Esther Slonczewski

Violin Teacher, Katonah NY

"As Esther Slonczewski's former student, I remember long practices with my mom's heavy pocketbook hanging from my bow arm elbow! Wherever I play, I'm always told that I have great technique and fundamentals -- which of course came from Esther's lessons."
-- Patty Pennebaker Rutins

Esther V. Slonczewski (Lepore) earned her B. A . in music education at Oberlin College. She studied also at Julliard School of Music. She learned the Suzuki method from Louise Behrend, and used it to teach her students.

Esther taught music in the New Jersey public schools. She has taught violin privately for more than 34 years, in her studio in Katonah, NY. Her students frequently earn top places in the Westchester youth orchestras. She herself performed for many years in the New Jersey Symphony and the Chappaqua Chamber Orchestra. Her husband, John C. Slonczewski, is an internationally honored theoretical physicist associated with IBM Yorktown. They enjoy summer holidays touring Europe, especially the Alps.

Students perform "Twinkle" at Slonczewski's spring recital,
May, 2003 (photo by Sandra Caulfield)

Student Families:

Recital Receptions

Jennifer and Peter Bajorek

Peter Bajorek, recital

"Esther's classes were such an important part of Peter and Jennifer's early education and social life. Peter was 5 and Jennifer was 3 years old when they began studying with her.
I think they were some of her first Suzuki students."
--Janet Bajorek, mother of Jennifer Bajorek and Peter Bajorek

Alex Caulfield

Alex Caulfield performs Concerto No. 1 in A Minor by Accolay, at the Berkeley Piano Club, January 11, 2009.

Dear Mrs. Slonczewski,

You are a phenomenal teacher, and I enjoyed every one of my six years with you. I'm sorry I couldn't have you as a teacher until I graduated from high school; I would have loved that. I miss our twinkle times! Hope to see you soon!

Alex Caulfield

Dear Esther:

Alex performed in a violin recital at the Berkeley Piano Club two weeks ago, and while she was playing, I had tears in my eyes. I was enjoying her performance, appreciating how she continues to develop her musicality, but I also felt very nostalgic for your recitals. You always had a special ability to draw out the best in your students. I also missed the twinkle time finale!

Warmest regards,
Sandra Caulfield

Richard and Evan Chen

Richard Chen, high school recital

Evan Chen, 2008 recital

"My older son Richard Chen started his lesson with Esther when he was 7 years old (1992). Both of my sons grew up with Esther's violin lessons. Evan was born in 1993. So I consider that he started the lessons before he was born, because he had to go to lesson with Richard and me at that time. After he was born, he started going to Richard's lesson with us when he was 3 and started his own lesson when he was in kindergarten until now. He expects to have another 2+ years of violin lessons before he graduates from high school. I do not know if he qualifies to be the student who is going to stay in Esther's lessons the longest. :-) " -- Sharon Chen

Dear Mrs.Slonczewski,
I’ve had a great ten years of violin. Although I started out very reluctant, I’ve grown to love playing and learning about music. I’m very grateful that you stuck with me for all those years and helped me to develop into the person I am today.


Group recital, photo from Sharon Chen

Dear Esther,

I cannot believe that after having been there during your violin lessons for more than 17 years I still can not play violin at all. :) Both my sons Richard and Evan not only learned a great deal of violin skills but also learned the discipline from you. You played a big role in our family since 1992. I thank you greatly for a lot of life experience sharing, and enjoy all of the moments with you. Happy birthday to you!

Huey-Shiang (Sharon)
(mother of Richard & Evan)

Jennifer Hodgson

February 9, 2009

Esther was our daughter Jennifer’s violin teacher from the ages of 7 to 17 years. She was mine too, for the first year, as the parents learnt to play with their children. Every Friday afternoon all the parents and children would get together in “group” to play some of the pieces. The children stood in the front of the room with their violins held up correctly, and the parents behind. The children began playing and within a few minutes as they all played the same notes, a feeling of unity swept over the group. The parents were caught up in it too and there would be a spirit of joy in the room as everyone created music together.

Esther was very demanding and required lots of practice and effort from her students. In the early years, Jenny was a little scared of her and would practice and practice. She worked hard, and was rewarded with a sticker in her book to show she had perfected the piece. This practice paid off, and Jenny progressed quickly. However, as she grew, she started to have other distractions in her life. The sticker was no longer enough motivation to practice. When a piece had not had enough work, Esther was kind and encouraged her, and when even that did not motivate her, Esther asked Jenny to pick out pieces that she liked and they would play duets.

The first year in High School was not a happy one for Jenny and she wanted to give up the violin. Esther suggested she come anyway, and so Jenny went just to hang out and talk. They talked and talked and sometimes would play pieces that Jenny liked, but mostly talked. Esther provided a calm refuge for Jenny in those difficult years, and she continued her violin through High School, All State Orchestra and up to college.

Esther was so flexible and seemed to know just what to do for her students. Over the years she provided what Jenny needed - instruction, encouragement, caring and friendship. She taught Jenny to love music. Now, many years later Jenny remembers her years with Esther with great affection and attributes her love for music directly to Esther.

Rod and I are very grateful to Esther for all her love for her students, integrity to music and friendship to us.

Gaby Hodgson

Brian and Robert Jensen

Rob and Brian Jensen playing cooperatively

Brian and Rob Jensen - two beginners

"Our two sons, Brian and Rob, studied with Esther over a period of 14 years, 1981-1994.When Brian started, we knew nothing of the Suzuki method and had never heard of "foot papers," "the highway," or "Mississippi hot dog." Soon Rob wanted to participate, so Esther gave him a box with a ruler and a bow so he could "play" the twinkle rhythms. We are very thankful for Esther's contribution to our sons' musical education; both of them played in their college orchestras, they love classical music, and Brian now plays in the Raleigh Symphony Orchestra." --Carol and Erik Jensen

Trent and Francesca Jones
(Materials under construction)

Hannah Moy

Hanna Moy (center), recital.
Photo from Karen and Larry Moy

"Esther has given more to her students than excellent violin instruction. For the past eight years, since our daughter, Hannah, was in first grade, Esther has given Hannah guidance about both music and life. Esther has taught Hannah about speaking up for herself in the face of unfairness, managing situations at school and in her orchestras, and generally has shown and taught Hannah how to become more self-confident.

"Esther always speaks to her students as equals. She never tries to oversimplify what she is saying but trusts that those studying from her can understand what she is saying even when the vocabulary is advanced or the context is complex. It is easy to see how Esther's older students (and alumni) easily shift to an adult relationship with her. I'm sure that what Esther has been teaching Hannah will stay with our daughter for her lifetime. Thank you, Esther!"

-- Karen Moy

The famous receptions after the recitals

Receptions after the recitals, food provided by parents and Slonczewski

"Here is always the highlight for kids --- after recitals' food. Esther's
violin homemade chocolate is always the most popular one."
--Sharon Chen

Tribute website maintained by Joan Slonczewski and John Slonczewski
Update: September 10, 2009