Boulder, Colorado native Josie Quick is an accomplished violinist who plays classical music, rock’n’roll, and everything in between. Her love of the violin was influenced by her mother – “a classical music snob”. Josie began taking violin lessons at Niwot Elementary and continued through high school. She joined orchestras including the semi-professional Boulder Philharmonic, with her goal being to eventually perform with the New York Philharmonic. “I had a narrow music upbringing – classical, baroque Gregorian chant through modern twentieth-century classical music. My mother had a total disdain for any other music. And my dad liked cowboy music and Lawrence Welk. So, I didn’t have any concept of popular music.”
That changed one night when Josie saw the Doobie Brothers on TV’s Austin City Limits playing “Black Water”. The concept of her musical world expanded, and she realized the violin’s versatility. “Up until then, I thought my options were limited – to be a symphony musician or a bluegrass fiddler. Neither was that appealing, but I loved playing the violin. When I saw the Doobie Brothers, I thought ‘I can do anything. It wasn’t so much about joining a rock band. I just knew if this is a possibility then there must be other possibilities.”
At the University of Denver, where Josie received her Bachelor of Music degree in classical violin performance, she discovered musicians Jean-Luc Ponty and Stephane Grapelli – two vastly different jazz violinists – and Darol Anger – more of a new-age fiddler. Josie began trying to do what they were doing on her own because there weren’t a lot of resources for jazz violinists at the time. “I got a lot of ‘violinists don’t play jazz’ or ‘I don’t know how to do it so I can’t teach you. I had to figure it out on my own. Now I’m taking a creative strings workshop and I’m realizing just how much I missed because jazz violin is a big thing now.”
When it comes to her music preferences today, there’s not much Josie doesn’t like. “I really like world and Latin music, Brazilian choro, flamenco, bossa novas, gypsy, jazz, African, rock’n’roll just about anything.”
Teaching music is a passion for Josie that began with a few students in high school. “Around 1986 (her third year in college) I started teaching out of a music store in Denver.” Today Josie teaches kids and adults, both at Swallow Hill Music and independently with private lessons. Currently, Josie teaches exclusively online (Zoom), but she’s crafting a post-Covid lesson plan for the near future.
Her teaching style is individualized – she spends time figuring out what will appeal to each student to keep them motivated and having fun. And teaching is even more unique on Zoom. “The pandemic has made all musicians and teachers adapt and figure out how to make lessons interesting. Adults know this situation will pass and they just put up with the tech issues. But it’s challenging to keep kids engaged if lessons aren’t in person. I’ve had to adapt and get creative.” For example, one of her students has been alternating between learning Vivaldi and video game music. “You have to think way outside the box, but there are so many cool things you can do.”
Josie loves teaching and playing the violin. “I love sharing music with other people and helping them get the sound they want or play the music they like, and to feel a sense of accomplishment. And music has so many benefits. Kids learn better, there are mental health benefits, stress relief and it helps you physically.” Josie has lupus and early after her diagnosis she had problems with simple tasks, like standing. She noticed that after playing the violin, she physically felt better and was able to stand. “Music has a restorative property. It makes your life better.”
Josie is a founding member of the acoustic world fusion duo Perpetual Motion. They have recorded six CDs that can be heard on radio stations around the world. Josie has received acclaim for her collaborations with numerous recording artists worldwide. She teaches fiddle, blues fiddle, and improvisation at Swallow Hill Music Association in Denver, CO.
What else does Josie do?
When Josie’s not fiddling, she enjoys a diverse array of hobbies. Pottery, gardening, cooking, photography, and biking are a few of her favorite pursuits.