The phone calls have come in–what time is my lesson, Professor? It’s always a daunting task–work around their classes–he wants a lesson before our open master class at 2, she wants it after the class to fix her horrific mistakes–they want to sign up for a two piano course–they don’t think they can make a solo career–he wants to learn Beethoven 4–she wants to teach chorus in schools, but can’t play through a Bach 2-part Invention–help!!!!!!!!!
As I get older, I find more and more that the young people entering the music programs at Brooklyn College and those lucky enough to get into the DMA program at the Graduate Center have dreams that might and might not get realised, and some who have tremendous drive and assurability, and those who have false hope. With all the talk about the industry and the supply and demand wavering from season to season, I become more inquisitive with each student as to their goals, repertoire, and simply ‘when you graduate, how do you plan to pay the bills?’ mentality. It’s like a Reality TV show every week–although I am extremely easy going, with a fire inside trying to help light their way, I am always looking ahead in offering repertoire suggestions that would be helpful for them later on, or career decisions. Some have no clue how limited the openings are for what they do, and they need to carve their niche slowly while in the school mode. True, the classics are important to study, perform and be able to do well, though according to the direction they need to go, I am careful (and cautious, based on their aspirations) to open their eyes and minds to what might be available to them to consider, should that ‘classic’ career not happen right after they get their diploma. It rarely does anymore. Chamber music, accompanying, composing, teaching, arranging, editing, and so much more is at their disposal. Perhaps we were at the crossroads twenty years ago, and with new technology, there are more possibilities in music today. So, for all the new students and those continuing their studies, keeping your eyes open to the various ways to make music and taking advantage of the avenues that surround you will make it a positive experience, and don’t be afraid to learn music from styles that were at one time considered forbidden if you were a ‘classical’ musician. No holds barred–go for it. Somebody showed me a remarkable book of Dave Brubeck solo piano works–perhaps a Bach Suite followed by a Brubeck Suite–why not??