IN THE NEWS
FINE ARTIST CONCERT SERIES MAKES EIGHTH APPEARANCE ON CLASSICAL WETA'S FRONT ROW WASHINGTON.
FINE ARTIST CONCERT SERIES MAKES SEVENTH APPEARANCE ON CLASSICAL WETA'S FRONT ROW WASHINGTON.
Originally published in Music Inc Magazine, November 2013
Originally published in The Music Trades, August 2013
DOWNTOWN PIANO WORKS IN THE TOP 200 LEADING MUSIC PRODUCTS RETAILERS IN THE UNITED STATES
Originally published in The Music Trades, August 2013
DOWNTOWN PIANO WORKS #2 IN NATION FOR SALES PER EMPLOYEE
Originally published April 2013, NAMM PLAYback magazine Spring/Summer 2013
Originally Aired On WETA Classical 90.9 on January 14th, 2013
FINE ARTIST CONCERT SERIES MAKES
SIXTH APPEARANCE ON CLASSICAL WETA'S FRONT ROW WASHINGTON
Originally Aired On WETA Classical 90.9 on October 15th, 2012
FINE ARTIST CONCERT SERIES MAKES FIFTH APPEARANCE ON CLASSICAL WETA'S FRONT ROW WASHINGTON
Originally Aired On WETA Classical 90.9 on August 6th, 2012
FINE ARTIST CONCERT SERIES MAKES FOURTH APPEARANCE ON CLASSICAL WETA'S FRONT ROW WASHINGTON
Originally published July 18th, 2012-The Frederick News-Post
DOWNTOWN PIANO WORKS HONORED
Named Best Emerging Dealer
By Ed Waters, Jr.
Dan and Theresa Shykind, left and center, owners of Downtown Piano Works in Frederick, receive the Best Emerging Dealer award from Joe Lamond, President and CEO of the National Association of Music Merchants. The local store is the largest all-Yamaha piano dealer in Maryland with gross sales expected to top $2 million in 2012.
Downtown Piano Works in Frederick is being honored as an outstanding part of the community and beyond.
The business, owned by Dan and Theresa Shykind, opened in October 2008 at 74 South Market Street. The couple had met while working at Jordan Kitt's, a major music store chain, when they managed different stores for the company.
The store has won a national honor. The National Association of Music Merchants presented its Best Emerging Dealer Award to the Shykinds at the associations trade show in Nashville, TN.
The largest all-Yamaha piano dealer in Maryland, Downtown Piano Works expects to have gross sales in excess of $2 million in 2012. The store also has more than 180 students enrolled in its music school.
"We were shocked," Dan Shykind said in a telephone interview.
The association presents several awards, Shykind said. "To be eligible for the top award, you have to be in business five years, we have only been in four years."
The shop was also named one of America's Top 100 Dealers earlier this year, according to a news release from the national group.
Downtown Piano Works received the Community Business Leader Award last year from the Frederick County Business Advisory Committee.
The business has provided pianos for events at the Weinberg Center for the Arts and held free concerts with world-class musicians. During a snowstorm in 2010, the Shykinds provided a piano to the White House for a PBS concert.
The awards were judged by a panel of expert judges not affiliated with the association, according to a news release.
"Downtown Piano Works received this recognition because of their efforts and business exemplified the best category among peers in the music instrument and product retailing from around the country," according to the association's statement.
Originally aired on WETA Classical 90.9 on June 4th, 2012
FINE ARTIST CONCERT SERIES AIRS FOR THE THIRD TIME ON CLASSICAL WETA'S FRONT ROW WASHINGTON
Originally aired on WETA Classical 90.9 on December 12th, 2011
FINE ARTIST CONCERT SERIES AIRS AGAIN ON CLASSICAL WETA'S PROGRAM
FRONT ROW WASHINGTON
Originally published by the Frederick County Office of Economic Development
November 10th, 2011
DOWNTOWN PIANO WORKS WINS 2011 FREDERICK COUNTY COMMUNITY LEADER AWARD
Pictured Left to Right: C. Paul Smith, Frederick County Commissioner, Robert Black, Catoctin Mountain Orchard, Theresa and Dan Shykind, Downtown Piano Works, Laurie Boyer, Frederick County OED, Phil Quattrini and Frank Guidici, Wegmans Food Markets.
The Frederick County Business Development Advisory Council (BDAC) and the Office of Economic Development (OED) held their Annual Business Reception at Martins Walkersville. Over 200 Frederick County business representatives, elected officials and partner organizations attended this year’s event. A brief awards ceremony was held to honor three Frederick County businesses and recognize a Frederick Innovative Technology Center (FITCI) graduate.
According to Laurie Boyer, OED Director, “We wanted this year to honor companies that are positively contributing to Frederick County’s economy and have shown remarkable innovation, creativity and sustained commitment to corporate responsibility.” All of the award winners are community leaders and give back to our community in a variety of ways.
The first 2011 Frederick County Community Leader award was presented to Downtown Piano Works for their corporate business philosophy. Besides providing exquisite pianos, providing piano service and piano lessons to over 160 students, they work with the Frederick Youth Alliance and supply for free all the concert instruments to the Weinberg Center of the Arts. They also provide world-class performances free to the public on a monthly basis at their location downtown Frederick, in which they draw over 70 people per concert. People come from all over the DC metropolitan area to attend.
