"Music is the soul of my life." These words, shared by one of our participants in a written reflection, were echoed by the students, faculty, and guest artists of IIMIF 2018 throughout the intense ten day on-campus program.
Each year we welcome a small group of talented young musicians to live and breathe music under the guidance of renowned teachers and performers. This year's participants, ranging in age from 9-23, impressed faculty with their maturity, poise, enthusiasm, self-respect and respect for each other, and passion for learning, sharing, and growing as a community.
IIMIF 2018: DAY 1
Within the first few hours of the arrival on campus, students were challenged to go outside of their comfort zone through public speaking, participating in a dance and movement workshop by LucidBeings, and diving into their first rehearsal with their chamber ensemble, with the assistance of a faculty coach. When we met for evening reflections (a daily guided wrap-up session), we were already a tight-knit community that had committed to supporting each other in the process of growth. Each student spent several minutes writing a summary of what they had learned, as well as what their musical (and personal) goals are for the program.
IIMIF 2018: Day 2
Students spent the morning in lessons and rehearsals. Before lunch we had the first "Stretches for Musicians" class - a great way to check in with our bodies. These daily sessions allowed us to find ease and awareness of how we use our body, build strength and flexibility, release tension, and reboot for the rest of the day. In the afternoon, pianist Brian Ganz presented a masterclass, with three student pianists performing music of Chopin, Debussy, and Schubert. After dinner, Prof. Ganz presented a lecture-recital on Frederic Chopin's Concerto in F minor (with IIMIF Director Elizabeth Borowsky as the "Borowsky Philharmonic"). His flawless and passionate playing left us all inspired, and we learned and absorbed much from the Q&A session after the concert.
IIMIF 2018: Day 3
A morning of ensemble rehearsals and practicing, yoga, and then... a field trip to Gettysburg! We enjoyed visiting the Gettysburg Seminary Ridge Museum, full of interactive exhibits dedicated to the Battle of Gettysburg. After this, historian and actor Bill Parkinson put a personal spin on the Civil War, allowing students to really understand the significance of this historical place. IIMIF Faculty Prof. Audrey Andrist, Prof. Cecylia Barczyk, Dr. Charles Borowsky, Prof. Elizabeth Borowsky, Dr. Emmanuel Borowsky, Dr. Sharon Eng, and Dr. James Stern presented a beautiful program of music for violin, viola, cello, and piano at the Gettsyburg Seminary Chapel; including sonatas by Ernest von Dohnanyi and Luise Adolpha LeBeau and contemporary programmatic compositions by James Lee III and The Borowsky Trio. After the performance we went Apple Haven Farm, where we had a dinner hosted by the Borowsky family, with an incredible view of the surrounding field, orchards, and mountains.
IIMIF 2018: Day 4
Back to work! A full day of musical activities, now with the added benefit of a weekend of concerts and discussions to inspire effective practicing. In the afternoon, Dr. Emmanuel Borowsky presented a workshop for string players on "String Instrument Selection and Care." After dinner, Dr. Mark Hartman presented an interactive workshop on blues improvisation. We used a looper to create a foundation for the improvisation patterns that were built on the blues scale; finding a balance between theory, ear training, and intuition. We finished off the evening with an impromptu swing-dance session led by Kara Iwanowski (Assistant to Director Elizabeth Borowsky).
IIMIF 2018: Day 5
At this point, student chamber groups are already sounding very strong - and it's hard to imagine that they had only first met each other a few days ago. Students are on their second private lesson (total three, hour-long lessons) and working on technique and artistry with their assigned teacher. Dr. Sharon Eng presented a tai-chi workshop for our daily "Stretches for Musicians." Highlights from today's special activities included a workshop with Dr. Andrew Rosenfeld on theory and form (WOW!) and a masterclass by Prof. Jonathan Carney (Concertmaster of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra). Prof. Carney probably could have gone on for hours beyond the class - he is a passionate teacher who is intent on helping students get to the core of the music, and developing an array of practice skills that will lead to the desired results.
