Opus / February 2018

2018 February Opus

In This Issue

News at CCM
CCM Workshop Series
All About Collaborative Piano
Faculty Spotlight: James Myers
Did you know...
Upcoming Area Performances

News at CCM


American Roots Winter Party



Join us for an evening of fun, music and great BBQ on Saturday, March 3rd for the CCM American Roots Winter Party at Concord’s Scout House.

Watch our video and enjoy!

By attending the CCM American Roots Winter Party,  our community members have access to outstanding faculty, music programs for students of all ages, and financial assistance to those that need our help. You can make a difference, RSVP today!

CCM Offers a New Lifelong Learning Class

This month CCM faculty member, concert pianist, and composer, Keith Kirchoff, hosts a three-week course on what is it like to be a composer. Explore the various approaches, horror stories, and successes of composers both historical and present-day. A Composer’s Life will look at such questions as: What leads to a piece? How does a composer write? How does one deal with failure and rejection, and make a living?  Each class is highly interactive, and no musical experience is necessary. This session meets on Monday, February 12, 26, and March 5 from 1:00 -2:30 pm at CCM. For information>>

CCM Second Saturday Bluegrass Jam with BBU: February 10th!

Join the Second Saturday Bluegrass Jam at CCM from 7:00 – 9:30 pm on February 10th.  Our monthly jam, co-sponsored by the Boston Bluegrass Union, is open to all ages and bluegrass instruments for advanced beginner musicians and above. The fee is $5 payable at the door. Through June 2018, the jams will take place at CCM.

Are you a CCM friend yet? Join us on Facebook to hear the Tune of the Week and be the first to hear CCM news and more! See what music videos we like, photos we post, practice tips and articles we suggest, and discover what’s new in the music world. Join us on Facebook.

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CCM February Workshops and More


What’s Music and Movement (Dalcroze Eurhythmics)?

It’s learning music through rhythmic, creative movement, and at the same time, improving one’s ability to hear the music, pitch, and tonality. Offered Saturday, February 10th, the Music and Movement Workshop (Dalcroze Eurhythmics) will help students learn the music isn’t just notes on the page; they must internalize the music to become better musicians.

Melissa Tucker will lead 6 to 8-year-olds, from 10:00 – 10:50 am and 9 – 11-year-olds from 11:00 – 11:50 am.

"Students discover new aspects of music by experiencing the joy and fun of using their body as a musical instrument,” says Melissa. “Active listening and quick reaction games help students develop their musicality, rhythmic, and creative skills."

The CCM Music Workshop Series is part of our Music Achievement Program (MAP) and open to the public, and we encourage non-CCM students of all ages to attend.  Each workshop goes far beyond the typical lesson and practice schedule by delving into theory and concepts that distinguish average musicians from actual artists. From the workshops, students will learn skills to help carry their musical endeavors. CCM students— it is not too late to sign up for the MAP.

The Workshop Series Schedule

For complete workshop descriptions>>

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All About Collaborative Piano

James Myers

Whereas a solo pianist might spend a year or more perfecting a specific piece of music, a collaborative pianist—meaning those who perform alongside other instrumentalists or vocalists—is expected to have the same technical command of the music, but sometimes with only a few days to rehearse.   

“When I’m handed a piece by Prokofiev, I’m not reading every note,” says James Myers, a collaborative keyboardist and coach. “I’m reading musical design, gesture. I feel Prokofiev in my hands. I have a strong sense of the music from the solo world. In the collaborative world, all the scales, arpeggios, all the keys and technical work we did in training comes to the fore. They become patterns that we recognize immediately.” Collaborative pianists rely on this “familiar territory” to prepare music quickly without losing the artistry.

There is an outdated sense of the piano accompanist being subservient to the performer, a hierarchy that is both out of date and out of sync with the way that collaborators work, Myers says. Collaborators need to be masterful in their technique and sight reading, but also highly attuned listeners. When performing with vocalists, wind instrumentalists, or brass players, Myers says: “I breathe in with the phrase, out with the phrase. That’s the number one thing about collaborative: You must listen simultaneously.”       

Beyond the mastery of the music, Myers says collaborative pianists are most successful when they have a deeper connection to the music. “When I’m coaching a student in collaborative voice, I’ll point to something in the music and say, ‘What does this mean?’  I’m looking at what the music is about.” The most effective collaborators deepen their engagement with music through fluency in English but also French, German, Italian, Latin: “Because how can you know how to play the notes if you don’t know what the singer is singing about,” Myers asks.

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Faculty Spotlight

James Myers

James Myers

On the walls of his Boston studio, pianist James Myers keeps a collection of photographs: his father, the many teachers who inspired him, great singers he performed with who brought joy to the stage, plus black and white portraits of Debussy, Brahms, Mahler, Schumann, and Puccini. “I look at these faces every day, and they are always in my heart. Every time I go on stage, these people are with me,” he says.

