Pianist Linda Holzer is a Chicago native and has performed in 30 states, as well as abroad in Europe, Australia, and Asia. In her twenties, prior to her appointment at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, she served as an artist-in-residence for four seasons, performing under the auspices of the North Carolina Visiting Artist Program, with artistic outreach to diverse audiences, from concert halls to community centers, school auditoriums, correctional facilities, and libraries.
Dr. Holzer, professor of music, joined the faculty at UA Little Rock in August of 1995, as the coordinator for classical piano studies. She was profiled on “The Piano Education Page” as an Artist/Educator in 1997. As a Doctor of Music in Piano Performance, Dr. Holzer’s credits include appearances at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, New York Public Radio Station WNYC-FM, Noon Time Concerts at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in San Francisco, and with several orchestras, under conductors such as Gerhardt Zimmermann, and Patricio Cobos.
She has a passion for connecting with listeners, and putting them at ease, whether the music is famous masterpieces, or unfamiliar gems. An advocate for contemporary music, she has premiered works by living composers including Gwyneth Walker, William Bolcom, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, John Steinmetz, and Ladislav Kubik. Works by pioneering African-American composers Florence Price and William Grant Still are also highlighted in her repertoire.
Her research interests include injury-preventive piano technique; piano music of the 20th and 21st Centuries, esp. American composers and women composers; career guidance for music majors; and concert performance technology.
Dr. Linda Holzer in Slovenia at the Maribor Conservatory of Music and Ballet
Dr. Holzer gave a concert called “Masterpieces by American Women Composers,” which included music by Florence Price.
This was taken after the concert, when she invited the audience onstage to come see how she uses iPad performance technology.
[0:00:08.6] J: All right, welcome to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. Stay tuned until the end of the show to hear how you can get a copy of this program and other helpful documents.
Now, it's time for Kerry McCoy to get all up in your business.
[0:00:26.5] KM: Thank you, Jesse. Like Jesse said, I’m Kerry McCoy and it’s time for me to get up in your business. If right now you’re sitting at your computer, you might want to watch us live on Facebook, or do you want to watch us live on Facebook? Not currently, because we can’t figure it out. Liz, where are you?
In a minute, we will be live on flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page and it’s really fun to see what goes on behind the scenes. We started using this new equipment called a sling. For all you people out there that want to do Facebook Live, that is a tip that I am giving you for free. It’s awesome, but you got to know how to use it.
We had Roger Robinson, a guest of the show here last week. If you got to watch it in flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page last week, it was absolutely fabulous. This show Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy began with entrepreneurs in mind. A platform for me a small business owner and a guest to pay forward our experiential knowledge in a conversational way.
As with all news endeavors, it's had some unexpected outcomes; for instance, this show began with entrepreneurs and want to be entrepreneurs in mind, but we found it has a much wider appeal because after all, who isn't inspired by everyday people's American-made stories? Another discovery I find interesting is that many of my guests have a spiritual bent and the heart of a teacher. Boy mine does today. She's really got a heart of a teacher. Last, that business in of itself is creative and she's also creative. My guest today is Professor Dr. Linda Holzer from UA Little Rock. They've changed UALR everybody to you UA Little Rock in case you – I know, I know. It's hard for me to get used to. She is a real live teacher, a professor at a college UA Little Rock. A creative teacher of music and more specifically, piano music. We are going to talk about her, about her business of music, about the business of music and her business of music, about live performance and get a little history lesson on 20th and 21st century American composers with an exacting eye on a very special lady born 1887 in Little Rock, Arkansas, composer Florence Price.
If you're just tuning in for the first time, you may be asking yourself what's this lady's story and why should I listen? Well, Jesse is here to tell you?
[0:02:49.1] J: Over 40 years ago with only $400, Kerry McCoy founded Arkansas Flag and Banner. During the last four decades, the business has grown and changed dramatically from door-to-door sales, to telemarketing, to mail order and catalog sales and now Flag and Banner relies heavily on the internet, including the newest feature, live chatting.
With time and experience, Kerry’s business and leadership knowledge grew, as well as the confidence to branch out in the multimedia marketing that began with the nonprofit, Dreamland Ballroom, as well as the in-house publication of Brave magazine, and now this very radio show. It was in the fall of 2016 when Kerry found herself mentoring yet another ambitious person and decided in a broader way to pay forward, not only their life experiences, but others too.
Each week on this show, you'll hear candid conversations between her and our guests about real-world experiences on a variety of businesses and topics that we hope you'll find interesting and inspiring. If you would like to ask Kerry a question, or share your story, you can e-mail email@example.com
[0:04:01.7] KM: Thank you, Jesse. My guest today, like I said is author, teacher and pianist Professor Linda Holzer. Dr. Holzer was born in Chicago. She was schooled in music at Northwestern Florida State and received her doctor of music from Chapel Hill. In 1995, she made the decision to move and join the faculty of UA Larocque. I think it was probably – wasn't called LRU back then, was it?
[0:04:25.2] LH: No.
[0:04:26.1] KM: It was UALR?
[0:04:27.2] LH: It was. Yes.
[0:04:28.3] KM: Along with writing and teaching, she is a busy soloist having performed at John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, New York Public Radio, St. Patrick's Cathedral in San Francisco and abroad in Europe, Asia and Australia. Dr. Holzer’s accolades are too many to list, but I especially like these two. In 2001, she was voted college teacher of the year from the Arkansas State Music Teachers Association and in April 2017, Professor Linda Holzer received the faculty Excellence Award in teaching for the College of Arts, Letters and Sciences at UA Little Rock.
Dr. Holzer's music research, she has five main areas of interests and in-depth knowledge. They are piano music of the 20th and 21st century, American women composers. Today we're going to dig into the life of Florence Price, born in 1887 in Little Rock, Arkansas who became the first female composer in history and interestingly she was African-American. That's not just one, but two social barriers of her time.
Linda will also talk about injury preventive piano techniques; very important, concert performance, technology, piano playing is very technical, and mathematical I hear, and listen up, career guidance for music majors. Dr. Holzer is the author of articles published in American Music Teacher; let me see if I can get all these right, Piano & Keyboard, Clavier, Piano Pedagogy Forum and College Music Symposium. Did I say it all right?
