Our NVMTA July Spotlight is Greg Genter.
Greg owns and runs The Piano Express in Ashburn, VA. He and his wife have three children, ages 15, 12, and 7. They homeschool, which for Greg, is the perfect way to build “family time” into his week. Most of his time outside of teaching is with his family. He gets a little spare time on most days at the very end of the day. He and his wife watch TV together (on Tuesdays we throw in a glass of wine). Right now, they are in the middle of Ted Lasso (SO GOOD!), and MasterChef.
The pandemic posed some big challenges for Greg. He says, “I had to close two after-school centers for seven months while continuing to pay rent. We lost about 7K/month for several months straight. But the money was really just the insult to injury. What I lost was time. I was taken away from my dream that I worked so hard to create… a place where the community can come together to learn music. It was depressing to come to the buildings every now and then and see them so quiet and empty. It was supposed to be an environment full of life and learning, but it was (for a time) a place of nothing.”
“I did switch many of my students to lessons online. Teaching online wasn’t as enjoyable as teaching in person, but I put up with it. I learned that survival is more about being adaptive and not about being strong. The business adapted. It survived. It’s recovering.”
What do you like best about your instrument?
“I just love the feeling of making music. The sound comes from inside the instrument, but it feels like it comes from inside me. And then there is the idea of control. There are very few things in life that you can truly control. When I find myself caught in circumstances that are out of my control (as is often the case) I’ll try to learn a new piece on the piano. I can escape into a world where greater control is given to me with greater effort. A world where effort = control. It is simple, predictable, fair, and rewarding.”
“As a principle of life, I try to see the good in everything. I’ve trained myself to listen to music like a miner mines for gold. If I don’t see anything of value at first, I dig in hopes of finding it under the surface. You know what? I almost always find it! I respect, appreciate, and enjoy music of all kinds and genres.”
When asked about his current music projects, Greg said, “Oh boy! I am always in over my head in creative projects. Over the years, I’ve written a method for beginners that adapts well to group lessons. This year, I’m helping a software engineer build an online application that will work as a companion to the book series. I’m also working on teacher training material so I can license the method to teachers who are interested. Other projects include a goal to learn all of Chopin’s Etudes (op. 10 & 25) and all of Bach’s WTC 1 & 2.
How has NVMTA helped you?
Greg shared that he has learned the value of networking through NVMTA. I have the knowledge of hundreds of teachers if I simply join forces and become a part of a bigger thing. To say that I’m a better teacher because of NVMTA would be an understatement.
What is your best advice to new members? Go further than simply being a part of the organization. Find a way to make it better. Get involved. Find a place to serve. Email an officer of the group and ask if there are any needs you can meet. We do have needs! Honestly, we need to know what you have to offer.
How have you participated in NVMTA:
- Attended in-person NVMTA meetings
- Attended NVMTA zoom meetings (general meetings, TAT, or LATTE),
- Entered students in an NVMTA event
- Entered students in an NVMTA competition,
- Participated on an NVMTA committee
Our NVMTA July Spotlight teacher, Greg Genter is currently the chair of used book sales. He is also chairing the Sonata Festival this year. He participate in Piano Achievement Awards, Bach-Baroque Festival, and Sonata Festival.
Some of Greg’s proudest moments in his career come with annual recitals. “It’s so amazing seeing the students turn into performers. I’m always surprised to see how music speaks through their young minds.”
Looking back, is there anything you’d do differently in your profession if given a chance?
Hmm… I would have elected to learn string bass instead of violin for my string elective in college. Sorry violin players! I love you all, but I envy all who play bass!
What are some ideas you have for NVMTA and its members and students?
I have a few, but I’ll pick one. This won’t happen overnight, but I hope it happens some day. I hope that all NVMTA competitions/events have pianos with BOTH full width keys AND pianos with 7/8 width keys available. I see a better future where smaller hands aren’t left out from so much of piano literature. A world where families can purchase a piano for their home that fits the child’s hands, and organizations like NVMTA, that will accommodate with pianos that fit as well. This would especially benefit children and women (basically almost everyone in our group!).
Thank you Greg for your contributions to NVMTA and especially for chairing the Sonata Festival this year! We’re delighted that you could be our NVMTA July Spotlight!