Piano Students Thrive In An Enhanced Summer Program

Students at Piano Academy

Posted on May 22, 2019 by Zi Wang

An enhanced program for experienced piano students ages 8-18, the Summer Piano Academy (July 29-August 2 & August 5-9) provides a week of focused study, including guided practice time, masterclasses, faculty lectures and performance, and a final recital in the Performing Arts Building at George Mason University.

Directed by Academy Piano Teaching Artist and Mason Doctoral candidate Michelle Richardson, the Summer Piano Academy takes place in Mason’s School of Music on the Mason Fairfax Campus (in Fairfax, VA, part of the Washington DC Metro area). All four Piano Academy instructors (Ms. Richardson, Faith Zuniga, Misha Tumanov, and Andy Miller) are a part of Mason’s vibrant Piano program led by Dr. Linda Monson.



During the camp, students will have the opportunity to practice on Steinway grand pianos. According to their skill level and experience, students will participate in a mix of individualized lessons, group teaching, and performances. Students will also tour the Fenwick Library’s music section and peruse various scores with Music Librarian Steven Gerber. The program provides students a wonderful opportunity to see what it’s like to be in a music school on a college campus.

“Last year, we had some students work very hard and pull off piano duos in the recital that were quite impressive accomplishments for only one week of practice,” said Ms. Richardson.


Students at Summer Piano Academy


Mason Piano Professor Dr. Anna Balakerskaia, a renowned performer, teacher, and chamber musician, will lead the masterclass session. A three-time winner of the international Tchaikovsky competition, Dr. Balakerskaia is the founder of the Ensemble de Camera in Washington, D.C. and a former educator at St. Petersburg and Moscow conservatories.

“One of my favorite parts of the program is the masterclasses, where students can have a chance to integrate their learning and give feedback to each other,” said Ms. Richardson. “I often find the students making the most connections during these classes.”


The camp also has multiple interactive sessions to help the students to learn the fundamental aspects of piano and music.

“Last year we played an end-of-camp Jeopardy game that was so much fun,” recalled Ms. Richardson. “The students were extremely enthusiastic about it! I was amazed at how much they remembered across all topics, music history, theory, and piano technique.”

“I really appreciated the opportunity provided for my child to see a wide variety of style and performance,” said a parent of a past Academy participant.



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