Updated: Mar 1
After the previously mentioned solo jazz piano gig I had in San Francisco, the first of three Russian music schools I taught at in California offered me four opportunities to perform on piano in school recitals which I was happy to take advantage of. I performed works by Chopin, Granados and myself at three different school recitals and the three Gershwin Preludes at a lunchtime concert held at the Google Mountain View campus. I also played pieces by Chick Corea and myself at a recital of my private students.
After a few years, my occasional performances were interrupted by the school director's decision to close the school and move to Lake Tahoe. She was a hard core Russian teacher of the old school who favored a rigorous music education and that did not seem to be possible in the competitive atmosphere of Silicon Valley where many other priorities such as robotics, drama, chess club and sports were competing for the student's time and attention. So the school closed, but fortunately my students were offered the chance to enroll at one of two other music schools in the neighboring towns of Cupertino and Palo Alto. One was located across the street from Apple's former Infinity Loop main headquarters before they moved to the "mothership" and the other was located across the street from Stanford University. These were the schools I taught at for the remainder of my time in California. When the school in Palo Alto gave me one final opportunity to play two new pieces of my own at a recital at Santa Clara University I jumped at it. Thus closing out my live performing experience in California.
Both schools are still operating, and I recently heard that the one in Palo Alto has a current enrollment of 800 students! It was hard to leave my students in 2016 when I moved back to Maine for reasons I will discuss in my next blog, but both school's directors gave me glowing references. The one that is dearest to my heart is the one that starts with the words, "Robert is an outstanding pianist, an engaging and inspiring teacher, and above all - a true gentleman."