IIMIF 2018: Day 6
Many of our students are considering careers in music, be it performance (solo, chamber, orchestral), education (private studio, or public school orchestra director), or in another capacity (sound engineer, theory teacher, composer, manager). IIMIF Founder Dr. Charles Borowsky has several decades of experience in the arts, from serving as an arts manager, advocating for arts education, and a hands-on approach to the musical careers of his three children. He presented a workshop on "Considering a Career in Music," addressing pre-college education, college and grad school, competitions, performance, and more. In the evening, IIMIF Artistic Director Prof. Cecylia Barczyk presented a masterclass, assisting three advanced cellists in their quest to turn their musical performances of works by Elgar, Lalo, and Brahms into an epic story for the audience. The sunset tonight was especially beautiful!
IIMIF 2018: Day 7
If you had to communicate a chamber work through physical gestures alone - but not conducting or mimicking playing your instrument - could you get a casual observer to notice mood, dynamics, articulations... maybe even the key signature or some personal attributes of the composer? In his second session with IIMIF students, Dr. Andrew Rosenfeld challenged ensembles to find ways of expressing their chamber work and communicating alignment with each other, without making any sound. A great challenge! In the evening, Baltimore actor Prof. Paul Diem presented a theatre workshop that addressed self-care for our bodies through stretches and posture, stage presence, confidence, and communication through body language and public speaking.
IIMIF 2018: Day 8
LucidBeings returned for a follow-up session and was amazed at the growth that students have experienced in just under a week, especially in terms of body and breath awareness, and a sense of trust in the community. They presented an engaging second workshop on "The Brain Dance." Before lunch, we discussed and explored stage presence basics for ensembles, and then in the afternoon, chamber groups performed dress rehearsals for Dr. James Stern. The evening featured the first-ever IIMIF Composer's Showcase! We listened to two string quartets written by IIMIF students, a brand-new piano trio by IIMIF Executive Director Elizabeth Borowsky, and a cello ensemble work arranged by Mr. Dan Cheston (the father of one of this year's cello participants). This last work was so beautiful that we had the cellists play it one more time, as we gathered close around them for an encore performance (note: their third time going through the piece, ever).
IIMIF 2018: Day 9
Today is what we have been working towards in every rehearsal, lesson, and special activity the past few days: the IIMIF student solo and ensemble recitals! Participants presented two polished recitals of beautiful music, demonstrating wonderful progress and growth in their music making. We enjoyed a celebration (with delicious music-decorated cupcakes) after the evening concert.
IIMIF 2018: Day 10
Although a few participants departed after the Saturday evening concert, we had one last treat in store for those that stayed on campus: a special presentation by IIMIF alum and violinist Alexander Strachan. Alex shared his journey through music, from his college studies to his work for U.S. Government, and his eventual work in using music for healing. Alex is a frequent performer in hospitals, hospices, and detention centers - and there was much to be learned from his passionate attitude towards music and life. In addition, Alex gave our participants one last push to really take care of their bodies - sharing suggestions for stretches before, during, and after practicing.
Congratulations to all our 2018 participants - we hope to see you again soon!
Oh... but wait... there's more!
After the conclusion of the IIMIF on-campus program, three participants embarked on a mini-tour of Maryland, sharing their music with appreciative audiences in Parkville, Baltimore, Towson, and Bel Air. In addition to this core group, several local IIMIF participants were invited to take part in these performances.
After a bittersweet morning of "thank you's and goodbyes," the eight participants of the 2014 IMIF tour group embarked on their journey. En route to their first performance, the group stopped at a fruit stand to pick up some delicious fresh peaches and plums. They arrived soon at their destination: Thorpewood's beautiful lodge in Thurmont, Maryland - in the magical wooded setting. They enjoyed a delicious lunch and learned about the outreach activities that Thorpewood organizes. The enthusiastic audience showed their deep appreciation of the performance, which included works by Mozart, Saint-Saens, Copland, Debussy, Ysaye, and Brahms. The tour participants enjoyed a hike through the woods (complete with dipping their toes in the cool water of the creek that runs through the property), and then headed home with their host families.
The students and faculty of IMIF 2014 have kicked off an exciting 10 days today! There have already been so many great experiences, and we are just getting started. Here is a look at some of the fun activities from today!
We started off the day with some great speeches from the IMIF faculty -
Then, we got moving with a fun and engaging theatre workshop by Mark Krawczyk!
Mark used theatre exercises to elaborate on the many ways a musician can implement different tools and techniques in their practice and performance. Mainly, BREATHING!
It was an amazing way to loosen up, get friendly with other students, and have a blast.
