Harvey Schwartz, pianist and teacher

The Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op is hosting the All Community Art Contest.

February has been set aside for middle school students. A heads-up for fifth- and sixth-grade artists: the deadline for submitting your work is Feb. 28. Contest applications and rules will be at the Co-op, located in the purple house at 150 Pagosa St. Reception for winners will be held Sunday, March 15.

There will be prizes from the following sponsors: DSP Pizza, Shang Hai Restaurant, Springs Resort, Ramon’s Mexican Restaurant, La Tazza, Chato’s Restaurant, Tequilas Restaurant, JJ’s Riverwalk Restaurant, Bear Creek Saloon, Junction Restaurant, Moonlight Books and Gallery, The Malt Shop, Artemisia Botanicals Company and Liberty Theatre.

We are holding a Local Appreciation weekly drawing Thank you, Pagosa Springs, for your support and making our first year possible. To show our appreciation the Co-op has begun a weekly drawing and every Saturday there will be a gift given. We will continue this through July 12. Stop by and fill out a ticket, you do not have to be present for the drawing.

Pianist and teacher in Spotlight

Harvey Schwartz is a pianist and teacher.

The Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op is proud to salute the educators of the arts, those unsung heroes who educate and influence society. The value of a life is not within that life. The value is found in what it is in relation to other people. The life of Harvey Schwartz is such a life whose value far surpasses silver or gold and who has extended his knowledge and love for music to many who have a mutual interest in learning.

I asked Harvey about those who influenced him as a teacher and pianist, and this is what he wrote:

“Well, Liz (Betty), my first piano teacher, Mrs. Von Zamph, gave me a good start in 1951 when I was eleven. Also, at that time, a set of 45 rpm recordings of pianist Vladmir Horowitz recordings of Frederick Chopin solo piano works floodlighted my way to the instrument. The most valuable influences to tell your readers about would normally be composers, but I have lost faith in this process.

“These days, despite access to more music by more people than even before, awareness of music seems to be at the lowest. This push-button access to multiple performances of any music from anywhere does not seem to lead to great music appreciation. In fact, it seems quite the opposite.

“Music education, especially public, is an uphill against-the-wind ordeal. Whereas, children were once born the mother-sung resonance of lullabies, ‘Happy Birthday’ is about the only melody in childhood hearts and heads, and that barely. The sense of melody, let along harmony, let alone the thrill of singing harmony, is being lost despite all of this access.

“My music influences before piano study were the incredibly rich and varied, music environment of the ’40s. Radio and films were replete with many and varied styles. And, we really heard them! Someone could break into almost any popular song and others could join in unsurprisingly, including children. Folks did not reject music in minor keys as being too sad!

“Lately, music industry marketing has succeeded in narrowing our music purchasing to at most a couple of styles and just a few artists and and/or bands.

“I could, in a music appreciation class, play all kinds of precious music through a great sound system. That ‘selective deafness’ will prevent most, if not all, from getting through. The class may notice lots of it, yet hear none. There is a numbness to melodic and harmonic elements. I am into current pop genres, myself, however there are mainly characterized by their rhythmic elements and timber, not melody and harmony. Timber is the unique character of the sound of a particular instrument, voice, or band.

“My prayer is that sensibility of the melodic and harmonic elements be regained in our general population. I extol my students to listen with your blood. Open your eyes and hear. Open your ears and see. Listen to the nighttime fall.

“Currently I have private students. My fee is on a sliding scale. Also I am helping Sue Anderson at the junior high school with her band students. She would like the junior high to be a top-notch feeder band for Dan Burch’s fantastic band program at the high school.”

I find great delight in knowing Harvey Schwartz, a master teacher and friend who has dedicated his life to training and teaching the children and adults of Pagosa Springs. We have a national treasure in our own backyard.

Life in the Artist’s Lane

Yesterday’s passion.

The artist is adorable, funny, sensitive, temperamental, flaky, vulnerable, caring, warm and fun to be with. You can see why I find such enjoyment writing about artists. Their stories go on and on and I love sharing them. They could be my story or yours! Scary thought, isn’t it?

Does the average person understand us? I don’t think so. They listen to our next great idea and respond with, ‘That’s interesting.’ They are probably even fearful for us because of what we might do next. They love our freedom of expression but it is threatening to them because we operate out of the box and they can only see a possible train wreck ahead

The people who truly love us are invaluable to us. We desperately need their wisdom and support. These friends keep us grounded. They are a sounding board for us and they keep things in perspective. So when I received the following comment from my dearest friend, who is full of wisdom and truth, I felt her advice was too good to pass up. I needed to share it with other artists.

“Betty, I hope you know where you are going with all of this. I felt your new body of work, ‘The Human Spirit Speaks,’ was a bit far out myself, however you’re the artist. I only want to remind you that not everyone sees what you see in this world of art.

I can only speak from the world I live in. My daughter came to my home, which I feel is the expression of my passion and she said, “Mother why don’t you start scaling down. You have so much to take care of it consumes all your time to clean all this cositas.”

So did I dig in and scale down? No. Not right at that moment. Then one day I asked myself, why is my daughter saying this? I began looking around and saw what she was telling me.

That which is your passion today will not be your passion forever. Now you will have to deal with what your passions were yesterday. So as long as you are willing to deal with the comments of others do as your passion leads you today.

Yes, I saw the boobie also, and thought, what are you saying Betty Slade? I am glad you called it ‘Naked Silence’ for now I see what you see. It’s not just a boobie!

Maybe the bell is ringing and it’s time to go back inside. You have had your fun. You have expressed your passion but we must all go back in and be in class again. It’s back to the drawing board and for me it’s scaling down. For I know my daughter is right. What my passion was yesterday is overwhelming to me today.

Do as your heart leads you as long as your heart lines up with His! As you said, we will all come before Him one day to give an account of what we did with the talent He gave us?

You can not be truthful and hope that the world will understand. If Truth Himself was not seen to be truth, what can you expect? So paint it if you must but be prepared for the consequences.

“There is safety in council” and after pondering long and hard the wise words of a friend who dearly loves me, I must say, my conscience is still clear and I must continue to unveil my passion. I’m not ready to come inside. Maybe the bell has rung and recess is over but I’m having too much fun. It will probably mean a trip to the principal’s office one day. Oh me, not again?

The final brushstroke. That which is your passion today will not be your passion forever. Know that you will have to deal with what your passion was yesterday.

Quote for the week

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.” — Abraham Maslow.


Photo courtesy Betty Slade
Harvey Schwartz is both a pianist and a teacher — one of the Pagosa educators of the arts being saluted by the Pagosa Artisans’ Co-op.