In Loving Memory of William Starr

It is with great sadness that I write to tell you that Mr. Starr passed away on the evening of Saturday, December 26 at age 97. He died peacefully surrounded by singing, at home with Kathleen, his grandson Joseph and girlfriend Allie, and his wonderful caregiver Veronica. His children and grandchildren were able to have a final goodbye phone call that day.

As many of you know, I have had the good fortune to have been a student of Mr. Starr since 1976 when I arrived as a freshman at the University of Tennessee. Over the years we transitioned from teacher-student to colleagues. I was overjoyed to learn he was moving to Boulder in the fall of 1982 to teach at CU and took him up on the offer to start the Suzuki program and get my masters degree. He was like a second father to me. He and Mrs. Starr did all the music at my wedding in 1986-playing Suzuki pieces and my request of Nigun from the Baal Shem Suite.

He was an important part of Boulder Suzuki Strings. We were always the first to “try out” his new books before they were published. He conducted our faculty orchestras and many of you were so very lucky to be in his group class. He taught group for many years until the fall of 2019.

He has trained so many Suzuki teachers around the world. We owe him a debt of gratitude. This is a true passing of history.

The International Suzuki Association wrote the following regarding Dr. Starr’s passing and the impact he had as a pioneer of the Suzuki method:

“We are sad to share the following announcement from the family of William Starr with our world-wide Suzuki family. Bill (as he was known to everyone) Starr has been an inestimable ambassador for the Suzuki Method since he attended the first concert of the Japanese 10 Children Tour Group at the 1964 MENC Conference lead by Dr. Suzuki. Along with his wife Connie and the entire family of eight children, the Starrs were pivotal in the development of the Suzuki Method, first in the United States and then across the globe. Bill’s videos of Dr. Suzuki and the TERI teachers recorded in 1968 remain the only comprehensive recording of Dr. Suzuki demonstrating his pedagogical ideas of the Suzuki Violin School. His subsequent publication, “The Suzuki Violinist”, remains the gold standard for Suzuki violin teachers around the world, along with countless publications of duets, orchestral arrangements, reading materials and other pedagogical publications. Bill and Connie’s book “To Learn with Love” is a perennial go-to parent education book of inspiration and practical tips for Suzuki families. Bill’s leadership as a founder of the SAA and as the first President of the ISA gave him a unique position and responsibility as a world-wide spokes-person for Talent Education which he relished and full-filled effectively. On behalf of Suzuki teachers and families in every home and country. ISA thanks the Starr family for their amazing contributions to this movement across the years, and for sharing their parents’ love and spirit with all they met. It is a legacy well-received and treasured.”

May his memory be for a blessing.

All the best,
Amy Gesmer-Packman
Director, Boulder Suzuki Strings