Double (Viola) Trouble, Part I

Musician Spotlight: Erin Archer, KSYO conductor

Erin Archer has been involved with the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra (KSYO) since her family moved to Knoxville in the early 90’s. As a college student at the University of Tennessee, she became a KSYO rehearsal assistant. She also plays with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra as a substitute viola player.

In regards to teaching music, Erin is passionate about creating well-rounded musicians. She not only helps them play to the best of their ability, but also teaches them how the discipline of music can help them in all areas of life:  patience, encouragement, learning the process of failure and success, confidence and growing with a noble heart.

“The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra is a huge part of my life. I’ve been conducting the Preludium ensemble in the KSYO since 2005. I love encouraging young musicians and being part of their musical growth as a conductor.  I love the excitement of the kids and watching their eyes light up when all the sections come together and their parts merge into beautiful layers. I enjoy watching these young musicians grow before my eyes as they graduate into the different levels we offer as an organization.”

 The benefit of playing an instrument undoubtedly overlaps into other areas of the lives of the KSYO students.  Many have become successful doctors, scientists, and musicians. Erin says the KSYO was a big part in molding her into the person she is today which is what drives her passion in encouraging all musicians to participate in the organization. “We truly have something special in our community!”



In addition to teaching private and group lessons at Tate’s School, Erin is a trained Suzuki violin, viola and early childhood education instructor.  She believes that ability can be developed at any age and one does not have to be born with talent to succeed in music.  With a nurturing environment, support of parents and community, and lots of repetition everyone can learn to play music.

Because Erin is a mother to 6-year old triplets, life is never dull. She tries to wake up early to get in some exercise and a few sips of coffee in “before the circus show begins.” Her day then consists of school drop off, music lesson plans, and sometimes the past time of gardening. She is piloting a new Suzuki Early Childhood Education program here in Knoxville geared for newborn through 4 years of age.

Erin and her twin sister Megan both play violin and viola, both conduct an ensemble in the KSYO. Megan has played viola in the KSO since 2011 and Erin has played as a substitute violist in the past. “My sister and I both took to our instrument like a moth to a flame.  We still play together. We are a great team and best friends.”

Erin hopes more music students can understand the concept of hard work. “I encourage my students go to concerts, research violinists and composers and listen, listen, listen.  We can learn a lot just from going to the source, which is becoming a little lost.”

On balancing it all, she says, “Life is busy and filled with music!”

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