Faculty News

Faculty Enrichment Fund Awardee, Catherine Grimball

The Academy values the importance of our teacher’s professional development. Because of this, the Faculty Enrichment Fund annually provides partial and full reimbursement for teachers to attend conferences, workshops, and teacher training sessions. 

Our piano teaching artist, Catherine Grimball, attended the Virginia Music Teachers Association State Conference and writes about her experience:

The Virginia Music Teachers Association State Conference is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy live performances, network with like-minded musicians, and grow professionally through masterclasses and a variety of well-researched presentations.  

(Above) Catherine with Guest Artist Thomas Pandolfi, after his masterclass.

There were a number of exciting performances during the conference.  Pianist Thomas Pandolfi, the featured Guest Artist (and Guest Artist for this Summer’s Advanced Piano Academy), performed an incredible program including his spectacular “Rhapsody on Themes from West Side Story.“  The commissioned Composer’s Recital was also very inspiring.  Paul Sanho Kim, an associate professor at Old Dominion University, performed his trio “7” for violin, cello and piano.  Kim’s arrangements of Radiohead songs for string quintet have been performed on NPR as well as at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.  He was kind enough to send me the score of “7,” and I am looking forward to performing it! 

I was honored to perform in the Virginia Teachers Concert, which included several contemporary works.  Highlights included “…against the shore” by Hilary Tann, commissioned by the October Sky Ensemble, Aiveen Gallagher’s piece “Aisling” which she performed on amplified viola, and an arrangement of Ravel’s Pavane for harmonica and piano!     

The VMTA Conference programmed many informative sessions on a variety of topics.  Prolific composer and educator Lisa Bastien shared her insights not only on pedagogy, but also on the business of running a studio as well as new ways to incorporate technology in both lessons and communications with students.  June Huang, Director of Strings and Assistant Professor of Violin at George Mason University’s Dewberry School of Music and Program Director of our Summer Strings Programs, presented a session on “How to Improve Sight Reading Skills.”  Some other favorite sessions included Dr. David Berry’s “Finding Your Voice: Learning to Make Creative Piano Arrangements and Teaching Your Students to as Well,” a session on Nkiolai Kapustin including the performance of his Trio for Flute Cello and Piano, and Dr. Akiko Konishi’s “The Importance of the Bow and Blurb: Introducing Students to Effective On-stage Comportment.”       

I am very grateful that the Mason Academy encourages professional development with the Faculty Enrichment Fund.  My piano studio will benefit from my experiences at the VMTA Conference, and I hope that others may be motivated to attend the conference and share their areas of expertise with other educators.  

Paul Sanho Kim explaining his piece, “7.”

Written by MCAA Piano Teaching Artist, Catherine Grimball
Edited by Regina Schneider

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