[0:06:11.9] LH: You did. Thank you.
[0:06:13.1] KM: I practiced. It is a pleasure – Oh, and she's the founding member of duo Mariposa, the Arkansas symphony violinist – with the Arkansas symphony violinist, Sandra McDonald. We’ll found out more about this duet today and hear if they're still performing. It is a pleasure to welcome to the table the talented musician and teacher, Dr. Linda Howzer.
[0:06:35.4] LH: Thank you so much for having me, Kerry. It's a thrill to be here.
[0:06:38.7] KM: It is a thrill to be here, because it is hectic in this room today more so than ever before. Jesse, did you know your mic is on and we can listen to you? We are hectic in here.
[0:06:52.0] LH: But how exciting. Never boring, right?
[0:06:55.2] KM: I love live reality radio. It is so good. You're a world traveler. I've been trying to get you on for a couple of months actually and you've been in Europe.
[0:07:05.2] LH: It’s been hectic. Yes.
[0:07:06.4] KM: You’ve been in Europe?
[0:07:07.1] LH: I have. I had the opportunity to travel to Austria and Slovenia. On May 17th, I gave a concert Masterpieces by American Women Composers at America House in Vienna. It was really a thrill to be able to share music by composers that people there had not heard before, but music is the universal language. When they heard the music, they were moved and the program went over very well.
[0:07:37.2] KM: Who'd you say is music it was?
[0:07:39.8] LH: Florence Price had the largest part to play on this program.
[0:07:43.8] KM: You're in love with her.
[0:07:45.9] LH: Well, she was my dissertation topic, you know.
[0:07:48.1] KM: I couldn't remember what you said.
[0:07:49.9] LH: Yeah. When you write a dissertation on a composer, you spend a lot of time really absorbing details about their life and their work. It helps if it's someone you respect. Her music really is so meaningful to listeners, not just because of the beauty of the melody and the harmonies, but also because of her story and the difficulties she overcame.
[0:08:19.8] KM: It's her difficulties that probably made her who she is. She wouldn't have probably those fabulous –
[0:08:25.7] LH: The intensity, yeah.
[0:08:27.0] KM: Yeah. You can't say it, if you didn't have that one, you wouldn't have the other possibly.
[0:08:31.2] LH: Very possibly.
[0:08:31.6] KM: It takes the whole – it takes your whole life to form who you are.
[0:08:35.6] LH: No question.
[0:08:36.3] KM: When did you first know that you had a talent for music and more specifically, the piano?
[0:08:41.2] LH: Well, it's interesting. My earliest musical memories growing up in Chicago are of my mom singing along to Broadway musicals records that she would play on the stereo to do housework to. It was background music for running the house.
[0:08:59.9] KM: It was Broadway theater.
[0:09:01.0] LH: Broadway theater. I would sing along with her. I learned all the lyrics to the great shows; Oklahoma, everything, we had everything. When I was old enough, she would buy tickets for us to go downtown to Airy Crown Theater, or the Shubert Theater and see live productions. When I was little, it was just listening to recordings. Then dad, like most of the boys in his neighborhood in Chicago growing up, he got accordion lessons. When I was little, he would sometimes take the accordion out of its case and play. You know how little kids are often afraid of the vacuum cleaner.
[0:09:44.0] KM: Yeah. You were afraid of the accordion?
[0:09:44.9] LH: Well for me, I was afraid of the accordion. I didn't sing along. I cried. Dad was a good sport about it.
[0:09:51.1] KM: That is so funny. I was fascinated by accordions when I was a kid and they’re little pianos.
[0:09:56.7] LH: Yeah. Well and piano came into my life, because my Aunt Jessica bought an upright for her house. We went over to visit, I think it was a Christmas open house and Aunt Jessica talked to mom about how yeah, she had signed some of her kids up for lessons. Mom was very impressed with this and asked me, “Would you like to take lessons?” I'm the oldest of four siblings, so I got to be the first. I loved it. My piano teacher was the choir director and organist at our church at St. Paul Lutheran in Chicago and I studied with her for seven years. I just loved the sounds of music, being able to play myself. I was about seven-years-old when I started.
[0:10:44.3] KM: No one had to make you practice.
[0:10:46.2] LH: No. I was really drawn to it.
[0:10:48.7] KM: If you're making your kids practice, you might as well just give it up, right?
[0:10:51.1] LH: Oh, no, no. I think structure sometimes has to be brought to bear from parents. My siblings also took lessons and they were, shall we say firmly encouraged to practice.
[0:11:03.7] KM: They didn’t?
[0:11:04.9] LH: No, they did that. There was no choice not to.
[0:11:08.0] KM: They didn't grow up to be a music major.
[0:11:09.6] LH: They didn't, but they took lessons for several years and they still benefited.
[0:11:14.0] KM: That's right. You can benefit from just learning how to read music a little bit. I wish I could. I mean, everybody can learn a little bit.
[0:11:20.9] LH: It's not too late. Did you know if you wanted to take lessons –
[0:11:25.8] KM: You’d teach me?
[0:11:27.7] LH: Well, there's a program at UA Little Rock, the third age piano. Third age –
[0:11:33.2] KM: That’s me.
[0:11:34.0] LH: Yeah. There are beginners of all ages. I'm just saying, don't sell yourself short.
[0:11:39.7] KM: I don't think I could – that’s like learning another language. I think there's a place and moment in time in your life when you can do that. Unless, you're innately adept at it, which some people are obviously you are. Let me see your hands. Hold up your hands. Well they're not exceptionally big for a piano player. Sometimes piano players have these really long stretches between their little finger and their thumb?
[0:12:03.0] LH: It's big enough. I can reach a 10th.
[0:12:05.9] KM: Did your parents, when you said I'm going to go into music in college, did they say that's a waste of our money?
[0:12:11.3] LH: They wanted me to demonstrate that I understood that I'd have to support myself with this. I was about 14-years-old by the time I made that determination that I wanted to go into this professionally.
