When I was four years old I watched a concert of my mother, a pianist, playing with a violinist. I actually remember deciding that very day that I wanted to be a violinist! So I began studying at a conservatory for youth, and then later at the college level I graduated from the conservatory of Fribourg (Switzerland), and then Geneva. I was lucky to have excellent teachers, as well as the experience of playing in good youth orchestras.
But after awhile I started to feel like I was missing something, a certain sense of freedom. And as well being a classical musician was stressful for me. I was very tense while playing, I started having pains, including a pain in my shoulder that often prevented me from playing.
Around the age of 20, by pure chance, I was watching a documentary on Yehudi Menuhin, the famous classical violinist who opened himself up to other musical styles. In that documentary I watched Stéphane Grappelli for the first time. It was a shock, a thunderbolt, a revelation: what was this exotic way of playing the violin? I had never heard it; in fact, there weren’t many opportunities to hear jazz violin in Switzerland. I had already tried improvising with friends, and had fun with it, but I did not know that it could sound like this and reach such a level! So I decided to seek advice from jazz musicians around me, and I started to listen, listen, listen … in order to enter this other musical world.
At first it was difficult, I really felt like I was starting from scratch, learning to play the violin again, not knowing anything … I took some jazz violin courses and then I started taking lessons regularly with Pierre Blanchard, who came to teach courses in Switzerland every month. I learned a lot with him, he was an excellent teacher for me, and his method was excellent and concrete, which was what I needed. But it was difficult in the beginning because I did not have the opportunity to put into practice this new knowledge, and while learning jazz you must play with others. I was also studying classical music full time, so jazz was somewhat of a hobby, which made it slow going.
Little by little, I began to play with gypsy jazz bands, and thus I started to understand the music better. I even started having paid concerts, and that was amazing! I never thought I could enjoy being on stage that much, and with so much freedom! Little by little I realized that I could seriously consider making a living with this music. When I finished my degree in Geneva, I decided to devote myself entirely to the study of jazz, first at the conservatory in Lausanne and then at the school of Didier Lockwood near Paris. This training opened many doors for me and allowed me to progress enormously: the classes were varied, with many different teachers who helped me improve my sense of rhythm, my ear and the technique needed for jazz. The level of the other students was very high, and I learned a lot by engaging with them (rehearsals, listening to music and discovering new musicians, etc …), and this has given me contacts which I still have today, as I play regularly with alumni CMDL.
This double training of classical and jazz allows me to play in different contexts, and to be able to adapt to different musical styles, depending on the occasion. All this is exciting! Learning is never finished: we learn every time we play, and there is always new material to work on, and other musicians to collaborate with…