Emma Gies

Emma Gies is a violinist, vocalist, and multi-instrumentalist specializing in improvisation and cross-cultural studies. A passionate educator, Emma inspires her students to develop a lifelong love for music-making. She listens deeply to each of her students, uncovers what inspires them, and nurtures that spark. She encourages her students to take the lead in their journey of musical discovery, to feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for the process.

Emma provides rigorous lessons in a relaxed atmosphere, which include sight reading, ear training, rhythm practice, note-reading and “what if” games (What if we only play on the A string?). She states, “My lessons are relaxed in the sense that I see our relationship as one of equals and we are both learning in the process. I respect and value my students’ autonomy and learning process. I do ask my students to go out of their comfort zone though, and that’s usually when I see a boost in their confidence and self-reliance.”

Emma’s students will receive a solid foundation in classical violin playing and technique and learn to feel comfortable expressing their own ideas on the violin through integrated improvisation and composition ‘play.’ She prepares her students to be able to play across genres—classical, traditional, jazz, and to improvise, so that they can sit down with any other musician and feel excited to have a musical conversation.

She enthusiastically says, “A life of music is a life of adventure and purpose. Through music we get to practice being present, listening deeply, feeling deeply. We encounter bliss and suffering while discovering our strengths and limitations. We engage with ourselves and others deeply. We learn to be human, and that’s what it’s all about.”

Emma has taught hundreds of private students ages 5 through adult over the past 7 years in Atlanta, Boston, and Los Angeles, and guest lectured at Scripps College, Continuing to Make Arts Through Covid- Digital Arts Entrepreneurship (2021), and Skidmore College, Tips & Tricks: The Independent Musician in 2020.

With a foundation in Classical violin playing, Emma draws on the musical languages of Hindustani Gayaki-Ang, Gypsy/ Roma, Jazz, and American Roots genres, giving her an extensive musical vocabulary and her playing a unique sound. Zoe Madonna from The Boston Globe described her music as “hauntingly gorgeous.”

Emma earned her Master of Music degree in Contemporary Improvisation from The New England  Conservatory in Boston, MA in 2019. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Musical Understanding and Performance from Pitzer College in Claremont, CA in 2014.

Emma combines her passion for music and activism continuously. Her collaborations and many performances with musicians Micah Huang and Hao Huang highlight the conjoining of art and activism. She’s toured with her duo The Flower Pistils and received an alumni award from The New England Conservatory to support her arts activism performance series, Under Our Skins.

When not engaged with music, Emma enjoys hiking, canoeing, and cooking with family and friends, and she loves to practice Iyengar yoga.

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West Side Strings Program

"I do my best to keep myself inspired—always committed to learning. I listen closely and connect with my students to learn what lights them up, and then we do more of that! I cultivate a trusting relationship with all my students so that music-making stems from a place of relaxation and connection. I bring in music that inspires me, and ask that my students do the same."