Teacher Profile: Alaina Belisle

Alaina Belisle

Alaina Belisle

Instrument(s): Piano, Viola, Violin

City: Seattle


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About Alaina Belisle

Alaina Belisle is a violist and music instructor from Seattle, Washington. Alaina welcomes students of all ages to her studio where she teaches beginning piano, beginning and intermediate violin, and all levels of viola. Her first memory of playing a stringed instrument was at the old Pike Place Market music shop, now closed, where the shop owner placed a small violin on her shoulder and helped her place the bow on the string at around the age of four. A few years later, she began her music studies through private instruction on her grandmother's piano at the age of six which she continued for seven years. At the age of nine, she began taking violin lessons at Alki Elementary, switching to viola two years later while playing in her middle school orchestra and in the West Seattle Community Orchestra. She began taking private lessons for viola during middle school and participated in her first summer chamber music camp where she developed a love for small ensemble work while playing Mendelssohn's Piano Quartet no. 1-- which remains one of her favorite pieces today.

Alaina later attended Garfield High School and participated in the orchestra and its respective performance tours, most notably their performance in Carnegie Hall performing Shostakovich Symphony no. 5 during her sophomore year. She also attended the Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestras for four years, acting as assistant principal in the viola section during her last concert with their highest-level orchestra. During her summers in high school, she attended the Marrowstone Music Festival and she revisited the music festival with a fellowship while completing her Bachelor's of Music.

In addition to music performance, Alaina began composing small solo pieces for piano and viola around the age of thirteen and in her senior year of high school, she enrolled in her high school's composition class, studying with Marcus Tsutakawa. Her most notable compositions are Ellipse (2017) for solo viola, The Winding River (2011) for string quartet, and March of the Dwarfs (2012)-- a sextet for violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet, and piano. After high school, she was accepted into the Boston Conservatory for composition and the Berklee College of Music, awarded the North American Scholarship Tour, and ended up moving to South America to attend the Fundación Universitaria Juan N. Corpas where she completed a Maestra en Música in Viola performance-- a Bachelor of Music equivalent-- with a Minor in Chamber Music in Bogota, Colombia under the tutelage of Raul Garcia, current principal violist of the Sinfónica Nacional de Colombia.

She also continued to study piano as an elective with Ines Leyva for nine of the ten required semesters of her undergraduate degree and she took one semester of composition with professor and Colombian composer Jorge Pinzon. Alaina has performed several pieces by Colombian composers including in the premiere of the opera El Último Día de Francisco Pizarro (2017) by Colombian-Catalonian composer Moisès Bertran in the Teatro Mayor Julio Mario Santo Domingo in Bogotá, Colombia. While living in Bogota and completing the required credits for her undergraduate degree, she learned Spanish through immersion.

Alaina has participated in music festivals in South America including Bogotá es Música in Bogotá, Colombia (2015); Á Tempo Bogotá Festival Internacional de Música in Bogotá Colombia (2015)-- participating in a master class, along with several classes, with Carrie Dennis; and Festival Internacional de Música Esmeraldas in Quito, Ecuador (2016, 2017, 2018). Through the Festival Internacional de Música Esmeraldas, she had the opportunity to take classes and participate in master classes with renowned violists such as Richard O'Neil, Kim Kashkashian (online), and with the late Roger Tapping who inspired and taught her indispensable concepts during their few classes.

After graduating from Corpas, Alaina was awarded a full tuition scholarship by the John P. and Ellen Moseley Scholarship Endowment which enabled her to graduate with a Masters of Music in viola performance from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) under the tutelage of Hsiaopei Lee in December of 2021. Alaina served as a student representative for the School of Music and as the Bylaws Committee Chair and Parliamentarian in the USM Graduate Student Senate. She accepted a graduate assistantship to work for the school of music to write the orchestra's concert program notes during her last semester after being recognized for her aptitude for writing program notes from previous concerts and recitals.

As a music instructor, one of the most important ways that Alaina supports her students is by creating a positive learning environment. In her studio, she encourages students to ask questions, feel confident in their potential, and enjoy the process of learning. The teaching techniques that she uses are adapted from the Self-Determination Theory by Deci and Ryan which benefit student engagement and intrinsic motivation-- both important factors for student success. Alaina creates an engaging learning environment by providing positive reinforcement, encouraging student autonomy, introducing manageable learning goals, and by providing positive constructive feedback. She ensures student comprehension and information retention by asking her students questions about the material covered in class and she is always happy to explain concepts in various ways to support individual learning styles. Her goal with every class is to encourage authentic student engagement, develop their intrinsic motivation, increase their confidence, and to inspire students to want to learn more.

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