Constance Starr

Constance Koebelin Starr

Passed away peacefully at home with her family on August 26, 2019.

Born April 5, 1925 to Mr. and Mrs. Edwin Koebelin in Deerfield, Illinois. As a small child Constance was drawn to the piano. While still a young student, her mastery of difficult works by Chopin and Liszt caused contest judges to predict a great career.

In her teens, while attending the Interlochen Arts Camp she garnered the attention of Howard Hanson, director of the Eastman School of Music, who immediately offered her a full scholarship to the school in piano and viola.

She graduated in 1947, and in June of that year, married William Starr, a violin student she met during her time at Eastman. They were to play hundreds of concerts together all over the world during their 72 years of marriage.

After Bill took a university faculty position at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Connie contributed to the area’s musical life, appearing as piano soloist with the Knoxville Symphony, and playing viola in the symphony and the University String Quartet.

In 1968, Connie moved to Matsumoto, Japan with William and their eight children. While her husband was observing Shinichi Suzuki’s well-known work with young violinists, Connie convinced the famed educator to publish a collection of music books for piano, eventually introducing Suzuki’s Piano Method to thousands of piano teachers around the world.

Upon the Starr’s return to the U.S. after a year in Japan, Connie continued her involvement with the Suzuki Association of the Americas, serving on the board, giving workshops, lectures, and demonstrations throughout the U.S. and at international conferences.

Connie wrote a number of books, including a 1971 textbook Practical Piano Skills for general music students that remains on the market 46 years later, almost unheard of longevity for a college textbook. In 1981, she published a set of three books, The Music Road, introducing music reading to young pianists, and in 1983 co-wrote with her husband To Learn with Love, a companion book for Suzuki parents.

After moving with the family to Boulder in 1982, she retired from teaching young students and focused on teaching piano teachers – something she continued until very recently.

She is predeceased by one child, Suzanne. She is survived by her husband, William, and eight children: Kathleen, Teresa, Gregory, Timothy, Judith, William Jr., Michael, and David; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Heartfelt thanks to the team at Trail Winds Hospice for their loving support of Connie and the family.

Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to St. Labre Indian School at

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Tuesday September 3 at 11:00am at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 898 14th St, Boulder.

Condolences to the family may be made on this page (

7 thoughts on “Constance Starr”

  1. I am so saddened by the loss. She lived an incredible life and touched so many with love and inspiration. She will be deeply missed. My sincere condolences to her family.

  2. My deepest condolences to Bill and family. Connie’s life will live on in all of us who were fortunate enough to be touched by her in some way. We all will miss her very much.

    Much love to the family

  3. I remember the Starr family that lived next door to us on Wellswood Lane so well. Such a sweet family and the beautiful music that emanated from their house throughout the neighborhood was was so wonderful. Mrs. Starr was so gracious and friendly, as was the whole family. She was such a pretty lady and had such a welcoming personality that you felt right at home in her presence. It was so nice to have some playmates like Kathy and Teresa right next door too. I feel blessed to have known your family and I am sincerely sorry for your loss. Mrs.Starr was truly a great lady.

  4. Connie Starr was an amazing musician who inspired all who knew her. She and Bill enriched the music and cultural life of Knoxville in so many ways. Through their involvement with the Suzuki Method they became known and appreciated internationally.

  5. Mrs. Starr was one of the most special people I ever knew. What a role model for the students at the University of Tennessee who knew her and Mr. Starr. Their marriage was
    a thing of joy. Hearing her play the piano with the Knoxville Symphony was a treat. She will be missed by so many people.

  6. My deepest sympathy to Bill and family. In the early seventies I came from Australia to Knoxville to further my knowledge of the Suzuki approach to Music Education after having spent some tine in Matsumoto. Connie and Bill were so generous with their time and knowledge. I was able to watch Connie teach for hours every day, and she was so helpful with the constant questions I would ask of her. I came away feeling confident about teaching this wonderful way of introducing music to very young children. She was an inspiration to me, and thanks to her I have been able to help so many children not just here in Hobart – Tasmania – but in many parts of Australia. She truly was a great teacher.

  7. What a bright star Connie was! Positive and enthusiastic, her approach to life was textured and full with dimension. She made such a difference to so many of us. I was a better woman for having spent time with her, learning about her approach to music and life and sharing her curiosity for living.

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