For the week of February 24, 1999  thru March 2, 1999  

Express Yourself

Erika Lynt takes music out of the box

Express Staff Writer

Erika Lynt earned an undergraduate degree in geology from MIT partly to please her parents, who wanted to make sure their daughter would be able to make a living.

Motivated, independent and in the throes of a lifelong passion, she earned a degree in music at the same time. After graduation, she enrolled in the prestigious Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y., where she earned a master’s in performance and literature.

From the East Coast to Oregon to the Wood River Valley, Lynt journeyed until reaching a life long goal– a music school of her own for adults and children.

"I’ve been teaching music since I was in high school," Lynt said. "It’s my great passion. I’ve been thinking about doing a music school for years and years and years and, although I was a little suspect about doing it in this area, we bought a piano and said ‘OK, let’s just do it,’ and the response has been phenomenal. It’s just been like wild fire."

Music Out of the Box in Bellevue has more than 35 students ranging in age from six to a one-time child prodigy, now a retiree.

Last week the New York based Arden Trio presented an open workshop at the school for amateur and professional musicians on musical and technical issues in solo and chamber works. Lynt’s trio sonata group comprised of Heidi Bynum, Karen Vance and Ellen FaFleur played a Telemann piece for the trio while Joe Marshall played a Bach prelude.

"I feel very strongly that musicians have weaned themselves out of the world, at large," said Lynt. "I believe there should be a musician on every street corner, a musician at every party, a musician at every function, playing in every church. We do it because we love it, and we should share this love of music with everybody we meet. That’s where the name Music Out of the Box comes from."

"There’s this box you get put into if you’re at all serious about music, whether it’s the jazz box or the classical box or the musical theater box. My goal is to shatter these boxes, to allow students to express themselves through music whether as a songwriter, a local blues band playing gigs at Whiskey’s or a trio that goes out and plays weddings, or nationally. There are 100 million ways to communicate through music."

One gets the feeling Lynt is ready and willing to tackle at least half of those.

The school reflects Lynt’s own ideas about music, and is her way of releasing music from the confines of classical training and opening it up for personal expression and performance.

"There’s been a void," Lynt said. "There were a number of people who taught private lessons up here, but no one who was running an actual program. So what happened was kids didn’t have any performance opportunities. Of course, if you’re doing music which is a performance art and you don’t get a chance to perform, at a certain point it is no longer applicable to you life."

Lynt began immediately to create a series of student recitals, the first taking place last October at Big Wood Bread in Ketchum. Because of her unique approach to music instruction in which students are also encouraged to compose, at least part of every recital includes original music.

The Lynt Method reflects the founder’s breadth of interest and experience and eschews pre-selected pieces and prolonged hours of practice.

"My adult students are very surprised that the first things we go over are theory," Lynt said. "And every time they start a piece we sit down and we look at the structure and we talk about what’s going on and how this is going to influence the decisions they make about how to perform the piece. I’m trying to empower my students to be able to go out and learn about the music and have fun with it at whatever level they chose to play."

The curriculum is broad. There’s a chamber music program Lynt coaches once a week, a trio sonata group and a little girl’s band made up of sixth- and seventh-graders who specialize in rock and roll and pop hits.

The school is structured around nine-week semesters and upon enrollment a student meets with Lynt for a "chat and a play"– a way to place students in performing groups and to gage their levels. (Lynt proficiently plays flute, piano, recorder, bassoon, sax and recorder and has a working knowledge of at least half a dozen more instruments.). Performances begin after the fifth week.

"With them I work on things like leadership issues, team work issues and how to perform in a group together," she said. "It’s social training for them as well as musical training."


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