September 7, 2020
Oakton Six Piano Ensemble
Be part of a unique musical experience as a member of the Oakton Six Piano Ensemble. Auditions for this internationally acclaimed touring group are now being scheduled in September and October. To schedule an appointment or for more information, contact Glenna Sprague, at or 847-635-1905.

The group performs repertoire from the classical, ragtime, jazz, and popular periods that is transcribed for the six pianos by the ensemble’s founder and conductor, Glenna Sprague, Professor and Coordinator of Music at Oakton, where she also teaches piano. Performing with a conductor, the rich layered sound of the Six Piano Ensemble is comparable to that of an orchestra, with each member playing a different part of a composition as the melody transfers from pianist to pianist. The ensemble provides an excellent opportunity for those pianists who do not want to perform as soloists, but want to keep up their playing skills and be part of an ensemble situation.

The group has performed both internationally and throughout the United States, including the World Conference of the International Society for Music Education (ISME) at the Royal    Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow; College Music Society International Conference in Vienna, Austria; Hawaii Music Teachers Association in Honolulu; MTNA National Conferences in Atlanta and Spokane, GP3 National Conference at University of Oklahoma; Steinway of Chicago Community Concert Series, Navy Pier, Civic Opera House, and the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy in Chicago.

This year, the Ensemble is performing a Virtual Concert at the Florida State Music Teachers Association State Conference.
A card was sent to Midori Kim because she had eye surgery.

A card was sent to Yoko Amano because she had to be off her ankle for a week due to hurting it.

I want to thank my fellow teachers in this Association for this beautiful floral plant dropped off by Maureen Flood in honor of our son who died July 18th, 2020 of cardio vascular disease and diabetes. he was 47 yrs. old.

I am "virtually" exhausted. I feel like a chrysalis in a cocoon, waiting to emerge. So far, 2020 has taught me a lot about being flexible and creative. I will be so glad when the test is over. 

But until then, I will be grateful for many things that have happened. There have been wonderful online podcasts and webinars on pedagogy and musicianship. I love how our colleagues are there to help others learn new teaching strategies, the world of the internet and to ensure that our students continue to pursue music at a time they need it most. Fewer families traveled this summer, so students' lessons were more regular and they made more progress. Because of online teaching, my students became more independent (and at times more frustrated). But we all learned it was worth the struggle and we were stronger because of it.

There were times I had to laugh at the situation. A mother was trying to find the best location for her camera/phone to view the student's hands (according to my request and directions). For multiple lessons she tried various solutions; such as holding the camera (the jiggling made me nauseated and cramped the mother's hand), building a tower of a table, a chair and a stack of books near the keyboard (it collapsed during the lesson when the cat tried to climb it) and positioning it on top of the grand piano, which they couldn't use because piano tuners were not available (unfortunately the mother bumped the camera before she left the room to get back to work). I ended up with a view out the window. When they came to my house for their first in person lesson and saw my set up, the mother had a revelation. "I never thought to move the keyboard," she exclaimed. Not knowing what their house looked like, I didn't either.

I was having difficulty being able to hear what an eight-year-old student was playing on the piano. I texted her mother, who was no longer in the room, for assistance. The mother, who was in a Zoom meeting for work, texted me back and told me to text the girl's father, who was in the next room. He came into the room to help, but knew less than I did. For the next lesson, I figured out how to rectify the problem and we moved further into the world of music. 

My grandsons have started their online school for the fall. Two or three days each week they come with my son to our house, so we can help with school. They are online from 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM each day, with forty-five minutes for lunch. The teachers seem very patient, but it takes a long time to do everything; mute the mics, put caps on the markers or find the right page. Seth, the first grader, doesn't really understand what school used to be like, since he didn't get to finish the last quarter of kindergarten. Friday, he asked after finishing three math pages, if we could go play the piano. I explained that we were supposed to still be in Math class. He shot back, "We can take my Chrome book with us by the piano." I pictured the class watching Seth playing the piano and thought, "We better not." Five minutes later he asked, "Do you want to play a game?" 

I found out that one of my fifth grade grandsons in California had learned to bring a book and keep it on his lap under the table to read in his dead online time. He reads while the teacher is helping other students learn "sit and wait." 

I feel the students need music now, more than ever. It requires them to be present in the moment. To be able to change their performance in an infinite amount of ways. To challenge themselves to improve every day. And to know that tomorrow, there will be another challenge and they will be better for it. I, also need to remember that every challenge that comes my way will give me an opportunity to become better. 

I find that I have truly missed my colleagues, who can understand what I'm feeling and also support each other with ideas and suggestions. I look forward to seeing you at our virtual meetings each month. Rachel Wojcicki has done a marvelous job securing programs for 2020 and beyond. Joy Morin is a rare opportunity to get help and ideas to improve our alternative teaching during this period. Rachel will also present a program about yoga for musicians that we all can benefit from. We hear much about wearing masks and social distancing. I think it's even more important that we learn to be healthy; to eat well, move, sleep, meditate and connect. 

Deborah Lynch