Welcome to my piano studio! For my continuing students, things may look a little different here as 2020 has shaken things up a bit. I spent my summer mostly teaching online while researching and learning the best safety practices to fit the possibility of coming into your homes again while meeting every family’s needs with the best equipment. I am happy to say that I’ll be offering both formats of lessons this year with a limited schedule for in-home students. Initially, it may take me a little longer to finalize a schedule while balancing both virtual days and in-home days, but once we get started I’m confident students will have another very fun and productive year.
As far as “in-home” protocols are concerned, here is a list of what I’ll be doing to maintain proper distancing and cleanliness while in your homes. I know that at another point in time these things might have seemed wacky and I’m sure we’ll laugh about what has become awkwardly responsible someday. Please keep in mind that these practices are not in place for only you, but the safety of everyone else as well. I’m trying my best to leave the smallest footprint of me in your homes.
1. I will wear a new mask during for each lesson.
2.I’ll be using hand sanitizer before and after each lesson and also thoroughly wiping my hands with wet-wipes in my car between houses. I’ll be supplying students each with their own small bottle of sanitizer to keep near their piano and to use before we start.
3.I’ve purchased a lightweight rechargeable battery powered keyboard with 88 keys for only me to demonstrate fingerings from. This will keep momentum during lessons so that we aren’t spending precious time constantly getting up and down to always share the same instrument while maintaining distance. It will also enable duets with the younger students as well. If I do happen to need to demonstrate anything on your piano, I will have used hand sanitizer right before doing so.
4.I’ve purchased a contactless medical thermometer. Please check your child’s temperature the day of your lesson. For families who do not have easy access to a thermometer, I can easily do a no contact check.
5.I will be doing contactless payment through Venmo. I will also bring fresh printouts and new and unused books.
As far as “virtual” protocols are concerned, here is a list of what I’ll be doing to maintain the highest quality lessons almost as if I am actually in your home.
1.I have gathered top of the line equipment with multiple cameras and angles.
2.I purchased a new professional microphone and a 27 inch monitor so that I can see students clearly while demonstrating on my own Boston Steinway grand piano.
3.I upgraded my internet service to include the fastest speed at 300mbps. I also purchased a new router and upgraded my security software for extra protection. I use Skype, as I’ve found the sound quality and connectivity are more consistent than others such as Zoom and FaceTime.
4.I will be doing contactless payment through Venmo. I will also be emailing music to parents to print before each lesson, and if books are needed I will purchase and scan material to email.
My summer musical endeavors
Every summer I invest time in furthering myself professionally so that I continue to grow musically for my students. This past winter I prepared and sent in an audition and was supposed to once again attend the prestigious Adamant School of Music in Vermont to perform for the 96 year old legend Menahem Pressler in one of his highly sought out masterclasses. Sadly, the entire retreat was canceled for good reason since the small selective group of mostly elder attendees (that include many of Mr. Pressler’s notable long time pupils) come in from all over the country and world.
In light of this change to my summer schedule I took on two separate projects instead. In July I privately recorded a Chopin Nocturne I had been practicing during spring.
It was during this time while doing a lot of music history research (as I always am) that I made a stunning worldwide discovery. I saw a very unique piano roll from circa 1905-1910 pop up on the British ebay website and purchased it. This piano roll is a hand played recording by the French master Francis Planté (1839-1934). He recorded an entire Bach Prelude and Fugue and it hasn’t been catalogued anywhere. This makes my valuable find the world’s earliest born performer recording of a Bach keyboard work! It is as far back as we will ever get to hearing how someone would have performed Bach’s piano music.
To give an idea of this musical artifact’s depth, Planté once spoke of having performed for a Haydn pupil. Joseph Haydn (born in 1732) had only a handful of pupils while living in Prince Esterhazy’s castle, namely Mozart and Beethoven being among them. Once the piano roll made it overseas, I found one of the few specialists in the country who can still build and fix the Steinway Duo-art piano roll playing system that this roll can be played on. I was able to reach his shop and play the roll back on a newly restored museum quality 1930’s Steinway. I used a high-end cardioid condenser microphone to record it for posterity, and upon hearing it up close in person, I was blown away by the liveliness of this performance as I’m sure you will be. It was like stepping out of a time machine. My next step is to also have the roll scanned by another specialist for library preservation, possibly at Stanford.
I am now very excited to share this recording with the world and be a part of the field of sound archeology. It will be available on Spotify and iTunes soon, and I plan on working to get this recording into the hands of a few famous artists and faculty at prominent music schools and conservatories. It contains some authentic stylized nuances in phrasing and ornamentation unlike any other modern recording of this same piece. Many details like these have been completely lost with time. It also fully validates a lot of my own personal musical habits that I’ve researched and acquired over the years of my studies. To hear Bach actually being played this way is a true breakthrough for Classical music as a whole today.