Les Martin, Suzuki Piano
Teaching Artist Statement
It is my great pleasure to teach piano in the Suzuki Academy at Music Center of the Northwest. As one who has embraced the Suzuki philosophy, my first priority is not to develop professional musicians, but to nurture loving human beings and to help develop each child’s character through the study of music. When we nurture a child and help them to develop a beautiful heart, the music they make will flow from that heart and spread that same beauty in our world.
Teaching and creating music could not be more gratifying or personally invigorating. Music-making calls upon our imagination and creativity; our spontaneity; our fine-motor skill; our sequential memory; our creative problem-solving abilities; our sense of spatial awareness – as well as our own self-awareness – as we actively listen and discern ‘in real time’ to bring music to life.
I hold graduate degrees in organ performance and choral conducting from the University of Oregon, where I was elected to the Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society. I have had the good fortune to do all my Suzuki training at Holy Names University in Oakland, California, with Caroline Fraser of Lima Peru, who is considered one of the most highly respected master teachers in the world.
In addition to teaching piano in the Suzuki Academy at Music Center of the Northwest I am adjunct professor of organ, harpsichord and piano at Seattle Pacific University, and Director of Music at Sand Point Community United Methodist Church in Seattle. I have also served on the keyboard faculty of the University of Washington, teaching both organ and harpsichord.
I am privileged to present master classes in organ technique, baroque performance practice, and improvisation throughout the region, as well as serving as adjudicator for competitions such as the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra’s Bushell Concerto Competition.
I take a holistic approach to teaching, and attempt to guide my students to see and understand the relationship between technique, musical imagination and the communication of our musical ideas. I am a keen observer and enjoy helping my students find technical and creative-artistic solutions to the routine challenges encountered in making music, with the goal of presenting an authentic, confident and communicative musical performance.
I have had the pleasure of presenting numerous organ recitals in European cities such as Geneva, Uppsala, Monopoli, Martignano, Sirolo, and Rome, and have been featured at European organ festivals including the Stagione Concertistica Internazionale d'Organo (Associazione ARS ORGANI “Girolamo Frescobaldi”) in Lecce, Italy (2001 and 2009); the Accademia Organistica Elpidiense in Sant’ Elpidio a Mare, Italy (1995) and the prestigious Festival International de l’Orgue Ancien, in Sion, Switzerland (1995 and 2007), performing there on the world’s oldest playable organ, dating from 1435.
I have also been a featured recitalist at national conventions of both the Organ Historical Society and the American Institute of Organbuilders. Recently, I had the honor of presenting the opening recital at the Suzuki Association of Washington State (SAWS) Piano Festival at Central Washington University in Ellensburg. I presented the recital there on the university’s beautiful mechanical-action pipe organ, and offered enrichment classes to advanced pianists, which introduced them to the pipe organ and its technique.
Locally, I continue to appear variously as guest conductor, organ soloist and continuo harpsichordist with many Seattle-based orchestras including Philharmonia Northwest, Thalia Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Seattle, the Seattle Philharmonic Orchestra, Seattle Opera, and the Seattle Symphony Orchestra.