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Faculty News

Area Coordinator: Brian Slaymaker

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Introducing our Academy Guitar Area Coordinator, Brian Slaymaker! The Area Coordinators provide a central connection for Academy faculty and staff with all private lesson studios at the Academy. They are experienced teachers and music professionals who serve as a resource, colleague, and leader within their instrumental area. We asked Brian his thoughts on becoming a Guitar Area Coordinator.

I have begun my eighth-year teaching here at Mason Community Arts Academy. It has been an honor to accept the Guitar Area Coordinator Position. My goal is to bridge a connection between our guitar teachers to evolve our program. Sharing our philosophies can help to stimulate creativity in our own studios.

Brian Slaymaker

1) What is your earliest music memory?

I remember my Mom playing the Star Wars theme for me on the piano. I would ask to play it over and over.

2) What do you like most about playing your instrument?

I like the versatility of the guitar. It’s like having a one man band, or an orchestra within my guitar because it’s a polyphonic instrument. I can play the melody, or two melodies, or three, while playing a bass line, and some harmony too, all at the same time. 

3) What is one of your hobbies or interests outside of music?

I have many hobbies. Too many hobbies. Cycling, swimming, flying drones, cooking, DJing. 

4) What has been a highlight of teaching at the Academy?

Student recitals are always a highlight. When you see your students performing at the end of the semester that is when you receive the fruits of all your labor. 

5) How do you prepare yourself to have a productive practice session?

I have 5 different practice modes. 1. Technique scales, arpeggios, exercises. 2. Learning new repertoire. 3. Reviewing old repertoire. 4. Sight reading. 5. Improvisation, or just playing, total freedom. 

I choose which practice mode to use depending on my priority. It usually has to do with the next couple of performances. 

Most of my practice is working on what is the weakest. 

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Area Coordinator: Dr. Nayoon Choi

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Introducing our Academy Woodwinds Area Coordinator, Dr. Nayoon Choi! The Area Coordinators provide a central connection for Academy faculty and staff with all private lesson studios at the Academy. They are experienced teachers and music professionals who serve as a resource, colleague, and leader within their instrumental area. We asked Dr. Nayoon Choi her thoughts on becoming a woodwinds area coordinator.

I am honored to serve as woodwind Area Coordinator. It is extremely rewarding to me to bring together and share bright ideas from our talented woodwind faculty and to help them to be the best teachers that they can be!

Dr. Choi

1) What is your earliest music memory?

My earliest music memory is my mom playing the piano. My mom loves music but she could not afford the musical lessons when she was young. She took the piano lessons with me and loves to play the piano. 

2) What do you like most about playing your instrument?

I love to play my flute because it reproduces my emotion and voice. The flute is the instrument that represents human voice. When I play the musical pieces, I love to communicate with the piece and composer, and speak out with my flute voice. 

3) What is one of your hobbies or interests outside of music?

I love cooking! I have traveled to many countries and enjoyed their traditional dishes. I purchase different spices and sauces and enjoy trying new recipes at home. 

4) What has been a highlight of teaching at the Academy?

The staff and musical environment! I have been teaching at the Academy for 10 years and the staff has always been amazing in making a supportive and creative environment. 

5) How do you prepare yourself to have a productive practice session?

Make a practice plan and set a goal. Before beginning each practice session, I think about what I need to work on to improve my playing such as learning a passage or part of a piece, improving my expression of the piece, or making better finger movement. 

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Area Coordinator: Dr. Seon Gyu Park

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Introducing our Academy Voice Area Coordinator, Dr. Seon Gyu Park! The Area Coordinators provide a central connection for Academy faculty and staff with all private lesson studios at the Academy. They are experienced teachers and music professionals who serve as a resource, colleague, and leader within their instrumental area. We asked Dr. Park her thoughts on becoming a voice area coordinator.

“Since 2015, I have worked as a voice teaching artist at the Mason Community Arts Academy. Recognizing the need for strong bonds between teachers in the same area, I am honored to have been offered the position of Voice Area Coordinator. I will serve as a bridge between voice area teachers and the Academy, working diligently to facilitate effective communication and collaboration.”

Dr. Seon Gyu Park

1) What is your earliest music memory?

Since I was little, around 4-5 years old, I have loved to sing. As I entered school, my passion for singing grew, and I started participating in voice competitions, winning many of them. In third grade, I had the amazing opportunity to join the MBC broadcast children’s choir, where I made countless precious memories and gained valuable experiences.

2) What do you like most about playing your instrument?

What I love most about singing is that it is a journey of self-discovery. The human body serves as the instrument, and in order to sing effectively, one must closely observe both their physical and mental state and understand how they harmonize. Through the process of learning to sing, you gain a deeper understanding of yourself.

3) What is one of your hobbies or interests outside of music?

