Carolyn Powell Shaak

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  • Born in Florida, grew up in the Carolinas, started playing the piano by ear at the age of four when the family first had a piano
  • Was very dedicated to music and practicing all through school days
  • Gave first joint recital with sister Marinell at the age of seven in Ashville, NC
  • Presented first full-length solo recital at the age of ten in Charleston, SC
  • First time as soloist with an orchestra, played the Weber Concertstucke with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra at age 14
  • Taught first piano lesson at age 10 – a group lesson to three 6 -year -old neighbor girls who wanted to play like her
  • Played for church Sunday School classes and sang in the church choir for years at the First Presbyterian Church in Charleston
  • Won numerous local, state and regional competitions
  • Gave another solo recital at age thirteen
  • Won the Wally Reugger full music and academic scholarship to attend the prestigious Ashley Hall, all-girl, college preparatory high school in Charleston
  • Early teachers were Gloria Hendrickson, Marguerite Siegling, Hester Finger and J. Albert Fracht
  • In three years earned an ABA Degree in piano performance from the University of South Carolina, where she studied with Hugh Williamson
  • Won a Fulbright Grant in music to study at the Conservatorio di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Italy, where she studied primarily with Dante Alderighi
  • Coached with Edwin Hughes in New York City
  • Earned a Masters Degree in Music and Music Education at Teachers College, Columbia University
  • Was Teaching Assistant to Robert Pace at his private teaching studio in Scarsdale, NY for five years
  • Assistant Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy at the University of Illinois when Duane Brantigan was dean
  • Established and oversaw a student teaching training program at the U of I
  • Married pianist, composer and teacher Bernard Shaak in 1959 and moved to Carbondale, Ill, where she began to teach private pre-college students and where they started their family. They had three daughters – Leslie Hitelman, Kim Panjwani and Jamie Shaak Ragan, all talented in music
  • Moved to Denver in 1962 and in a few years established The Shaak Music Studio with Bernard
  • Co-authored with Bernard Shaak in the creation of 20 early piano teaching books, published by Moonstone Music Press
  • Presented two-piano recitals with Bernard Shaak
  • Has five grandchildren: Lily Hitelman, Nicholas Panjwani, Carolyn Hitelman, Evan Panjwani and Juliet Shaak Ragan
  • Co-produced three teaching DVDs with Jamie Shaak. Unique in the piano pedagogy field
  • Co-produced a one-of-a-kind musical game called The Bean Bag Game, originally invented by Bernard Shaak,that helps children learn time values and brings them great delight
  • Co-authored a book called The Shaak Technique Book 1 with Jamie Shaak in 2005
  • Performed two-piano compositions with Jamie Shaak and the Arapahoe Philharmonic
  • President of The Musicians Society of Denver for four years
  • Won the Clef Award of the Junior Symphony Guild (Colorado Symphony Orchestra) in 2002 for her help in establishing a program which grants young piano students in Colorado the opportunity to perform a concerto with Inside the Orchestra, a professional orchestra that plays at area schools to enhance their musical awareness and appreciation of classical music
  • Active member of the Music Teachers National Association and has presented several workshops at their national conferences
  • Active member of the state organization CSMTA and the area organization DAMTA, entering students in local auditions and presenting demonstrations about innovative ways of teaching
  • Enters students in the National Guild of Piano Teachers auditions, the annual Baker Piano Center/Kawai Competition and the Wells Music Store/Yamaha Competition, in which Shaak students have frequently won the competition and have received the opportunity play a concerto with an outstanding conductor at the Breckenridge Music Festival, with either the BMI Festival Orchestra or the NRO National Repertory Orchestra
  • Carolyn feels that her purpose is to help young children love and enjoy the process of striving to reach their pianistic potential