The second 2011 Frederick County Community Leader award was presented to Catoctin Mountain Orchard, and the third to Wegmans Food Market.
Originally aired on WETA Classical 90.9 on June 13th, 2011
FINE ARTIST CONCERT SERIES AIRS ON CLASSICAL WETA'S PROGRAM
FRONT ROW WASHINGTON
2005 Van Cliburn Gold Medalist Alexander Kobrin recorded live during his performance at Downtown Piano Works Fine Artist Concert Series, Frederick, MD
Originally published August 2011, Maryland Life
FINE ARTIST CONCERT SERIES (FREE!)
Downtown Piano Works, Frederick, MD
Theresa Shykind, Alon Goldstein, Katherine Jacobson Fleisher, Leon Fleisher, and
Dan Shykind after Downtown Piano Works Concert. (Photo courtesy E.B.Shykind)
Originally published May 26th, 2011-The Gazette
RENOWNED CELLIST CALLS FREDERICK A SECOND HOME
Amit Peled Continues To Perform At Downtown Piano Works
by Cody Calamaio |Staff Writer
Baltimore cellist Amit Peled was recently asked to play at a prominent German music festival alongside two musicians he never met before. When he learned they would have only one day to practice together before the show, he decided to invite them to Frederick, his unofficial second home.
Pianist Roman Rabinovich and violinist Yevgeny Kutik will join Peled on Thursday, June 2, for an evening of works by Brahms at Downtown Piano Works. The quaint setting will serve as an intimate premiere of the trio's performance at the Ludwigsburg Schlossfestspiele festival in Germany on July 24.
Photo courtesy James M. Steeber
"Frederick is a very special place where we cook all the ingredients for a first time and have a taste," Peled says.
Peled often plays at Downtown Piano Works to gear up for large performances, and owner Dan Shykind always welcomes him.
"There is just something about the cello that cuts right through you," Shykind says. "And there is something about Amit that cuts right through you, too."
It will be Peled's second time at the store in six months. In January, he drove for five hours in a snowstorm, just days before performing at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
"The first time has its own rules. It nice to do that in a place where I feel at home," Peled says.
The Wolfgang Schnabl cello Peled will play on June 2 has a rich sound, made to fill the large concert halls and music festivals he frequents. The German cello also made its U.S. debut at one of Peled's performances at Downtown Piano Works about a year ago.
"It will be like closing up a circle," Peled says. "After practically taking it from a box and the growth it has gone though." Peled is known for also performing on a rare 1689 Andrea Guarneri cello, given to him by the couple he lived with while studying with the late master cellist Bernard Greenhouse in Cape Cod.
Peled now teaches the lessons he learned from Greenhouse to his students at the Conservatory at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. A strict, traditional player, he demands that students are as eager to learn as Greenhouse was until the day he died. "He would be excited about finding a new fingering for a piece he was playing for 60 years. He was always curious," Peled says.
Born in Israel, Peled grew up in a rural kibbutz and began playing the cello as a way to get close to a girl he liked. The crush never blossomed, but Peled fell in love with the cello at what he considers to be the "very late" age of 10.
"I had to pay for it. I had to work really, really hard," he says. "It has to be part of your blood system, the technical ability to play an instrument."
Now Peled's cello is almost an extension of his hands. He practices for hours daily to maintain his skill, favoring chamber music or romantic pieces when playing for fun.
"[The cello] is like a person and as a performing artist you spend probably more hours with the cello than your wife and kids," he says. "You can sense when it is upset and happy."
At age 37, Peled takes all the time he can for his family when he is home. His wife Julia and their three young children travel the world with him every summer.
"I don't want to look back when I'm 60 and say I wish I had spent more time with my kids," he says.
Originally published May 19th, 2011-The Frederick News-Post
DOWNTOWN PIANO WORKS HOSTS FINE ARTIST CONCERT SERIES
The best tickets in town may be the most difficult to procure. With about 65 seats available, Theresa and Dan Shykind host intimate concerts with the Fine Artist Music Series at Downtown Piano Works, and the tickets go quickly.
Theresa and Dan Shykind own Downtown Piano Works on South Market Street, where they host a series of free Piano performances.Staff photo by Adam Fried
The series of free concerts features some of the world's best pianists. The concert hall is part of the piano store floor plan, a Frederick business owned by the Shykinds.
Leon Fleisher, renowned pianist and conductor, Katherine Jacobson Fleisher, pianist, and Alon Goldstein, pianist, will play Wednesday at Downtown Piano Works. Fleisher, a legendary pianist and pedagogical piano instructor, won the highest award for a pianist, the Kennedy Center Honor, in 2007. Fleisher was called, "one of the most gifted of the younger generation of keyboard artists," at age 16 by The New York Times. And was later declared the "pianistic find of the century" by Pierre Monteux, conductor.