When working with young people as a collaborative pianist at CCM or as a coach in his private studio, this idea never strays far from his mind: “One can never know when a spark might be lit for a student. It could happen before our eyes—in a private lesson or a studio class somewhere, and suddenly they fall in love with a certain kind of music or composer, and that shoots them into this marvelous field with limitless possibilities.”     

That was certainly Myer’s experience. Growing up in view of the Cascade Mountains in Oregon, Myers would play piano in his grandparents’ living room, where everyone played along—on clarinet, sax, banjo, drums—and people would bring by pies. “That world really did exist when I was a child,” he says. “They would call out songs, and I would join in.” By the age of 5, Myers knew he wanted to be a concert pianist. He studied with intensity and “brilliant teachers” through college. Until one day James realized he was bored. “There in my practice room, playing seven or eight hours a day on my own, I realized I wanted to work with other people,” he says. From there, Myers expanded his studies to include operatic coaching, sacred music, chamber, composition, early music, collaborative keyboarding, areas that remain great passions for him to this day.      

Throughout his career, Myers says his role models have always been those who taught with grace, dignity, compassion, and joy. “That’s something I see all the time at CCM: Students of all different talents and backgrounds get a chance to be featured in recital settings and are encouraged, no matter what. I get a real sense of satisfaction coming out of the rehearsal settings with the vocalists and instrumentalists: They have a smile on their face, they feel that they can do it.”  

His role is to assist these young musicians in the last stages of preparation for a recital, working with the choirs, Suzuki students, and young instrumentalists, for example. “We get them feeling strong and to a place where they know what to do,” he says. When an 8-year-old gets on stage, flooded with adrenaline, the fight or flight mechanism kicks in. “They have to rely more on muscle memory in that setting, and it can be scary. We know they won’t always be perfect, so what do you do when the memory slips?”

A collaborative pianist is trained to help the performer find his or her way back on track. If, after one or two measures, the brain hasn’t kicked back in, it’s up to the pianist to feed them a bit of the melody. “I look at them and smile, encourage them to hum the tune, give them an easy way back in. That’s why it’s great that they have all these performances at CCM. So the students aren’t just running through music in a lesson, but they’re learning how to be a performer,” he says. 

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Did you know...

What is Synesthesia?

“Synesthesia is a provocative phenomenon, for both artists and neuroscientists. Some synesthetes say they see colors upon hearing musical notes or get a taste in their mouths upon saying certain words, or “taste” shapes when they eat, or see black numbers in color.”

Read how one artist attempts at having us all experience the magic of synesthesia through her uniquely created event.

Feel the Music—Literally—With Some Help From New Synesthesia Research by Libby Copeland (Smithsonian.com, January 5, 2017)

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Upcoming Area Performances

NPR’s From the Top with Host Christopher O’Riley: Boston, Massachusetts/Show 349

Sunday, February 11, 2018 at 2:00 pm / Jordan Hall, New England Conservatory

This 90-minute concert brings you inside the experience of a recording of NPR’s From the Top. Young musicians from Boston and across America will perform and share stories with host Christopher O’Riley. Recorded at Jordan Hall, one of Boston’s best concert halls, the show is a fun and straightforward way for families to experience classical music and get to know some inspiring young people. Best for ages 7 and up.

Tickets for adults: $15, $20, $45.
Free student tickets are available in Dress Circle Left/Right and Balcony.
A senior discount is available for Orchestra only.

For tickets and information about the show>>

Or, call Austin Boyer at 617.437.0707 x128. Tickets must be reserved in advance, and each order will have a $3.00 processing fee.

Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, Saturday, February 17 at 10 am.

Join the Boston Bluegrass Union and celebrate the legacy of the late Joe Val with three big days of indoor bluegrass at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel.  There’s a great line-up of national and regional talent, expanded workshops, Kid’s Academy, music vendors, and round-the-clock jamming. Their 2006 event won the coveted Event of the Year award from the International Bluegrass Music Association. The 2018 festival line-up includes Hot Rize, The Gibson Brothers, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, All-Stars of Bluegrass, Special Consensus, David Davis & The Warrior River Boys, Terry Baucom's Dukes of Drive, Eddie & Martha Adcock with Tom Gray, Foghorn Stringband, Town Mountain,  Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters, The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, Red Wine, Mile Twelve, Southern Rail, The Reunion Band, Too Blue, Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys, The Zolla Boys, and more to come!

Price range: $35 - $120. Weekend tickets: $35 youth (12-15), $40 with college ID, $120 adult. Day ticket prices at bbu.org

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