[0:12:25.6] KM: That young 14-years-old.
[0:12:28.4] LH: By that point, I was practicing hours every day and learning advanced pieces, but I also started to go after musical employment, accompanying gigs that sort of thing to prove –
[0:12:40.8] KM: Did you get them?
[0:12:41.4] LH: Yeah. Sure.
[0:12:42.0] KM: At 14?
[0:12:43.0] LH: Yeah.
[0:12:44.0] KM: Where? Church, I guess.
[0:12:45.3] LH: Church.
[0:12:45.7] KM: Weddings.
[0:12:46.4] LH: At school.
[0:12:47.0] KM: Weddings?
[0:12:48.0] LH: No, because I couldn't drive anywhere. I didn't do wedding gigs at that age.
[0:12:53.0] KM: I love a church that promotes children in music.
[0:12:58.2] LH: Absolutely. That's a very common way for people who go on in piano to get used to being able to do it on the spur of the moment, because well for example, my piano teacher would have me accompany hymns in Sunday school. I wouldn't know what the requests were going to be and I'd have to sight-read.
[0:13:21.8] KM: Oh. Let's take a break right now. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation with you UA Little Rock’s music professor Dr. Linda Holzer, who will tell us about the business of music and the life of a classical musician. We will talk about piano techniques for avoiding injury and the history of American women composers, more specifically Arkansas native Florence Price. Stay tuned, more to come.
[0:13:44.0] J: You're listening up in your business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. If you missed any part of this show, or want to learn more about UIYB, go to flagandbanner.com and click on the radio show, or subscribe through your favorite podcast application. We'll be right back.
[0:14:31.8] KM: You’re listening to Up In your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with author, pianist and UA Little Rock’s music professor Dr. Linda Holzer. That was you on the piano, did you notice?
[0:14:40.4] LH: I did. Thank you for including that clip. Go Florence.
[0:14:44.5] KM: That was Florence Price.
[0:14:45.5] LH: Yes, it was her piano sonata in E minor, an award-winning work.
[0:14:50.5] KM: That's the one she did for the Chicago, in the Chicago symphony?
[0:14:53.5] LH: She won the Wanamaker award for that. She also won in a different category for her Symphony No. 1 in Chicago and the Chicago Symphony performed that. That is how she made history, becoming the first black woman composer to have a major work performed by a major symphony orchestra.
[0:15:12.7] KM: She was the first woman composer too, wasn't she? No? Just black composer?
[0:15:18.4] LH: Yeah, the first black woman composer.
[0:15:19.5] KM: I thought she was the first woman composer too on top of all of that. No, okay. Before the break, we talked about going into music and practicing and getting good and then taking music on as a career, if you wanted to go to college and do it, and you did. You got a masters and then you went on to get a doctor's. Do you think it's important for people to do that?
[0:15:40.9] LH: It really depends on what you want to do in your career. It's not necessary for everyone to go on to graduate school, but in the field I am in in college teaching –
[0:15:51.2] KM: Which is classical?
[0:15:52.7] LH: - and classical, it’s common.
[0:15:54.4] KM: It’s very common in classical music. Now you're a musician with credentials, what do you do next when you get out of school?
[0:16:00.2] LH: Well, a successful career in music usually involves the ability to wear many hats. I know you can relate to that. People with an entrepreneurial spirit, or self-starters often thrive in the music business. You'll have more in common with a small business owner as a professional musician than you would with say a corporate employee. This is true for whatever style of music you make; classical, rock, jazz, bluegrass, country, western, being somebody with a big bag of skills really helps hugely.
[0:16:35.8] KM: Every musician is an entrepreneur.
[0:16:37.7] LH: Yes.
[0:16:38.0] KM: You have to sell yourself.
[0:16:39.1] LH: Yes, you do.
[0:16:39.9] KM: All the time.
[0:16:40.6] LH: You also have to know how to do more than just play your pieces. You have to have an understanding of business techniques, you have to understand marketing, you have to understand a little bit about maybe a lot about audio technology. You really have to learn –
[0:16:59.9] KM: A lot of stuff. Like you said, wear a lot of different hats. How did you come to live in Little Rock? You've graduated, you actually worked in North Carolina, I think.
[0:17:07.9] LH: I did. After I finished my bachelor's degree at Northwestern, I moved to Chapel Hill, North Carolina and I earned my master's degree there. When I finished, I auditioned for –
[0:17:20.2] KM: Your doctorate degree there, didn't you?
[0:17:21.6] LH: No, that was the masters. I auditioned to join the artist roster for the North Carolina visiting artist program. I was so fortunate that I got on the roster and then landed a position at Wake Technical Community College. That was my first visiting artist residency. After that, I served a two-year residency at Catawba Valley Community College in the western part of the state and it was such a fabulous learning experience.
[0:17:49.6] KM: Why would you ever want to leave that and come to Little Rock?
[0:17:51.6] LH: Well, because there was a four-year limit on participation in that program.
[0:17:55.8] KM: It’s like being a politician. You got a 4-year limit, but you don't get to run again.
[0:17:59.6] LH: No, you don't. After I finished in the North Carolina visiting artist program, I moved to Tallahassee, Florida and that's where I did my doctorate. When I finished that, like many grad students with a newly minted doctorate, I started sending out my resume applying where there were vacancies. I was so fortunate that UA Little Rock had an opening in piano that year and they hired me.
[0:18:27.3] KM: You thought, Little Rock, Arkansas. Why am I going to Little Rock, Arkansas?
[0:18:30.1] LH: I had not imagined that I would, but how cool that I intersected Florence Price’s life that way. When I started the dissertation, I sure didn't know that I would be moving to Arkansas one day.
[0:18:41.7] KM: You were already attracted to her, because your dissertation was on her in school. Oh, that does seem like a providence or something.
[0:18:48.7] LH: Isn’t that wild? Yeah.
[0:18:50.4] KM: Yeah, that does seem odd.
[0:18:51.9] LH: Because I was born in Chicago and I moved to Arkansas. She was born in Arkansas and she moved to Chicago.
