Positive vibes from “Piano Extravaganza” and new Bostons for Elon University

As seen in the Winter 2016 edition of the Boston Chronicle

 

Working to improve the piano fleet at Elon University, “the consensus among our music faculty was to seek out the best possible instruments,” says Jon Metzger, critically-acclaimed vibraphonist and Artist-in-Residence who chairs the Music Department. “We chose pianos by Steinway & Sons.”

In 2015, Elon took ownership of three Boston GP-163 grand pianos and added another six Boston UP-118 uprights earlier this year, according to Mark Love, President of Steinway Piano Gallery Charlotte and Greensboro. 

With nearly 120 music students and more than 40 faculty members, Elon offers four different majors – Performance; Music Education; Music in the Liberal Arts; and Music, Production and Recording Arts – and minors in Jazz Studies, Music, and Music Technology. “Students enjoy considerable attention from faculty as we maintain a six-to-one student to full-time faculty ratio,” says Metzger.

While music studies are conducted at Elon’s Center for the Arts, the Department branched out to newly-renovated Arts West, an expanded space where more than 170 students take voice lessons each week. In addition to faculty teaching studios, there are recording and rehearsal facilities as well as a Live Sound class.

“I think sometimes people don’t realize how much piano is involved in this university, not just for piano majors or someone who is taking a piano class. It really is the cornerstone of the arts scene at Elon,” says Eden Esters Brown, an adjunct piano instructor and proud alumna. “I believe in this program because of the faculty I worked with and the real education I gained here. I’m excited to see things come together so that the Music Department gets to the next level.

 

Having quality instruments “is fundamental to everything we do in the Music Department,” adds Dr. Victoria Fischer Faw, Professor of Music. “The piano is the center of music study. It’s the body, soul, and intellect. You need a beautiful piano to learn to play beautifully, to learn to create a sonic landscape that only a beautiful piano can create.”

Helping fuel interest in a Steinway-designed upgrade is the piano pedagogy program, a community outreach where younger students get one-on-one face time with one of Elon’s next generation of teachers. 

“Kids get to learn not only about piano but they learn quite a lot about music and it’s great because they understand what they’re listening to, they think about it in different ways, and they experience it in different ways. That’s a great benefit they’ll have throughout their lives even if they stop playing the piano,” says Peter Felten, a parent of one of the students.

 

‘You need a beautiful piano to learn to play beautifully, to learn to create a sonic landscape that only a beautiful piano can create.’

 

Elon recently bolstered its fundraising efforts with “A Piano Extravaganza,” a special event that included an exciting collaboration featuring Metzger and pianist Noel Friedline performing “Django” by John Lewis. “Given its Third Stream nature, it was a perfect fit for juxtaposing our jazz performance with the classical music being presented that night. And it made me ever mindful of one of my idols, vibist Milt Jackson with whom Lewis collaborated in the Modern Jazz Quartet for decades,” says Metzger.

“The support for our piano initiative from the Dean’s Office has been outstanding,” he continues. “We feel very fortunate that they are working closely with us as we continue moving forward. And our home community, including our alumni base, has been very supportive as well. With many new instruments already in place, our practice rooms are energized!”

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