Fleisher lost the use of his right hand when he was 37 due to a rare neurological disease. He continued his career, though unable to play the piano with both hands. Through Botox injections and treatment, he regained the use of his hand and released an album in 2004 named "Two Hands." It was a critical success and he was the subject of an Oscar-nominated documentary released in 2006 that aired on HBO. Jacobson Fleisher and Goldstein are also highly regarded for their work.
The New York Times praised her and Fleisher when she debuted at Carnegie Hall. She is the director of the Piano Ensemble Program at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. When 18 years old, Goldstein made his orchestral debut with the Israel Philharmonic and Maestro Zubin Mehta as conductor.
"I think it's remarkable that they started a free series," said Shai Wosner, an international concert pianist who played his third concert at Downtown Piano Works on May 6. He plans to come back in October.
Pianist Shai Wosner performs at Downtown Piano Works on May 6th as part of the store's ongoing free Fine Artist Concert Series. Staff photo by Adam Fried
Some musicians use the space as a place to rehearse before an upcoming concert, the Shykinds said. "These people are really famous, so to be sitting right here and have them talking to you is very different than going to Carnegie Hall," Theresa Shykind said. Her husband added, "It's happened six or seven times that people see a concert here and, then a day, or a couple days later, see a review of the same concert they heard, either in The New York Times or The Washington Post, so it's pretty amazing."
But it isn't always a warm-up. "The fact that you try new pieces, new programs, new people in an intimate setting, I think it's extremely valuable for all of us," Wosner said.
He sees it as an opportunity not only for him but for the audience. It's unusual for the musicians to play in a hall that holds fewer than 80 people.
"As so many of the musicians have said, this is the venue that these pieces were written for," said Arlene Shykind, Dan's mother.
For Wosner, his preparation is the same, whether he plays in a large or small venue.
"Whether it is 70 or 500 (people in the audience), it really doesn't matter that much," Wosner said. Either way, it is still a concert.
"Unfortunately, a lot of times, classical music (venues) become a place to be seen and (this) is a place to listen," Dan Shykind said. "People who really love classical music come and they'll hear world-class performers this far away and it's a completely different experience."
The series provides a place to hear some of the world's finest musicians, but the Shykinds don't want people to feel stiff or uncomfortable while attending. There's no dress code.
They've carefully constructed the space. The walls are decorated with Paul Helm's illustrations of some of the world's most famous composers. There are acoustic fabric curtains hanging in the back, a small stage that is raised so people can see the pianist while they play, and the piano was hand-built. "It is one of the best pianos in the world, which is amazing (for the concert hall)," Dan Shykind said. Yamaha S6BB was sent especially for the hall, courtesy of Yamaha Artist Services New York.
It isn't too small or too big, it is just right. Due to the materials, craftsmanship and design, it fits the space perfectly.
But this piano is unique for another reason. It is signed by the musicians who have taken part in the series. If one looks (carefully) in to the piano, there are signatures on the inside.
Originally published February 24th, 2011-The Gazette
DOWNTOWN PIANO WORKS TO HOST ACCLAIMED PIANIST
By Jordan Edwards
Pianist Alon Goldstein will travel to England next week for his debut performance with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Before he leaves, he will stop at Frederick's Downtown Piano Works as part of the company's Fine Artist Concert Series.
The store fits less than 80 people when filled to capacity.
"I think intimacy is one of the most wonderful things about classical music," Goldstein says. "A lot of this music was written for the salon soirées of the 19th century. A place like Downtown Piano Works, in so many ways, is a much more natural place to play."
Sunday's program, which features pieces by Chopin, Beethoven and Debussy, promises to show off Goldstein's range and interests. The centerpiece is Mendelssohn's "Piano Concerto No. 1," which he also will play in London. Such a diverse program may be a solid tune-up for a big concert, but it won't shake off the jitters completely.
"Of course I'm very nervous and excited about it," says Goldstein. "At the same time, it's really not about me; it's about the music. We artists are the vehicle to bring this great music to life. In a way, that helps take away some of the nerves."
Downtown Piano Works' concerts started as a promotion for the South Market Street store and school in 2008, but have become something greater. The free recitals are so popular that the business no longer promotes them with traditional advertising.
"We strongly believe in music education," owner Dan Shykind says. "A lot of the students get master classes with [the pianists] before [concerts]. When we moved to Frederick [from D.C.], we found this town that was really vibrant in the visual arts and performing arts, but there was very little in the way of classical music. It's just grown beyond our wildest dreams. It's not uncommon to see someone here, and then a week later, see a review of the same performance in The New York Times."
How do Shykind and wife Theresa manage to attract such talent into a small store 40 miles north of Washington, D.C.? Part of the success comes from the musicians talking up the venue among themselves. Many enjoy the opportunity to play for a small group of classical music lovers and answer questions. Goldstein, notes Shykind, is a big supporter and close friend.
"It's just a neat experience for them, and a lot of the artists will tell you that if classical music is to survive, it's because of small venues like this where you can still do chamber music," he observes.
Goldstein, who has performed with renowned ensembles such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Philadelphia Symphony, is actually somewhat local. Born in Israel, the 40-year-old moved to moved to the U.S. to study under Leon Fleisher at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore. The application for the school required three reasons for his interest. Goldstein wrote Fleisher's name as number one and crossed out the other two.