Playing with my two cute chihuahua puppies. I love traveling, too.

4) What has been a highlight of teaching at the Academy?

Every moment I spend with my students is a cherished highlight of my teaching at the academy. I fully recognize that each moment shared with them is unique and can never be replicated. It brings me immense joy to witness the growth of my students. Being able to play a part in their lives and musical journey is something I deeply appreciate.

5) How do you prepare yourself to have a productive practice session?

Before each practice session, I meticulously plan what to practice and determine the duration of each practice segment. This structured approach helps me practice more efficiently and effectively. Additionally, I prioritize warming up my body and voice before singing. By doing so, I not only prevent strain and stress on my vocal cords but also minimize the risk of experiencing discomfort or pain.

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Area Coordinator: Amanda Goodwin

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Introducing our Academy Strings Area Coordinator, Amanda Goodwin! The Area Coordinators provide a central connection for Academy faculty and staff with all private lesson studios at the Academy. They are experienced teachers and music professionals who serve as a resource, colleague, and leader within their instrumental area. We asked Amanda her thoughts on becoming a strings area coordinator.

“I’m excited to be serving as the Strings Coordinator because I have a larger role in helping the Academy grow its programs. I love the opportunities MCAA provides for their students and it’s my hope that, through increased communication between the administration and teachers, we can offer new experiences for them.”

Amanda Goodwin

1) What is your earliest music memory?

One of my earliest music memories was attending a kids concert at the Kennedy Center when I was about 5. I don’t remember what they played, but I do remember how cool it was to watch all the violinists’ bows play in sync. 

2) What do you like most about playing your instrument?

I absolutely love when a piece requires me to dig deep into the string and sustain the sound. There’s something so satisfying about sustaining a sound on the violin. Those are the moments that allow me to really share all my intense passion and energy with an audience.

3) What is one of your hobbies or interests outside of music?

I really enjoy spending time with my dog, Ollie. He’s very energetic and demands (yes, demands) that I be as active as he is when we’re playing. He prefers that I run with him to retrieve his toy after throwing it and refuses to play fetch.

4) What has been a highlight of teaching at the Academy?

My highlight of teaching at the Academy is when a student realizes what they are capable of doing with the violin and gets motivated to see what else is possible. It’s especially fun if the student is shy and starts to come out of their shell because of music. 

5) How do you prepare yourself to have a productive practice session?

I prepare myself for a productive practice session by using a practice journal. I identify sections of pieces I want to work on for the day or make a goal to improve a specific technique. Doing so gives my practice sessions more direction and ensures I’m using my time efficiently.

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Area Coordinator: Dr. Radina Dosseva

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Introducing our Academy Piano Area Coordinator, Dr. Radina Dosseva! The Area Coordinators provide a central connection for Academy faculty and staff with all private lesson studios at the Academy. They are experienced teachers and music professionals who serve as a resource, colleague, and leader within their instrumental area. We asked Dr. Dosseva her thoughts on becoming the first piano area coordinator.

“I feel very grateful to be serving as Piano Area Coordinator at the Mason Community Arts Academy this year. This position has given me the opportunity to interact with my colleagues more frequently and to share new ideas and opportunities with them. I’m excited to see what we will accomplish as we put our collective minds together.”

Dr. Radina Dosseva

1) What is your earliest music memory?

I have two music memories from my childhood that had a lasting effect on me. The first is of my mom singing me to sleep with beautiful Bulgarian folk songs. The second memory is of my dancing to the rhythm of the music as my older sister practiced the piano.

2) What do you like most about playing your instrument?

What I like most about playing the piano are all the unique and emotion-inducing sounds that this all-in-one instrument can produce. Its gentle timbre allows me to become completely absorbed in the music for hours at a time. I also really enjoy playing prima domra (a type of mandolin) with a folk orchestra in the area because it encourages me to listen carefully to my fellow musicians, which leads to a more unified ensemble sound.

3) What is one of your hobbies or interests outside of music?

One of my interests outside of music is learning about foreign languages, cultures, and customs. In addition to Bulgarian and English, I also studied Spanish, some Japanese and Italian, and a little Korean. I love to read books and watch movies in foreign languages to help me practice my skills.

4) What has been a highlight of teaching at the Academy?

A highlight of teaching at the Academy has been the incredibly supportive staff. They help foster an environment that inspires creativity, encourages collaboration, and allows teachers the freedom to share new ideas and make decisions that benefit their students. I love working with everyone at the Academy – we are like a big family that always has each other’s backs.

5) How do you prepare yourself to have a productive practice session?

Before I begin any practice session, I make sure that there are as few distractions around me as possible. I can concentrate better when I have a quiet environment to work in. Next, I look over the music carefully and set practice goals that I can achieve within the time that I have available for practice.