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Stephen Sims

Violinist & Conductor




About Stephen

Growing up in a musical family, STEPHEN SIMS was immersed in a broad range of music from a young age.  His musical education began with piano lessons from his mother, a public-school music teacher.  In the evenings he frequently sat on the piano bench, singing along with his father, a chemistry professor, to songs from Broadway musicals.  When his older brother began studying the cello, Stephen was inspired to take up the violin. 


Stephen grew up in the college town of Fayetteville, Arkansas studying violin with Barbara Garvey Jackson, a university professor who specialized in early music.  In addition to baroque and modern violin, she also played various early keyboard instruments, providing rare opportunities for Stephen to be accompanied in baroque music by harpsichord and in classical music by Viennese fortepiano.  Her positive approach to learning and endless musical curiosity created a nurturing environment that remains one of Stephen’s strongest models for teaching, and one that he later discovered to be the foundation of the Suzuki Method.

An orchestral musician for many years, Stephen served as Assistant Principal Violin of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Concertmaster of the Cedar Rapids Symphony Orchestra, and Assistant Concertmaster of the North Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.  He plays frequently in Cleveland’s Blue Water Chamber Orchestra and plays duo recitals with piano whenever possible. In 2020 Stephen took up viola, which quickly became a passion as well as proving to be an excellent outlet for coping with pandemic stress.

Currently Stephen teaches in the Cleveland Center for Suzuki Studies, and in the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Joint Music Program with Case Western Reserve University. He has been a violin instructor at Denison University, El Sistema @ University Circle, the University of Memphis Community Music School, the Preucil School of Music in Iowa City, and the Cedar Rapids Symphony School of Music.  A registered Suzuki teacher for over 30 years, he has taught at numerous Suzuki workshops and institutes around the country. 

Stephen holds a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in violin performance and pedagogy from the University of Iowa, a master’s degree in violin performance from the Cleveland Institute of Music, and a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from the University of Illinois.  He studied violin with Leopold LaFosse, Linda Cerone, David Russell, Catherine Tait, Sergiu Luca, and Barbara Jackson.  His viola studies continue with Laura Shuster.  He lives in Cleveland Heights with his wife, Kimberly Meier-Sims, and their two shelties, Maia and Keeva.

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