plan is to study some sort of musicology,” she says. “I plan to get a doctorate and come back into the university system and teach.”