Updated: Sep 25
M Institute piano student, Lisa Niemeier, is pursuing her childhood dreams of becoming a professional pianist after retiring from a successful 30-year career as a consultant.
And not even a pandemic will stop her...
Lisa Ruth (Niemeier) is a piano performance major studying with Thomas Pandolfi at the M4Arts Institute and at Virginia Commonwealth University. Lisa's primary instrument is solo piano however she studies violin, vocals, conducting, ballet and is in acting classes. She is currently the Web Master of the Virginia Commonwealth University Music Teachers Collegiate Association and is active in the M4arts community as well.
So what did it take to get to this point?
"I have been singing ever since I can remember and began studying piano at age 8. I've been studying 18 years total at this point! I earned my Bachelor of Arts at Memphis State University with a concentration in Vocal Performance in 1979. However, my piano studies continued throughout my first degree program and were as rigorous as my vocal studies. I was in Daniel Fletcher's studio who was the piano chair at the time, and also Joan Gilbert's. During my single year of graduate work in Suzuki Piano Pedagogy, I studied with Samuel Viviano."
Where did your career take you after that?
"Following a brief marriage, I became a single mother and entered the world of wealth management. After a 30-year career, including 17 years running my own consulting company, I once again am pursuing the career of my childhood dreams, this time with the piano as my primary instrument. I began studying ballet eight years ago and have given three performances (including two Nutcracker performances) with a small local ballet studio."
Where are you in your studies now?
"Having been prohibited from fulfilling my original professional aspirations of an operatic career due to family and financial support, I am extremely grateful for this second opportunity for a performance career. I recently chose the violin as my official secondary instrument for my degree program. I plan to continue those studies and to perform with local amateur groups. I also recently returned to my vocal studies after a several decade hiatus. My junior recital for the Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance is scheduled for Spring of 2021 with a senior recital to follow in spring of 2022. I am thrilled to be living the musical life that has always defined me."
What have you been doing to stay active during quarantine?
"I feel really lucky because I have a beautiful instrument in my home so I really enjoy working on it every day. I just recently performed a Facebook live recital!
My teacher, Thomas Pandolfi, has done a fabulous job helping me prepare for this. He is so supportive and we drill down layer by layer in our lessons. I find doing lessons on Zoom to be just as effective as in person. The demands are the same, the interaction is detailed and I am challenged as much as ever before - even more, perhaps. My days have been filled with refining my old rep for this recital and learning a lot of new rep for upcoming competitions and recitals schedule for the spring and summer 2021. That's a lot! Over the summer there was more time to really concentrate on practice and there were also some great performance opportunities. Online masterclasses, performing with groups of friends, doing workshops, performing online regularly (I try to do it every other Tuesday), these are all opportunities that have grown out of the COVID condition that I might not have had otherwise so I am really grateful for having these outlets to grow through. The path to my goals has not been derailed in the least! And that's something that is carrying me through this time. My music is my savior no matter what is going on in life in general - music and the people to whom it connects me. I've made many new friends through my music just in the last few months. I'm excited about what the future will bring and I'm grateful for each day of progress."
What are your plans for the future?
"Never one to limit myself, I plan to ultimately concertize, conduct, record, compose, and teach. After graduation, I plan to continue my performance education at the graduate level. In 2021, I plan to enter the spring VCU Concerto Competition and the summer Global Summer Institute of Music concerto competition. I have one daughter, two beautiful grandchildren, and two canine children. I love film and spending time with my husband and family."
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