[0:18:58.1] KM: I noticed that when I was putting together this show.
[0:19:00.2] LH: It was meant to be.
[0:19:01.7] KM: Yeah. I thought you had a lot in common, you two. You teach piano performance, piano – I can't say this word –
[0:19:11.0] LH: Pedagogy.
[0:19:11.8] KM: Thank you. Creativity, or aural skills.
[0:19:19.3] LH: Mm-hmm. Ear training and sight singing. Yes.
[0:19:21.5] KM: Oh, music fundamentals online. How can you teach anything that has doing music online?
[0:19:27.6] LH: Oh, well you have to have the right resources. I have a fabulous e-textbook called M Fun, that enables me to teach that course very well online.
[0:19:38.9] KM: Which courses do you like the best? Of all the courses –
[0:19:41.2] LH: Oh, gosh. I couldn’t –
[0:19:42.0] KM: I only named four out of seven right courses you did.
[0:19:45.9] LH: I really enjoy them all. They allow me –
[0:19:48.7] KM: She just thinks her boss is listening. She’s just saying that.
[0:19:51.7] LH: No, that’s true. I'm the person who would be frustrated if I could only do one thing. I like having a variety of kinds of teaching, because it means I meet a variety of kinds of students. I don't only work with music majors. I also for example, in that course strategies for innovation, that is for undergrads and grad students of all majors. I love teaching that, because these are people I wouldn't meet otherwise if it weren't for that course.
[0:20:27.0] KM: Yeah. Right. Then you get to watch what they do and how they grow up and I think that's exciting to see.
[0:20:32.1] LH: We had development. That's what teaching is all about, development.
[0:20:35.6] KM: Every successful person has this little heart of a teacher. You are an actual teacher, but we all like to see that we train somebody and they grew up and did good.
[0:20:42.7] LH: Absolutely. It's like you said, pay it forward.
[0:20:45.0] KM: Pay it forward. You've written articles about piano technique and avoiding injuries. Is that something you can describe on the radio, or do you have –
[0:20:52.4] LH: Yes, I can. Absolutely. I am passionate about it. Everyone out there very likely is at a keyboard. Maybe it's not a musical keyboard, maybe it's a computer keyboard, but the healthy injury preventive approaches are the same principles. Everyone listening out there, next time you're seated at your computer, what I want you to do to make this piano teacher happy –
[0:21:18.2] KM: Look, Jesse’s doing it too.
[0:21:19.9] LH: - is sit up straight at your computer and make sure that your seat is at a height so that your arms are parallel to the floor.
[0:21:28.3] KM: Your arms. Oh, when you bend them.
[0:21:31.5] LH: Yeah, your forms are parallel to the floor. Yes.
[0:21:34.3] KM: Well, we're doing good today.
[0:21:35.7] LH: Yeah. The reason for this is your forearms have two muscle sets, at least; flexors and extensors. When you are seated at the right height and your arms are parallel to the floor when you rest your fingertips on the keyboard, that means those muscles are in a neutral position, neither contracted and –
[0:21:58.5] KM: Or flexed.
[0:21:59.4] LH: - that's relaxed and it makes it very easy to type for a long time in that position. Whereas, if you're reaching up, one set of muscles is contracted. If you're reaching down, another set is contracted and it will cause you great discomfort.
[0:22:17.5] KM: Carpal tunnel?
[0:22:18.8] LH: It could. Tendonitis.
[0:22:20.0] KM: Do pianists carpal tunnel? Is that what it's called?
[0:22:22.4] LH: Not if you practice injury preventive technique. Then the other thing is hold your head up. Let your head rest on your skeletal structure, which won't ever get tired. Don't hunch over. If you find that your neck and your upper back are sore, the first thing you should check is your posture, whether you're at the piano, or whether you're at your desk, or frankly whether you're walking around staring at your phone. In fact, it takes a lot of self-control on my part not to go up to people and tap them on the shoulder and say, “Hey, stand up straight. You're going to hurt your neck.”
[0:23:01.0] KM: I feel that way at the gym when I'm working out and I see someone doing lifting some weights. I go, “Oh, she's going to hurt her knee. She’s going to hurt her back.” I just have to make myself not go over there and tell them.
[0:23:10.0] LH: Because it could scare people. Well, if you're listening this is something to check out, watch your posture.
[0:23:17.3] KM: Watch your posture. Make sure your arms are parallel to the floor. Career guidance for music majors is another thing you're passionate about. It’s one of the things you've got a lot of knowledge about.
[0:23:29.2] LH: Well, it's something that I feel tremendously strongly about. What I would like to do is share a little story from the concert pianist Jon Nakamatsu.
[0:23:43.8] KM: Did you find it? She’s got her notes. She's such a teacher.
[0:23:47.2] LH: I will. Yes. Here we go.
[0:23:50.4] KM: There you go.
[0:23:53.1] LH: Well, Jon Nakamatsu won the Clyburn Piano Competition in 1997. He won the gold medal. He was asked to give a speech years after that to the participants in a piano amateur competition. Here's the thing, he congratulated all the competitors and he told them, “I and the other judges, we were so impressed with your playing. None of you made us feel indifferent. All of you performed in a way that made us have a big reaction. Maybe we didn't love what you did, but none of you played in a way that turned us off or bored us.”
[0:24:38.8] KM: We appreciate all of it.
[0:24:40.3] LH: Yes. What happened was as he was talking with the people who didn't win, who didn't make it to the finals, he realized, “Wow, they're feeling so frustrated. They're feeling upset. I want to help them rise above that.” He sensed that when he gave them tips on how they could have improved their performance, that they were thinking to themselves, “Oh, sure. That's easy for you to say. You're the judge and you won a gold medal.”
He said that he wanted to say to them, “No, I'm so much more than that.” Then he proceeded, “My name is Jon Nakamatsu and I am a loser.” He went on to list all the things that he had failed at competitions where he had not made it past the first round. He gave years, name of the competition and he intoned loser after each one. The audience laughed in surprise, but his point was, “Hey, don't imagine that just because I won the gold medal in the ’97 piano competition, don't think that I've won top prize every time. That's not how this works. Anyone who has entered music competitions knows very well, you don't win everything you enter. Sometimes, you don't even make it from the preliminaries to the semi-finals, let alone the finals.”
