Author: Neil Farrell
I am a member of a group of amateur musicians called the South Buffalo Fresh Air. Either way, we were happy to be able to bring in a talented violinist / singer / writer Blair Sailer. When we met Blair, we learned that in addition to his work as an elementary school teacher and member of the famous Bel Canto quartet, Blair is also a teaching artist at the Buffalo String Works (BSW).
In short, Blair invited us with interest to one of the BSW concerts where his students were performing and we were amazed by the work not only of the students but also of the organization. We also need to meet with their energy executive and talent, Yuki Numata Resnik. As I learned more about Yuki, I realized that she is one of the best-preserved secrets of Buffalo’s music, and it’s a mystery that all Buffaloes may be interested in learning. I hope you enjoy the acquaintance with Yuki Numata Resniki.
Good afternoon, Yuki. It’s nice to meet you. I hear you were more busy than ever during this terrible pandemic.
Yes, about a week after our personal activities stopped in March, I was about to take my next steps in my office when I received a text from a student mother saying, “About online violin lessons, Ms. Yuki. “I was surprised, but glad that, despite everything, children and parents are interested in fraud. Since then we have had an intensive virtual program – we have conducted a 6-week virtual summer camp in collaboration with Bale Buffalo and our students attend virtual classes 3 days a week. Do you believe we have a 96% presence ?! It’s incredibly amazing and we are so grateful that our families were there for us. In fact, when I updated this interview, we now have 25 new students in the new Intro to BSW program, and we have more students.
We would like to take this opportunity to give the Buffalo String Jobs community (“BSW”) a chance to learn more about you and your exciting life. Now, where did you grow up?
I live in western Canada, on campus Kokitlam, the outskirts of Vancouver. My father was a Japanese cook and my mother was a teacher at a special education school. When people talk about the story of immigrants, it was my parents. My father is from Japan and my mother is from Vietnam and Hong Kong and both believed that through the values of hard work, diligence and the importance of education, they could make a better life for my sister Yumi and me in Canada.
Both of my parents worked hard, but I think I was especially impressed by my mother, who was really supportive for her students, and often very late after school. I noticed that she seemed to see opportunities in her students that others could not, and she became a kind of pioneer, for example, by enrolling children with disabilities in traditional classes. She often said that she thought music played a role in getting the best out of students, and I tried to incorporate some of her best practices into her work at Buffalo String Works.
So when did you start playing music?
I started playing the violin when I was three years old. Apparently my dad says I was so bad at first that he wanted to leave me, but my mom wouldn’t let him because he said I would always work if I thought something was hard! I learned that in my violin lessons I learned my Japanese / Chinese culture. the lessons of high expectations, obedience, and confidence that you will benefit from the fruits of your labor with practice prepared me as a student.
So you were kind of a prodigy?
I didn’t say that, but both of my parents appreciated classical music, encouraged me to rehearse, and celebrated my achievements. This support from my parents was very important to me. I learned that music enhanced my personality, made me feel good, and set me apart from some of the other kids at school.
I took an active part in the music program at school and also continued after-school classes and at the age of 12 I found a place in a symphony of local youth with musicians aged 12-25.
You know, I remember this experience now when I see my students at the Buffalo String Works, after all their hard work, focusing on our shows. Those experiences gave me strength and I think they are there for our students as well. And as my parents believed, learning music teaches longevity skills.
After graduating from high school in Canada, you went to the prestigious Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester.
Yes, the music was still exciting, but I realized that after I got to college, the stakes were even higher. It was a formative experience for me and I still have close personal and professional relationships from my years of study at the university. My teacher at Eastman was Zwe Zeitlin, a fantastic professor who was known for his extreme behavior and he scared me at first. But I soon realized that it was his way that encouraged me to do my best and she resembled my musical grandfather in many ways. Terrible grandfather on the outside, but warm and caring on the inside!
So, after graduating from Eastman, you earned a postgraduate degree from the University of Michigan. and started working as a musician?
My first musical work was at the New Symphony in Miami. The program was founded by Michael Tilson Thomas, best known as San Francisco Symphony’s longtime music director, and provides a training orchestra for aspiring professional musicians.
Graduating from graduate school gave me more time and I enjoyed it. I learned to love just being in a room with my violin and rehearsing. During this time I also had the privilege of spending the summer playing and rehearsing at the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenoxy, Massachusetts.
