September 6, 2014

Back to school reading with the RPO staff

One of the great things about working on the RPO's staff is getting to be around a bunch of people who are super passionate about the arts. There is something energizing about coming to work every day surrounded by people who have some connection to the arts, whether they are musicians, actors, dancers, artists, or frequent patrons at arts events in the community and beyond.

One of our goals for the RPO blog this year is to turn the spotlight on some of our dedicated staff members. We plan to feature individuals in fun Q and A interviews, video profiles, and whatever other crazy ideas we drum up (pun intended) at our East Avenue office. Since it’s back to school season, we asked a few staff members with music backgrounds to share the one book that left a lasting impression on them as performers and professionals.

P.S. We’d love to hear about your favorite books that impacted your life as a performer/musician/arts aficionado! Please join the conversation with a blog comment or a Facebook post.
Happy reading!

Pavel Sullivan
Associate Director of Annual Giving and Donor Relations

Pavel Sullivan
Musical training: Eastman School of Music: Degree in Music Education, Piano Primary, Secondary Voice. I also played violin until high school.

Favorite book with music connection: Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot:Unleashing Your Brain’s Potential by Richard Restak, M.D.

What makes this book special? Early in high school, we were tasked with coming up with topics for our senior thesis. I decided to write about music and the mind. While I did a lot of analysis of different studies, parts of the brain that are enlarged due to musical exposure, etc., I also picked up this book from Richard Restak (who at the time, was at the forefront of this research).

This book was 28 chapters designed to help you focus and maximize your brain’s potential (which, being a kid with ADHD, was something I found very interesting and helpful). Ironically, I took a lot of these tips and tricks to help me focus on writing the 20-page paper itself, but it has helped me immensely in the rest of my career.

Kara Aymerich
Office Administrator

Kara Aymerich
Musical training: I earned a degree in vocal performance from Roberts Wesleyan College. 

Favorite book with music connection: The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey

What makes this book special? This book was recommended to me by my voice teacher. Though it is about tennis, the principles that are outlined by Gallwey are surprisingly relevant to performers. So often, performers and athletes have thoughts in their mind that impede their own progress or concentration. Gallwey focuses on having the player feel what is happening within their body. He explains how to identify success or failure without creating either a crippling sense of anxiety due to a mistake or the almost greater anxiety that one will not be able to repeat the same positive action.

Many of his anecdotes, especially relating to his days as a young competitive player, reminded me of the struggles that my peers and I face every day when practicing or performing. The same occasionally irrational and nonconstructive criticism that performers can give themselves is also a trait of professional athletes, and for that reason, I highly recommend this book for any performer.

Katy Judd

Marketing Manager

Katy Judd
Musical training: I studied violin and trombone, and minored in music in college.

Favorite book with music connection:
The Unanswered Question: Six Talks at Harvard by Leonard Bernstein

What makes this book special? One of my favorite books about music is Leonard Bernstein’s The Unanswered Question: Six Talks at Harvard, which I first came across in college. The book is a transcript of a series of lectures that Bernstein gave at Harvard in the 1970s. Throughout the talks, Bernstein encompasses many genres—from classical to pop—relating this music to outside disciplines like linguistics, poetry, and philosophy, and focusing on music’s capacity to express a universal “language.” A celebrated conductor and composer, Bernstein also had a tremendous gift for music education, and these lectures are a great example of his talent for presenting musical subjects in an engaging, thought-provoking way.

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