That's such an important lesson to embrace. Creative success, entrepreneurial success really depends on your willingness to come up with ideas, experiment, fail, learn from your mistakes and try again and again and again. Persistence, tenacity and a good sense of humor. You've got to be willing to laugh at yourself, pick yourself up and keep going. That's tremendously important and that's really the best advice I could give to any aspiring musician, again no matter what style they play, that comes into it.
[0:26:48.1] KM: Anything you do solo, you do by yourself, whether you're an athlete. I think about that those guys that dropped the ball in the baseball two nights ago that we could have won on the second game. Anytime you are a successful person playing alone, you set yourself up for failure and disappointment, and you have to get thick-skinned about it.
[0:27:15.1] LH: Yes, absolutely.
[0:27:16.5] KM: Keep coming back, because you're not going to – you learn from everyone and some of the most successful people on this show have said that their failures were their biggest – were their most – their largest learning turning points in learning in their career and in their lives.
[0:27:32.2] LH: Oh, no question.
[0:27:33.0] KM: I think that’s what you’re saying is don't expect to win everything, but don't quit trying because you didn't win one.
[0:27:37.6] LH: That's right. Well, a performance career does involve a certain amount of emotional vulnerability. People speak about paying your dues and developing a thick skin and to become a performer you've got to log a lot of time playing, and you're not going to – it's like in basketball, did Michael Jordan make every three-point shot he went for? Of course not, but his percentage was higher than a lot of people's. You have to be willing to put yourself out there and keep trying, because that's how you hone your craft.
[0:28:12.2] KM: Tom Brady wasn't even picked, I think in the first, second, or third round. Did Tom Brady on you all or something like that? I mean, his dad's the one that got him. These people in here don't watch sports. Tom Brady's got one of those type of stories where he just kept trying and kept trying and kept trying. Nobody really saw his talent, but he just kept trying. Let's talk about performance technology.
[0:28:39.6] LH: Yes. I really enjoy convenience. I like resources that make my life easier and help me perform better. Something I began using in summer of 2012 is iPad performance technology.
[0:28:57.0] KM: What? Oh, I know exactly what you're talking about. Go ahead, tell everybody.
[0:29:01.6] LH: Yeah. The iPad app for score. I upload my scores to that app and then I read the scores from my iPad.
[0:29:12.2] LH: It’s instead your sheet music. Instead of having someone standing there turning your music, your iPad is sitting there. How does it know? I was watching a guy last week play the piano with iPad for his sheet music and it turned the page on its own. How did it know that?
[0:29:25.8] LH: It didn't know. For myself, I use a device called an air turn and it's a pedal and it syncs Bluetooth with the iPad and I just set it on the floor and most people in the audience don't even notice it's there. They imagined that yeah, the iPad and I have this telepathy.
[0:29:44.3] KM: That’s what I couldn’t figure out.
[0:29:45.8] LH: No. It's just I'm tapping with my left foot when I want the page to turn.
[0:29:50.3] KM: It's the coolest – Uh-oh, my mic’s gone. There we go. Hello. It's really, really cool.
[0:29:55.8] LH: It's so convenient. It’s –
[0:29:59.0] KM: You don't have that person up there turning the pages, which can be distracting to the audience, because sometimes I just end up watching that guy turning the page.
[0:30:05.8] LH: Well, but the other thing is as the performer, it means that I'm always able to turn the pages for myself even when I'm practicing. I never have to leave notes out. Performing and practicing feel the same.
[0:30:18.9] KM: There's muscle memory with –
[0:30:20.5] LH: There is.
[0:30:21.2] KM: - everything you do, when you have to stop and turn a page, that memory – your muscle has this weird muscle memory about that.
[0:30:27.5] LH: Yeah. It's just not ideal.
[0:30:31.5] KM: My kids did piano, I didn't. I remember my kids would stop when they made a mistake. Then they’d start over. Then they'd make the same mistake in the same place and they'd stop and then they'd start over. They were actually training themselves to make that mistake in the same place over and over, instead of just stopping and playing through it all the way is what someone told me. Is that true?
[0:30:50.0] LH: Well, it really depends on what the mistake is, but what we recommend in piano teaching is if there's a spot that's giving you trouble, isolate it, work it out. Ask yourself, “Okay now, which hand is the error in? Is it the right hand? Okay, then I'm just going to practice the right hand. How long is the trouble spot? Is it four bars? Okay, I'm just going to practice the right hand for four bars. Then I'll practice the left hand.” Stop and identify what the error was. Was it a fingering error? Was it a pitch error?
The more specific you get, the better use you can make of your practice time. If you just stop and tell yourself, “Oh, crap. I messed up and start over, that's the lucky rabbit's foot approach. You're hoping it's going to go better at the second pass, but it's not necessarily.”
[0:31:48.4] KM: Take that hard spot and do it really slow and get the muscle memory going and get the muscle memory going and speed it up speed it up. That's what I told my kids to do. What do you think?
[0:31:56.2] LH: Identify the mistake. Yeah. All of those are good techniques.
[0:31:58.8] KM: Work through it really slowly. Instead of just going really fast up to it and then messing up. All right, let's move on to the next one. I want to talk about piano music for the 20th and 21st centuries, because that’s your strength. You know everything about that, but I really want to talk about American composers and women composers. When we come back, I want to talk about Florence Beatrice Price.
This is a great place to take a break and we'll continue our conversation with UA Little Rock’s music professor, Dr. Linda Holzer. She is going to tell us the back history on this interesting woman, Florence Beatrice Price, first black woman classical composer, born in 1887, 15 years after the Emancipation Proclamation in Little Rock Arkansas. I can't wait. I want to remind you, we're broadcasting live every Friday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. on KABF 88.3 FM, the voice of the people and flagandbanner.com’s Facebook page. Stay tuned. We'll be right back.
