Wednesday, June 27, 2012

What a delightful way to spend one's time!

Earlier this month I attended a state conference for the Music Teacher National Association. This organization is made up of teachers who teach in studio settings. A studio setting is the typical private lesson setting. The majority of the members teach piano, but any who teach in the studio setting are encouraged to take part.

That's where I fit in. In the past 6 years I have taught voice, piano, trombone, flute, tuba, saxophone, trumpet, and...I think that's it.

I have found that I thoroughly enjoy the private studio setting. Working individually with students, guiding their progress, is encouraging to me as an instructor.

It is my goal to one day have my own private studio.

One day.

Yet another reason to attend this conference.

The headliner was Beth Klingenstein, an expert in guiding people with the logistics of running a private music studio as a business. She gave a lot of information in her three sessions. I took lots of notes. Despite having taught music for 23 years I learned a lot from her sessions. I have more of a foundation upon which to develop a music studio.

Jura Margulis

Besides the fact that Jura is a good looking Russian man. :)

He can also play the piano!

The highlight for me was getting to hear Jura Margulis perform on the piano in the evening then give a master class the next morning. He was amazing! He is a technical, yet expressive, performer. Often piano players are either one or the other. He is both. His fingers fairly flew across the piano.

I sat in the auditorium so that I could watch his fingers.


It is amusing to notice the seating of the audience when attending a recital or concert that features the piano. Most audience members sit so that they can see the the fingers of the pianist. Because of this the seating is often skewed towards the left of the auditorium. Those who can not see the pianist's fingers were either a) late getting to the performance and thus missed out on the *good* seats; or b) just didn't know any better.

Meals and receptions at these conferences are wonderful times to meeting new colleagues and make new friends or connecting with old friends. Both are so encouraging to me as a musician and as a teacher.

Can anything be better than...

~learning new things?

~hearing great music?

~meething up with friends?

I think not.

It's getting late and I'm getting tired, but I can't end this without mentioning my time spent at the music store. One hour + 50% + 20% discount = 22 voice, piano, and method books.

My time since the conference has been spent playing through every book.

What a delightful way to spend one's time!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Surprise! Music in Nashville, TN? Yes, indeed!

I've been to Nashville many times since moving to TN. I wasn't expecting it to be an inspiring trip. I knew I would enjoy the company and have very nice meals, but other than that I really did not know what to expect. No one in my party had an itinerary for the trip. I just knew I was going to Nashville.

I arrived.

I was settling in to my room when a friend brought my registration packet which included the schedule for the weekend.

I skimmed it: Tour an old building. Dinner at a mansion. Devotional. Breakfast at a building. Meeting. Lunch at the university president's home. Country Music Hall of Fame. Italian Dinner. Schermerhorn Symphony Hall.

Blah, Blah, Blah....


Back that up....

I rubbed my eyes.

Yes, I read it correctly.

Country Music Hall of Fame!?!

Schermerhorn Symphony Hall!?!


Ok. So perhaps this response is an exaggeration - those who know me know me know that I rarely get overly excited - but I was exceedingly pleased these two venues were on the schedule.

The Country Music Hall of Fame

Upon starting the tour we were ushered into waiting elevators which took us up to the third floor where we could begin our tour. We had an audio tour thing to accompany the tour, but I found it to be a nuisance so into the pocket it went.

There was music sounding everywhere. And the neat thing was that though there might be 5-10 songs going on in any given area, the museum is designed so that you only *heard* the song playing nearest to you. Though not a country fanatic, I found myself singing along to the tunes as I wandered through the displays.

The displays were of instruments, outfits, awards, and other memorbilia from the many stars who were featured. I took several pictures - mainly of the "oddities" (i.e., 3-necked guitars, blue suede shoes, etc.), famous/cool outfits (couldn't pass up the ornate Porter Waggoner suits!), and the Grammy Awards won by many artists.

The last thing I looked at was the actual hall of fame. Seeing the plaques of the artists brought back memories of those who were honored. While there were many that I did not know, I saw a lot that I recognized. As I looked at their plaque I could hear their music playing in my mind.

It was magical being here. I could almost feel the presence of each artist as I stood looking at their display and listening to the music.

Notice the architecture of the building - see the rendering of the piano keyboard?

The Nashville Symphony

Schermerhorn Symphony Center

I've been here before. It is a beautiful venue - newly repaired after the Nashville flood 2 years ago on May 1st.

I was eager to hear the symphony's performance of Carl Orff's Carmina Burana. I had heard it recently in March with my local symphony, the Jackson Symphony Orchestra. I sang several parts of it whilst in high school so I am quite familiar with the music. It is a very powerful choral work.

At the LU president's home earlier in the day, when his wife mentioned the symphony concert that night, I made a point to strongly encourage those attending the conference to go to the concert. I explained what they would be hearing, mentioned the beauty of both the music and the hall, and told them they would be hearing a professional symphony. Until that point in the conference people had no idea what I did for a living. The secret was out! :)

We arrived at the venue and, noticing we had 18 minutes before the concert started and that everyone was just standing in a group waiting to see what they should do next, I suggested that they all enter the hall and find their seats since time was passing quickly. I became the chaperone/teacher in that moment. Sometimes it just presents itself!

As expected the music was glorious. I had to take care not to sing/hum along.

The first piece was Ralph Vaughn Williams' Serenade to Music. It was originally written for 16 vocal soloists and orchestra. This arrangement was for mixed chorus and orchestra. The music was beautiful and the words were perfect.

Carmina Burana was powerful. The voices. The orchestra. The soloists.

I enjoyed the concert, but not entirely because of the music.

I enjoyed the concert because for the majority of our group it was their first symphony experience.

I love being with people as they have their first experiences in music. I so wanted them to be as thrilled with the music as I was. Before, during intermission, and after the concert I answered their questions about the music, guided their listening, helped them find the orchestra instrument they played in high school, explained why the sax was not normally in the orchestra,and etc.

I told them when to clap - and when not to clap. It was amusing for I could see out of the corner of my eye that several heads would turn my way to see if it was the right time to clap. I would just clap with a knowing smile on my face.

The printed program for the concert was unlike others I have seen. It included information about all the concerts presented during the month of May. Musically, it was very educational. It included detailed program notes that gave a short bio about the composer, information about the first performance of the works, analysis of the piece, input from the composer about the piece (when available) and suggestions for listening to it.

I certainly enjoyed my musical surprise whilst in Nashville!