Musically Motivating Weekend

The annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association took place June 11-13 at Bedford Springs Spa, playground for the Washington elite in the mid-1800’s which was recently purchased and renovated by Omni Hotels, a beautiful setting for an inspiring weekend. I had a chance to present my clinic, “Keeping Piano Lessons Relevant for the Digital Generation” as well as attending several very motivational sessions. Among the most memorable were —

David Cutler of The Savvy Musician, and Coordinator of Music Entrepreneurship Studies at Duquesne University, spoke about how piano teachers should come up with a business plan to make the most of the students they have in addition to setting up multiple streams of income as a musician and teacher. I’m reading his book right now and it’s full of examples of classical musicians who are stepping out of the box in exciting ways with their programming and marketing ideas.

Kay S. Hooper gave an engaging workshop entitled “Ambient Awareness: Training Attention in an ADD World,” a very important topic right up my alley. She spoke about the senses (all 13 or 14 of them) and freeing students from the tyranny of “keeping their eyes on the music.” She spoke about the research that is being done on the physiology of piano playing, specifically about how the physical, mental and emotional aspects of performing all work together.

The weekend was topped off by a beautiful, mostly Chopin, recital by the amazing Brian Ganz, who broke down the performer/audience wall by taking questions from the audience right after intermission. He spoke about his preparation, his moving visit to Chopin’s grave in Paris, and when asked what his favorite piano piece was…he and I are in agreement…Chopin’s g minor Ballade.

So what did I end up doing today? I practiced Chopin, of course. I’ll tackle the business plan tomorrow.

Here is Brian Ganz speaking about how he memorizes music.

If I were a 16 year old piano student…

If I were a 16 year old piano student here are five things I’d like my piano teacher to ask me to do.

  1. Record a piece of music, make a photo montage video and post it on YouTube. Maybe it would be something I’d do on FreshBrain.
  2. Get a couple of friends together for a chamber music recital to raise money for The Humane Society. Well-behaved dogs invited.
  3. Write a piece of music for the piano…and I can use any part of the piano and any type of notation I want.
  4. Figure out how to do a mash-up and then do one.
  5. Work on an etude by Chopin or Moszkowski and see how fast I can get it in one week…with all the notes in place, of course.