Cliché: When people think of violinists, they normally think of a person playing Bach or a classical composer’s piece. How do you think you’re changing or moving away from that image when you play modern music?
Miri Ben-Ari: I use the technique and knowledge that I acquired with classical music and take it to a completely different place. My musical education included jazz, the ability to understand harmony and improvise, and to be free as a bird when it comes to music creation and composition. I think that’s where the difference is between my music and classical approach. Classical musicians are, for the most part, interpreting music that is already composed. I now compose, arrange, produce, and engineer my original music in a studio.
How did you find yourself playing the violin? Did you always love to play?
My parents gave me a violin when I was five. I started with Suzuki. I really liked it. I guess it was the great support I got from my parents when I was a child. It was fun. We all know how important music education is when it comes to child development and what it does to the brain. It also gave me discipline and focus.
How did you start to develop your own style of music?
You know, it’s funny… just before this shoot, I was a panelist at Disney speaking about music education, and sometimes when you talk about something, it helps you realize things about yourself. I realized that one of the things that my parents gave us when we were little, was the ability to imagine. They found ways to develop our imagination in very creative ways.
I think that imagination can take you anywhere, because once you see something in your head and it becomes tangible, you can go after it. You have to imagine first and then visualize. I have imagined a lot of things in my life. [Laughs] I’m still imagining a lot of things. I was born in Israel and I love technology. You know, Israel is one of the largest hubs when it comes to technology, and I’m involved with a lot of projects that have to do with technology. A lot of Israeli inventors and entrepreneurs come to me for advice and to connect them with key decision makers. It’s pretty exciting.
Do you ever imagine yourself doing anything other than playing the violin for the rest of your life?
Yes, absolutely. I am a part of many things beyond music. There is so much that life has to offer and I don’t even know where to begin. Music is just that extra bonus, like a gift. So, I use music as a vehicle towards other projects that I am involved with that have everything and nothing to do with music, especially within the non-profit world.
I think as people we are responsible for our planet. Playing music and being an artist can give you a voice, a powerful voice, to carry a message. There are a lot of campaigns and projects in which I am involved with, as an artist I can help them carry their message. A while back, for example, I performed for the Global Poverty Project, and right now I’m putting together a whole new campaign dedicated to sustainability. I worked with the United Nations, and am a Goodwill Ambassador of Music to the United Nations Associations of Brazil. I have a non-profit organization by the name of Gedenk, to promote tolerance through culture, and this year we partnered with Scholastics Arts & Writing. This is how I am able to use my voice to help make this world a better place.