Sara Davis Buechner has been hailed by The New York Times for her “intelligence, integrity and all-encompassing technical prowess”. As one of the leading keyboard artists of our time, Sara has an active repertoire of over 100 piano concertos and has appeared with prominent orchestras all over the world. Sara was recently appointed to the piano faculty at Temple University's Boyer College of Music and Dance, in Philadelphia.
Sara Davis Buechner first came to prominence as David Buechner, winning the gold medal in the 1984 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition, and a Bronze Medal in the 1986 Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Moscow. Incidentally, as a result of being the only medal winner to perform on a Yamaha piano at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition, David was invited to tour Japan, and subsequently became the first American Yamaha artist. In 1998, David came out as Sara Davis Buechner, and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2002. Now residing in Philadelphia, I had the opportunity to visit Sara for this interview at her new center city apartment.
Sara's website: http://saradavisbuechner.com/
Sam Rao is a multi-discipline musician, entrepreneur, and developer of Practicia, an innovative app platform that helps students and teachers make practicing more fun and productive. As a musician, Sam studied composition and conducting at Oberlin Conservatory and the Aspen Festival. As an entrepreneur, he co-founded his own music school which grew to be one of the largest in Northern Ohio.
Everyone knows that practice makes perfect, and no doubt you’ve heard the old adage, “how do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice”. Ah, but practicing a musical instrument can be the bane of any student and a frustrating topic for teachers and parents alike. I’ll confess, I hated practicing the piano as a kid (and I still hate it as a professional). It’s just one of those “necessary evils” that you have to suck up and do, just like eating your veggies or sticking to your exercise plan, right? As a music educator himself and the co-founder of one of the largest music schools in Northern Ohio, Sam understands the challenges of practicing well. As the CEO and founder of Practicia, he’s introducing a radical new approach to help students and teachers make practicing a musical instrument profoundly more productive and - dare I say - fun? - with some really interesting accountability and gamification tools.
Practicia website: http://www.practicia.com/
Explainer Promo Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1NTxIwsafQ&t=26s
Features Explained: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JPOJfbEZHY
Sam's email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Roger Ideishi is the Director of Occupational Therapy at Temple University in Philadelphia. He has worked to provide community access and opportunities for children with diverse sensory and cognitive abilities. Roger has worked with such arts organizations as the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Philadelphia Ballet Company and The Philadelphia Orchestra to help them build meaningful learning experiences for special needs children and their families.
In many art performance experiences, such as the theater, the ballet, or a classical concert, there is an implicit expectation that audiences are supposed to remain silent and only express their appreciation through applause at appropriate moments. But for folks with sensory and cognitive challenges, such as Autism, it can be difficult to interpret the complex social cues in an artistic environment, and as a result, they can feel shunned, isolated, and disconnected from these communal experiences. Thanks to Roger Ideishi’s work, more and more arts organizations are finding ways to welcome special needs audiences and experience the power of the arts to connect all members of society in meaningful ways.
Eleanor Sokoloff has been teaching piano at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia since 1936. At the ripe young age of 102, she shows no sign of slowing down. Some of her most esteemed students have included the likes of Keith Jarrett, Lambert Orkis, Susan Starr, Leon McCawley, Meng-Chieh Liu, and countless others.
This year, Eleanor Sokoloff will be turning 103 years old, and remarkably, she is still teaching piano at The Curtis Institute of Music and pouring tea at one of Curtis’ most beloved weekly Wednesday tea time traditions. This interview was originally recorded 2 ½ years ago as a 2 part video that was significantly edited down for time purposes, but thanks to the long form medium of podcasts, I thought it would be fitting to provide the full version of this wonderful interview with one of the most important piano teachers of our time. By the way, Mrs. Sokoloff was my piano teacher when I was 8 years old, and thanks to her I was able to enroll at Curtis under her tutelage at the age of 13. I should mention that at the time of this interview, there was a construction crew doing some repairs in an adjacent apartment, so I apologize for the drill and hammer sounds you’ll hear at times.