"If he would have taught in Australia, I would have gone there," Goldstein remarks. "Little did I know of all the other wonderful things in America."
Goldstein lived in London and Italy before settling in Rockville, where he has lived since 2002. He estimates that he gives about 60 concerts during a given year divided up equally among orchestral, chamber and solo performances. Large or small, Goldstein is excited to play for any crowd that appreciates the music.
"You play always for the people who come, not the people who don't come," he says. "The audience is the fuel. They literally lift you to another dimension."
Originally published January 2011, Frederick Magazine
DOWNTOWN PIANO WORKS AND THE BALTIMORE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA PARTNER WITH THE FREDERICK ALLIANCE FOR YOUTH
Originally published on-line June 21st, 2010-The Baltimore Sun
UP CLOSE WITH CELLIST AMIT PELED IN FREDERICK, COURTESY OF PIANO STORE
By Tim Smith
Downtown Piano Works, which occupies a corner building on S. Market St. in Frederick opposite where Abraham Lincoln gave a speech in 1862, presents a classy, monthly series of free concerts in a very intimate room seating 65 people. (Think Baltimore's An die Musik, only smaller and without plush chairs.) The ambitious and generous series has been going strong for about a year and a half now, offering a substantial roster of artists, many of them heard regularly in more famous venues.
I finally got a chance to sample the action at Downtown Piano Works on Friday evening, when Amit Peled, the exceptional cellist and Peabody faculty member, gave a recital with pianist Dina Vainshtein. It proved well worth the drive, even if the program was just an hour long (not complaining, mind you -- I've become increasingly fond of short concerts).
Peled, recently featured in a performance of Beethoven's Triple Concerto with the BSO, is a commanding musician in tone and temperament. Hearing him up close reconfirmed those attributes in a big way.
Beethoven's A major Sonata, Op. 69, got quite a workout. It's possible to emphasize elegance and refinement in this piece, to keep tempos in check, and leave a great impression. Peled went for the bold instead, digging into the music with considerable expressive fire. He and Vainshtein pushed things along to bracing effect (the piano lid was up all the way, adding to visceral impact of the performance).
The well-matched players balanced the Beethoven with a remarkable rarity, a work
by 20th century Georgian composer Sulkhan Tsintsadze: "Five Pieces on Folk Themes." The bittersweet opening song and endearing "Nana" movement allowed Peled's lyrical side to bloom eloquently, while the virtuosic movements, especially the colorful, cello-only, pizzicato "Chonguri," were delivered with elan.
For an encore, there was the slow movement from Chopin's Cello Sonata, which inspired exquisite phrasing from Peled and beautifully nuanced support from Vainshtein.
The recital afforded an opportunity to judge Peled's new cello, a rich-toned Schnabl instrument recently made for him in Germany. The cellist, who usually plays on a highly-prized Guarneri, joked that this was the first time he gave a recital where the piano was was more expensive than his cello.
Peled did a lot of joking, by the way, in remarks to the audience; he's a funny guy. His amiable and inviting personality is exactly the type everyone says we'll need more of if classical music is to survive.
Originally published on-line June 21st, 2010-The Washington Post
IN PERFORMANCE: PELED FOR FREE
Cellist Amit Peled shines on free concert series
By Alfred Thigpen
Amit Peled gets compared to a young Rostropovich frequently, if unfairly. With each outing, the Israeli cellist proves to be his own unprecedented presence. And on Friday evening in Frederick, Peled left his audience at Downtown Piano Works in Frederick, Maryland visibly awed with jaw-dropping pyrotechnics as well as nuance.
This free program (part of a regular series at the venue) also featured Russian-born pianist Dina Vainshtein who, with Peled, owned Beethoven's Sonata in G Minor outright. The two locked on entrances with the same astonishing precision they employed on blazing runs, all the while conveying Beethoven's leonine roaring and contrasting lyricism with bravado and soul. Remarkably, it was their first collaboration on this work.
"Five Pieces on Folk Themes" by Georgian composer Sulkhan Tsintsadze was an unexpected treasure, with each movement possessing a strongly ethnic sense of dance, whimsy and occasional melancholy. Peled and Vainshtein captured every subtlety, expression and color of this delightful collection.
The surprise of the evening was Peled's cello. At roughly one hundredth the cost of his 1689 Guarneri, his instrument, a 2010 Wolfgang Schnabl, produced a richly voluminous sound and stood up to vigorous pizzicatos and athletic downbows. Fed up with elitism, Peled says he wants to rewrite the rules for frustrated string players longing for unaffordable fine instruments.
Congratulations to Downtown Piano Works for 20 months of free, top-quality performances. If live classical music has a viable future, it will be in part because of outside-the-box venues such as this. The next concert, showcasing the pianist Alon Goldstein, is on July 17th.
