Music Appreciation

Violinist trains artists and arts lovers

By Jessica Laskey
October 2021

As far as Ingrid Tracy Peters is concerned, she’s always played violin.

“I started violin at age 3 because my mom saw a group class advertised, but I have no memory of this,” the Long Island native says. “It’s just something I’ve always done. It very quickly became who I was, even as a young child. Violin was core to my development.”

Even more than being a violinist, Peters is a teacher. At age 15, she taught violin to a young friend, and then to the friend’s friend. She loved the experience and took training courses in the Suzuki Method of teaching. The curriculum and philosophy were created in the 1950s by Japanese violinist and pedagogue Shinichi Suzuki, where children learn music the same way they acquire a language.

At the time, Peters was a student of Richard Brunelle, a beloved longtime music teacher at Davis High School who helped Peters discover her life path as a music educator. She studied music and French literature at UC Davis and started teaching at Midtown’s Pease Conservatory of Music at age 19.

Though she had no intention of becoming a professional violinist, Peters ended up performing extensively with the Sacramento Choral Society and Sacramento Philharmonic, for which she helped develop the String Fever program in the early 2000s.

String Fever provided violin instruction to hundreds of elementary school students around the area. When the philharmonic began to struggle financially, Peters started her own program and founded the Sacramento Institute for Music & the Arts in 2013.

“I threw in the ‘arts’ part of the name because I’m also a visual artist,” Peters says. (The Downtown resident sells beautiful ink drawings on her website “My dream is to keep SIMA growing so we can incorporate all of the arts. We want to be the organization that helps all the other organizations in Sacramento come together—to be the glue and the educational hub that is feeding them. To survive, the arts obviously need artists, but they also need patrons and people who care about the arts.”

Before the pandemic, the institute offered 15 string classes at five area schools and provided personalized string instruction taught by professional teaching artists to more than 100 students each year. Students participated in workshops with guest artists and attended live performances through community partnerships with organizations such as the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera and performed onstage as part of the Carnegie Hall Link Up program.

When the pandemic hit, the institute’s school programs disappeared, private instruction moved online and Peters hosted her MusicLIVE group violin lessons and River City String Club in McKinley Park on the weekends.

Now the String Club has a new home at the park’s Clunie Community Center, thanks to a partnership with Friends of East Sacramento, and Peters is excited to have a central place to continue cultivating the city’s next generation of artists and art lovers.

“Music and art are languages that young people can learn,” Peters says. “If you give them the space to cultivate it, let them know it has value, show them what they can do with it, anything can happen.”

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Jessica Laskey can be reached at Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram@insidesacramento.

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