Antimatter: Any substance that, when combined with an equal amount of matter, results in the complete and direct conversion of all substance to energy. (

Anti-Masterclass: Any masterclass that, when combined with an equal part of input from all participants, results in the complete and direct conversion of all playing to energy and artistry.

pred reality webI have been busy giving Anti-Masterclasses lately and I have had a ball. I believe that master-classses are win-win situations for everybody. Participating pianists learn, the audience learns, and teachers learn. This year though, I didn’t want to just do the same old, same old. (Yes, every student is unique and each class is subtly different but I think you know what I mean.)

So, I decided that I wanted a format that would be more interactive and place the focus of the session on music and artistry rather than on the icky-picky details. I use feedback sheets of various kinds to focus my student’s listening quite often and I have created quite a variety of them over the years. I thought, why not use them in the classes? It would open the participants ears and, at the same time, give the teachers present some new ideas for their own studio classes.

And, that’s what we did. It has worked spectacularly. The performers were much more relaxed that usual. Their colleagues were supportive and helpful. After each person played we went around our semi circle giving input. I changed up the format for each performer, to keep it lively. We did Prediction/Reality Check, we drew pictures, we each said one word that described a performance, and we all listened for the details of various musical elements.

The feedback was spot on. After the other students had each given their comments to a performer, I gave a mini lesson to tie it all together. It was amazing how close the students were to what I wanted to work on. Sometimes they had difficulty putting their observations into words but they heard well. They were also very kind to each other. As each student played during the mini-lesson they would nod and say,”Much better” or  “Closer but not quite there.” They left chattering encouragements to each other and smiling broadly.

During the Anti-MC at my college, I had my students act as mentors to each young participant. They were able to help them with the forms and answer questions so that the class flowed smoothly and the participants didn’t get so distracted by the formats that they lost the purpose and the music.

All in all, the Anti-Masterclasses resulted in the complete and direct conversion of all playing to energy and artistry. And, I can’t wait to do another one!

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