(by Roving Reporting Marcia)
This edition of Meet Our Very Talented Musicians is about Rodney Girvin, one of our extremely talented pianists. Rodney told me he grew up in San Diego and that his parents expected him and 2 sisters to learn to play the piano. So, they all started taking piano lessons at age 6. By the time Rodney was in the sixth grade, he was practicing piano 3 hours a day and continued to do so through high school. I asked how he found time to do homework, and he admitted it was difficult, but worth it. He loved the music experience.
During this time, he joined the Certificate of Merit, a program made up of talented student musicians. Each year, members are evaluated by the Music Teachers’ Association of California (MTAC) on their playing technique, ear training, sight reading, and performance. Based on the evaluation, members are elevated to the next level. Each level is more difficult and more intense than the previous one. Each year MTAC selects 5 or 6 high school seniors out of approximately 30,000 members to be part of the Young Artist Guild. Rodney received that honor and performed in concerts for them.
Rodney told me he went to college at University of Missouri, Columbia. He started out as a music major but after one year, he changed to History with a minor in Music. Upon graduation, he stayed in Missouri and held a variety of jobs, including real estate agent and chef, to name just a few. Part of why he changed majors was tendonitis in his hands. His fingers would get inflamed and just stop working, making playing the piano difficult. (He now finds the tendonitis manageable.) That said, even though he was no longer majoring in music, he continued to play the piano. He still loved it. He played in church, gave piano lessons, and played in a rock band.
Rodney never gave up his love of music. He told me, “A couple of years after graduation, I went full circle. I felt I’d given up a lot by changing my major from music. I was doing other things from 2003 – 2013, but I decided to come home to San Diego and start a career in music.”
Rodney, now himself a member of MTAC, works 50 hours a week with the piano. He plays the piano for the Pacific Coast Chorale, the San Diego Community choir, the Valhalla High School choir, and the Heritage Christian School choir. When PB UMC needed an additional pianist, pianist Laura Williams introduced Rodney to PB UMC Music Director Ron Jessee. Rodney has been one of our pianists for nearly 2 years since then.
In addition to those jobs, Rodney teaches 45 piano students, who are participating in the Certificate of Merit program. He also takes piano lessons himself. Rodney told me, “I love the challenge of music. I especially love the variety of classical music. I love teaching piano. I love the wide variety of piano playing techniques. I could play scales all day. Music speaks to me in ways nothing else does. Communicating music is most challenging and most rewarding. There are infinite ways to make music your own. It is just fun. I never stop learning about the piano.”