Harris Shilakowski got his first taste of music when he was 6-years-old.
“I just totally fell in love with it,” he said. “I went home to my mom and said I’ve got to play the violin.”
Shilakowski is now a music teacher in Easton running the Easton Music School, and he plays in string quartets and other groups throughout the area. He said he’s played in orchestras all over New England and has played with many classical musicians.
Shilakowski learned and studied with Boston Symphony Orchestra first violinist Leo Panasevich.
“He is a very beloved teacher and performer with the BSO,” he said. “He was a great, great teacher. He was known for the BSO, but also as a teacher, many people graduated from his school and he inspired a lot of people.”
Shilakowski then went to a summer camp in the Berkshires and to the Redfox Music school.
“We got to go to Tanglewood with the BSO,” he said.
Shilowski's travels allowed him to see other inspirational musicians of the time, including Jethro Tull and The Who.
He also studied with other musicians and schools, including the New England Conservatory, Boston University, Leonard Bernstien, Sayjo Zouaworld, The London Symphony Orchestra and the New Orleans Symphony.
“Since I came back I started becoming a freelancer in order to fill out my whole existence,” he said. “I have to freelance, play compose, producer, recording engineer. My resume is kind of jumbled.”
Shilakowski now instructs students in many areas, including viola and piano, but violin is still his primary instrument.
He said he also teaches music theory to all his students.
“With my students, I’ll teach any instrument, but I always give them some background in theory,” he said. “It’s part of what I consider necessary to learn. I want you to be able to be able to pick up any piece of music and say ‘I can stumble around this on my own.’ They have all the tools they need to navigate music on their own.”
Shilakowski said his newest project is, however related to music, more of a technology enterprise. He said he wants to make an Angie’s List for music teachers, performers and students.
“You can drill in there and find the person who’s got the best reviews and ratings,” he said.
He added he wanted to make sure that the rating system is not entirely anonymous.
“If you’re a student with a particular teacher, for example, you’re qualified to rate the teacher,” he said.
Shilakowski said he wanted to keep the listings free of personal vendettas and ulterior motives for poor or good ratings.
“You have to identify yourself,” he said. “I can measure whether I want to trust the review or not, I can go back and see the source to legitimize and make the reviews more credible.”
He said this was to allow students to see the reviewer’s musical background and legitimize their review. This will also allow students to find people that will be good teachers for them, even if a reviewer said the teacher was not right for their own needs.
“It’s my big baby right now," he said. "I’m trying to get lots and lots of teachers to log on there."