The Musical Journey, our 8-level motivational system focused on goal setting and creative expression, has just been completed for the very first time! Lukas E, an Orpheus piano student, recently finished his final project and earned his Level 8 trophy along with a $1,000 check to celebrate the achievement!
The Musical Journey is the only system of its kind that not only emphasizes each student's skills, but also their creativity. All Orpheus students are encouraged to participate in it, as it helps to create focused practice along with a great sense of accomplishment. Dr. Klondike Steadman sat down with Lukas to speak about his experience with the Musical Journey, his final project, and his time at Orpheus Academy.
Klondike: Lukas it's so great to have you here!
For all of you out there, I'm Klondike Steadman, I'm one of the owners and directors here, and we have the unique opportunity to celebrate Lukas, our first student completing all eight levels of the Musical Journey!
You know, I remember you when you were just four years old, you started lessons—you were just reminding me—in this very room. Now how old are you?
Lukas: I'm 17 now.
Klondike: 17! Wow! So, 13 years of lessons and it's been quite a ride. I can remember you in recitals where your feet wouldn't even touch the floor, and now you've gone through all of our programs.
Klondike: Tell me a little bit how music lessons have impacted you as a person over the years.
Lukas: They've provided just a really, really great opportunity for me to challenge myself mentally. So, coming here after school once a week or practicing at home every single day was just a really nice respite from sort of the academic side of school, and allowed me to express creativity in other ways that I really enjoyed.
Klondike: That's wonderful!
Klondike: You mention it's a respite, how did it help you during the pandemic? During the first year of lockdown?
Lukas: What was interesting was for a solid part of that first year I was in Japan, so I didn't actually get to play the piano for about a year. And so when I came back I sort of had to start over again, and that was hard especially without lessons at the beginning, but the more I practiced the more I realized that it was an amazing way to escape and sort of be in my own little bubble and sort of enjoy it for what it was.
Klondike: Well thanks so much for sharing that, I didn't actually know that you were in Japan during that year!
"Coming here after school once a week or practicing at home every single day was just a really nice respite from sort of the academic side of school, and allowed me to express creativity in other ways that I really enjoyed."
Klondike: Can you tell us about your experience with the Musical Journey? You've done all of these amazing projects, how did the Musical Journey impact your learning?
Lukas: Interestingly one of my favorite parts of the Musical Journey was the musicianship portion of the test. The harmonics, the rhythms, and the scales. And I feel like practicing that portion with teachers really helped all of the pieces that I would then play. So I think it was really interesting to see how the integral parts of music really express themselves in the Musical Journey and how that helped me become a better pianist.
Klondike: That's so interesting that you say that, because so many kids and parents don't understand that connection: how being a great musician, understanding how music actually works, helps you learn pieces. It seems like it would go without saying, but I think most people think it's all about putting your fingers in the right place.
Klondike: Well how does it feel having completed Level 8 of the Musical Journey?
Lukas: It feels really good! It's a little bit sad because I really enjoyed the whole "journey" portion of it, but I think it presents a new opportunity as well, where now I don't have to focus so much on the testing portions of it but more I can just apply what I've learned through the Musical Journey to new pieces that I can play. And I can find more difficult pieces and maybe spend more time on that, so I'm excited for what it will bring.
Klondike: Yeah, exactly. And I hope all the skills that you've learned along the way will make that a lot easier.
"It was really interesting to see how the integral parts of music really express themselves in the Musical Journey and how that helped me become a better pianist."
Klondike: So Lukas, for your Level 8 project, you made a website that will help you promote yourself professionally as a pianist. Can you tell me a little bit about that process?
Lukas: So at first, one of the more difficult parts about it was figuring out what sort of writing element I was going to incorporate into the website. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that really I could expand a lot on that and provide not only background about my personal self, but also about myself as a musician, or other interests I had, or what I hope to do with my musicianship in the future.
And so thinking about all that, I then decided to add a couple clips of myself playing the piano as sort of an example. I had just finished learning a Chopin Prelude that I really wanted to include on my website. And I tried maybe 10 or 15 times to record an accurate or nice version of this prelude, and struggled to each time. And so I finally ended up using one that— I got home from school and I decided, "You know what, I'm going to record it once and I'm going to be happy with it and that's what I'm going to put on there." And I did and it was, in my opinion, the best time I've ever played it, so I was really glad to have done that.
Klondike: You know, you touch on having to try and try and try again. I don't think a lot of people out there realize that that's a reason that we have these projects. Because any time you record yourself, you're going to notice the things that you didn't like about your playing, and there's literally no better way to get better at anything than to watch yourself struggling, and then focus on the thing that you're having trouble with and then try it again and try it again.
Well I think it's awesome that you made this website. There's so many people who need music in their lives, and having that website up there is going to help you connect with them in really wonderful ways.
Klondike: Do you have any favorite memories of Orpheus that you wanted to share?
Lukas: A couple of my favorites were, first of all— every day that I came to Ms. Christine's lessons after school, I would sit outside and wait for my sister Adeline to finish her lessons. And during that time there was a very nice gentleman just across the hall in that room over there, who was practicing—I don't remember with what teacher—but he would play a piece and I would hear it and really enjoy it. And every Thursday I guess it was, he would come out and ask for one person to come sit in on 10 minutes of his lesson or so. And so for maybe three or four months I would come and listen to him play and improve on that piece every single week, and it was really, really impressive. And that stuck with me a lot.
Klondike: I never knew that! I'll have to look at the schedule and see who was taking lessons at the same time as you back then. But I think that kind of gets at our community vision. The reason that Wendy, my wife, and I started this business was that we've always felt like teaching out of your home— students don't get to hear other students. And when they can hear other people they get inspired by that. That's really great.
Klondike: Do you have any advice to other people who are going through the Musical Journey, about how they can get the most out of it?
Lukas: So I would say, don't just look to getting to the very end of it. Even though it seems like a long journey, appreciate all of the individual steps and everything that you learn through it because that's really what will help you become a better musician.
Klondike: Well I definitely am so excited to be presenting you with the Level 8 trophy and a $1,000 check to help with your studies as you project into the future. I know that this is going to be true for you because I know how much you love music, but hopefully this is just the start of a new musical journey for you to take music out into the world.
Lukas: Thank you very much.
Klondike: So here's the Level 8 trophy and a $1,000 check!
Lukas: Thank you!
Klondike: Thank you Lukas.
Klondike: And to everybody else out there, I just hope that you will invest yourself the way Lukas has in building your skills, doing amazing projects, transforming the world, and bringing joy to everybody through your music. Thank you so much to everybody participating in this Musical Journey!