Olivia Skaja (b. 1998) has been playing the violin since age nine, first starting in her local strings program in northern Minnesota. She has studied with notable teachers including Francesca Anderegg, Nathan Cole, Natsuki Kumagui, and Alex DePue. She attended St. Olaf College, where she received her Bachelor of Music in Violin Performance (‘21).
She played in the first violin section of the St. Olaf Orchestra, and has toured with them throughout the United States and abroad to notable venues such as Carnegie Hall and the Oslo Opera House. During her senior year, she served as co-concertmaster of the orchestra. Olivia performed as a soloist with the St. Olaf Orchestra on their 2019 fall tour, and was the first place winner of the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition in 2017. In 2019, she performed the complete Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Itasca Symphony Orchestra. She has spent many summers out of state studying at music festivals, including Interlochen Arts Camp and Meadowmount School of Music. Most recently, Olivia was a member of the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra. In addition to classical music, Olivia is an avid fiddler, and has been fiddling since age ten. She is the three time Minnesota State Fiddle Champion, and additionally placed first at the Minnesota State Fiddlers Association contest at the Minnesota State Fair in 2019.
Olivia has been teaching for over a decade, and has worked with students ages five to adult, both in person and online. She teaches all levels of violin (classical, bluegrass, improv), as well as beginning and intermediate viola, and beginning guitar, ukulele, and piano. In lessons, Olivia encourages students to play as much as possible. From the very first lesson, she plays simple duets with students, helping them to make music from day one. She combines these simple exercises with learning notes and technique, so students always have a variety of skills to work on. For all students, she focuses on helping them to hear their own mistakes, figure out what is wrong, and know how to fix it. All students are sent home with a detailed list of their assignments from that week, and the techniques they focused on in the lesson.