[0:32:54.6] J: You're listening Up In your Business with Kerry McCoy. If you miss any part of this show, or want to learn more about UIYB, go to flagandbanner.com and click on the radio show, or subscribe to your favorite podcast application. We'll be right back.
[0:33:12.8] AM: Arkansas Flag and Banner is proud to underwrite Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy. McCoy began this broadcast with the intention of offering a mentoring platform for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. Through candid conversations and interesting interviews with business and community-minded Arkansans, listeners gained insight into starting and running a business, the ups and downs of risk-taking and the commonalities of successful people.
Kerry McCoy, Founder and President of Arkansas Flag and Banner believes in paying knowledge and experience forward and developed this radio show as a means of doing so. The biographies, life experiences and wisdom of her guests would likely go unheard if not for this venue.
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[0:34:32.0] KM: You’re listening to Up In your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with author, pianist and UALR music professor, Dr. Linda Holzer. If you've got questions that you would like to ask me, you may send an e-mail to –
[0:34:44.7] J: Questions@upyourbusiness.org. That is Q-U-E-S-T-I-O-N-S, firstname.lastname@example.org.
[0:34:52.7] KM: Or you can tweet me @AskKerryMcCoy. Before the break, we talked about all the things about teaching. We talked about how you become a music teacher in the first section, then we talked about all the techniques and how to sit up straight at your computer, at your piano, how to keep your arms level, how to keep your head straight, we talked about muscle memory and practice. Now we're going to talk about something that you did your dissertation on that I absolutely love, which is actually how I met you, because you were talking about –
[0:35:26.4] LH: Yes, that’s right.
[0:35:28.0] KM: I don’t know if you remember how you met me, but I met you because you were giving a presentation about Florence Price.
[0:35:34.7] LH: Yes.
[0:35:36.3] KM: Let's talk about the native Florence Price, born Florence Smith and how you came to discover her to even do a dissertation on her.
[0:35:44.6] LH: Yes. Well, that is an interesting story. When I decided to go on for a doctorate after finishing my last season in the North Carolina visiting artist program, I knew I would need a dissertation topic. I started researching that during my last year in the visiting artist program. You want to find a topic that hasn't already been researched extensively, because you're looking for something where you're going to be contributing research in the field, but it can't be something that has absolutely no information on it, or you have no materials to go on. One day, I was flipping through a catalog in North Carolina. It was called the Ladyslipper Music Catalog.
[0:36:30.1] KM: Ladyslipper Music Catalog. Never heard of it.
[0:36:33.0] LH: Yeah. In the back, it was a little paper thing, that's we used paper in those days. It wasn't electronic. In the back, it had a small classical section. In there, there was a cassette of piano music by Florence Price that had been recorded by Althea Waits and I thought, “Hmm.” I bought a copy and I listened to Price’s music and I thought, “This is what I want to research. This composer sounds really fabulous.” That's how she got on my radar. Then I discovered a short article about her in the American Grove Dictionary of Music and just went from there.
[0:37:17.4] KM: What year was this?
[0:37:19.2] LH: This would have been 1991, 92.
[0:37:24.8] KM: When was all of her new materials discovered in her old house? We'll get to that to the listeners, but just when was that?
[0:37:29.9] LH: That was in 2009.
[0:37:32.2] KM: It was way before anybody really thought very much about her. She had fallen off the radar, because she died in her – she died in 1953. Music changed to rock and everything changed and she fell out of the limelight. People weren't really –
[0:37:49.6] LH: Yeah, that's right. Well, and as African-American woman composer, she had a hard time even when she was alive landing performances. She always managed to get some, but not to the extent that composers like Gershwin and Copeland and Bernstein were getting.
[0:38:11.1] KM: Well, they’re the exception.
[0:38:13.1] LH: Well, and when she died, she had lost her most determined advocate, herself. She had a lot of trouble getting her concert works published in her lifetime. I felt so fortunate that her daughters had thought to bequeath what they knew of her papers to Mullins Library Special Collections in Fayetteville and that is where I got a manuscript.
[0:38:38.9] KM: In Fayetteville, Arkansas?
[0:38:40.0] LH: Yeah.
[0:38:40.8] KM: Where you ended up coming to Little Rock and working for the same – okay, that's just too – working for the same –
[0:38:45.5] LH: Yeah, the same system. Yeah.
[0:38:48.2] KM: They didn't put it in Chicago. They put it in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
[0:38:52.5] LH: Yes, they did. Price died in ’53 and her daughters bequeathed the papers they had in 1974. I was able to get a photocopy of the manuscript, the handwritten manuscript for her piano sonata and that was part of what I studied for my dissertation.
[0:39:15.2] KM: What did you do? You took the manuscript and you sat down, you played it and then you wrote all about what it was you liked about it, what it was – you analyzed it today?
[0:39:23.7] LH: I did an analysis of it. I put it in context and I tried to make it clear to readers why this was a worthy work, why other pianists should want to perform it, how Price should be placed in the Canon of American composers.
[0:39:41.6] KM: Did you talk about her culture and her religious background when you were making your argument for her? I mean, she –
[0:39:49.0] LH: Yes.
[0:39:49.2] KM: - did things like Three Little Negroes Dance, Songs of the Dark Virgin, My Soul's Been Anchored in the Lord. All these things have all this culture behind her about her African-American heritage and Christianity. You sold that to the school when you were trying to – is there any other composers that have done that?
[0:40:12.8] LH: She was pioneering. What happened is she earned her bachelor's degree at the New England Conservatory. This was not long after the European composer Antonin Dvorak had visited there. Dvorak had been invited to come by a philanthropist who wanted to give a big boost to American music. She asked Dvorak to please address the topic of how can we really successfully create American music that is listened to around the world? Dvorak said, “You have this beautiful heritage of the Negro spiritual. I've heard it on my travels here. This should be one of the wellsprings that American composers draw from.”
Black composers like Florence Price and William Grant Still and William Dawson and Nathaniel Dett, they all took that to heart and they were tremendously grateful to Dvorak for validating their heritage.
