Nikki Routman Ebisu, Violin

Question & Answer Nikki Routman Ebisu

How did you choose your instrument?

My mother actually decided before I was born! When my mother was pregnant, she attended a group class presentation in Colorado of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki’s tour group with his prodigal Japanese students. She was inspired by his philosophy and teachings and decided that I was going to be a violinist.

Best part about being an orchestral musician in the HSO?

Sitting in the first violin section, I am close enough to the edge of the stage to see the facial reactions of the audience members. It makes my job so validating to see that our music is touching people to bring tears or smiles.

Who is your favorite composer?

I love Bach. I really learned to appreciate his music when I studied his music for my doctoral comps in college. The religious and numerological symbolism hidden within his works is fascinating.

What is your favorite musical style?

I love listening to Baroque Music for chamber orchestra.

When was the career of music chosen?

I decided to pursue music professionally when I was eight years old when I was accepted into the Toho Music School in Tokyo, Japan.

Where are you originally from?

I was born in Denver, Colorado but raised in Tokyo, Japan until high school. I briefly lived in Oklahoma City (I moved there the year of the bombing!), and then Austin, TX and Colorado for colleges. My immediate family still lives in Colorado so I call that home now.

Who were your major teachers?

I started the violin with the Suzuki Method in Colorado at age 2. In Japan, I studied with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki and his apprentices. I continued at the Toho Music School with violist Sumiko Edo. I attended the University of Texas at Austin, under the tutelage of Dr. Eugene Gratovich, and Istudied with Oswald Lehnert at the University of Colorado at Boulder.


Nikki with her family and Jake Shimabukuro after the HSO Season Finale Concert in June 2015.

Work history?

During graduate school in Colorado, I worked for several orchestras including the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, Greeley Philharmonic, Fort Collins Symphony, Cheyenne Symphony, Boulder Philharmonic, Charleston (SC) Symphony. All the traveling got to be too much. I moved to Hawaii in 2006 for the Honolulu Symphony and have been here ever since!

What are your activities, hobbies, interests, outside of music?

I have two beautiful children ages 2 and 4, so right now I try to spend all my free time with my family. That means parks, beaches and museums galore. I love to travel, but that will have to wait until my kids are older!

Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Coffee! In all shapes and forms. I can’t live without it.

What is your favorite stress reliever?

NYT Crossword Puzzles. In pen.

More About Nikki Routman Ebisu

Violinist Dr. Nikki (Routman) Ebisu enjoys a distinguished career as a teacher, performer and clinician. Her collaborative chamber music and orchestral performances have taken her all across the globe, from Europe, the USA and Asia.

As an active music educator, she is in large demand in Hawaii — both as a Japanese bilingual violin instructor and also as one of the few remaining to have studied directly with Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, the founder of the Suzuki Method. Nikki is the Owner and Director of the Hawaii Suzuki Music Academy, a violin school for students age 3 and up. Prior to moving to Hawaii, Nikki primarily taught at the college level, serving as a lead Graduate Assistant and Instructor at the University of Colorado at Boulder and on faculty at Conservatory Music in the Mountains Summer Festival in Durango, Colorado.

On the performance stage, Nikki is currently a violinist with the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Hawaii Pops Orchestra with Matt Catingub. She previously held positions in the Honolulu Symphony, World Symphony Orchestra (South Korea), Austin Symphony, Cheyenne Symphony, Colorado Springs Philharmonic and Symphony, Fort Collins Symphony, Greeley Philharmonic and Temple Symphony. She performed regularly with the Charleston (SC) Symphony, Boulder Philharmonic, Corpus Christi Symphony and Maui Pops Orchestra. She has participated in various summer festivals including Interlochen, the International Music Festival in Portugal and Colorado Music Festival, and was invited to perform at the 2005 Yehudi Menuhin Chamber Music Seminar in San Fransisco as the “Emerging String Quartet” Winner.

Nikki holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music and Pre-Medicine from the University of Texas at Austin. She received her Master in Music and Doctorate in Music Arts (Violin Performance) degrees from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Her primary violin teachers include William Starr, Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, Sumiko Edo, John Arnold, Dr. Eugene Gratovich and Oswald Lehnert. She studied chamber music under the tutelage of the Cavani Quartet, Takacs Quartet and Ying Quartet.

Her newest venture is Aloha Tuners (, an online website featuring the CharactuneTM digital clip-on tuners for musical instruments.