Life @ Longy: Abigail Gower, Collaborative Piano
Name: Abigail Gower
Hometown: Gardiner, ME
Area of study: Collaborative Piano
Degree program: Master of Music
Class of 2017
Briefly describe your ideal career: After finishing my master's, I would like to get my PhD and work as a professor at a University or College, where I would be able to teach privately and have an entire faculty of talented and passionate musicians to collaborate with.
Why did you choose to attend Longy?
When I was looking for graduate schools to apply for, I knew I wanted to move to the Boston area. The music scene here is thriving, and it’s friendlier and more intimate than NYC. It’s honestly the best place to study on the East Coast. After touring and having meetings at all of the conservatories in Boston, I decided to go to Longy because I really connected with the teachers. They are so passionate about sharing the knowledge they have, and they really care about your growth as a musician in every way. I also liked the atmosphere here. Some conservatories are very rigid and intimidating, but the first time I walked into Longy, it immediately seemed friendlier than the rest of the conservatories in the area.
Now that you’re here, what do you think makes Longy special?
There are a few things that make Longy really special, and the collaboration aspect is definitely one of them. I am working with other students constantly, all of the time. Longy really pushes having students always working together in classes, in lessons, and in concerts. Every aspect of my day is making music with talented singers and instrumentalists.
Another thing that makes Longy so special is the Longy Student Association (LSA), of which I am really lucky to be a part. This small group of elected students has a main goal of making the school better for those who attend. You can go to them with any suggestions, ideas, or problems, and they work so hard to make improvements and make things happen. The most wonderful thing that they do, though, is constantly organize and schedule concerts inside and outside of school so that Longy students have tons of opportunities to perform everything that they have been working so hard on. Next semester alone, I think we have at least 9 or 10 concerts planned through the LSA. And that's in addition to all of the other concerts that are happening for classes —there are just tremendous opportunities.
How would you describe a typical school day?
I get to school around 9am, and I usually have rehearsals with people scheduled before my classes start. I generally schedule rehearsals a couple days before we have coaching’s or performances in our classes. I have classes throughout most of the day, and these are almost all performance-based. So we get repertoire, and then we either have private coaching with the teacher on the pieces we’re assigned, have class coaching where we working in front of all the other people in our class, or we have performances of the pieces we’ve been working on. Then after class, I generally schedule more rehearsals with more students. So, I am basically playing music with people all day long.
What is your favorite aspect of the Longy curriculum?
I love working together with everyone here so much. Not only is it fun, but it also helps really prepare you for the future.
Biggest unexpected challenge in your coursework?
I knew going into a master’s program at a conservatory would be intense, but I was mildly unprepared for the simply massive amount of repertoire that has to be learned through the course of a semester—especially coming from a solo piano undergraduate degree to a collaborative piano program. However, it’s a blessing in disguise because I am shocked everyday about just how fast I am learning music compared to when I started school here. It’s pretty incredible.
What advice you would give to incoming/prospective students?
Look for a school with teachers and an atmosphere that really make you happy—and practice sight reading!
What’s your favorite non-musical activity?
I love painting, it’s a really fun way to express myself in a different way than I do every day at school. I also love studying German. I know that sounds pretty silly, but it’s so much fun!
Anything else you’d like to share?
The entirety of Longy, whether it be the teachers, the admissions staff, or the students, are so supportive. Even though graduate school is super stressful at times, you have so many people to go to who understand and will support you in whatever you do.