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Cleveland Institute Of Music: Clayton's First Exam

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He just continues on with his piano lessons. Next year he'll be expected to perform more difficult pieces in keeping with another year of lessons. The students are all assigned a "grade level" based on how long they have been studying. Clayton has been with his teacher for one year, but, because he's talented, he achieved more than a typical first year student. They bumped him up to a higher level.


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Congratulations, Clayton! And to Eric! He's following in his father's footsteps! I'll bet Clayton's Dad can still remember his exams at CIM.

The Cleveland Institute is more prestigious than Juilliard, from what I'm hearing in the classical music world. In fact, the first violinist of the Juilliard String Quartet is supposed to be the next president of CIM, or something like that. They have great people teaching young artists (like Paul Kantor on violin and Jeffrey Irvine on viola). A young violin virtuoso from Philadelphia, Robin Bollinger, travels to Cleveland just to study with Kantor.

So I know Clayton's judges were among the best artists in the WORLD! Bravo, indeed, Clayton!

:) --Darlene

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Thanks, Darlene

Cleveland hasn't had a lot to brag about over the last 20 years. The only reason to move here would be to play in the Cleveland Symphony or work at the Cleveland Clinic.

Our cultural center and our medical care is among the best in the world. That includes the Cleveland Institute of Music.

Clayton's piano teacher recently migrated here from the Eastman School Of Music.

As one proud papa, I can say "He's definitely 'got it".

I think it must be the melancholy Russian blood.

If I can keep him interested until he's fifteen, he's going to blow me away as a pianist. I didn't start piano until I was eleven. Clayton turns eleven August 30th. He's got a BIG head start!


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Eric...do you ever think about performing with Clayton? At home or on stage, I would think it would be very special for you to sing Boats, Love Is All That Matters, Run Away, etc. with Clayton on the piano. Just him playing something that his father wrote would have to be special for both of you.

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Congratulations to Clayton and you and Susan!!!!

As far as melancholy Russians Eric....word has it that they know how to rock-n-roll with the best of them too.

My mother was Russian, and I grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania where there is a rather large contingent of Russians. I might also say that you have always had a nice fan base there based upon my experience in the broadcasting business. You will still find your extensive catalog played there on a steady basis.

Having a mother who was Russian, and familiar with the culture, I married a Russian girl. Always did like pirogies, kielbasas, borscht, and salt fish.

In any event, I can close my eyes and hear it now on the television in a few years....'Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Mr. Clayton Carmen!!!!

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So cool. I too think everyone growing up should learn an instument. I'll tell you what the "get it moment" is for me (unless you're a flat out natural talent..)

My teenage daughters both played piano in elementary school, not naturals, but they worked at it and were pretty good for their age.

The key is not the lesson but the practice attitude. If you can't wait to get off that school bus, throw down the back pack, grab a snack, and get on that piano bench.. you get it

Well eventually they learned there were boys on the earth and their priorities changed, and I became the bad guy asking for at least 30 minutes a day. Once we got to the point where I realized the last time they touched the keys was their last lesson a week ago, the instuctor had nothing to do, , I knew I was losing them.

I knew kids that were even better, but completely hated it too. I refused to force them.

Just like in sports I coach (my 12 year old is a natural incredible jock) I figure as a parent my job is to expose, inspire, then read them.. I need to be pulled down a road, not push them.

On an opposite note, I'm almost the reverse bad guy with my son, as he never does not have a ball in his hand, and our living room has suffered a lot of breakage... but it's cool when you can help steer and recognize and support passion in your kid.

Go Clay! He's been fortunate to be exposed in an environment where he gets how cool piano can be and loves it. I'll go out on a limb that he can play by ear and has long fingers.

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We gave the boys trumpet lessons - they chose the instruments. Starting in sometime in elementary school age, because they wanted to play along with my Dad who plays the trombone.

They continued on through High School, music put them with an excellent groups of kids, taught them to hear and understand what is good and what is junk musically.

Being able to read music opened other instruments to them. I never knew what they would be playing at school performances they filled in where they were needed. One time Adam was playing the piano with the jazz group, I knew he could bang out the melody but I had know idea he could fake it so well.

Even when sports took over more of their time, both boys double lettered in sports, they kept the knowledge and maybe a little talent with them.

Some of this could be genetic, My Grandaddy and Father, my sister and Nephew are all very naturally talented.

Not me, I have no talent. But it could be because the instrument my Mother forced me to me to play was the accordion. I despised it, I hated everthing about the accordion and still do !! :wacko:

The lesson is let your child choose the instrument, especially if you like the accordion :lol:

Music lessons are a Good Thing

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Bess, Did you play "Lady of Spain?"! That was always an accordion standard.

If you have a very Polish, Italian or some other kind of ethnic thing going, you love the accordion. If not, a lot of kids don't enjoy playing it, especially if they're forced.

I have a couple of humorous accordion stories.

My friend, a bass virtuoso who teaches at The Manhattan School of Music, recounts the story about her Dad. She gave him a year of music lessons for his birthday, and (she says) "to her horror," he chose the accordion. To her further horror, he excelled at it and thoroughly enjoyed it. His big number was "Lady of Spain," complete with all the embellishments! She said when the year was up, he continued the lessons, but eventually (mercifully, she says) got too busy to practice and had to stop.

The other story involved a new principal who came to my elementary school. At the time, the musical "Annie" was in vogue, and we played a couple of songs from it in addition to our classical numbers. When the new principal saw us practicing, she remarked that she played "a keyboard instrument." Assuming she meant the piano, I said, "Great! You can join us in our Annie songs. The kids will love it!" She said she'd practice at our last rehearsal before the show.

She arrived carrying a suitcase. I thought, "What is that?" until she began unpacking it. To my horror, it was indeed an accordion, complete with her name (JoAnn) in sparkles. She proceeded to sit down on a chair, put her foot on the case and bellow-shake away to "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow." To my added consternation, one of my Chinese male students, a violin virtuoso, shouted very loudly, "Make her stop! She's too loud! She'll ruin everything!" I quickly admonished with some negative headshaking and tried to quell his fears with "Oh no, it sounds PRETTY!" (because she hadn't yet evaluated me). I solved it all as gracefully as I could by telling her she played so well that she should solo on the second strain after the kids play, then we'd all end it together.

It all worked out well until my music supervisor, complimenting me on the concert, added, "but who in the HELL was that person on the accordion? Someone should tell her it's only a SOCIAL instrument!" I had to tell him it was the new principal and that she was right behind him...

:) --Darlene

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