-- Alfred Thigpen
By Anne Midgette | June 21, 2010; 1:00 AM ET
Originally published March 25th, 2010-The Gazette
IN THE 'WORKS'
Fine Artist Series brings piano stars to Frederick
For those well-acquainted with the charm and diversity of the arts offerings in Frederick, there exists yet another event series and performance venue to add to your list of things to do in town. For those unacquainted with the many surprises to be found here, take note and come to Frederick one night to hear a peerless group of notable classical musicians. The Fine Artist series at Downtown Piano Works promises classical music lovers a rare treat.
"Shai Wosner is one of the top classical pianists in the world," said Theresa Shykind, co-owner of Downtown Piano Works. Wosner was the featured artist on March 20. His many chamber music engagements have included a performance with members of The New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall. Additional collaborations this season have included a performance of the Mozart concerto for three pianos with Joseph Kalichstein and Alon Goldstein and the New York String Orchestra with Jaime Laredo at Carnegie Hall.
Wosner's program on Saturday included Beethoven Sonata in Eb Major "Quasi Una Fantasia, Schumann's Fantasy in C Major, Mozart's Fantasy and Sonata in C Minor and Beethoven "Quasi Una Fantasia – also known as the Moonlight Sonata.
As Wosner began to play, the room grew quiet and 65 individuals sat mesmerized by the genius at the keyboard. His ability was completely obvious even to a novice admirer of classical music. Many in the small audience remained transfixed throughout the concert and Wosner was rewarded with thunderous applause and a standing ovation after the Moonlight Sonata.
Within a few hours after the concert, the Shykinds received numerous emails of gratitude for the marvelous performance.
"Thank you for the wonderful Shai Wosner concert last night," began one example. "Four fantasies, a perfectly arranged program, brilliant performances of all four pieces, simply spectacular. Such a privilege to be included."
Normally an artist of Wosner's talent would be paid an extraordinary sum for an evening's performance. At Downtown Piano Works he appears gratis – and the audience is not charged an entrance fee. Owners Theresa and Dan Shykind tell how they have found that world class performers like the opportunity to "warm up" for a larger audience by coming and playing at their intimate venue.
Word has gotten out about the space with appreciative audiences and artists encouraging each other to come and experience Frederick. Pianists of note have the opportunity to play on a Yamaha C7, a concert and artist piano used by pop stars like Alicia Keys, Jim Brickman and John Legend. Downtown Piano Works' technician spent over 20 hours prepping and adjusting the piano for Wosner. Such attention to detail earns the respect of the world class artists who play in the Fine Artist Series.
April performances include Pianist Andrei Licaret and Alon Goldstein.
Goldstein, an international concert pianist, will be available the day of his concert to help patrons select a Yamaha piano. His offer to provide this service speaks highly of his commitment to the excellence of the Yamaha brand, but even more so to his hosts, the Shykinds, to whom he has recommended so many artist friends.
Downtown Piano Works is located at 74 S. Market St., Frederick. Reservations are required to attend the concert series. Call 301- 631-1234. Visit www.downtownpianoworks.com
Originally published February 09, 2010-The Frederick News-Post
PIANO TRAVELING FROM FREDERICK TO THE WHITE HOUSE
Even in snow, the show must go on, especially when the show is at the White House.
A piano from Downtown Piano Works, 74 S. Market St., was on its way Monday to the White House for a PBS concert celebrating Black History Month.
"As part of the Yamaha Concert and Artists Bank of Instruments, we provide pianos when needed," said Dan Shykind, who owns the shop with his wife, Theresa.
John Legend, one of the performers for the concert, set to be held Wednesday, is an official Yamaha artist. The Shykinds have provided pianos, through the Yamaha program, to performers at Wolf Trap and other venues, including the Weinberg Center for the Arts. It is the first time one of their pianos will be used in the White House.
Shykind said he was contacted two weeks ago by Yamaha and it was confirmed last Wednesday. "We knew they would be picking it up today," he said. A truck and three-person crew from Apollo Piano Moving from Pennsylvania parked across East All Saints Street. "The lift came down on the snow," Shykind said. "I only use Apollo, they are the only one I trust." The crew covered the Yamaha semi-concert grand piano and loaded the 1,000-pound instrument onto the truck. The Shykinds said while the Secret Service did not come to his store, the movers have to take the piano off-site and have it checked before it will be taken into the White House. The movers had to be checked ahead of time, with their Social Security numbers and other documents, Shykind said.
A Yamaha technician will be cleared as well, to make sure the piano is in tune and set up properly prior to the concert.
A crew from Apollo Piano Moving, Co. loads a 1,000 pound Yamaha semi-concert grand piano Monday from Downtown Piano Works. The piano is headed to the White House for a PBS concert Wednesday.
With more snow on the way Tuesday and Wednesday, Shykind said the piano might not be delivered back to the downtown store Thursday as planned. "Worst-case scenario, the movers will store it in their climate controlled facility, and redeliver to us at a later date," Shykind said.
The concert is scheduled to air at 8 p.m. Thursday on PBS stations nationwide.
The theme of the concert is music from the Civil Rights Movement. Besides Legend, other performers will include Yolanda Adams, Joan Baez, Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Jennifer Hudson, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson, Seal, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Howard University Choir and The Freedom Singers, Rutha Harris, Charles Neblett and Toshi Reagon.
Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Queen Latifah and Joanne Woodward will be guest speakers.
Orginally Published in The Music Trades, February 2010
Originally Published in Find It Frederick, Winter 2010
Originally published December 28, 2009-The Frederick News-Post
TOP FIVE BUSINESSES
Last week I called for people to nominate their favorite business for a Top Five. Here they are, just in time for the new year:
Demonstrating that you don't have to eat at just Volt to get some high culture inside you, Erika Schulze nominated Downtown Piano Works as her choice for something more than a high-end piano store.
The South Market Street store has "a free monthly concert series that attracts musicians I have seen at both the Kennedy Center and Strathmore," Schulze wrote. "It is unbelievable to me that I can see world-class classical musicians, locally, in an intimate setting in downtown Frederick ."
Many of the acts come to the store to warm up before premiering in Washington, New York or elsewhere, she said.
For example, Schulze recently saw the Goldstein-Peled-Fiterstein trio perform in Frederick -- a concert repeated Dec. 19 in New York and reviewed by The New York Times.
For those unfamiliar with classy music, such as myself -- I had to read the review to find out who they were -- Alon Goldstein is the pianist, Amit Peled the cellist and Alexander Fiterstein the clarinetist.
Additionally, Schulze wrote, the store has pushed development farther south along Market Street "in a grand way. (No pun intended.)" ...
Originally published December 2009 Frederick Magazine
Originally published April 23, 2009-The Frederick News Post
Youth Alliance, Piano Business Team Up To Build Musical Memories At A Young Age
Smell is widely regarded as the most evocative of the senses, but Dan Shykind begs to differ. Shykind, who co-owns Downtown Piano Works with his wife, Theresa, weighs in enthusiastically on the side of sound.
"Music has the ability to take us back to a moment in time with pinpoint accuracy," Shykind said recently from his office inside the family's new store on the corner of All Saints and South Market. "Certain notes and songs bring back memories with astounding power and clarity."
"When I think about my earliest musical memory," said Theresa Shykind, "I think about sitting out of sight at the top of the stairs, listening to my sister's music lessons. I was only 3 or 4, but I remember a feeling of magic and enchantment. Shortly after that, my parents realized that I could play by ear, and it was the beginning of my lifelong love of music, especially the piano."
Downtown Piano Works instructor Joellyn Jarvis works on a keyboard with children from Frederick Alliance for Youth's club explore. From left are Sha'cora Goines, Valentine Rojas, Eric Gyamfi, Jada Dorsey and Alexis Cook.
Thanks to the Shykinds and a musical program by Yamaha called Keyboard Encounters Kids, students from the Frederick Alliance for Youth's Club Explore program are starting to build their musical memories at a young age. "I was delighted when Dan and Theresa called to offer Keyboard Encounters to a group of our kids," said Frederick Alliance for Youth Executive Director Scott Alexander. "Our goal is to provide state-of-the-art programming based on children's developmental needs, and something like this is right on target. And the fact that Downtown Piano Works was willing to extend this opportunity to our kids at their cost made it all possible."
Eric Gyamfi and Jada Kirby practice their skills during the weekly lesson.
We're really proud to say we own a business in downtown Frederick ," Theresa said. "And we think that with that pride comes a responsibility to give back to the community. Any business can think about what they have to offer, and then find a way to partner with a worthwhile community organization to help amplify that group's programs and services. It's extremely satisfying to think you may be affecting a person's life, just by offering them your passion ... everybody wins."
The Frederick Alliance for Youth is a nonprofit organization founded in 2008 to promote and support positive change in the Hillcrest and Waverley communities. Eventually, the organization plans to build a youth center that will house accessible, affordable, fun youth programs that promote healthy development from childhood to adulthood. Plans for the center include a gym, stage, ten classrooms, a music room, a multi-sports/fitness room and a computer lab.
Accompanied by a program aide, the six young musicians arrive by bus shortly before 5 p.m. each Tuesday for a 45-minute of group lesson featuring solo and ensemble playing, music reading and singing. The students have the use of their own Clavinova, a digital piano with special features that make learning the basic songs of Level I interesting and fun for the class.
Downtown Piano Works instructor Joellyn Jarvis plays note recognition games with the students.
"Fifty percent of would-be pianists stop their lessons within the first year," Dan said. "That's why it's important to offer a program that holds the students' interest into the second year and beyond. When students make it into the second year, the attrition rate goes down to 10 percent. Keyboard Encounters does a lot to encourage young players to hang in there."
"A Clavinova is a wonderful first piano for young students," Theresa said, "because, while it maintains the traditional acoustic piano touch and tone, it has all kinds of cool accompaniments and instrument voices that make playing together a lot of fun for beginners."
Downtown Piano Works has begun a program to help a group through Frederick Alliance for Youth. Here, a child practices playing piano.
On a recent afternoon, instructor Joellyn Jarvis welcomed the six Club Explore students, all between the ages of 7 and 10. As they settled in at their instruments, they turned their practice books to songs like Monkey Business, Two by Two and Our Jazz Band. As they played each song, individually and as a group, their teacher walked among them, tweaking a hand position here, adjusting a student's posture there. In between songs, students practiced reading notes from the blackboard and clapped out rhythms and rests. Outside, a Frederick rush hour, complete with fire trucks from the station across the street, was in full force, but the students' attention barely wandered.
