Saturday, May 15, 2010

Collaborative Pianist in the Making

Just over a year ago, I was awarded the Doctorate of Musical Arts from the University of Memphis in piano performance with an emphasis in collaborative arts. Since that time, my professional life has become one adventure after another - many of which my formal training little prepared me. That is what sparked my plan to write this blog; hopefully I can share some insight into the career of collaborative pianist (as well as its joys and frustrations), raise some questions about music in general, and give my readers cause to smile at some of my personal experiences.

While my formal training prepared me for working in chamber ensembles with other musicians, that has proven to be only one aspect of my musical career. In addition to my performing engagements, I currently maintain a small piano studio in West Memphis, Arkansas and direct the music and children ministries of a congregation in Collierville, Tennessee. As though that is not enough, I am on the faculty of Mid-South Community College in West Memphis and also actively participate in the efforts of the Crittenden Youth Theater and Delta Arts.

With so many hats, I sometimes feel more like a juggler in a three-ring circus rather than an established pianist. The sheer number of responsibilities I face in any given day can quickly become overwhelming. At times, I wonder which ball is going to drop first and what the fallout will be. Do I regret the career choice I have made? Not at all! Despite the occasional stressful situation, the variety of responsibilities keeps life interesting and allows me to be involved in many avenues of my passion for music.

In this blog, I plan to devote one day each week to the varied avenues of my current career. Discussions will vary from church music and ministry to music education and private instruction. Of course, I'll be including thoughts about pieces I am learning or rediscovering as a result of upcoming performances. Will everyone agree with my analysis? Certainly not! If we all agree, we will have little opportunity for discussion. Hopefully, my posts will spark your personal thoughts and be a stimulus for lively discussions among musicians in all areas of the field. Such discussion is one of the most important things (outside of practice!) that challenges members of the musical community to find new levels of excellence in their personal pursuits.

I look forward to getting to know you and hearing your thoughts as we explore our mutual love of music together.