[0:41:22.8] KM: Let's talk about, because we're running out of time. God man, I could talk to you for a long time. Her father was born a free man, he was a dentist in Little Rock Arkansas, actually hailing, doing business somewhere down around my business, Arkansas Flag and Banner on 9th Street.
[0:41:36.1] LH: Yes, probably.
[0:41:39.0] KM: Her mother was a musician. She did her first piano – Florence Price did her first piano performance at the age of four.
[0:41:47.1] LH: Yes. She was a prodigy. I would say, Florence Price was born with music in her heart. From the youngest age until her untimely death, she just kept looking for opportunities to share it. She was a tremendous entrepreneur.
[0:42:07.1] KM: Yeah, she’d sell herself all the time.
[0:42:08.7] LH: Oh, she sure did. After she earned her bachelor's degree, she didn't stop learning there. She worked as a teacher.
[0:42:18.0] KM: Yeah. She was a teacher too.
[0:42:20.4] LH: Then married and had children. Then after that, she looked for opportunities for more musical education.
[0:42:26.7] KM: She was divorced.
[0:42:27.5] LH: She travel early. Eventually she divorced. Yeah.
[0:42:30.7] KM: Not very many people got divorced back then.
[0:42:32.6] LH: No, that's true.
[0:42:33.8] KM: She was a pioneer in doing that. Then she had her two daughters that she had. She was a single parent.
[0:42:38.6] LH: Yes, she was.
[0:42:39.3] KM: In the early 1900s. That's a big deal.
[0:42:42.0] LH: Yeah, she had to work tremendously hard. The fact that she was still so prolific, that she wrote these large-scale works, several symphonies, a piano sonata, some really substantial chamber music pieces, despite not having the same kinds of support from publishers that composers like Gershwin and Copeland and Bernstein did.
[0:43:08.4] KM: Who did though? I mean, really think how many people didn't. I mean, those guys are the best of the – I mean, they got the most popularity of anybody. They got the most breaks of everybody, don't you think? I mean, they're the big goat. They got to do everything.
[0:43:20.8] LH: She got great reviews when her works were performed –
[0:43:23.6] KM: Should have been recognized too.
[0:43:25.6] LH: If circumstances had been different, I think she could have been popular in her own right.
[0:43:31.8] KM: If circumstances would have been different, she wouldn't had such great emotion to write about.
[0:43:36.0] LH: No, that could be.
[0:43:37.2] KM: It takes the whole ball of wax. Your ifs and buts, ifs and buts. I think this is interesting. Talk about a wellspring of places of emotion. She left Little Rock, her whole family left Little Rock.
[0:43:50.1] LH: Yes. In 1927.
[0:43:51.5] KM: When they lynched John Carter right down there on 9th Street and it was just so horrific, that so many African-Americans left Little Rock. We were modern and hip place, very cultural. When that happened, so many affluent African Americans left Little Rock and she was one of those people. Within two years, she had a symphony, play, she had a –
[0:44:17.4] LH: She had composed. I think, if I remember correctly it was right after her divorce was finalized that she started composing Symphony No. 1. A lot of people wouldn't have been able to be creative under those circumstances, but it didn't hold her back.
[0:44:37.3] KM: It's almost like strife makes you more creative, I think. I think some of my best ideas come from strife. I have a friend who's a photographer –
[0:44:42.9] LH: It could be.
[0:44:44.0] KM: Back a really a long, long time ago he said, “I just have to be upset all the time to get good pictures.” I was like, “Well, it's not worth it.” Hey, we got any of – we got some of Florence Price’s music. Not that Linda played, but it was from an orchestra?
[0:44:59.1] J: Yes. I believe that we have the orchestra symphony in E minor.
[0:45:03.9] LH: Mm-hmm. That would be her Symphony No. 1.
[0:45:06.0] KM: That's the one she won the awards for, right?.
[0:45:07.5] LH: Yeah.
[0:45:08.0] KM: Let’s hear a little bit of it.
[0:46:57.9] KM: Wow, that was really good. You're listening to Up In your Business with me, Kerry McCoy. I'm speaking today with author, pianist and UALR’s music professor, Dr. Linda Holzer. That was really beautiful.
[0:47:07.1] LH: Yes.
[0:47:07.6] KM: What was that weird noise in there?
[0:47:09.5] LH: I’m not sure about that.
[0:47:10.7] KM: A whistle? There was a whistle or something in there.
[0:47:13.9] LH: Yeah.
[0:47:14.5] KM: You didn’t hear that in there?
[0:47:15.5] LH: I did hear it, but I haven’t seen the score, so I’m not sure what that was.
[0:47:19.3] KM: I am a little bit interested. You’re right, it’s very complex. Let's talk about your life. You were performing in Australia. We've got just five more minutes. Did you say Australia is where you just got back from?
[0:47:32.4] LH: Well, no. Most recently, Austria and Slovenia. Yes.
[0:47:37.3] KM: Well, Austria is the mother of music, isn't it? Isn’t that where all music came from?
[0:47:41.7] LH: Yeah. The city of dreams.
[0:47:44.4] KM: Yeah. Were you nervous about performing in the –
[0:47:48.6] LH: No. I think after a certain point in your career, you reach the point where you trust your skills and you know who you are and you just – you share what you have ready to share.
[0:47:59.8] KM: Tell us one of your favorite performance stories, good or bad. One that you think about at night when you're going to bed. Everybody has this. They go to bed at night. It could be 10 years ago and you go, “Oh, wish I had done that different.” Or, “I love that I did that.”
[0:48:12.2] LH: Yeah. Well –
[0:48:13.2] KM: Share one. Because when you do live performance, it's emotional.
[0:48:17.5] LH: Yeah, it is.
[0:48:19.8] KM: You remember it.
[0:48:22.7] LH: Well, I do have several favorite listening experiences. Probably for a recent performance, one of my favorites was the performance in Vienna, because even though no one in the audience had ever heard of these composers and had never heard these pieces, you could have heard a pin drop. They were listening intently. In a live performance, when you don't hear rustling paper and fidgeting in seats, that's really you're shaping the phrases, you're thinking about what's coming up. In the back of your mind you're thinking, “They're with me.” That’s really special. That's what it's all about. It is very much so.
