Monday, January 24, 2022

The Summer 2022 Collaborative Piano Institute at LSU

Ana Maria Otamendi sends along some information about this summer's Collaborative Piano Institute at LSU:

It is my pleasure once again to invite your students to apply to the sixth edition of the Collaborative Piano Institute, which will take place between June 5th - 25th 2022 at Louisiana State University. Our program is open to all pianists who are interested in the collaborative arts, from undergraduate students to professionals. 

NEW IN 2022!

CPI, the Vocal Academy, and the Collaborative Strings Institute are accepting applications for duos, trios, or larger pre-formed groups! Click here for more information.


We are elated to welcome an even larger roster of collaborative piano superstars: 
Anne Epperson (Director of Collaborative Piano at Indiana University) will join returning faculty members Martin Katz (University of Michigan), Howard Watkins (Juilliard School, Yale, MET), Kathleen Kelly, (Cincinnati College Conservatory, former Director of Musical Studies at the Vienna Staatsoper, and former Head of Music/Music Director at Houston Grand Opera), Jonathan Feldman (Juilliard, NEC, Music Academy of the West), Elvia Puccinelli (UNT), Christopher Turbessi (Rice University), Elena Abend (University of Wisconsin), Ana Maria Otamendi (Louisiana State University), and Elena Lacheva (Louisiana State University) among many others. For more information please see the attachment or visit our website and our Facebook page and also check out the Testimonials of our alumni. 

Click here for Vocal Academy Faculty and Collaborative Strings Institute faculty.


We continue to offer the intensive learning experience which we are known for, tailored to the individual needs of every pianist through individual lessons, collaboration with seasoned professionals in recitals and masterclasses, and over 50 group classes, lectures, and performance opportunities. To see how a day at CPI unfolds, check out our Daily Schedule page.


We have a higher number of scholarships available, and the scholarship decisions would be made based on the audition recordings and demonstrated need. 


NEW IN 2022:
 Early Bird Application due February 15th, 2022 ($35)
Regular deadline: March 15th, 2022 ($55)

For any questions, please email us at 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Erika Switzer on Collaborative Resilience

"In reorienting our systems toward diversity, equity, and inclusion, we inherently acknowledge that it takes more than perseverance to overcome such obstacles. Whereas the internal fortitude of perseverance costs energy, such that we may acquire emotional debt, systemic change universally invests in its constituents through equitable treatment and compensation, making resilience an institutionally supported commodity. In the meantime, as we persevere, resilience must be cultivated by individuals and within communities. In my own work, the essential elements of collaborative resilience are restorative piano practice, socially conscious communication habits, and regular celebration of accomplishments. Taken together, these elements express a global respect for ourselves and for others."

Erika Switzer's Collaborative Resilience in the Jan/Feb 2022 NATS Journal of Singing explores how we can add sustainability into our collaborative work, benefitting others as well as maintaining the well of creativity within us. The sections on restorative practice, communication habits, and celebration of accomplishments are important touchstones for all musicians. 

You can read more about Erika's work here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Collaborative Piano Internships at The Trentino Music Festival

Maddalena Deichmann from the Trentino Music Festival sends along the following information about the festival's new collaborative piano program:

Trentino Music Festival is an international Young Artist Program that runs every summer in the beautiful Dolomiti region in Trentino, Italy. 

The program has been growing exponentially in its many seasons, and we are now launching a collaborative piano program - offering a few positions with fully scholarshipped tuition and housing provided. The successful candidates will live among a culturally rich international community of talented young artists for 5 weeks, and will work with and receive coaching and tutoring from renowned professionals in the field; they will also be able to enjoy time off in the gorgeous Unesco Heritage Dolomites in the Primiero Valley - or head to Venice or another nearby city such as Verona for the weekend.
You can read more about the collaborative piano program here. The opera and voice faculty includes vocal coaches Jane Robinson, Peter Nilsson, and Tim Ribchester. Tuition and registration information is here

Friday, January 14, 2022

Friday Practice Links

Here are some links to articles on practicing that might enliven your time in the practice room:

Tricky Corners: Tension Breaks - Melanie Spanswick on how to build small moments of release into your playing, using as an example the Chopin Black Keys etude. Why this is important:
Students often find the concept of tension breaks challenging. What do I mean by this expression? Most pianists understand the idea of tension and release; we need a certain amount of tension in our bodies to play a note or a group of notes, but the second (or millisecond) the note or notes have been played, we must adjust immediately by releasing that tension. If we don’t, and we continue to keep fingers/wrists/hands/arms taught or rigid, then tension builds and, after a certain amount of time (or a certain number of notes), the pianist will become taught and tight. If this is allowed to continue for too long, the player could eventually become injured. Pain and discomfort often follow this type of unsatisfactory way of playing the piano. Therefore, it is crucial to, firstly, become aware of this type of tension and comprehend how it feels, and, secondly, know how to alleviate it.

