MARLI Week Two In Review

We’ve officially reached the halfway point of the Music Academy Remote Learning Institute (MARLI)! For this week’s “In Review” post, we hear from a few of our fellows about their experiences thus far.

What have been some highlights of MARLI for you to this point?

Click the names below to toggle through the responses.

Hsin-Hao Yang, solo piano

The studio class with Emanuel Ax, and the recording seminar with Mirrortone Studio. Emanuel Ax gave so many insightful thoughts on music and his own experiences when performing. The second seminar with Mirrortone Studios explained technical terms such as compression and EQ, which provides me a starting point to begin learning audio remixing and editing.

Alexander Soloway, collaborative piano

I’ve been enjoying the focus on personal creative tasks and experiences. It has also been great getting opportunities to work on essential parts of our craft that we have to practice away from our instruments – skills like communicating effectively with our audiences, building our personal businesses, and working with music and video technology.

Chas Barnard, cello

Along with private lessons with the cello faculty, many of the seminars have been highlights of MARLI for me. Marc Bathmuti Joseph’s session was particularly inspiring. He encouraged us to rethink our role as musicians and how we can design systems to be more inclusive moving forward. This seminar was particularly apt for this moment when so many musicians have lost their educational and performing communities, and are grappling with how to contribute during this time of social change.

Barbara Noyes, collaborative piano

I have loved the conversations we’re having about the music industry as a whole, not only during the weekly seminars, but also amongst the fellows. Some of the most impactful words for me came from Kelly Hall-Tompkins, who stressed that we don’t have to wait for someone else, some other arts institution, ensemble, or university, to give us a job. This career is ripe with opportunities, many of which we can create for ourselves, and we all have the power to curate our own career. I think that set the tone for MARLI and I love the conversations we’re having about creating those opportunities.

How has it been getting a hang of the technological aspects of distanced learning and performing?

Hsin-Hao Yang, solo piano

Very fun. I consider myself quite familiar with technology and equipment. Messing around with the microphone and the earphones given to us by Music Academy and trying out different gains and blending modes is enjoyable.

Alexander Soloway, collaborative piano

In terms of setting up what we need for lessons or for making recordings, it has been pretty smooth. On the other hand, I have seen in our seminars the likes of Todd Reynolds doing incredible things with music and technology live and via a video-calling platform, and I realize I have not even scratched the surface of what is possible!

Chas Barnard, cello

Like many fellows, I finished my semester online, and have been teaching and performing online since March. Initially learning how to optimize sound quality on video meeting platforms was tricky. Since figuring that out, I have become comfortable with distanced learning and performing. The technology package generously provided by MARLI has made distanced learning and performing even easier because all of the equipment works really well together and is simple to use.

Barbara Noyes, collaborative piano

It’s been a steep learning curve, for sure! That being said, I really appreciate the tools and connections MARLI has given the fellows to ask questions and get support. I’m so thankful we don’t have to fly completely blind!

What aspect(s) of MARLI have you found to be most unexpected?

Hsin-Hao Yang, solo piano

The generous resources provided to all fellows is something I have never experienced before. I am amazed by all the individual sessions available for sign-ups from all these great people, and I am extremely grateful of it.

Alexander Soloway, collaborative piano

The level of organization and quality of the programming. It blows my mind that this was put together so quickly, and with such an awareness of what is valuable to us right now.

Chas Barnard, cello

The degree to which MARLI’s curriculum is focused on innovation and entrepreneurship has been unexpected. While Music Academy continues to provide opportunities to work towards ‘traditional’ goals such as orchestral auditions, MARLI’s programs are equipping fellows with practical skills to broaden our career options. To feel more agency in my career has honestly been a huge relief, especially as performing and auditions are paused due to the ongoing pandemic.

Barbara Noyes, collaborative piano

I’ve been most shocked by the kinds of interdisciplinary projects established musicians are creating today. I didn’t realize how narrow my own field of vision has been with regards to music making and how limiting that could be to my career. Prior to MARLI, I was just crossing my fingers and hoping we could all get back to “normal” music making sooner rather than later. The people we’ve heard from through MARLI, however, have shown me the kind of music making that’s possible not only during a world health crisis, but also afterwards.

What are you most looking forward to in the remaining weeks of MARLI and the Creative Extension?

Hsin-Hao Yang, solo piano

For now, it is the individual session I signed up with Mirrortone Studios. I am ready to ask numerous questions regarding mixing two piano tracks into one!

Alexander Soloway, collaborative piano

I am really looking forward to a number of collaborative projects I have in the pipeline, which includes work assigned to us as part of the program and also extra projects I have gotten involved in with my very inspiring peers in the vocal institute. With everything that we’ve been dreaming up online, I can only imagine the kind of creative explosion that will happen when we get to work together in person next summer.

Chas Barnard, cello

Unfortunately, the particular project I was working on for the Digital Challenge hit a snag when the holders to the rights of the piece I wanted to do didn’t want a performance on the internet. For this reason, I am in the midst of brainstorming a new project. I also look forward to recording for the London Symphony Orchestra Keston MAX audition and contributing to the Picnic Concert series during the Creative Extension.

Barbara Noyes, collaborative piano

I just can’t wait to see all of the creative ideas the fellows have dreamt up! Of course, it’s been inspiring to see what established musicians have done to innovate in the field, but I’m so excited to see what my colleagues have been up to when they leave the Zoom meeting. I think it’ll be a great chance for all of us to come together (virtually) and lift each other up.

Mira Yamamoto

Connor Rowe

Violin fellow Mira Yamamoto commented, “I can say without exaggeration that MARLI and the Music Academy of the West have been one of the most inspiring collaborations I’ve ever been part of. Thank you so much to the world-class faculty members and extraordinary MARLI Team who worked so hard to make everything happen. It is a privilege and honor that I will carry with me for a long long time.”

Returning trombone fellow Connor Rowe (’19) added the following about his experiences with the new Remote Learning Institute:

“A summer at the Music Academy is normally an incredibly rewarding and enriching experience, filled with exciting performances, inspiring classes and rehearsals, amazing local food, and of course, a lot of quality time with friends. But this summer is unique not only because we are forgoing those ‘normal’ experiences. What we will be taking away this summer is much different.

“Due in part to the pandemic and the rise in popular support of the social justice movement in this country (as well as what kind of message can and should be conveyed virtually), this summer is much less a celebration of artistic achievement than a call to action. As the living future of our art form, we have the greatest responsibility to ensure that we not only have an audience, but that that audience is representative of the true cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic makeup of our country (and the world). We will take away from MARLI not only a sense of urgency and responsibility to be advocates for change in our art form and the world, but also the tools and perspective needed to enact that change.

“As regrettable as the current situation is, I believe what we will take away from the Music Academy this year will be more beneficial in shaping our lives and careers than a status quo summer.”