By BRIAN BLOOM
Randall Goosby is your typical high school junior. He likes to play video games, often has friends over to shoot some hoops and has performed in front of thousands at some of the most renowned concert halls in America.
Randall Goosby is also a violin prodigy. The oldest of three from a white-collar family who spends the bulk of his weekends in New York City studying under the tutelage of Israeli American violin master Itzhak Perlman.
Arlington High School assistant principal Chris Duncan describes Goosby as “humble.”
“He’s a normal student – with extraordinary talent,” Duncan adds.
“My mom (Jiji) always loved music,” Goosby explained in looking back to his start. “She was a dancer and a singer growing up so she wanted us to have a real appreciation and love for the arts.”
The us includes younger sister Gina, an accomplished flutist in her own right and younger brother Miles who plays the cello well enough to be part of the Memphis Beethoven Club.
Randall’s dad (Ralph) has moved the family from San Diego to Philadelphia to Jacksonville to Arlington in his work as a marketing executive for medical devices.
“My mom tells the story that I blurted out violin before I even knew what one was,” Goosby said.
He was six years old and a Jacksonville, FL music store employee told them his hands were too small for the instrument.
“I played piano for a year and I didn’t like it. I wasn’t good at it and it wasn’t fun,” he recalled.
One year later and it was back to violin.
I started with a teacher in Jacksonville that taught the Suzuki method,” Goosby said. That method, introduced by Japanese violinist Shinichi Suzuki, emphasized environment and the belief that all people are capable of learning.
“My mom saw something early on,” Goosby explained in the investment his family made in time and travel. “She saw something really good happening here.”
Next came studies under Routa Kroumovitch in Daytona, a Latvian instructor who taught him how to read music.
Goosby’s instruction went on fast forward after attending a three-week course called “Music in the Mountains” in Durango, CO. There he studied with New York City instructor Philippe Quint and his instruction took on a much more serious tone.
“My mom and I flew to New York once a month for two years,” Goosby said.
That instruction paid off when he won the Sphinx Competition, an annual Detroit-based competition for black and Latino string players. That win earned him not only a series of performances across the country, but seven weeks of instruction from the Perlman Music Program in Shelter Island, NY.
Today, Randall Goosby has turned that seven-week instruction into weekly lessons. He flies to New York every Friday, his flight expenses covered by an anonymous donor. He studies along with 16-18 other college or pre-college students under the direction of one of the world’s most respected violinists before returning to the halls of Arlington for Monday classes.
Does he ever stop to think he’s studying violin with one of the world’s greatest masters?
“Yes,” he laughs. “But they’re great people,” he said. “I stay at their house. We go to movies or dinner sometimes. Or I hang out with friends.”
Randall Goosby leans back in his chair. His legs twitch anxiously, his hands twist to make a point. He wears sweat pants and a blue t-shirt. He’s comfortable in the interview but obviously anxious to return to his friends.
He has performed for symphonies from Memphis to the New York Philharmonic; from Cleveland to Buffalo. He wants to audition for Julliard in New York or Curtis in Philadelphia. He wants to pursue a career as a guest soloist and he’s thinking about his repertoire for college auditions.
At 16 years of age Randall Goosby is already one of this country’s finest young performers but like many with extraordinary talents, he recognizes he has much yet to accomplish.
“There are some staple concertos I still haven’t learned,” Goosby said. He knows his future will be about broadening his knowledge.
“Listening to Mr. Perlman’s recordings doesn’t hurt,” he smiles in explaining his learning curve.
At 16 years of age Randall Goosby says he practices three to four hours a day. He still finds time for a little basketball now and then.
At 16 years of age Randall Goosby knows his life is special. He understands because of his talents and his tenacity he is afforded opportunities few can comprehend.
At 16 years of age Randall Goosby is also a junior at Arlington High School. He has a girl friend, struggles with Physics and has his share of typical teenage angst.
Then again, each Friday he travels to New York City to study violin with one of the world’s greatest masters. Despite his protests to the contrary, there is nothing typical about Randall Goosby.