On Thursday, we celebrated the end of the summer, start of the fall, AND the successful participation in the first ever Amazing & Incredible, Piano Prodigies Obstacle Course, Treasure Hunt Challenge! Students had the opportunity to participate in a number of fun challenges that allowed them to explore piano and music from perspectives a little different than what they are used to in lessons (e.g playing a public piano, creating music-themed artwork, attending an opera, writing a composition, or teaching piano to a family member or friend). We celebrated with an ice cream party and there were prizes for everyone, with the top five participants receiving special acknowledgement. Congratulations, Prodigies!
Congratulations to three Piano Prodigies students who participated at the 2017 Young Artist Piano Competition for New England Students on Saturday, April 29.
Grace, age 6, received first place
Amica, age 10, received first place
Liana, age 13, received Honorable Mention
Amica & Liana, received first place in the duet division
These students exhibited exemplary focus, determination, and patience in their weekly work towards the goal of mastering their competition repertoire. It took several months of digging deep into their pieces, coming to lessons each week and hearing what still needs to be improved, and working diligently to make the requested improvements.
Our goal was simply to learn and grow through the experience, and present the best results of all our efforts in practice and preparations. All three students met and exceeded expectations with their performances. Bravo, and congratulations!
Piano Prodigies hosted a masterclass by pianist and teacher Chad Bowles on Friday, April 7, 2017. Three students performed for Dr. Bowles and received feedback on how to practice and work to improve their playing:
Grace (age 6)
Sonatina Humoresque (Preambulum: Allegro) by Christos Tsitsaros
Sonatina Op. 55, No. 3 (Allegro con spirito) by Friedrich Kuhlau
Amica (age 10)
Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy
Prelude Op. 12 No. 7 ("Harp") by Sergei Prokofiev
Liana (age 13)
Fantasie Impromptu by Frederic Chopin
Sonata No. 4 Op. 128, Movement IV by Diane Rahbee
Piano Prodigies students presented an inspiring program of beautiful music at First Congregational Church in Lebanon on April 7, 2015. Thank you for students for giving your best, and sharing all of your hard work and excitement about your pieces with the audience. Sometimes, I wonder what I can do as a musician and a teacher to make the world a better place... You reminded me that music builds empathy, music builds community, and every moment spent investing in our youth is a moment well spent.
Congratulations to Piano Prodigies student Liana Lansigan on a winning performance at the Plymouth State University Contemporary Piano Competition this past Saturday (March 4). The competition, which is open to students in grades 7-12, brought in thirteen talented young pianists from across New Hampshire. Liana, currently 13 years old, performed "Ruvido," the electrically fourth movement of Diane Rahbee's Sonata No. 4, Op. 128. Judges characterized her performance as having "boundless energy," and "excellent musicianship and stage presence" and awarded her the second prize. Congratulations, Liana!
Last night, I had the opportunity to hear a performance by renowned pianist Piotr Anderszewski with three of my students.
As a musician (pianist) who is usually hard at work on stage, I sometimes forget what it feels like to be in the audience... much less what it's like to experience a profound and total feeling of awe. It brought to mind an article I recently read on the health-benefits of awe in our lives (http://www.collective-evolution.com/2017/01/30/feeling-awe-may-be-the-secret-to-health-happiness/).
Although I've heard great things about Anderszewski's playing, I wasn't at all prepared for what I was going to hear. I expected nice piano music. Impressive playing. Solid memorization. A large range of dynamics.
What he created was actually an expertly crafted novel, from the first note to the last. We hung on to every "word" as it was told to us, waiting for more, and spinning wilding through the adventures he shared with us (and, as I knew some of the repertoire quite well, this effect especially impressed me!). We transcended time and space. His beautiful choreography paired with an infinite color-wheel of sound, that seemed to defy the possibilities of even the best of pianos.
I asked them my students at intermission, "Do you... Can you... feel what he is doing with the music?" They did. We talked about everything from memorization to practicing to style, program order, and life on the road. What a gift to be able to open the door to curiosity and possibility through this performance!
The Bach did indeed prove his brilliant ability to take us on a tour of an enchanted castle, visiting rooms of ornate decor full of beautifully-dressed dancing to live music (a new ensemble for each). Anderszewski created a new acoustic for each room, and took on the role of choreographer and conductor.
The performance was followed by Q&A, giving us a chance to learn more about the performer as a person. Here are some of his highlights:
Thank you to Peter Beardsley for a fabulous "intro to organ" workshop for Piano Prodigies. We had so much fun, and learned a lot!
Congratulations to all who participated in Friday's Powerhouse Mall Music Mini-Marathon! Organized by Piano Prodigies, we had precisely 30 student performers (25 pianists and 5 cellists) from five Upper Valley music studies. From 4-7pm, students performed a wonderful selection of holiday music as well as classical, jazz, and modern works, filling the mall with the sound of music and impressing all with their talent and dedication.
We had our first group piano classes of the year yesterday and they were a blast! Each student presented their Halloween piece and then other students shared feedback on what they heard in the music and performance, talked about areas of improvement, and how to practice. We learned a lot from each other (and Mrs. Elizabeth was thrilled to see that students are very much listening to what she shares with them in lessons, and adding on their own spin!). We practiced rhythmic dictation and then listened to short pieces and answered questions on form, articulation, dynamics, harmonies, etc. Can't wait 'til the next class sessions!
Ah, summer time. Time to have fun with friends! And if they play piano, so much the better. Piano duets!
I had so much fun recording these works with my duet partners - wonderful pianists and (former) Piano Prodigies students Kara and Audrey.
Kara was my student for many years and will be entering her second year at the Baltimore School for the Arts.
Audrey (be sure to read her guest blog) will be attending Notre Dame this Fall.
And here's a bonus recording by "The First Piano Quartet" an ensemble that arranged music for four pianos back in the 1940s. A student of mine recently shared this with me and I found this really interesting and very impressive.
Elizabeth Borowsky is a pianist, teacher, and composer. She is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music in Piano (Music Teachers National Association).