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Transforming Promising Young Players Into Rising Stars

Growing up with the Yamaha Young Performing Artists program.

I started working full time with Yamaha in 1997 after being a Yamaha Performing Drum Set Artist for a number of years. One of the first projects I was put in charge of was the Yamaha Young Performing Artist competition (YYPA), which recognizes outstanding young musicians from the worlds of classical, jazz and contemporary music. Winners of this music competition are invited to attend an all-expense paid weekend at the Music for All™ Summer Symposium, receive a once in a lifetime performance opportunity in front of an audience of thousands, national press coverage as well as a recording and photos of the live performance, and get to participate in workshops designed to launch a professional music career.

My first experience seeing the transformation of these bright, young, promising musicians from great players into confident, prepared and experienced rising stars lit a fire in me which burns hot still.

I have a vivid memory of first hearing Patrick Bartley as he rehearsed with the small group he performed with when he won the YYPA position for jazz saxophone a few years ago. His playing and sound were big, developed and deeply soulful. This was clearly a young man who knew how he wanted to approach the world out there. He was a masterful musician with a humble soul, searching for guidance on how to navigate his journey. We have kept in touch and I am as grateful to have met him as he is to have met us. I see Patrick in social media or on late night TV from time to time and take great pride in knowing that our program helped him design a career on his own terms. It’s great watching him unfold as a beautiful musician and man!

There is no way to describe the magnificent feeling of watching the YYPA winners walk onstage one by one, to the deafening screams of almost 2,000 music students and teachers cheering them on to a performance of a lifetime. But what is even more fulfilling is the quiet peace I feel getting a handwritten note from a winner thanking us for helping them along their life’s path.

Man, do I love my job!

Applications are being accepted for the 2018 Yamaha Young Performing Artists program until January 22. For more information, click here.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John Wittmann is the Director of Education and Artist Relations for the Band and Orchestral division of Yamaha Corporation of America. He is responsible for organizing the support for over 700 woodwind, brass, string, percussion artists as well as running educational programs such as the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition. John holds Bachelors and a Master of Arts degrees in Music Education. He has toured extensively throughout the United States and abroad as a drummer and has given hundreds of drum set clinics. He remains an active performer/clinician and is the drummer for the Jennie DeVoe Band. As a band director in New York State, John headed two highly successful high school music programs. He was awarded the Teacher of the Year award at Waterford-Halfmoon ...

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