THE IDEA OF A PRACTICE MARATHON RETREAT EVOLVED FROM THE path I took to resolve the frustrations of my own practicing. I found that alone in the woods, on a mountaintop, or by the sea, free from the pressures of performance for four to eight weeks at a time, I was capable of investigating new ways of practicing to bring myself closer to control of my instrument and the ecstasy of musical expression. My efforts were informed by the growing knowledge base formulated in separate disciplines such as sports psychology, kinesiology, cognitive psychology, bioergonomics, neuroscience, and acoustics. As I read, I found ideas relevant to practicing with which to experiment. Gradually, I developed increasingly specific strategies and techniques to help myself, the practicer, achieve results. After my personal retreats, I would return to teaching to impart these new ways to my students. After 50 years, 400 different regular private students, 1500 Magic Mountain Music Farm participants and 70 international practice marathon seminars, I have evolved a methodology which empowers the musician to manage practicing in a creative and fulfilling way so that it leads inevitably to consistent and communicative performances. Read about Farm Inspired Achievements since 1985.
The pragmatic strategies in my two books "Practicing for Artistic Success - The Musician's Guide to Self-Empowerment" and "The Musician's Practice Log" have been read and embraced by thousands. And yet, those same musicians still find that they advance beyond their expectations by immersing themselves in a creative Practice Marathon Retreat at the Farm.
Burton Kaplan is Professor of Violin and Viola at the Manhattan School of Music and The Aaron Copland School of Music, Queens College, CUNY. During his continuing 40 year tenure at MSM, he taught the courses Practicing for Artistic Success and Orchestral Excerpts, and conducted The Manhattan Chamber Symphony. In addition, he is Director of Performance Power, an organization dedicated to teaching a system for harnessing and integrating the powers of mind, body and spirit in the practice room and on the stage. In these capacities, he has influenced the growth of several thousand pre-professional and professional musicians. As Conductor and Music Director of the Manhattan/Downeast Chamber Orchestra, and the Empire State Youth Orchestra he has performed at Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall to exceptional reviews -- "Mr. Kaplan has fashioned the orchestra into a disciplined, precisely honed ensemble, one that plays with a crisp biting attack and an obvious relish of making music in a vigorous extroverted manner." (NY Times) In addition, the orchestra under his direction has performed at the White House and won the American Symphony Orchestra League's National Youth Orchestra Competition. In 2000, he was the conductor of the All State Symphony Orchestra of the New York State School Music Association.
During more than four decades, Mr. Kaplan has served on the faculties of New York University, The City University of New York and the State University of New York; and as Director of Education of The Downeast Chamber Music Center and The Third Street Music School Settlement in New York City. His career includes international appearances as a lecturer on instrumental pedagogy, sight-reading, music practicing and music interpretation. He was the first instrumental teacher in the world to use video feedback in teaching (1967). He has patents on devices for learning stringed instruments and a unique tone enhancing "Shoulder Horn" for violin and viola. Mr. Kaplan is the author of The Complete Music Sight-Reader Series and The Musician's Practice Log. His latest book, Practicing for Artistic Success; The Musician's Guide to Self-Empowerment in the Practice Room, is now in its third printing. His next book introduces a pedagogy of music interpretation. It's entitled The Musical Path to Technique – Design of the Heart and is due out in 2017. In addition, he served as a member of the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell and the Pittsburgh and American Symphonies under William Steinberg and Leopold Stokowski respectively. His solo performances were cited for "Musicianship of a high order" and "extra (out of the ordinary) events." (NY Herald Tribune).
Manny Laureano joined the Minnesota Orchestra as Principal Trumpet in 1981 after serving for four years as Principal Trumpet of the Seattle Symphony . He has performed solos in all the Orchestra's concert series and served as an assistant conductor during the 2005-06 season. In 2003 he premiered Stephen Paulus' Concerto for Two Trumpets and Orchestra, which was written for him and Doc Severinsen, who was then the Orchestra's principal pops conductor. His other solos with the Orchestra have included Haydn's Trumpet Concerto, Copland's Quiet City, Clarke's Southern Cross, Vizzutti's Compadre, Hertel's Concerto a cinque in D major, Bach's Second Brandenburg Concerto, and concertos by Arutiunian and Tomasi. Laureano is also in demand as a conductor. With his wife, Claudette, he serves as co-artistic director of the Minnesota Youth Symphonies. In 2006 he led a series of Minnesota Orchestra Young People's Concerts, ¡Viva Latino!
Keith Underwood has appeared frequently with the New York Chamber Symphony, the New York Philharmonic, the Orpheus Ensemble and the Orchestra of St. Luke's in addition to recording extensively for film and TV in NY and LA. He has developed an international reputation as a teacher of flute and general wind playing techniques. He is on the faculties of the Mannes College of Music, New York University, the Aaron Copland School and City Graduate Center. In addition, his teaching has taken him all over the world, notably including extensive work in Japan, Brazil, Italy, Hawaii, and Mexico. Keith’s students can be found in numerous major orchestras including: Dallas, Atlanta, Houston, San Francisco, Minnesota, LA, Buffalo, Cleveland and Boston. He has given classes in almost every major music school in the US, including the Juilliard School, New England Conservatory, Cleveland Institute, and Northwestern University. He received his Master’s Degree from the Yale School of Music in 1976 where he studied with Thomas Nyfenger.
The PERFORMANCE POWER RETREAT is designed for musicians who are yearning to develop their performing personalities, to tackle everything from stress management to charisma. Each Performance Power Retreat culminates in two public concerts. The concerts are presented each summer as a culmination of the 16 day retreat. They take place in the beautiful stone First Presbyterian Church in Gilbertsville, NY.
Each participant in the Performance Power Retreat performs a complete work in one of the two concerts. The regional newspapers help attract our audience. Here are some sample news articles that have appeared.
"Players to spin 'musical magic' in Gilbertsville" — The Daily Star, August 8, 2003
Music in the Valley... — The Gazette, August 27, 2004
In addition, MMMF and the First Presbyterian Church publicize the concerts with with posters, flyers and ads like the one below.