Published September 18, 2012
Volume 20, Number 9

It's Back-to-School Time at New World Music Academy

Matthew Reeves (front) and Ashton Lam practice piano in a New World classroom.

By Nicole Zaro Stahl

A year and a half after moving New World Music Academy (NWMA) into Hacienda from elsewhere in Pleasanton, Executive Director Mark Anderson observes that the Willow Road location has proven to be a very wise choice.

“It's the best thing we ever did for the Academy,” he enthuses. Along with improved visibility, the larger facility has allowed the school to venture into new territory--music lessons for adults. Busy workers in and around Hacienda are taking advantage of the proximity to spend lunchtime or early evening hours brushing up on old skills or tackling something completely new. “The lunch classes have really taken off,” Anderson says.

The school offers instruction in all the major instrument categories—piano, drums, sax, flute, clarinet, strings, and brass—as well as voice (jazz/pop and classical), songwriting, and music theory. Its teachers are trained and licensed professionals with university degrees. In addition to their many years of experience, instructors are chosen for their skills, competence, and commitment to musical excellence. Also important is their ability to communicate ideas clearly when teaching children, the Academy's other constituency. Here, too, location is a plus, right across the street from Hart Middle School.

NWMA is a welcoming, bustling place. “What sets us apart is our dedication to collaborative music-making among students,” Anderson comments, pointing out that from the classroom to the playing field, today's children are used to working together in teams. “We are doing the same thing musically--piano students play with violin, cello, and flute students to create music. It works extremely well.”

The group lessons are coordinated and often overseen by the head of the Academy's chamber music program, Joanna Tse. Tse holds a degree in flute performance from the University of British Columbia and is currently pursuing her masters at San Francisco State University.

Tailored specifically to more mature learners, adult piano classes cover technique, theory, repertoire expansion, historical and stylistic practices, and music theory. Many incoming students sign up for lessons out of a desire to play their favorite pop tunes. That program is led by jazz pianist John R Burr, a musician with an “uncommonly broad” range of musical interests and accomplishments, including a Grammy Award nomination.

A new addition to the piano program is the German master Markus Pawlik, “a good friend from the old international competition days,” Anderson relates.  Anderson, a Steinway Artist who has been recognized as one of the world's outstanding pianists, just accepted a new position on the faculty at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver. His colleague Pawlik has taken over the instruction of advanced private students.

While delighted with his new challenge, Anderson admits to having mixed feelings about moving to a less active role in the Academy. Still, he knows he leaves the school with a very strong faculty now under the leadership of Managing Director Angela Hayes.  “I still oversee operations from here in Vancouver and on frequent trips back to the Bay Area,” he notes.

Visit www.NewWorldMusicAcademy.com or call (925) 462-5400 for more information.


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