Thursday, September 11, 2014

Help the Collaborative Pianist Guild Become a Professional Advocacy Group for our Profession

Although collaborative pianists are known for their ability to work with others, as a group they can often be marginalized and sometimes have difficulty identifying with a professional organization.

The Collaborative Pianist Guild aims to change all that. Starting off as an accompanist directory, they eventually plan to become a full-fledged advocacy group for the entire profession. With that purpose in mind, CPG President Susan Brown and VP Rachel Fogarty have created a Rockethub campaign in a bid to raise $5,000. Here's the statement from their Rockethub page:

The Collaborative Pianist Guild is a professional organization designed to help pianists reach their full potential as collaborators. Our organization provides opportunities for members to learn new skills (hosting relevant conferences and workshops) and helps improve existing abilities so our members will be better equipped to serve our musical community. The CPG promotes our art through mentoring budding pianists, educating the public and other musicians about the value of collaboration in music, and promoting high standards of artistry among our colleagues.

Meeting our goals requires a platform - an interactive website with a searchable database of collaborative pianists for other musicians and a job opportunities page and other resources for our members. This website will be a launching pad for future plans - master classes, concerts, competitions, and annual job placement auditions connecting members with schools, companies, art organizations, and with individuals needing a pianist.

There are professional organizations for composers, organists, choirs, conductors, and many other types of musicians. But our research indicates that no organization on this scale exists for collaborative pianists in the United States. This is a distinct opportunity to be part of something entirely new.

This is where you come in. We need your help raising money to fund the website. Any amount is welcome. 100% goes to support the cost of the website.

We offer some exceptional perks for different levels of giving: a new work written especially for you for an ensemble of your choice, a house concert in your living room, a lesson with one of the top collaborative pianists in the field, and discounted memberships!! These are the immediate reasons for you to support our cause, but there are many more. Just a note about how this works. RocketHub is not an investment or charity. It is an exchange: funds from supporters for goods from us. In other words, if we don't reach our financial goal we get to keep what we raise.
Come on collaborative pianists - we constantly complain about being marginalized in the profession. This is a chance to create a professional organization that will create some long-term positive change for those who practice our craft.

You can also find more information at their Fractured Atlas funding page and website. More updates to come.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Time for Three Takes on Bullying with Stronger

Time for Three is a string trio originally from the Curtis Institute but now in residence with the Indianapolis Symphony. Their unique style blends first-rate playing with some imaginative arrangements and video concepts. Their video for Stronger looks at the important issues of music education and bullying in the schools:




You can check out the backstory for Stronger here. Time for Three are:
  • Zach De Pue, violin
  • Nick Kendall, violin
  • Ranaan Meyer, double bass
BTW one can't mention bullying and classical music in the same sentence without this famous Bizarro comic coming to mind.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ask the Readers: Which Collaborative Piano Programs Are Best for a Student from China?

Touch 2012
eugenephoen / cc

A few days ago, a reader posed this question on the long-running discussion of the Degree and Diplomas in Collaborative Piano post:
I'm helping a Chinese friend search for the best US university for an MM in Collaborative Piano. If you could offer some advice that'd be great.
Thanks for the comment and important question! That's one of the central issues for the increasingly large influx of pianists coming from China looking for collaborative piano degrees at the Master of Music level. The choices of these pianists won't just be about choosing the most famous teacher, but should also include:
  • ESL support
  • Affordable housing, either on or off campus
  • Affordable health care
  • A vibrant music scene, both on and off campus
  • Financial aid, including scholarships, assistantships, or fellowships
  • An effective path to entry in the profession, either in North America or China
  • [Edit] Thanks to an anonymous commenter for one of the most important: Quality of potential collaborative partners within the music school
What schools would you recommend for these reasons? Leave a comment below. You can also track the discussion on the Collaborative Piano Blog Facebook Page.





Sunday, August 17, 2014

What I've Been Up To Lately

The exam room in Calgary SW last week. How appropriate!
This summer is one of those times where so many projects are in development and coming up to completion that it can be difficult to take stock of exactly how things fit in perspective. Here's a short list of my current and recent projects:
  • Finishing up a tour of duty examining in southern Alberta this month, after previous trips to Vancouver, Surrey, Trail, and Nelson in BC this June. 
  • Working as Artistic Consultant alongside producer Anton Kwiatkowski for the recordings for the upcoming 2015 Piano Syllabus of the Royal Conservatory. Pianists performing on the series include Li Wang, Lang Ning Liu, Robert Kortgaard, Peter Longworth, Michael Esch, Ben Smith, and Janet Lopinski.
  • In collaboration with RCM Senior Academic Director Janet Lopinski, rewriting the technical requirements for the 2015 Piano Syllabus, as well as expanding the scope of the technique books for the next edition.
  • Finishing up the work compiling the repertoire lists for the 2015 Piano Syllabus.
  • OK, this is one of the coolest ones - performing the musical samples for the online component of the Four Star Sight Reading and Ear Training series, 2015 edition. This includes playing intervals, chords, chord progressions, clapbacks, and playbacks which will be available online for anyone who buys the book. The online component will be awesome!
  • Finally, I made my podcasting debut in June in conversation with Andrea Dow for Teach Piano Today. Have a listen to Episode 18, where I talk to Andrea about teaching and learning collaborative piano, careers in music, using technology, and being in the curriculum creation business.
Being a foodie in Vancouver.
Picture credit: Karen Lee-Morlang
And that's not even the projects I've got on deck for the fall (more later)...