While in Tanglewood, I met some wonderful friends and wonderful musicians who were in New York City. They encouraged me to take the NYC exam, so I moved to Washington Heights and was busy with chamber music and new modern music performances. This was my first experience as a musician without a safety net. It was joyful and frustrating at times, but I have fond memories of that time!
Wait a minute, you’ve left something about your time in New York.
[Laughing] Yes, here I met my husband Kyle. He and I both played at the New York Music Festival with the band National. Living in New York, I had such unique opportunities to develop music from collaborating with live composers like John Zorn and Max Richter to recording on albums with bands Passion Pit, Arcade Fire and The National. It was exciting to sit next to so many worlds at once, and it taught me to be more fluent, bold, and fluid in my definition of what music means to me. And of course, it got even sweeter as I got to know my partner in life through these new experiences!
So after all this, how did you get to Buffalo?
Well, in my time on Eastman School of Music, I had rebuilt my relationship with UB from playing at my “Buffalo Festival,” so when I lived in New York City, I was offered an additional role as a UB professor. Every Tuesday I got up four took the M60 to La Guardia in the morning, flew at 6 a.m., taught all day, and then flew home at night. I ended up making a good impression and eventually they offered me the full position of Professor of Medicine in 2013. So Kyle and I moved to Buffalo.
I have taught at UB to undergraduate and graduate students and have found that I love teaching. As much as I enjoyed my performance, I always felt that the music was more than what I was allowed to. I loved the idea of giving coaches from my own coaches and realized that it had done something for me.
What were your most memorable programs?
Probably at the top of the list was performing as a soloist at the Sydney Opera House in Australia. What a beautiful gym. Also at the Opera House, I performed Max Richter’s play “Sleep,” which is an 8-hour nightmare where the audience has to sleep. The show is set with sunrise to make the final notes sound as the sun rises. Another thing was that my entire album “For Co” (for my son Co) was played at the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee. Big Ears is an amazing endeavor led by Ashley Kapps (she also produces a music and art festival in Bonn) that brings together musicians of all genres, from classical artists to rock indie musicians and everyone in between. I recently read that the New York Times recently called Big Ears “A weekend of shows that were quiet, fun and engaging.” I highly recommend it!
Tell us about your latest collaborations in the world of pop music.
Yes, my husband Kyle, who is a professional trumpet player and sound engineer, and I was invited to contribute to Taylor Swift’s new albums in 2020, “Folklore” and “Evermore”. As a tour musician, Kyle was temporarily unemployed due to a pandemic, so he diligently turned our upstairs into a temporary recording studio that allowed us to record my recordings. violin and alto parts and parts of Kyle’s trumpet – all from home. Kyle also had to do some engineering work on the record, which was a huge opportunity for him.
Do you have any heroes, music or otherwise?
I immediately think of my parents, who sacrificed so much to give my sister and me a better life. They have created horrible values that make me love what I do. They also became the great-grandparents of our two children and Buffalo fans – visiting here about three times a year, of course, in pre-COVID times.
When you talk about your children, you sound proud. What are they like? Are they music?
I am proud! Both are very different. Many say that my son is like me. He likes specific procedures and plans. Our daughter, Haya on the other hand, like my husband is carefree and the happiest guy. His name means “life ”in Hebrew, embodies him in himself.
Ko spends a lot of time playing our piano at home, composing new melodies. She also takes violin lessons – not from me!
What are you proud of?
Besides my children, BSW.
It seems like you’re working very hard. What do you do for a living?
You might not expect this because I’m a disciplined and orderly person, but I love romantic jokes, listen to pop music, and watch what some call fluff TV, including Creek Creek, where my Canadian-born compatriot Eugene Levy lives. has a role. Kyle and I ate HBO’s “Heir” and oh! We are now on our way through Stiesel. And yes, I watched the whole “Bridgetton” on the weekends!
Do you have any other secret talents?
Good quarantine forced me to become a better chef, I could “walk” on the piano and, if necessary, improve my video editing skills and website design skills with the help of our BSW operations manager, Julia Ann Cordani!
Finally, is it too late to learn to play a musical instrument?
No. Never! In fact, we at BSW have several parents who love to play with their children. We love making videos of informal family shows, and I’m excited to see them make music together. One of the parents, Eh Tah Mu, sent us a video of him playing the violin with his children, and he was aloud the same instructions we use: “1, 2, Get ready, go!” “Okay and repeat!” She could be our next violin training artist!
Wait for Part II
Photo by Andrea Wenglovsky