Ivylyn Ruth Traver
1929 - 2017
Ivylyn Traver, a violinist, enjoyed a reputation as a fine performer and legendary teacher of violin for young children. Hundreds of children studied with her during a career that has lasted more than seventy years.
Ivylyn was born on February 3, 1929, in Atlanta, Georgia, and raised in San Francisco, California, one of two daughters of Merick Kip and Susie Kathryn Chambers Traver. While both children were given opportunity to study music, only Ivylyn would pursue it as a career. Even though both parents were not musicians, she would later recall how she and her sister were given the chance to study music and how her career as a teacher started:
When I was nine, a stranger knocked on our door and inquired if there was an interest on the part of the family for music instruction. We were both signed up and that was how it started. I was so taken with the violin that almost as soon as I started, I began teaching what I knew to other children in the neighborhood.
Ivylyn attended school at San Francisco Junior Academy until age twelve and then transferred to the preparatory school located at Pacific Union College. In her formative years, she studied with Effie Keldsen at the United Institute of Music in San Francisco, Naoum Bliner, and John Ray of the San Francisco Conservatory, all being inspirational teachers, and then with Noah Paulin and Ray while she attended PUC. As she had earlier, she continued to teach violin while she attended academy and then PUC.
Immediately following graduation from college with a B.A. in music in 1952, Traver pursued and completed a master's degree in music education at San Francisco State University. She then returned to PUC to teach violin in the grade school. Eventually, her string program was part of the Paulin Center Preparatory Program at the college, and she also taught some college students. Additionally, she later completed a degree in library science at SFSU and worked in the PUC library for many years.
Traver attended a number of workshops, including one in London, where she studied with Kato Havas, world famous Hungarian violin performer and teacher. She coordinated Kato Havas String Workshops on the PUC campus from 1971 through 2000.
Although she eventually adopted some of the approaches followed in the Suzuki approach to teaching violin, she was concerned about its training by ear without the child learning how to read music first. Accordingly, she taught her students how to read music, beginning with the first lesson, as well as how to play by ear. Margaret Young, an experienced music teacher who deeply admired Traver's work, assisted in her program for many years.
Traver believed that the ensemble experience was an important part of her students' development and developed a reputation for producing exceptional performances with her student groups. Camerata, one of these groups, toured extensivesly throughout the state of California and into the Northwest. Her larger student groups as well as chamber groups, including the Taylor String Quartet, whom she had individually taught and then coached as an ensemble, were recognized for their excellence.
She also performed frequently as a soloist at religious services. After retiring in her seventies, when she was honored for her exceptional service in an event hosted by the college music department, she continued to teach in a limited way at home. Traver observed in 2011 that "teaching has been a lifelong passion for me, one that became deeply engrained, starting with those first students I taught as a child."
Ivalyn died on January 28, 2017 in Napa, California, at age 87.
Sources : Interviews with Ivylyn Traver and Patricia Young, August 2011; Bereavement Announcement, Pacific Union College, February 1, 2017.