[0:49:08.2] KM: Music does just bring every together.
[0:49:10.8] LH: Truly.
[0:49:12.0] KM: What is it you – is that really what you like about live performances?
[0:49:15.5] LH: Yes, it is. Absolutely. I think it's good for us. It's certainly good for us as musicians, but it's good for the audience too. People come away from a performance feeling emotionally soothed, or thrilled, or feeling something. It's good to feel.
[0:49:35.1] KM: You are a founding member of the duo Mariposa, the Arkansas Symphony with this Arkansas symphony violinist Sandra McDonald.
[0:49:41.5] LH: Mm-hmm.
[0:49:42.4] KM: Are you still doing that?
[0:49:43.7] LH: Yes. We both have very busy schedules and Sandy, especially with the symphony season has quite a lot on her plate. We perform periodically and often –
[0:49:56.0] KM: For what type of stuff? Yeah.
[0:49:57.4] LH: Well, it’s chamber music and often we perform as Mariposa and Friends. We'll do a program that might have a few pieces that are duo's for violin and piano, and then we might do a trio, or a piano quartet, or a piano quintet, or other combinations of instruments.
[0:50:14.4] KM: Why Mariposa?
[0:50:16.3] LH: It means butterfly in Spanish and we thought that sounded pretty.
[0:50:19.7] KM: It does. I looked it up. I felt, “Butterfly. I wonder why they did that.” I like it.
[0:50:25.2] LH: It seems to fit Arkansas. This is a beautiful state.
[0:50:28.2] KM: It is. Thank you so much. How do people find out about you?
[0:50:33.0] LH: Visit my website. If you google my name plus piano, you'll find my website.
[0:50:37.4] KM: It’s Holzer, H-O-L-Z-E-R.
[0:50:39.4] LH: That is correct.
[0:50:39.9] KM: We’ll put it at flagandbanner.com’s website too if you want to go there and you can click on her podcast, which will be available next week and we'll have her contact info. You've got something to invite your listeners to.
[0:50:50.7] LH: Yes, indeed. Before we close, I wanted to be sure to extend an invitation to listeners for a special concert this September 16th. My colleague, Baritone Emery Stephens and I will be collaborating on a Sunday afternoon concert at UA Little Rock. Please join us September 16th in the Stella Boyle Smith Concert Hall at 3 p.m. to listen to music by Florence Price, William Grant Still, Leonard Bernstein, Ricard Strauss and other great composers. We guarantee, you'll feel inspired by what you hear and admission is free.
[0:51:25.0] KM: Oh, I love that part. It’s 3:00, September 16th.
[0:51:28.6] LH: September 16th, yes.
[0:51:29.4] KM: At UALR Stella Boyle Center. Thank you, Stella Boyle.
[0:51:32.5] LH: Yes, indeed.
[0:51:34.9] KM: There’s going to be – you and a baritone, or is there going to be more?
[0:51:37.8] LH: No, that’s it. The two of us. Yes. Songs and solo piano.
[0:51:42.0] KM: How long do you have to practice to get ready for something like that?
[0:51:44.5] LH: A long time.
[0:51:45.5] KM: I bet. Are you already practicing?
[0:51:47.3] LH: Yeah.
[0:51:48.5] KM: Don’t you love that?
[0:51:49.7] LH: Oh, I do. It’s like being a farmer. You plant the seed and you get really excited as it grows through stages.
[0:51:56.0] KM: How long are your practices? An hour?
[0:51:59.1] LH: No. Usually more than that.
[0:52:01.6] KM: You just got to love and to commit that time and stuff to. I have a present for you.
[0:52:06.5] LH: Oh, that's so thoughtful. Thank you.
[0:52:07.9] KM: I know. I'm trying to be thoughtful. It’s a desk set.
[0:52:11.2] LH: Perfect.
[0:52:12.8] KM: For your teaching office. I know you got one. There's the US flag.
[0:52:16.4] LH: Yes.
[0:52:18.8] KM: There's the –
[0:52:20.2] LH: The Illinois flag and the Arkansas flag. That's perfect.
[0:52:24.2] KM: There’s the Arkansas flag.
[0:52:26.0] LH: Representative of both me and Florence Price. Yeah.
[0:52:28.8] KM: I know.
[0:52:30.1] LH: That's wonderful. Thank you.
[0:52:31.4] KM: You're welcome. Thank you so much. Who's our guest next week?
[0:52:34.2] J: You got DJ Bob Robbins coming on.
[0:52:37.5] KM: Who doesn't love DJ Bob Robbins? Everybody loves him. He's like – do you know who he is?
[0:52:45.6] LH: I have not met him.
[0:52:46.7] KM: Well, I can't believe that. If you like country music, you probably don't ever listen to country music, but he use the –
[0:52:52.6] LH: I do sometimes.
[0:52:53.4] KM: Do you? He is the country music legend, DJ legend in Little Rock, Arkansas. He owned BJ Honky Tonk. He’s now on The Wolf and he's going to be on here next Friday and he's going to tell his stories. Honey, he has got stories – one time he was almost beat to death with a baseball bat. That’s one of my favorite ones. There was a reason it was called BJ Honky Tonk, because it was a honky-tonk.
All right, if you have a great entrepreneurial story you'd like to share, I would love to hear from you. Send a brief bio or your contact info to email@example.com. Finally to our listeners, thank you for spending time with me. If you think this program has been about you, you're right, but it's also been for me. Thank you for letting me fulfill my destiny. My hope today is that you've heard or learned something that's been inspiring or enlightening, and that it whatever it is will help you up your business, your independence, or your life. I'm Kerry McCoy and I'll see you next time on Up In your Business. Until then, be brave and keep it up.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:54:03.0] J: You’ve been listening to Up in Your Business with Kerry McCoy, a production of flagandbanner.com. If you would like to hear this program again, next week a podcast will be made available online with links to resources you heard discussed on today’s show. Kerry’s goal, to help you live the American Dream.