Alexis, Sha'Cora and Jada agree that there's something special about Tuesdays. "We can't wait to get here after school," Alexis said, speaking for the group. "It's fun, and we think we sound pretty good already." "I've wanted to do this ever since I was a little girl," 8-year-old Janaya said. "I'm so lucky that I get to do this. I'm going to practice my whole life so I get a music scholarship." Valentina, a third grader from Hillcrest Elementary, said she hopes the piano will be the first of many instruments she learns in her life. "I practice all the time, except when I'm in school or in church." Nine-year-old Eric, who said he doesn't mind being the only boy in the class right now, wants to play in a band someday.
"We don't want people to be intimidated by these instruments," Dan said. "It's true: they are beautiful. But they are meant to be played. They exist to be enjoyed, and we love it that the store is almost always filled with the sound of students of all levels, practicing and having fun."
For information about the Frederick Alliance for Youth or Club Explore, visit www.frederickallianceforyouth.com, or call 301-696-0911. To learn about programs and events at Downtown Piano Works, visit www.downtownpianoworks.com.
Originally published January 2009, Frederick Magazine
|in the studio |
Balancing the Scales
Piano Store Mixes High-Tech,
Tradecraft to Go Beyond Middle C
By James Eppard |Photography by Erick Gibson
Remember piano lessons? You wanted to play like, say, Billy Joel.
So Mom got all excited, pushed the laundry off the old piano,
signed you up for lessons and blocked out your calendar through
adolescence. Then in the time it took you to master scales and passably
render Beethoven’s “Für Elise,” the Piano Man released two more albums
and married a supermodel. So you quit, just like half of all first-year
Well, forget all that. The husband-and-wife proprietors of a new
piano store in downtown Frederick are hoping to re-introduce the piano
to anyone who ever wanted to just sit and play, including all those
wayward souls who gave it up. Scales have their place, of course, but
Theresa Shykind’s less conventional approach at Downtown Piano Works
is aimed squarely at getting students to play right out of the
gate. Rather than advancing through regimens of rote
suffering, students learn to understand the music they are
playing and to break it down to its essential elements. Then
the really fun part comes when they record a track of their
work-in-progress on the Clavinova digital pianos, and then
orchestrate—again, on the keyboards—full-blown multiinstrument
arrangements to accompany their pieces. “I’m all about teaching people
not to need a book and not to need me,” says Theresa, who with her husband Dan
opened their store/studio/recital hall on South Market Street
in downtown Frederick in early October. “Most people just
want to play music, to just sit down and play.”
HEART AND SOUL
Theresa, 39, has a long and esteemed track record of
teaching, most notably as head of the music program at
Baltimore City College High School, a competitive collegeprep
magnet school that boasts its share of Nobel and
Pulitzer prize winners. Her own education includes a
master’s degree in musical composition and years of yeoman
work in New York City studios. She met Dan, 40, at Jordan
Kitts Music, a large piano retailer, about six years ago and
the two salespeople hit it off. Dan, whose resume includes
very successful stints at a Fortune 500 company and a
national retailer, loves the craftsmanship of fine pianos,
whereas Theresa is all about the music.
“I like acoustics and construction,” says Dan, who could
be talking about the 40 Yamaha showroom pianos displayed
like pieces of art, or the 14-foot tray ceilings and pleasingly
thick 140-plus-year-old walls of their nearly 3,000-squarefoot
space. “Theresa,” Dan says, “is on the warmer end, the
It was Theresa’s playing that caught the attention of Eric
Delente, a father of two who poked his head in the store
during a random stroll. “I was very impressed,” he recalls.
They struck up a conversation that included his own
admission that practicing piano is always a struggle, for him
and for his kids who regard it as a chore.
Sold on what he called Theresa’s “more contemporary
approach to pedagogy,” which also follows Yamaha’s own
Keyboard Encounters program, Delente enrolled his son
Christoph, 12, and daughter Nicole, 10, in classes.
“She’s managed to get them interested in it, and now they
look forward to piano lessons,” he said. “She has a real knack
for relating to the kids.”
Dan and Theresa agree that incorporating technology into
lessons goes a long way toward keeping students interested.
The ability to sample, compose and arrange music on a
digital keyboard—then save your work on a thumb drive—
beats 30 minutes of scales for all but the most hardened
traditionalists. In the store’s first week, 24 people signed up
for classes, more than half of them adults. The classes alone
are payingthe bills, Dan says, pleasantly acknowledging one of
the few surprises in a very detailed business plan that included
swapping out light bulbs and building a Web site themselves to
save money. “I knew we’d sell pianos, but I didn’t know how people
would take to the lessons,” Dan said. “All our overhead is
paid by lessons.” Already they are interviewing to hire help.
