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Elza Ritter’s New Meetup for Adult Piano Students

Adult Piano Lovers of Fairfax

Our first meetup group
Our first meetup group.

The goal of my meetup is to get people together to share beautiful music and share our knowledge while having fun and learning.  My intention was to create a group with a piano master class setting, where I can help adult piano students from my local community who may not be able to afford private lessons, but can use my help.

On April 1st I launched my first meetup, which was a huge success! I have received feedback that everyone is excited and looking towards the next meetups! I am thrilled I could succeed at this, and I, too, look forward to the next meetups.

You can visit the meetup online at https://www.meetup.com/Adult-Piano-Lovers-of-Fairfax/.

A couple details for anyone thinking of joining us:

  • Meetup is for professional, semi-professional, amateur, and future pianists who are interested in piano music and learning.
  • Future meetups are also for those who love or would like to learn about Russian teaching style, Russian music, and the Russian culture.
  • Hang out in casual atmosphere in my music studio.
  • Perform, share, get feedback, talk, and learn about the music that we  love.
  • Welcome all styles including but not limited to jazz, pop, classical.
  • Shy musicians will be encouraged but not required to play.
meetup musician performing on one of the grand pianos
Sharing music with other piano lovers
music studio with meetup snacks, pianos, and appreciative puppy dog
Beautiful pianos, yummy meetup snacks, and an appreciative puppy dog!

Why I Started Piano Meetups?

From 2012, I was encouraged by a few of my friends to start piano meetup. I did not see any reason why I should start a group and could not figure out why they gave me that advice. In my mind there were my young students, who make up 80% of my pupils. So I could not make any connection between kids, private lessons, and meetup for adults. Maybe I just did not know what a meetup is and how it works.

Now, looking back, I know it was not the right time. Right time has come now.

A couple stories on why I started this meetup group. By the time 2016 came, I had already been working intensively for 15 years at Northern Virginia Community College (NVCC), Loudoun Campus. I was teaching piano, music appreciation, music theory to young adult, middle aged, and senior citizen students.  In 2016, I was invited to perform at a local recital for young adults and learned there are many adults who admire piano and everything related to piano. They love to be around the same “piano addicts.”

Some of them need to be encouraged and inspired, some want to be heard and appreciated, some love attention and cannot wait to have a chance be on a spotlight, some are shy and feel the need to overcome that problem, and some want to socialize and be involved with people with similar interests. They are all adorable adult piano addicts! I was thrilled to know that these amazing people, who have singing souls and time for such devotions, exist! And they are here, just around the corner. It deeply touched my heart. Piano and music are my passions and people of any age and level who have passion for music and piano are my heroes! I respect and love them dearly!

Between 2012 and 2015 I was invited to attend three meetups. They were unrelated to music, but it was good experience to learn the fundamentals of a meetup. In August 2016, I paid my dues to organize a meetup group. I was mentally ready, however I was limited in time. I also felt the need to accomplish something for my dues and decided to push myself.

The first meetup was announced for April 1st. It was the only evening I could offer, since I have been teaching 2016-2017 without any off days. I was smiling when I finalized the group. It would be funny if after such long preparation and finally announcing my first meetup, no one would show up because people might think it is April Fools! Fortunately, 12 musicians showed up. This was a great surprise!

Adult Piano Students are Self-Motivated

This first meetup confirmed why I love to teach adults: it is due to their devotion of practicing without any pressure. Adults practice because they love piano. Also, I enjoy that adults learn like sponges. Adults are looking to progress without pleasing anyone, just for their own satisfaction.

It is also interesting to learn the reasons why adult students take piano lessons.

  • A gentleman of age 60+ played accordion all his life, but dreamed about playing piano. So he devoted himself to practicing scales, chords, and arpeggios… and succeeded with correct technique after about two years!
  • A lady of age 50 wanted to learn piano because it was her dream, but her parents could not afford lessons. And once she reached the point in her life when she had a good career and good income, she purchased a grand piano and was excited to start her lessons.
  • Another gentlemen of age 50 + was joking that practicing the piano kept him away from going to the bar.
  • Another lady of age 40+ strongly believed that learning and practicing piano would prevent her from getting Alzheimer’s disease, which ran in her family.
  • One more lady was referred by her doctor and hoped it would help her to get rid of arthritis. She said it helped greatly.
  • Many young and old professional adults look at piano playing as a stress reliever.

Joy of Music at Any Age!

I am fortunate to live here in the USA, specifically in the DC, MD, VA area, where adults and retired people can afford such an expensive passion (piano and private lessons). In my native country of Russia (the former Soviet Union), any adult who would spend time and money on activities like piano or any other form of art “just for fun” would be considered mentally unstable. This is weird to say now, but that was the way we were taught. I remember in 2004, here in America, after watching some documentary I told my father about a remarkable 70 year old young lady, who started to dance for fun! My father’s comment: “She is crazy!”

I am so glad I live in a generation and location where it is socially acceptable to have fun with art, music, and even dance at any age!

Thank you for reading!

Musically yours,

Elza Ritter

Competition Winners – 2017 NVMTA

Northern Virginia Music Teachers Association (NVMTA) Piano Concerto Festival – March 11-12, 2017

We’re proud of our competition winners and all of our participants at the 2017 NVMTA Piano Concerto Festival.

Competition Winners

Ted Li, 14, has studied with me for one year. He won 1st place with his performance of Concerto No. 3 in D, Op. 50, “Youth Concerto”, mvt. 1, Allegro molto by Kabalevsky. The performance took place at the Jordan Kitts Music Showroom in Fairfax.

Ted had goal of getting first place when his mom asked me to teach him and his brother Enoch a year ago. Ted asked to learn Kabalevsky Concerto, a piece I knew was beyond his level. However, I gave him chance, thinking that if he loves the piece, he should practice with enthusiasm. I was right. He was committed to practice. The piece was great challenge and huge breakthrough to new level. Ted got his first place!

Enoch Li, 12, has studied with me for one year. He won 3rd place with his performance of the Miniature Concerto, mvt. 1, Andante maestoso – Allegro by Rowley. The performance took place at the Woman’s Club of Arlington.

NVMTA 2017 piano concerto festival certificates-and-ribbons
NVMTA 2017 piano concerto festival certificates and ribbons

Other Russian Music Academy Participants

Reanna Vardhanapu, Catherine Tran, Alex Heisler, Ryan Schuering,  and Yuqi Huang

Competition Winners – 2016 NVMTA

Northern Virginia Music Teachers Association (NVMTA) Piano Concerto Festival – March 11-13, 2016

We’re proud of our competition winners and all participants at the 2016 NVMTA Piano Concerto Festival.

Competition Winners:

Jessica Li, 14, has studied for 6 years. She played Concerto in A minor, 1st movement, by Grieg. The performance took place at the Women’s Club of Arlington. Here is a video of Jessica playing the Grieg concerto.

Aili Hou, 14, has studied for 2 years. She played Miniature Concerto, 1st movement, by Rowley. The performance took place at George Mason University. Here is a video of Aili playing the Rowley concerto.

Other Russian Music Academy participants:

Andrew L., Khushi R., Eva S., Anish S., and Raina V.