There was still time for some games and fun before evening reflection:
The participants were definitely tired! We can't wait to see what the week has in store. Stay tuned for more daily updates!
by Joel Weszka (IMIF Chamber Music Faculty Coach)
Reflecting on IMIF 2013, it is still a challenge to summarize just how much I experienced in the timeframe of my service, and how valuable all of it was and is.
I noticed in particular that IMIF is this unusual microcosm where age does not matter: so many different students - ranging in age from 8 through 22 - came together to make great music, and yet their shared energy, and in particular, their openness in learning, is remarkable.
It was a privilege and inspiration granted to me to be one of the people helping to shape and guide these students. They challenged me to deepen my own understanding of some very specific music and to communicate it, and to adapt and expand my pedagogical tools. I invested my knowledge and energy, and their receptivity, their sheer uniqueness among one another, and their sort of rawness as young musicians, all rewarded me with renewed purpose in all of my musical work.
In the short term, IMIF remains the highlight of my summer. In the long term, I know I will draw from this experience as a teacher, and a lifelong student, for many years to come.
by Elyssa Smith (IMIF's "Mental Toughness" Coach)
Which dog will win the fight? The one you feed.
This was the theme of my two days at IMIF. The moments were full of positive messages and enthusiastic engagement from all the students. I am truly changed and so grateful.
The main emphasis of IMIF is a holistic approach to making music and we worked our minds, bodies, and spirits together at every opportunity. We began Thursday morning by doing some stretching and movement together. We talked about the importance of exercising our bodies and moving them in ways that are different from when we play our instruments so that we can remain healthy and flexible.
After exercises, I presented some ideas to the students and faculty about our positive and negative thoughts, and how to overcome performance anxiety and perfectionism. I told them about the two dogs that are constantly fighting within us. Dog #1 is fear, false pride, anger, self-pity, and anything else negative that comes up when we are under pressure. Dog #2 is peace, joy, love, acceptance, gentleness and gratitude. We talked about how to help Dog 2 win the fight: to know ourselves (as our lovely youngest student said, “It’s good to know what makes us happy!”), to allow the moments come to us (rather than constantly striving), and to not care whether we win or lose. That is, realizing that we have nothing to lose unless we do not release our gift or tell the story we came to tell.
Then, legendary pianist, Brian Ganz, gave us the privilege of participating in a master class. The kindness he exuded as he gently coached each of the students warmed our hearts and inspired us all.
That evening, Professor Ganz graced us with a Chopin performance that evoked tears and passion, and brought a presence of supernatural love like I have never experienced in a concert setting. Though it is unheard of for a master musician to allow his audience to choose his program, he asked the students to request their favorite Chopin preludes for him to share with them. In the Q&A session he allowed the students to pick his brain on everything from practicing techniques (Hands Alone Then Together), to what he thinks about during a performance (fighting the pressure he feels about the person in the audience he wants to impress, and focusing on prayers that he might give the gift he came to bring). Though he did not use the analogy of the two dogs, he spoke the same message we had been focusing on all day – a coincidence? I think not.
For our reflections that evening, we played the ABC game of gratitude. We discussed the role of thankfulness in bringing us to a place of humility in our music and preparations, feeding Dog #2. Each member of the group was assigned a letter in alphabet order and shared something he/she was grateful for that began with that letter. We heard stories of hardship and tragedy that ended in gratitude and victory, of family and friends lifting each other up, and of fulfilled hearts, grateful for the opportunities at IMIF. The students and faculty gave each other their gifts of joy, peace, love and encouragement, and I was blessed to have been a part.
My two days at IMIF have forever changed me. The students’ open hearts, engaged minds, and phenomenal musical talents have inspired me. The hard work of the faculty and their desires to pass on their offerings has set an example for me. I will go on from here to seek to give my own gifts, connect with other open hearts, and pass along the message: there are those out there who have passion, talent, heart, and courage; by connecting with one another, there is nothing we cannot do.
by Dr. Joni Chan (IMIF 2013 Faculty)
I was thrilled to be part of IMIF this year. I was impressed by the wonderful young talents who were ready to learn and quick to absorb ideas that were suggested to them in the most positive manner. IMIF is like a family where we all learn and grow together. As a teacher, it was a joy to see how they are truly excited to be there, and especially how their eyes light up as they discover new musical ideas or a new approach to playing their instrument.