Musician shares her story of playing around the world

Débora Silva performs at Washburn University, taking lessons with Dr. Zsolt Eder.

Débora Silva, a freshman majoring in music performance, moved to the United States with a dream to become a violinist.

Silva grew up in Porto, Portugal with her parents, wanting to be a professional violinist from the time she was 8 years old. After graduating high school, she moved to Groningen, Netherlands, against her family’s wishes to be a musician.

Since then, her experiences spanned over Europe and she found her way to Washburn’s campus. Silva encourages classmates and teachers with honesty and hard work, to become a musician in the United States.

Even with all the missed opportunities and bad days, Silva still had the opportunity to perform in several European countries before coming to the U.S. She tokens each country with a sticker on her violin case.

Silva has performed in Sweden, Spain, England, France, Luxembourg, Italy, Hungary, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Portugal, Portuguese islands, and now the U.S.

“Maybe because I came from another country and I had to fight to get here, but I see things differently,” said Silva. “I am not someone that sits on the couch and waits for something to come [to me]. I played in all these countries not because I was sitting and waiting for a call. No, I played in these countries because I just went and auditioned for it.”

Silva moved from the Netherlands to an American college with a different style of teaching, one more strict and rigid. She believes that being bad at something to begin with is the best way to get better.

During her senior year of high school, she traveled to Italy to play for Pope Francis.

“I don’t see it as cool. I see it as a job. I didn’t do anything different just because the pope was there,” said Silva. “I am also not religious. That’s a big thing in Portugal because 98% of people are Catholic.”

Another stark difference for Silva, since studying in the U.S., was the teaching style for violin technique. Her teacher, Dr. Zsolt Eder, professor of violin from Hungary describes Silva’s journey to freedom of expression through music.

“Musicians are the same everywhere. We have a love for what we do,” Eder said. “Europe has a further tradition of music teaching and composition. A lot of violin teachers in Europe demand a certain way of playing. Here in America, there is a little more open-mindedness from teachers.”

Eder explained that Silva came to Washburn with a fresh start, but brought professional experience from playing all over Europe. She is now concertmaster for the Washburn Symphony and practices more solo pieces.

“I think she is contributing something to Washburn,” Eder said. “I think her practicing is becoming more focused. I think she is starting to get more performance experience.”

Now having the flexibility and a music department that looks up to Silva, she will continue her college experience at Washburn with an honest mindset and a drive to be successful in her career.

“You go [to America] because you believe in something,” Silva said.

Edited by Kyle Manthe
Edited by Ellie Walker