Sharing the gift of music

Danae Milbrandt
Violinist Gabe Dalhoff from Albany performed for residents of Meadow Creek and Copper Glen on Monday.

On Monday, July 6, Montevideo welcomed a young violinist for a performance for the residents of Copper Glen as well as at Meadow Creek.

Gabriel Dalhoff, 20, of Albany, is the youngest of eight siblings and has played violin for 10 years. According to Dalhoff, he took an interest in it after making the decision to learn how to play the mandolin.

“All of my older siblings played piano and so did I,” said Dalhoff. “Some of my older siblings started playing violin and cello, then my brother-in-law and twin sister started playing violin, and since everyone was playing violin I wanted to play something else. I picked the mandolin, and I didn’t know at the time but the mandolin has the same strings as a violin does so I decided I could learn two instruments at the same time.”

Dalhoff then began taking violin lessons and a couple years later had the opportunity to join his brother-in-law in performing for his sister’s wedding.

“Once I started lessons I absolutely loved it. After I played for my second-oldest sister’s wedding I soloed for my other sisters’ weddings and just continued from there.”

Dalhoff comes from a musical family, and has always had a natural aptitude when it came to music and performing.

“There was a retired orchestra teacher in Alexandria who taught out of his home, and we would go there once a month. When I would go he would tell me what to play, and I would play that for about half an hour, and then I would pick songs that I really liked and I would just play them for hours and hours. Then I would just listen to other people that I thought were really good and that’s honestly how I got to where I am is just doing stuff I really liked to do.”

When Dalhoff performs, he plays all of his pieces by ear.

“It works out great, because what I do is I listen to the song until I can sing it to myself in my head, and then when I’m playing I don’t have to pay for sheet music, and I can play it however I want. So if I do something that’s not technically how it should be, it’s fine because there’s no sheet music in front of me.”

He added that if he knows the key signature of a piece, he is able to play how he wants since he knows the notes in each chord.

“It also works better without sheet music because when I go places I don’t have to carry stuff, and then when I’m playing in front of people I can walk over and don’t have to worry about it.”

Dalhoff has performed in Montevideo before, as well as the surrounding area and across Minnesota. His parents live in Morris, so he makes a point to schedule performances near Morris and Montevideo a couple times a month when he travels to visit them.

“I am busy 24/7 traveling to different places; I go all over Minnesota and North Dakota, and then in two weeks I have my biggest trip where I head to Kentucky and Ohio for a week.”

Currently, Dalhoff works full time with his music business, Gabe’s Violin Music, which he started in June after graduating from Alexandria Technical College where he received a degree in exercise science as a personal trainer.

“I haven’t done a lot of that with COVID going on right now,” Dalhoff explained. “Online training has been flooded with trainers just because no one can go back to the gyms right now, or if they are open it seems like not a lot of people are looking for coaching due to concerns about getting COVID. So I’ve put that on the back burner, but I just got a new certification and I’m going to try to get more things lined up so I can do online personal training as well as continue with my music.”

The COVID pandemic also affected Dalhoff’s music business when it made its way to the state this spring, and then continued into the summer.

“Before COVID happened I would go to nursing homes and a lot of time they would have a piano. So if I would get there 15 minutes early I would play 10 minutes on the piano as people are walking in and settling down, then when it was time I would get ready to play violin,” Dalhoff said. “It was nice because I could do both, but I don’t have a traveling keyboard and I’m not allowed inside the nursing homes since it’s just been outdoor performances, so I haven’t been doing that as far as COVID’s concerned. But when things open back up we can throw a bit more piano in there,” he said with a smile.

When Dalhoff performs, he typically uses background tracks to accompany his performances. He stated that he finds the majority of them as free tracks on YouTube, but also has a friend who is a music producer.

“I have a buddy from southern Minnesota; he and I are both into music but he’s more into producing music whereas I’m into performing. It works out well because we pick a song we both really like and he makes the backing track to it, and then I do the main part of the song. We both work together, so this summer we have been working on a few songs we now use.”

He added that he also has a song he made himself, where he used piano and added additional instrumentation to use as backing for his violin.

Dalhoff plays in a variety of venues, including bars, restaurants, wineries, breweries, nursing homes, in addition to weddings and anniversaries.

“Really, anything that anyone could think of that they might want music for. Sometimes people think, ‘Oh he’s from St. Cloud, he would never come do this.’ Absolutely not, what works for me is if I get asked to play somewhere, I would plan a trip and I would go to Meadow Creek, I would go to Copper Glen, all the places I enjoy going to in addition to play for, say, a wedding or anniversary.”

According to Dalhoff, he loves to travel, and time is not an issue for him.

“I try to be flexible, even with pricing. I have my set rates, but if it’s going to break the bank I’ll make it work. I pretty much do anything, anywhere, anytime.”

Dalhoff’s business is still up and coming, but he’s hoping to get to a point where he has people coming to him and asking him to perform instead of him reaching out.

“My goal is to be busy! Right now I do a lot of selling myself, so when I call places I tell them what I do and how much I charge, and I would love to get to a point where more people get ahold of me; I’m starting to get more of that, people asking for weddings and anniversaries and such.”

On average, Dalhoff performs three times a day, three to four times a week.

“On Monday I set out my schedule, I reach out to places, set stuff up and Tuesday through Friday I’m on the road,” he said. “Sometimes Tuesday through Wednesday, and Saturday and Sunday.

“The thing with music is most places are going all the time, so my goal is to be as flexible for people as I can,” he continued. “If they say we can’t do a Friday but we can do a Sunday night, I’ll be there Sunday night; whatever works for other people. It’s not a Monday through Friday 8-5 for me, it’s just whatever works every week.”

Dalhoff is in the process of setting up a website, but in the meantime has a YouTube channel with his music (Gabe Dalhoff), and can be found on Instagram @gabesviolinmusic. For inquiries on future performances, he can be reached at (320) 288-3150, or his Facebook page at Gabe’s Violin Music.

Although his business is just starting up, it seems Dalhoff has the ambition and talent for a very bright future.

Dalhoff has been playing the violin since the age of 10.