So this summer has been a fascinating time of taking stock of projects about to finish as well as planning new ones for the fall. At the same time, I've been thinking about how I aim to approach this blog in light of how busy I've been lately. Much of my blog output seems to be in fits and spurts in between busy project times. 

I've been receiving a lot of email from people eager to get press and reviews for their products. It seems that this is a weird time, with traditional press no longer reviewing CDs the way they used to. There's an arms race going on with education apps, with the big winners being the teachers (and their students) who are able to fit these apps and their workflows into their teaching and practice. 

I'm particularly fascinated by the way technology fits into the teaching and practice process, not just as cool new things to amaze teachers at conferences, but as a way of utilizing these apps and devices to integrate seamlessly into the learning process. That's the kind of approach I would like to be taking in my articles in the next while.

And of course there will be giveaways as well. But now it's time for me to take a well-deserved break on a Sunday evening, with two full days of examining in Alberta remaining before I return to Toronto on Wednesday evening. 

The view from the Prince's Island pedestrian bridge last week in Calgary







Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Uncovering a Hidden Gem: Joseph Szulc's Clair de Lune

One of the most beautiful things about exploring the art song tradition is that every so often you uncover a song by an unknown composer that speaks with such elegance and beauty that you're astonished not to have heard it before.

While preparing for a Vocal Lit class at the Glenn Gould School last week I found just one of those buried treasures: a 1907 setting of Verlaine's Clair de lune by Polish/French composer and conductor Joseph Szulc. Although the Fauré and Debussy settings are far more well known, Szulc's setting has an undoubtedly French intimacy and sensuality that stands up to the other versions extremely well.

There are only a handful of recordings I could find, most of them on YouTube. Here is one by an unknown (French?) baritone with a likewise unknown pianist:



This vinyl recording is sung by Maggie Teyte, with Gerald Moore at the piano:



The sound on the Teyte/More recording above isn't very good, but you can get a better account of it on this Naxos release. If you're looking for a score of this singular Clair de lune setting, there's a free one on IMSLP (thank you again, Sibley Library!).






Monday, April 28, 2014

Class Piano/Collaborative Pianist Position at the University of Arkansas

In addition to the previous position mentioned at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, here is another listing for their Fayetteville campus:
Description: The University of Arkansas Department of Music is seeking a nine-month, non-tenure track Instructor of Class Piano to teach class piano courses for music and non-music majors with secondary duties as a collaborative pianist. Candidates currently in temporary or non-tenured positions will be considered. Starting date is August 18, 2014.
A Master’s degree in CP is the minimum requirement, DMA preferred. Full information on the position can be found here.



Sunday, April 27, 2014

Collaborative Pianists and Professionalism: A Passionate Rant

And in this crazy life, you are my everything.
alonefortherideily / cc
Earlier today, Vancouver-based pianist Karen Lee-Morlang posted this wonderful, perceptive rant on Facebook:
Dear fellow collaborative pianist:

You are a very good piano player. I hear it, and often enjoy listening to you play so well. You also seem to like it that everyone around you acknowledges that you are good. That's fine. You deserve recognition for your hard-earned skill! Unfortunately, you have also decided that everyone around you must also await for your presence with bated breath...including showing up regularly to festivals and performances 15 minutes late (or more), making your singers or instrumentalists fret, worry and be even more nervous. You finally arrive, and state imperiously, "didn't you all receive my text messages", as if, planning on being late while you're playing for other clients, makes it OK that you over-booked and are late for the performance itself, and have kept the adjudicators, performers and other collaborative pianists waiting. Other people, who have respectfully, arrived on time (or even, gasp, 10-15 or 30 minutes early). Sometimes, because your schedule is so much more important, you make sure that your performer gets to be shuffled to the beginning of the section in spite of the printed order, just so that you can leave immediately after playing. You have regularly cancelled last minute in order to take a better, more prestigious or higher paying gig....and your colleagues are getting calls and emails from stressed out performers to help pick up the pieces. What can I say? I think it's awesome that us pianists are apparently so valuable that for some reason people still put up with your behavior. However, you do set up the expectation (with some less experienced parents, young musicians and even teachers) that it is the norm for collaborative pianists to behave like this. I have worked 10+ years to assure them that it's NOT, and then usually pass on a nice long list of pianists that I personally can recommend as RELIABLE, RESPECTFUL and great at their jobs. Sadly you're not on this list. I hope that you one day you will finally grow up and remember why we're called COLLABORATIVE PIANISTS.

Sincerely yours,

Karen LM (a pianist who truly loves collaborating)
Well said, Karen! One of the tricky things about maintaining professionalism in the musical world is that regardless of what your abilities or status might be in the field, everybody judges you based on the same criteria. That's a critical and sometimes tough thing to learn at any age, whether you're just beginning in the field or a seasoned veteran.

Karen also wanted me to mention this:
Every client that you decide to take on matters, from the youngest to oldest, and deserves have a good experience too.

Let us keep that in mind as we head into the conclusion of the concert season and academic year.