ASHLAND A well-known music teacher has announced her retirement.

Kathleen Chamis has taught violin for more than 40 years, in addition to performing with the Huntington Symphony orchestra, the Pops concerts on the Riverfront and the Marshall Symphony Orchestra.

“It’s a whole new world and I love it,” she said of retirement. “I am the violinist for the Episcopal Church in Ashland so I will be enjoying that as well as traveling to see my grandchildren. Relaxed schedule, less money but it’s worth it.”

She said her business, Kathleen Chamis and Company, will remain open, as it has at least eight performances booked until the first of 2021.

She said the COVID-19 pandemic helped her make the decision.

“The pandemic did not affect my teaching, as my students wore masks and we were 6 feet away from each other,” she said. “My concern, though, was that they would have the virus and spread it to others in my home. I had around 10 students during the pandemic and it was at that time I decided it was time to retire. I did not want to put any of my students at risk.”

Chamis first heard classical music when she was in school.

“I told my mom that afternoon that I wanted to play the violin,” she said. “Being a widow, my mother did not really have the means, but then something wonderful happened. My mother got on the phone and contacted Mr. Frank Claus, a graduate of Julliard School of Music. He was German, very formal, complete with hat, overcoat and a very distinguished man. He came to my home in Lakewood, Ohio, and gave me private lessons. After my first lesson my mother went to pay him and he told my mother that there would be no charge. He said that I showed real promise.”

She proved her talent years later, when she received top ratings at in Cleveland during competitions among violin soloists. She would go on to perform in many venues and teach countless students.

“When I first started teaching at home, the word got out that there was a need for orchestras in the area. As a result Ashland and Russell orchestras evolved and I was so pleased,” Chamis said. “At one time, I was teaching almost 35 students, which was way too many. But, my students in both orchestras brought their music to me for help and I was more than happy to give them a hand. I wanted the Ashland and Russell orchestras to succeed, and they did and still are! There was never any competition or rivalry between us.”

She said she has one student in the Marshall Symphony Orchestra, one in the Tri-State Youth Orchestra and two planning to join this year. She also had as many as seven in the Charleston Cadet Orchestra.

Chamis also started string programs through a grant from  the No Child Left Behind program in the Boyd County School Systems. She’s proud that many schools now have violin teachers.

Chamis has performed in other venues besides local orchestras.

“I have played with other groups for celebrities and enjoyed that part of my musical career very much,” she said.

Although she’s retiring, she’s still playing violin.

“I plan to continue to play for weddings, receptions, funerals and always play for the CAReS Thanksgiving dinner with my partner, Mrs. Linda Duke,” she said. “Last year, we overdid it and had almost 10 playing engagements.”

While she’s not accepting new students, she will continue teaching a few current students, practicing safe distancing and mask wearing. She plans to continue playing violin at her church, but is enjoying retirement.

“This is my time to enjoy life, travel to see grandchildren,” she said.

However, she is grateful for the career she has had.

“I tell folks, ‘If you love what you are doing, you will never work a day in your life,’” she said. “And, if you do not love what you are doing, get out as fast as you can! Life is too short! I have loved every minute. I have been blessed.”

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