Where Simplicity Misses the point: A Practice Perspective in Omnifocus -  Kourosh Dini is a doctor who writes about using Omnifocus in his work, including his practice strategies at the piano. When practicing, Kourosh puts together a list of specifics he needs to work on, curating the larger list into one he uses that day. This is a useful way of keeping track of what needs to be practiced and what's in progress for the current day:

It is arguable a very simple list. However, there is a complexity behind the scenes. Each of the tasks have a different repeat frequency, catering to the practice schedule I want for any individual piece. I can always increase or decrease those frequencies.

A Practice Strategy That Could Potentially Be Twice As Effective As Regular Practice?  - Recent research on varying the parameters of a task shows that being forced to make subtle adjustments can help to jump-start performance improvements. Noa Kageyama looks at how these results might play out with our own practice sessions:

It appears that we have the ability to boost our learning if we a) wait for the new skill to consolidate a bit first, then b) return to the skill and try to achieve the same (or higher) level of performance, but force ourselves to make adjustments by using a different bow, different mallets, piano with lighter/heavier touch, etc. Something that makes the task slightly more challenging and forces us to explore a wider range of the possible motor movements available to us.

I've noticed over the years that the pianists who have the most flexibility in adapting to an instrument were either students at music schools and freelance collaborative pianists, because they are forced to practice and perform on many different instruments, potentially dozens in a single week. 

With the rise of online learning, I fear that playing on only one instrument might genuinely hinder pianists once they are forced to make adjustments on another instrument in performance. The old model of practicing on one or more pianos and playing lessons on another, then playing concerts on yet more unfamiliar pianos builds a strong ability to adjust to different circumstances with instruments and performing spaces. 

1-2 years of playing on a single instrument might yield some unpleasant surprises when the opportunity arises to perform in a large hall and unfamiliar piano. When I judging a competition late last year I observed that many pianists play with a noticeably smaller sound than required in performance - they're unfamiliar with the experience of filling a large room with their sound. 

Monday, January 03, 2022

Call for Collaborative Pianists: Musiktheater Bavaria


Amanda Johnston sends along the following information:

Dear Colleagues,

At Musiktheater Bavaria, we are currently auditioning for four positions for student collaborative pianists who are interested in German operatic repertoire and vocal coaching. All four positions are full scholarship and tuition free. Pianists will observe and work with MTB’s professional vocal coaches, Amanda Johnston (University of Mississippi, and author of English and German Diction for Singers: a Comparative Approach), JoAnn Kulesza (Peabody Conservatory), Dean Wilmington (Theater an der Rott, Bavaria), and Stephen Hopkins (Vienna Staatsoper).

If you have any pianists who would like to spend one month of intensive study in the picturesque Bavarian Alps, please pass this along. For complete details and requirements, please visit:
Note: Collaborative pianists may concentrate in opera or musical theatreApplication deadline is Feb 15, 2022.
Thanks for helping me to spread the word. Please do not hesitate to contact me, if you require further information.
Yours sincerely,

Let's hope this summer is more amenable to large musical activities and performances!  


Saturday, July 03, 2021

HBD!Project - May your June be Proud

This recording project needed a lot of practice for some very difficult rep, but was a lot of fun to record and play. HBD!Project's May/June compilation of composers features a huge cast of singers, none of whom I rehearsed with before recording the tracks, although let's just say Natalya and I entered into negotiations regarding the tempo for the Wagner Ride of the Valkyries. 

Production credits go to Natalya Gennadi and Catherin Carew for putting together the project, as well as Bruno Roy for video and sound editing. 

Here's a complete track listing with a rundown of the cast for each:

0:39 Ride of the Valkyries Composer: Richard Wagner Chris Foley, piano Siegrune: Kristina Maria Agur, mezzo soprano Voice of Ortlinde: Catharin Carew, mezzo soprano Helmwige: Stephanie DeCiantis, soprano Grimgerde: Leah Giselle Field,mezzo soprano Face of Ortlinde: Gregory Finney, baritone, actor Gerhilde: Natalya Gennadi, soprano Schwertleite: Suzanne Hendrix-Case, mezzo soprano Roßweiße: Jennifer Routhier, mezzo soprano Waltraute: Jillian Yemen, mezzo soprano 5:48 Don Juan's Serenade Composer: Pyotr Tchaykovsky Text: Alexey Tolstoy Bruno Roy - Baritone Chris Foley, piano 8:43 Miss Muffet is a Hipster Composer / text: Rossa Crean Catharin Carew, mezzo soprano Chris Foley, piano

Friday, July 02, 2021

Email Subscriptions via Feedburner Will Be No Longer Available in July 2021

This is a message for Collaborative Piano Blog readers who signed up for the original email subscription via Feedburner before 2019. As of July 2021, Google will be sunsetting this service and it will no longer be available. 

If you would still like to receive Collaborative Piano Blog updates via email, I recommend that you sign up for my newsletter, which comes out most Fridays. Each week I give updates on what I’m up to and link to the latest articles by myself and others that you might find useful. 

Have a great weekend!