Turning an Ordinary Studio into an Extraordinary One

Greetings, fellow NVMTA colleagues! I am honored to speak to you all about my ideas for “Turning an Ordinary Studio into an Extraordinary One,” for one simple reason: when I moved to Northern Virginia 21 years ago, it was the outstanding level of piano teaching here among you all – my new colleagues – that inspired me to turn my own studio into an extraordinary one. As a result, speaking to you all about this very topic makes me feel as though I am preaching to the choir, as the saying goes!

My idea for this discussion is a simple concept – well, simple to articulate: make extraordinary the new ordinary, that is, make extraordinary achievement in your studio the status quo so that this new “higher” standard becomes your new bottom line.  In this capacity then, everyone can assess where they are in their teaching, set new goals, work toward those goals, and achieve things they never realized they could!

I have been a member of NVMTA since 1997; I moved here as an enthusiastic young teacher, eager to set goals and create a studio of accomplished young artists.  I listened carefully to senior NVMTA members, watched their students, and fleshed out some of my ideas on how to raise the bottom line in my own studio in those speeches I gave at the start of each year to my studio – and I came up with a program to share these ideas with other teachers in programs such as this.  But then, as many of you who know me know that in 2016, I was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. In a matter of only weeks, I went from having no knowledge I was ill to discovering I was already stage four cancer. I have been cancer-free and in remission since January, 2017. This experience obviously had a profound effect on me – and I will also talk about that experience and how it reshaped my thoughts, ideas, and motivations for making extraordinary the new norm for my own studio – each year, every year!


NARCISO SOLERO, pianist, piano teacher, and lecturer in piano pedagogy, received the Master of Music degree in Piano Performance from Indiana University (Bloomington, IN) and pursued studies in the doctoral degree program in piano performance there. His principal teachers at Indiana were James Tocco and Leonard Hokanson; additional studies at Indiana University were with visiting professors Michel Béroff and Dmitry Paperno. Solero received the Bachelor in Music Degree from DePauw University in Indiana, where he studied with Claude Cymerman.

Mr. Solero is an active master class teacher and lecturer.  His speaking engagements include lectures and  workshops in Virginia for Richmond Music Teachers Association, Roanoke Valley Music Teachers Association, Tidewater Music Teachers Forum, Highlands Music Teachers Association, Peninsula Music Teachers Association, Fairfax-Loudoun Music Fellowship, and Springfield Music Club; he also has given master classes at James Madison University, Springfield Music Club Spring Festival, and for independent teachers in Northern Virginia and Association and for Virginia Music Teachers Association state conference. Mr. Solero and three of his students were filmed and featured in the ASCD educational video Learning to Think…Thinking to Learn, which was released in 2007.

Mr. Solero has performed extensively throughout the United States and overseas, including concerto performances at Orchestra Hall in Chicago, solo recitals throughout the Midwest and in the Washington area, and concerts with singers in Hong Kong, Seoul, Bangkok, and Singapore, as well as television broadcasts on KBS-TV Korea. He has worked with such artists as Plácido Domingo, soprano Harolyn Blackwell, soprano Beverly Rinaldi, and TV/movie star Vanessa Williams, as well as many concerts up and down the East Coast from New York to Florida. Mr. Solero has appeared in concerts at Carnegie Hall, the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center three times,  Strathmore Mansion, Montgomery College, Catholic University, the Anderson House Museum, the Lyceum, Dumbarton Church, Temple Micah

Mr. Solero currently serves as President-elect of the Virginia Music Teachers Association (VMTA). In the past, he served as President of the Washington, D.C. Music Teachers Association (WMTA), and he had been an active board member for Northern Virginia Music Teachers Association and for the Springfield Music Club. He previously taught on the faculty of the Levine School of Music in Washington, and while living in the Midwest, he served on the music faculties of Albion College, DePauw University, Olivet College, and Kellogg Community College.

Mr. Solero is a cancer survivor and has been in remission since January 2017. Mr. Solero continued teaching full-time during intensive chemotherapy to ensure that he would cope with and thrive in spite of  his diagnosis and treatment and is currently preparing to write about this experience in which music played a crucial role in his mental and emotional well-being while fighting cancer and ultimately beating it.