“As an educator, I stress studying a breadth of repertoire of all style periods, understanding vocal and instrumental collaboration, and staying aware of musical goings-on outside of your immediate environment. It is also important to build a community of colleagues/friends/collaborators. Longy provides this wonderful community—along with the tools for finding your own voice and pathway.”
— Spencer Myer
My complete love for music has allowed me to constantly retain an open mind and embrace the all-encompassing life of a musician.
Communication gives me the greatest joy in performances! There is always a connection with the audience, and I particularly enjoy the wonderful challenge of channeling my own musical voice through the composer’s thoughts and intentions, stylistic parameters, and directions in the score.
Playing with other musicians, those connections multiply: with the audience, but also with one’s musical partners. To “speak” and respond to each other through music is one of the most exciting sensations I can imagine. My collaborators have included cellist Lynn Harrell, clarinetist David Shifrin, soprano Nicole Cabell, and the Jupiter and Pacifica String Quartets.
My first inspiration in music was my Dad, who was a classical guitarist before he became an engineer. He had a lot of classical records, played his guitar in the house regularly, and would help me pick out melodies on the piano. One of the records he played regularly was Van Cliburn’s platinum Tchaikovsky Concerto recording, made immediately after he won the 1958 Tchaikovsky Competition. I related to so much about him: his American roots, his genuine and giving spirit, and his total love for music and piano.
I went on to have three influential teachers with very different backgrounds: At Oberlin I studied with Joseph Schwartz (a student of Rosina Lhévinne) and Peter Takács (a student of Leon Fleisher), and at Juilliard I studied with Julian Martin (also a student of Fleisher, but with a very different pedagogical approach than Takács).
Life as a pianist has meant being a soloist, businessman, chamber musician, publicist, accompanist, manager, teacher, and coach, among many other roles. So as an educator, I stress the study of a breadth of repertoire of all style periods, social media savvy, assembling demos and press materials, understanding vocal and instrumental collaboration, and staying aware of musical goings-on outside of your immediate environment.
Aside from becoming the best pianist and musician you can be, it is so important to build a community of colleagues/friends/collaborators during your time at music school. Longy not only provides this wonderful community, but also all the tools to help you find your own voice and path as a pianist.
“I want the world to know what music can do and why musicians devote so much time and effort to it, as music is a language that expresses the things that words cannot. This power really shines when you allow music to move you and tell you something new.”
— Samuel Durand
With a roster of active performers on the faculty, students advance their mastery as soloists and chamber musicians with private studio instruction at its core. A weekly piano seminar expands approaches to practicing, interpretation, and programming. Students focus on technique and performance practice but also how to create compelling and innovative programs that engage a variety of audiences.
Counts and Recounts: Music and Politics
Curate a concert of music—to be performed on the eve of Election Day— that communicates a political message. Each week, the class will briefly cover an historical topic, delve into current issues in the classical music world, and analyze works for listening, study, and reflection.
Contemporary Piano Performance Practice
Learn and practice extended performance techniques, which are often called for in piano music of the 20th and 21st century, but are often unfamiliar to college-aged students. Begin with “inside the piano” techniques such as stopped notes, pizzicato notes, harmonics, and sustained pitches with a violin bow, then explore prepared piano techniques and contemporary notation devices.
Nadia Shpachenko UD ’97 Piano Performance
Concert Pianist. Professor of Music, Cal Poly Pomona University 2020 Grammy winner for her recording The Poetry of Places as well as multiple Grammy nominations. “One of today’s foremost promoters of contemporary music.”—Textura Magazine
Studio Lessons: Collaboration with a faculty mentor is the cornerstone of conservatory education at Longy. Together you will explore your unique artistic and professional goals while expanding technical and musical insight.
Master Classes and Seminars: Through workshops, master classes, discussions, and presentation, frequent seminars offer insight regarding interpretation, repertoire, analysis, and performance practice. Recent guests have included Irma Vallecillo, Andreas Klein, Nelita True, and Anne Koscielny. Through a special partnership with Celebrity Series of Boston, emerging artists in its Debut Series present exclusive workshops and master classes with Longy students throughout the year.
Chamber Music: Georges Longy’s belief in the power of collaboration inspires the central role of chamber music in our conservatory. You will work closely with faculty coaches every semester and will explore ensemble playing through coursework, informal readings, and community outreach.
Pedagogy: We believe that teaching should be a form of heightened, enlivened communication. Rather than focusing solely on acquiring pedagogical skills, we seek to draw out your latent expertise and help you communicate authentically. Students are placed in partnering schools and youth music organizations for a teaching practicum.
Accompanying: All piano majors engage in assigned accompanying to hone their collaborative skills with singers and instrumentalists. Some graduate pianists also have additional accompanying assistantships where they can further refine their abilities. Additional coursework explores the standard repertoire of instrumental and vocal literature.
Teaching Artist Program: Required of all students, this two-semester program includes active learning experiences, discussions, foundational readings, and interactive presentations. It culminates in student-designed and student-led musical projects in various community venues throughout the Greater Boston area.