The goal, of course, is to sell pianos, something Dan
and Theresa know all about. For years they fantasized
about opening a shop where they eventually did—a corner
store that looks out onto a busy intersection where Abe
Lincoln once spoke. Until last June it was still just a fantasy—
Dan was an operations executive and Theresa was home raising
their 2-year-old daughter Zoe. Then the Shykinds were offered
a chance to sell Yamaha’s full line of pianos—grands, verticals,
players and digitals—and they didn’t hesitate. Prices aren’t
marked, but they vary from about $1,500 to more than
$40,000 for the tricked-out Disklavier Mark IV.
Friends have questioned their sanity, opening a store full of
pricey merchandise during a recession. Dan says motivated
buyers across the economic strata will still make what amounts
to a once-in-a-lifetime purchase. And musicians, Theresa jokes,
typically “have no money anyway, so what’s the difference?”
In addition to showrooms, offices and a classroom, the
store at 74 S. Market includes a 50-seat recital hall where
performances will be held on the first Saturday of every
In early December, local artist Susan Dale
christened the hall with a performance on a limited-edition
piano, signed by Elton John, that is touring the country.
The event may bring in more people like Lea Allen, 53,
of Frederick, who took lessons in high school but soon after
fell off the wagon. “It was always the same,” she said. “I was
over the recital thing. And I didn’t particularly like my
piano teacher.” She’s taking private lessons with Theresa now,
making more sense of the music. “There’s more logic to it,” she
says. “It’s not just reading the music. It’s understanding it. Feeling it.”
And clearly she likes her teacher now. Her lessons are
supposed to be for 30 minutes, she says, “but usually it runs
over because we gab.”
Originally published October 07, 2008- The Frederick News Post
NEW PIANO SHOP OFFERS INSTRUMENTS, LESSONS
A new shop in downtown Frederick offers pianos, music classes and a recital hall that
holds up to 50 people. Dan and Theresa Shykind have opened Downtown Piano Works at 74 S. Market St.
"I've been in music all my life," Theresa Shykind said.
She holds a bachelor's degree in music with a focus on teaching, and a master's of arts degree in studio engineering, and recording and composition.
She worked in New York City for a music business and later a recording studio, and came to Baltimore 10 years ago as a piano teacher and head of the International Baccalaureate Music Department at Baltimore City College High School. The specialty department is designed for children of diplomats to provide continuity in music instruction worldwide, she said.
She and Dan Shykind met at Jordan Kitts, one of the nation's largest piano retailers. They were managing different stores for the company.
Dan advanced to vice president of the company, but left for two years to work in other businesses before returning to the music field.
"We are an authorized Yamaha dealer for pianos, player pianos, digital pianos and repairs," he said.
Theresa said one of the most impressive aspects of the nearly 3,000-square-foot shop is a recital hall that can hold up to 50 people.
"It can provide a place for music teachers for recitals," she said.
The shop will offer group and private lessons.
OFFICIALS VISIT NEW PIANO STORE
Frederick County, Maryland Office Of Economic Development / News and Events
Photo Caption: Dan & Theresa Shykind, 4 and 5 from left, of Downtown Piano Works receive a certificate of appreciation from (left to right – Veronica Mozzano of the Frederick County Business Development Advisory Committee, Alderman Paul Smith, Frederick County Commissioner Jan Gardner and Frederick County OED Executive Director Laurie Boyer.
On November 3, 2008 Frederick County Commissioner’s President Jan Gardner, Alderman Paul Smith and a number of local business support professionals visited Downtown Piano Works to tour the facility and learn about the company. The visit was organized by the Frederick County Office of Economic Development
Downtown Piano Works is the only Yamaha piano dealer in Frederick County and one of only a few in the state of Maryland. Owners Theresa and Dan Shykind opened the store in early October and found immediate demand for their products and services, which include piano sales, service and lessons. The company is well ahead of its initial sales targets.
Theresa Shykind holds a Bachelors of Music, and Master of Arts in Composition. She has had extensive experience in teaching and recording/engineering, as well as sales management experience at the nation's largest piano retailer. She is the former head of the IB music program at Baltimore City College High School.
Dan Shykind has broad experience in sales management. He began his career as a manager with the largest piano retailer in the country, rapidly rising to Director of the E-Commerce Division, and then Vice President. He further honed his executive management skills as the Director of Retail Operations for a nine-store outdoor outfitter, and finally as an Operations Executive for a Fortune 500 retail company, before starting Downtown Piano Works with his wife, Theresa.
The visit began with a brief introduction by the Shykinds and the description of their operation and the work done to prepare for the business opening. This was followed by a tour of the 3,000 square foot facility, which includes a performance stage, a recital hall, two teaching rooms, offices and two retail showrooms. One highlight of the tour was a demonstration of the Yamaha Disklavier Mark IV (bedecked with a “SOLD” sign). The Mark IV is a new generation player piano, capable of use as a traditional performance-quality piano, but also capable of automatically playing thousands of selections, including the piano parts of popular pop recordings, while the rest of the recording plays through the speakers installed in the piano.
The visit concluded with brief remarks by Commissioner Gardner and Alderman Smith, and the presentation of a Frederick Office of Economic Development certificate of appreciation to the Shykinds.
Downtown Piano Works is located at 74 South Market Street in Frederick. For more information, call 301-631-1234.