Saturday, September 27, 2014

Faculty Spotlight: Steve Roy

This week's faculty spotlight is Steve Roy, PMAC's very own acoustic string instructor extraordinaire! 

PMAC's Steve Roy is a man of many talents. You'd need two hands to count how many instruments he plays and many more hands to count all the bands he's in. Steve teaches acoustic string instruments galore here at PMAC, from the big ol' upright bass, to that teeny little uke. He also leads PMAC's Bluegrass band and our two Ukulele Circle Jams (one for teens here at PMAC and one for adults - it's at The Press Room!) and does so with great excitement and joy. If you don't know much about Steve, or you've never been around him, you're certainly missing out!

PMAC: What is your teaching philosophy?

Steve: Lately, I keep saying over and over during lessons that the more different ways you look at something, the better picture you get of that something.  This has been a huge part of my own personal musical learning process, and a direct result of playing a variety of instruments in a variety of bands of a variety of genres and styles. I also believe that music should always be fun, but there is work to be done, but it should be fun, but there is work to be done.  Fun work.

PMAC: You travelled a lot this summer for music. Where, geographically, has music taken you over the years? What is your favorite place?

Steve:  Yeah, this summer has been a busy one, with a lot of traveling.  I've been really fortunate to do a lot of touring with a lot of different bands, and it's brought me all over the USA, Canada, and Europe as well.  A lot of my favorite places are based on the friends that I've made there.  The area of the Southeast USA including Johnson City, TN and Asheville, NC has an amazingly rich musical culture with plenty of great musicians and good friends.  
       More recently, I've been teaching at a lot of music camps that take place mostly in the summer.   Most of the camps that I've been teaching at are Bluegrass/Old Time/String Band camps where most of the students are adults and the other teachers are touring musicians from all over the US and Canada.  My favorite one is Nimblefingers Bluegrass and Old Time Music Workshop in Sorrento, British Columbia.  This past summer was my 7th year teaching there, and it's an amazing group of students and instructors in a gorgeous setting.  Last year, I had the fortunate experience of teaching with the Aloha Bluegrass academy, which holds camps for kids on various islands in Hawaii.  I completely fell in love with Hawaii and it's music and culture, and brought back with me an intense fondness for the Ukulele.  Also, this summer I taught at the Kluane Music Camp in Whitehorse, Yukon.  It was pretty close to the solstice and the sun was still out at midnight.  
       The more I travel to other places, the more I realize what an amazing little area the Seacoast is.  The quality and diversity of musicianship here is quite amazing, and I couldn't imagine living anywhere else.  

PMAC: What is your favorite genre of music? How does it influence you?

Steve: I like all types of music.  I like really good music and really bad music.   My main areas of study have been Jazz and Bluegrass/Old Time Sting Band music.   Both of these styles are highly refined, technically and harmonically, and have ended up being the lenses through which I've dabbled in other styles.  Jazz has given me an understanding improvisation, and how certain pieces of the musical puzzle fit together, and Bluegrass has given me an understanding of timing, technique and the voodoo involved in unlocking the tonal secrets of acoustic instruments.  Hawaiian music is my most recent flirtation.

PMAC: What are you passionate about that isn't music? Has this influenced your music at all?

Steve: Before becoming a full time musician, I had a career as an archaeologist for five years, and studied archeology at UNH before that.  I have an intense relationship with history and anthropology, and music is an amazing barometer that helps illustrate humanity through time.  The more I can connect the music to its own historical context, and to the greater timeline of history, the more meaning that music has to me.  Plus, an understanding of the music of a time period enriches my perception of time period itself.  Good times.

PMAC: If you were a visual artist, what would your medium be?

Steve: Does dancing count as visual art?  Watch me dance! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Faculty Spotlight: Gianna Alden

This week's faculty spotlight is Gianna Alden, PMAC's Suzuki Violin teacher. 

Gianna, who is one of our newest faculty members, is no stranger to PMAC. An active participant in our Jazz Adventurers (she sings!), Gianna also brings her son to lessons here and is well versed in our school. We're happy to welcome her to our faculty to teach Suzuki Violin - an early childhood violin method that she specializes in and has taught for the past decade. A former teacher of Suzuki at Rye Country Day School, Gianna has been an early childhood educator in the Seacoast for the past 15+ years. Gianna received her Suzuki certification from Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford.

We asked Gianna a few questions about herself, here are her answers:

PMAC: What is your teaching philosophy? 

Gianna: I believe all children have the ability to learn the violin at an early age through the use of the Suzuki Method.  This method involves the parents, child, and teacher working together in a nurturing and encouraging environment to allow the child to learn at his or her own rate, building on small steps so the child and parent feel successful.  Learning an instrument also builds a child's character and confidence and is such a wonderful gift a parent can give their child.  We also use games and humor to make learning fun!   "Music exists for the purpose of growing an admirable heart", Dr. Suzuki.

PMAC: Who is your biggest musical influence?  

Gianna: My Suzuki violin teacher , Mrs. Barbra Embser, at the Hartford Conservatory of Music.  She taught me about  hard work and persistence and provided a love for music that I would not have had.

PMAC: What is your favorite album?  

Gianna: Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong

PMAC: If you were a visual artist, what would you choose as a medium?

Gianna: My medium would be acrylic paint on a really big canvas!

PMAC: What led you to play the violin?   

Gianna: My teachers told my mom I needed to be challenged outside of school and maybe should try music.  She saw an add in the paper for Suzuki Violin lessons and that was that!