CCM Alumnus in France creates online harpsichord training method for beginners of all ages

As a Professor Emeritus of harpsichord at Paris’ Conservatory of the 18th precinct and Organist Emeritus at Saint-Jean de Montmartre Church, Frank Mento (MM Organ, 1974) has helped numerous students develop their skills and abilities in keyboard music. Now, the CCM alumnus has ventured into helping newcomers to the harpsichord get off to a strong start — regardless of whether they are six or 60 years old.

Frank Mento

Frank Mento

Mento, who studied at CCM under organ professor Wayne Fisher, has created a comprehensive online training method for the instrument that is meant as a surrogate for 10 years of training. The first nine volumes covering nine years are currently available for purchase. The tenth and final volume is expected to become available soon.

“I teach beginners having no previous musical knowledge by a method that [encompasses] education by the eye, ear, muscle, and drawing,” Mento stated of his pedagogical approach. “This is learning based on relative reading, singing, motor skills, and three-dimensional geometry transferred to two dimensions. It is a realistic and living approach. Pupils learn how to read music like a design or drawing.”

Part of his motivation came from observing and experimenting for the better part of 12 years in areas where accessible education on harpsichord is extremely limited due to economic, social and other factors. Students of any age receive training that ranges from learning the most commonly played notes to advanced improvisational techniques involving the variation of melodies, Baroque-style ornamentation and creating musical lines based upon basso continuo. For Mento, this improvisation is key to the success of his approach.

“A long time ago, in order to ornate and vary the music, musicians had a habit of inventing little melodies, which made the piece more joyous, expressive, and prettier,” Mento wrote. “This tradition of ornamentation and improvisation based on a melody died in the early 19th century as far as ‘classical’ music is concerned. Now, only Jazz musicians and musicians of traditional music practice it fluently.”

He also provides free downloadable copies of public domain scores from famed Renaissance and Baroque composers including Johann Sebastian Bach, Handel, William Byrd and others. These scores also feature notes on them that inform the musician to which volume of the method each is applicable. Owing to his stated desire for accessibility regardless of age, he readily encourages redistributing the scores to others to further his pedagogical goals.

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Story by CCM graduate Kevin Norton (DMA Saxophone, 2015)

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CCM Wins Big in National Opera Association’s Annual Production Competition

CCM's Spring 2011 Mainstage Production of Poulenc's 'Dialogues of the Carmelites.' Photography by Mark Lyons.

CCM's Spring 2011 Mainstage Production of Poulenc's 'Dialogues of the Carmelites.' Photography by Mark Lyons.

The National Opera Association has announced the results of its annual Opera Production Competition and CCM’s 2010-11 Mainstage, Studio and Undergraduate Series of Operas have again received some of the competition’s highest honors.

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CCM Slideshows: Dialogues of the Carmelites

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This weekend, CCM proudly presents Francis Poulenc’s gripping opera Dialogues of the Carmelites (Dialogues des carmélites). Based on a true story, this heartbreaking saga of martyred nuns runs through May 15 in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium. You can read Janelle Gelfand’s preview of the opera here.

Learn more about CCM’s production of Dialogues of the Carmelites here.

Tickets are $27-$29 general admission, $17-$19 students. Contact the CCM Box Office at 513-556-4183 or boxoff@uc.edu for more information.

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CCM’s Arts Administration Students Gain Experience With Prestigious Arts Organizations

Class of 2012 Front row L to R: Jenifer Thomas, Kristi Russell, LeAnne Anklan, Anna Backer, Zack Germain, Helene Herbert. Back row: Tyler Roe, Stephanie Saunders, Tony Zancanella, Taj Seyal, David Walker, Jason Hurwitz.

CCM’s Arts Administration students are posed each year with the challenge of finding an internship for the summer as part of their graduate degree. Based on the wealth of knowledge these students have gained in their studies, the students of the Class of 2012 have earned summer spots with the leading arts organizations in their fields of interest. Each student’s strong basis of understanding, stemming from dual-degree coursework in UC’s College of Business and CCM Arts Administration, assisted in earning these highly competitive internships.

The program has consistently prepared its students for real world experience, as is represented by the 100% job placement of last year’s graduating class! Throughout the country (and abroad!) this summer, CCM will be well represented by the Arts Administration students.

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Poulenc’s Heartrending Opera ‘Dialogues of the Carmelites’ Closes CCM’s Mainstage Season

Dialogues of the Carmelites photography by Mark Lyons.

Photography by Mark Lyons.

CCM completes its record-breaking Mainstage Season with the intensely psychological journey encapsulated in Francis Poulenc’s gripping opera Dialogues of the Carmelites (Dialogues des carmélites). Based on a true story, this heartbreaking saga of martyred nuns runs from May 12-15, 2011 in CCM’s Corbett Auditorium on the University of Cincinnati campus. Learn more about the opera after the jump.

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