Young pianists ?adopt? composer

Karen and Robert Vandall perform one of the duets written for the ?Adopt-a-Composer Recital? hosted earlier this month by the Tabor College Music Preparatory School and Newton Music Teachers Association with 56 piano students participating.It?s one thing for young pianists to remember the name of the composer of a piece they play.

It?s quite another thing to adopt one.

Fifty-six piano students from the Hillsboro and New?ton areas had the privilege March 8 not only to meet composer Robert D. Vandall, but to play his music in his presence, interact with him and his wife, and listen to the couple perform a piano duet.

It was all part of the fourth ?Adopt-a-Composer Recital? hosted by the Tabor College Music Preparatory School in conjunction with the New?ton Music Teachers Associ?ation, which covers seven rural communities.

?It was a very exciting event for us,? said Sheila Litke, who directs the Music Preparatory School as professor of piano and pedagogy at Tabor.

?Adopt-a-Composer Recital? occurs every three years.

?The purpose of this project is to foster enthusiasm and excitement among both our students and our teachers while renewing an interest in piano lessons among the local community,? Litke said.

Selecting the composer is a collaborative effort.

?I ask the teachers who they wanted to adopt and they chose Robert Vandall,? Litke said. ?Once Mr. Van?dall was selected, I made contact with him, describing the event and asking if he would like to be adopted.?

Vandall has published more than 500 works for piano, primarily with Myklas Music Press, which is now owned by Alfred Music Publishing. His compositions are on the required lists of many piano teacher organizations.

He and wife Karen currently teach 30 students in their independent piano studio at home in New Philadel?phia, Ohio, and have been guest clinicians in 30 states and the District of Colum?bia.

Previously adopted composers include Kevin Olson, Den?nis Alexander and Melody Bober.

?We adopt a living composer, have our students play a piece by that composer, ask him questions throughout the year in regard to their musical background?how they compose, etc.,? Litke said about the event. ?I collected those questions and sent them off to Mr. Vandall via Internet with his answers, then distributed that to all the piano studios.

?In March, we invite the composer to come to campus so the students can give a recital of the adopted composer?s music for the composer,? she added. ?After the recital, we move to a reception area, where the students can visit with him personally, get his autograph on their music as well as get a picture with him.?

Vandall also was commissioned to write a piano duet especially for the occasion.

?It is called, ?Go For It!?? Litke said. ?We had some students perform that for the first time.?

After the students perform, the program is turned over to the composer so he can share comments and field questions.

The Vandalls themselves took the stage to perform a piano duet for those in attendance at the morning session, then performed a different duet for the afternoon session.

?So many of our students think composers are dead,? Litke said. ?We believe this project will allow our students not only to meet the composers of the music they are playing, but also help them understand that composers learned music in much the same way as the typical student today.

?Our students, too, can achieve satisfaction in music.?

Written By
More from Don Ratzlaff
Key gathering
Hillsboro and USD 410 constituents will have a unique opportunity to hear...
Read More