About Kaila


Kaila Graef

Violinist Kaila Graef has performed with a diverse range of groups, including the Wistaria String Quartet, Vermont’s Juno Orchestra, and the Rhode Island Philharmonic. In 2021 Kaila performed with jazz pianist and Guggenheim Fellow Helen Sung, and she recently collaborated with jazz bassist Avery Sharpe in a series of concerts and an album titled “I Am My Neighbor’s Keeper.” Kaila was a founding member of the Wistaria String Quartet, with whom she performed in many local concerts, including in Plainfield’s Concerts at 7, the Summit House Sunset Concert Series, the Montague Bookmill, Springfield’s Tuesday Morning Music Club, and the Five College New Music Festival. Kaila has recorded several albums of chamber music by Scott Slapin and also appears on "Yes Darling" with singer-songwriter Ryan Montbleau.

Kaila was born in Rochester, NY. She began violin lessons with Amy Fletcher at age six soon after hearing Ms. Fletcher perform at the Rochester Zen Center. When her family moved to Vermont a couple years later, Kaila continued lessons with Carolyn Long, who introduced her to the wonderful Vermont Youth Orchestra Association. Through the VYO, Kaila had her first experiences playing not only in an orchestra, but also playing string quartets. She quickly fell in love with chamber music. In high school, Kaila studied with Evelyn Read, the Principal Second Violinist of the Vermont Symphony.

Kaila holds a Bachelor of Music degree in violin performance from Peabody Conservatory, where she was a student of Shirley Givens and studied chamber music with Earl Carlyss of the Juilliard Quartet. She earned her M.M. in violin performance from UMass Amherst, studying with Marylou Speaker Churchill, the late Principal Second Violinist of the Boston Symphony. As a member of the Graduate String Quartet at UMass, Kaila studied chamber music with members of the Lark Quartet and performed in master classes with the Pacifica Quartet, Talich Quartet, St. Lawrence Quartet, and Miró Quartet.

Mike and Barley

At Peabody, a pedagogy course taught by Rebecca Henry sparked Kaila’s interest in teaching. After completing her masters, she followed up with Suzuki teacher training, taking courses with Ronda Cole, Edmund Sprunger, Edward Kreitman, and Martha Shackford. Kaila has served on the faculties of the Vermont Youth Orchestra’s summer music camp, the Northampton Community Music Center, and Strings at Amherst. Kaila opened her private studio in 2005. Her current students range from young beginners to adult amateurs to advanced high school students. Kaila lives in Amherst with her husband Michael Lewis.


    University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • M.M. in Violin Performance (2004)
  • Student of Marylou Speaker Churchill
  • Member of Graduate String Quartet
  • Associate Concertmaster of University Orchestra & Opus One Ensemble
    Peabody Institute of Music
  • B.M. in Violin Performance (2002)
  • Student of Shirley Givens
  • Co-Principal of Peabody Concert Orchestra (1999 - 2000)

  • Private Violin Instructor (2002 - )
  • Strings at Amherst — Violin Faculty (2016)
  • Vermont Youth Orchestra Summer Camp — Violin Faculty (2001-2008)
  • Northampton Community Music Center — Violin Faculty (2004-2005)
  • Holyoke Children's String Workshop — Assistant Violin Teacher (2005, 2006)

  • Wistaria String Quartet — 2nd Violinist (2013 - )
  • Juno Orchestra — Violinist (2018 - )
  • Rhode Island Philharmonic — Substitute Violinist (2023 - )
  • Springfield Symphony Orchestra — Substitute Violinist (2006 - )

Suzuki Training
  • Every Child Can: Ronda Cole
  • Suzuki Book 1: Ronda Cole
  • Suzuki Book 2: Edmund Sprunger
  • Suzuki Book 3: Edward Kreitman
  • Suzuki Book 4: Martha Shackford
  • Suzuki Principles in Action: Teri Einfeldt