Lily Costa fiddles with her passion for classical music

Lily Costa performs on violin at her middle school graduation.


Lily Costa performs on violin at her middle school graduation.

Ori Rosmarin

Sophomore Lily Costa of Redbank’s relationship with classical music and more specifically, the violin began as a four-year-old audience member to her childhood best friends’ orchestra performances. Looking up to her greatly, these moments in the audience acted as the first steps to a life of admiration for the fine arts.

Costa recalled being inspired by her friend’s involvement in symphonic music. “She played trumpet, violin and piano. I remember realizing that I wanted to do that too,” Costa said. “Right after seeing her in her middle school concert, I went home and told my parents I wanted to play violin.”

Costa’s parents, who had previously envisioned soccer practices or dance recitals for their daughter, were shocked to have a child infatuated by the violin on their hands. They seemed to have no choice but to enroll Costa as Monmouth Conservatory of Music’s newest member.

Sophomore Gracyn Austin of Fair Haven, a close friend of Costa, recalls seeing her perform during the summer of 2022.

“It was so cool just to see her in action,” Austin said. “She was so focused on the instrument, it was incredible to see how much she got into the music on stage.”

Costa credits her present-day skills all to her earliest teacher, Irina Kovalsky.

“[Kovalsky] taught me for most of my violin career,” Costa said. “She drilled the basic scales and arpeggios and really set the foundation for all the difficult pieces I now play.”

Costa practices violin for around an hour every day, relying on not only inspiration but discipline to move her forward in the practice. Though she often teaches at her music school as a substitute, she has no plans to pursue violin teaching or performing  professionally.

While Costa’s childhood passion for violin still plays an active role in her life, maintaining motivation to develop this skill has not been a painless feat. She describes the instrument as an “emotionally taxing hobby” in regards to her rigorous practice schedule.

“If you’re not into it, building the habit to practice daily can be difficult,” she said. “Over the years my work ethic has gotten much better because you don’t really understand the importance of classical music when you’re a child. As I got older, I realized how fun it could be if I were to be emotionally invested in the hobby, and with that my work ethic improved. I finally learned to love it.”