Concert pianist, Rami Bar-Niv has a large serving of musical talent that spills into an assortment of activities. He’s a well-spring of creativity: performing, teaching, composing and publishing (a book on fingering, no less) while his sheet music is circulated far and wide.
Now add to the list, Rami’s Rhapsody Camp for Adults wrapped in an enticing invitation!
“Take a week off just to practice, learn, and perform with like-minded music lovers. Join Rami Bar-Niv, international concert pianist, for a unique opportunity to spend a week in the country, surrounded by a special group of people who share the joys and challenges of being adult piano students, as well as gaining an up close and personal experience with a world class pianist. Camp is suitable for adult piano players of all levels, from complete beginners to professional performers and piano teachers. Teenagers are also welcome, accompanied by their teachers or their parents. You will have a one hour lesson each day with Rami, a class, lecture, or concert performance each evening with Rami and guest masters, and at least four hours of daily piano time. You will learn correct and injury-free piano playing techniques…”
An Internet visit to the bucolic Upstate New York location, (Whitesboro, a suburb of Utica) tweaked my curiosity even further, sparking a set of questions that Bar-Niv thoughtfully answered.
How and when did you get the inspiration to create a summer experience for adults?
I always enjoyed teaching adults and got the inspiration to create my own piano camp for adults from the Vermont camp (named Sonata) when I finished teaching there in 2006.
By the way, it isn’t just a summer experience. I offer 2 camp sessions per year, October and June.
The 2014 dates are June 22-28 and Oct 19-25. (Rami noted that he’s had camp branches in Barbados, New Zealand, and various places in the States!)
What is the value of having sessions like these, and for how long? Do some people commute, and others stay over?
My camp is a week long. We start Sunday evening with an opening event and run through Saturday evening after the recital.
Out-of-towners, who come from all over the States as well as abroad, stay in a hotel/motel/B and B, and local participants stay at home.
The Camp caters to all piano playing levels, from complete beginners to professional pianists and piano teachers. People meet like-minded music lovers, spend a week in the country and gain an up close and personal experience with an actively performing concert pianist.
Every camper gets a one-hour lesson each day with me, a class, lecture, or concert performance each evening as well, and with guest masters, too. There’s recital participation, and at least four hours of daily piano time with a limit of 8 players, and I lead group stretches/exercises every day before dinner.
Subjects addressed at camp are: Injury-free techniques, efficient fingering, interpretation, anxiety-free performance, sight-reading, ensemble playing, memorization, and more.
And even though it’s primarily a piano camp, other instrumentalists as well as singers have participated.
How many pianos are available to practice on? I saw a digital as well, near the grand.
Camp runs basically on 3 pianos (+ a digital just for kicks…). People practice in 2 shifts, 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the afternoon. The hour-lesson happens during the camper’s practice time. The digital is there for extra practice especially if you play Bach, also for singing lessons when the other pianos are taken.
Local participants practice their morning session at home and join the others for lunch served at camp.
We often go off the premises for the evening classes and the recital, so we use other pianos too.
What directions do you take with Classical repertoire as compared to popular?
I’m basically a classically educated pianist but I go with the flow and cater to any wishes (even if I don’t particularly like the music…). In my past I did it all: piano-bar playing, ballet accompaniments, improvisation, recording studio gigs, fake book reading, etc.
Camps vary with the mix of classical and popular music, but on the whole I’d say that classical music has a stronger representation. You can see that in the recital programs posted on camp’s web page.
Duet playing seems to be a strong feature of your camp experience.. And even 4 at two pianos?
Yes, duet and any ensemble playing varies from camp to camp. I am, of course very fond of ensemble playing; often it will also be the participants’ initiative. At the You Tube channel you can see that we did a small monster with 4 pianos and the organ too. Organ and piano duets and other ensembles did not always make it to You Tube.
How long has the camp been in existence?
It started in November, 2006.
What is your overall philosophy about having a camp like this?
Perhaps I’ll repeat here what I wrote above:
People meet like-minded music lovers and gain an up close and personal experience with an actively performing concert pianist. In this way they get a tremendous boost to their playing/practicing/studying and perhaps the most important gain is “Total Immersion”.
Do children ever come with parents?
As much as I’d love that, no kids have actually come to camp as full participants. But often during camp’s week I’ll give extra lessons and master classes to kids as part of the camp’s experience.
(However, often, piano teachers come to camp with their own piano students, both as camp participants)
Thanks, Rami, for your engaging replies.
Rhapsody Camp’s website
Camp’s YouTube channel:
Rami’s YouTube channel
Rami’s piano fingering book:
Rami’s music on SheetMusicPlus digital printing:
“My Experiences at Rami’s Rhapsody Piano Camp” (a blogger provides a delightful narrative)