Author: Yoon

In Memory of Sophia Rosoff

In Memory of Sophia Rosoff

On Thursday, November 22, 2018, my brilliant, wonderful piano/music teacher Sophia Rosoff passed away at her home.  She was 96.

It is difficult to describe how much Sophia impacted my life.  Sophia brought me back to the piano and I am literally a born again pianist because of her.

I met Sophia in August 2011.  After having a baby I suffered from tendonitis, carpel tunnel and radial tunnel in both arms, wrists and thumbs.  I was a mess.  Even though I had not played the piano seriously in almost 15 years, the thought of not having the ability or the choice to play the piano was devastating to me.  I decided while receiving occupational therapy that I would relearn how to play the instrument and that I should do it with Sophia Rosoff.

On our first meeting I felt nervous and insecure.  Sophia asked me to balance an egg on the carpet.  To our mutual surprise, I did this in a matter of seconds.  She then asked me to balance the egg upside down.  I did that just as quick.  She then asked me to balance an egg on wood, glass, and china, which was most challenging.  After that Sophia said that I was ready to play something for her.  When I went to the piano, I felt calm, focused and unafraid to play.  Sophia was sweet and kind but honest with a quiet intensity that made you feel determined to work.  Everything felt brand new with her.  I felt like I was experiencing the piano for the very first time.  I was really hearing and feeling the music.  I felt connected in a way that I never had before.  Most of my piano experience was filled with anxiety, frustration and misery.  Practicing the piano was agony.   I never realized that practicing could be joyful, filled with love and rewarding (what irony!)  I was falling in love with the piano all over again.

Sophia always believed.  She believed in me and that made me believe in myself.  I specifically remember after a lesson Sophia said, “You can do anything you want in music. You have that ability.  Whatever  path you choose to do, you have it in you.”  I was overwhelmed by her statement but deeply grateful.  It made me start to believe more in myself and what I was capable of.

One of the truly special gifts Sophia gave me was her bi-monthly piano classes.  This class was held at Klavierhaus on 58th St. every other Thursday evening.  Here is where I would hear some of the most incredible music by wonderful pianists, sometimes singers, violinists, violists, saxophonists, guitarist etc.  This class was special.  Never had I been with a group of musicians who were so supportive, loving with no ego or competition in the air.  It was all about the music.  Sophia was always about the music.  I believe it was the way Sophia taught her students and the way she made everyone feel special that made this class so unique.

I am not a writer, I am not eloquent.  That’s ok. I just wanted to let the world know that I have been changed by Sophia Rosoff.  That there are people in this world that have that capacity.

Thank you Sophia for bringing me back to the piano, back to music.  Thank you for believing in me and giving me the love and support to be more courageous and true to myself.  I am sad you are not with me on this earth but I am so happy that you are at peace.  I miss you but you will always be with me.

Korean Food In Park Slope

Korean Food In Park Slope

A few weeks ago, on 7th Ave, I noticed a little sign in a window that looked like a Korean food joint.  It was!  Today I decided to try it out.

Hanki “Everyday Korean” in Park Slope at first looked like an order and go joint.  The opening is small and cramped but very clean.  When I entered, the server said to order up front and that they would serve you the food once ready.  I saw that there was a patio out back and asked to have my food out there.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the back of the restaurant had nice seating inside and a beautiful patio outside.  The patio was quiet except for some A/C’s running but it was shady and serene.

Let me just say that Korean food is awesome (a little subjective here).  It is also incredibly labor intensive.  I admire all those Korean moms (who are we kidding, it was the moms) who busted their chops cooking in the kitchen for everyone to enjoy.  I truly did not appreciate it the way I do now.

The menu was basic and not a huge selection but made sense since it does say “everyday Korean.”  There was enough variety so that anyone could enjoy something there (vegetarians included).  I ordered a lunch special Bulgogi Hanki Set.  It came with a serving of bulgogi, ban chans (side dishes) and multigrain rice (photo above).  It was nicely displayed and everything tasted the way it should.  The food was a little on the sweet side for me but I can’t avoid that in any Korean restaurant except in my mom’s kitchen.  It was still yummy!

I really hope this restaurant stays around.  It’s nice to have a place that isn’t expensive and tastes good AND is relatively close by (no long trips to Manhattan or Queens – that’s for the hard core cravings…)

Now go and eat some Korean food!

 

Composition

Composition

Today I did a photography composition workshop at http://www.wearebkc.com in DUMBO.  We spent a few hours studying composition and then went out to make some photos. It was fun to analyze famous paintings and photographs and what makes them successful, compositionally speaking.  Some of the things to keep in mind when creating a photo are lines, shapes, color contrast, texture and placement (rule of thirds etc) to name a few.  It was bloody hard!

Below are some of my photos from today’s class.  It was such a great time and hard work!  Not quite sure if I achieved my goals but it sure was a lot of fun.

Focus

Focus

Tomorrow I do an all day photography workshop on the “Art of Composition.”  I’m excited to learn more about how to see and create a good photo.  I have already gone to a composition seminar and have been reading a lot about the essentials of photography.  I’m happy to be going into the work shop with a little bit of knowledge so that I’m not completely lost.

I must confess that it’s been hard to manage my time with music, photography, videography, family life and self care.  I love all the creativity but I can get a little OCD about new things and I let the music and everything else fall to the side.  There is a real art to managing one’s time.

I am not good at managing my time.

