I was drawn to the violin when a violinist performed “Hot Canary” at an assembly at Lafayette Elementary School in San Francisco. Even though my dad, Lloyd Allen, a pianist, wanted me to play piano, I persisted, and soon found myself practicing to play with the elementary school orchestra.
After elementary school, my family moved to San Mateo, and there I continued with orchestras, both at College Park Intermediate, and at Hillsdale High School. My private instructor during those years was David Schneider, a violinist with the San Francisco Symphony.
I was concertmaster of the Hillsdale High School orchestra during my senior year. During that year I was also a member of the California Western Music Educator’s Honor Orchestra, which presented a concert at the Music Educator’s National Convention, held that year in Bakersfield, California. I was also co-concertmaster of the San Mateo District Honor Orchestra that year, sharing the duty with Eddie Engleman of San Mateo High School.
Among the memories of those years were the happy times I spent playing with my dad at home, he on the piano, and me on my violin. I also remember fondly the times when, after a gig, his band would come to jam at the house, and allow me to join in!
The summer after graduating from high school, I did a month-long tour of Europe with the La Grande Ronde Symphony Orchestra from La Grande, Oregon, as part of the People-to-People program.
Following the European tour, I attended San Jose State College, in San Jose, California for one year, majoring in music. The next year I attended the College of San Mateo, and played in their orchestra.
I then went on what amounted to a 25-year hiatus.
Friends encouraged me to pick up the violin once again, and unbelievably, I auditioned for the North Arkansas Symphony shortly thereafter, and was accepted. In addition to practicing for the symphony, I’d play a few fiddle things I’d learned in the past, and oh so many of the songs I used to play with my dad.
In 1996, Mark O’Connor came and played his Fiddle Concerto with the North Arkansas Symphony. I had been very aware of Mark for many years, since his childhood in fact, and was very excited about his playing with us. It was my favorite concert that season! That fall I attended my first Mark O’Connor Fiddle Camp.
Some Highlights —
Author, Babette’s Quick Start Guide to Theory for Fiddlers
Recorded Rayna’s Waltz
Teacher violin, viola
2005 Grand Champion Arkansas State Old Time Fiddlers Contest
Past instructor at Mark O’Connor’s Fiddle Camps/Conferences in San Diego and Montgomery Bell State Park in Tennessee
1st Place Senior Division at American Heritage Music Festival in Grove, OK, and Western Open in Red Bluff, CA
Personnel Manager and librarian for North Arkansas Symphony
Violinist, North Arkansas Symphony
Instructor, Jana Jae’s Fiddle Camp, Grove, OK
President, Arkansas State Old Time Fiddlers Association, Northwest Division
Awarded Richard R Smith Memorial Award for Outstanding Music Educator, Grand Lake National Fiddle Fest
Fiddle contest judge, including Oklahoma State Championship in Tulsa and American Heritage Music Festival in Grove
Instructor, Inspiration Point Piano and String Camp, Eureka Springs, AR
Violinist, Forth Smith Symphony