 

 

 

Create More

Create More

I wanted to shut down and watch Netflix tonight.  Just as I was about to open up good ole Netflix, I remembered a line from a photography blog I’ve been reading http://erickimphotography.com/blog/start-here/ he says, “create more.”  I picked up my staff paper and wrote another line of counterpoint.  It was hard and I wanted to quit but I realize that I always feel better when I do a tiny bit more.  Also, time is really whipping by in a way I have never experienced (A side effect to getting old).  I want to grab every opportunity to create more!

Owls At Night

Owls At Night

 

Over the past year I have created a new trio with violinist Dana Lyn and drummer Vinnie Sperrazza. This is a completely new thing for me because I not only singing but also playing the piano and composing all the music. THIS IS BIG! Not to get into too many details but in a previous post, I talk about not playing piano for almost 15 years (yup). I started to play again about six years ago and I have finally mustered up the courage to play in public! This trio is the result of my courage.

Dan Loomis: Jobs Trials

Dan Loomis: Jobs Trials

Tomorrow night at 8:00pm, I’m performing Dan Loomis’ Jobs Trials at Ibeam in Brooklyn.

This music is based on the bible’s Book of Job. There are great musicians performing alongside with me. A wonderful singer out on the scene from Korea, Songyi Jeon, great guitarist, Jeff Miles, Nathan Ellman-Bell on drums (where did this guy come from? Awesome!), the all inspiring leader,composer and bassist, Dan Loomis and yours truly on voice.
Howard Fishman is our narrator and there will be some beautiful artwork by Sean Gallagher.

This is going to be epic!

Listen Here

Listen Here

You can check out some of my music here:

Track 1: Coming Home is a piece I wrote for my first recording “Soulmates” 2001
Track 2: Not Much Of A Dog is from my third recording
“Imagination:The Music From Joe Raposo” 2008
Track 3: Facsar is an excerpt from a composition by Luciano Berio.
I am improvising while violist Miranda Sielaff plays the composition 2009
Track 4: Happiness Hotel from “Imagination:The Music From Joe Raposo”2008
Track 5: Blackberry Winter – a live concert recording with pianist, Jacob Sacks from Bennington College 2014
Track 6: Sorry is a piece I wrote for this live recording with
Dan Weiss, Jacob Garchik, Dave Ambrosia and Jacob Sacks, “4inObjects” 2006
Track 7: Bein’ Green from “Imagination:The Music From Joe Raposo” 2008

All of these recordings have no overdubs or edits.

Ten Days Till Carnegie Hall

Ten Days Till Carnegie Hall

I still can’t believe that in 10 days I will be on stage at Weill Hall at Carnegie Hall singing. Ok, I have been blessed before and I have sung at Carnegie Hall in 2015 and 2014 but you see, it still blows me away every time I think about it.

I have had my struggles with health especially close to performance time. Last year, it was a miracle that I sang a concert. I was so sick that I could barely talk two days before. Some how I managed to get through it but got laryngitis two days after (but hey, that’s ok! – I did it)

This year, I am having some of the worst allergies and I am mildly freaked out by the possibility of getting laryngitis from the post nasal nastiness that allergies bring on.

So I am praying to all the gods, getting lots of rest and hoping that the voice will dominate rather than the allergy.

Here’s to optimistic wishing!

2016 Fear Less

2016 Fear Less

Here I am writing my first blog entry of 2016. I always hesitate to write anything because I often end up not completing the post or deciding in the end it isn’t worth publishing.

I confess, I am a fearful person. For as long as I can remember, I was always the smallest, and always scared. I guess that’s how I became the loudest. I needed and wanted to be heard. For all my bluster though, I was often terrified.

I think my loudness was to mask the terror I felt inside. My fear affected everything from doubting my abilities as a musician and artist, to not doing well in school, failing in sports and building copious amounts of social anxiety during my teenage years (and parts of my adult years too). Fear can stop you from living big parts of your life.

Fear doesn’t completely prevent me from performing and making music (thank goodness!) but it does dominate aspects of my career. To give you an example, it takes me forever to compose works. I am so terrified that the pieces I write will be so awful that I would never perform them in public. So why bother writing them? That’s a terrible way to live.

Ironically, I constantly preach to my voice and piano students to let go of their fear in order to be free to improvise without inhibition and to produce a beautiful relaxed sound and be creative.

As 2016 was approaching, I decided that this year, I would be fearless. Realistically I just want to fear less. I don’t want my fear to overcome my desire to do something that will enrich my life. Writing a blog post is a good example of something I’d like to be able to do without fear driving me to the brink of giving up.

My first “fear-less” act of 2016 is posting my very first video on Youtube. I am improvising on the piano. This is huge for me. I was on a 15 year hiatus from the piano. Just over 4 years ago I started studying and practicing the piano seriously again. I have finally come to terms with my classical training and my jazz improvising. I am now starting to find a balance with both. I love playing the piano. I love improvising. I realize that I don’t need to play in either a so called jazz or classical style. I just want to play music. I want to spontaneously create. I want to express myself in the most honest way that I can. I feel like now after so many years, I have found my voice

As this particular blog entry has taken almost one week to write, I have posted another video of myself improvising on toy piano. Over this year, I plan to post a video every week. I will do lots of improvising on the piano and voice. I will be doing some interviews with some incredible artists and I will sing a lot.

I hope that you will follow me on my journey to “fear-less” this year. I don’t know what I will discover about myself but I am genuinely excited to find out.

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