Crystal Desch and I had the honor of interviewing Wynn-Anne Rossi, and we think you’ll find her as we did, an inspirational composer, pianist and teacher. Among her many musical roles, Wynn-Anne is a highly creative composer of student-level piano music and instructional books on composing. We hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as we did.
How many piano students to you have?
I have about 25 private students, ranging from beginner to advanced. We focus on all the various piano skills, but my favorite part is teaching them original composition.
Tell us more about the structure of your piano/composition lessons.
I teach weekly private lessons, followed by keyboard lab for creative projects (under earphones). Once per month, I hold group lessons with different areas of focus. Every third recital is an original composition recital. These performances are totally exhilarating, with themes that the students choose.
What do you enjoy most about teaching piano?
I love the deep relationships that build over time with my students. I’m sure I am not alone in this answer. Sharing music builds amazing, lasting friendships.
You have a real talent for inspiring young people to compose. Where does your inspiration come from to work with young people in this way?
I suppose the inspiration comes from the students themselves. They are so curious and eager to express themselves. Students’ lives are so full of feeling, and they have so much to say through music. It’s invigorating and inspiring to work with them.
Do the students you work with ever influence your more advanced compositions?
Absolutely. Each year, I do composition residencies in the schools where I create orchestra and band works using student musical ideas. Some of my most complex pieces are linked to students. I can think of other examples as well. Students are closely linked to my music.
What were you able to do with your new Creative Composition Toolbox series that hasn’t been done before?
I’m pleased with how streamlined this composition method is. “See, then do.” It’s that simple. In addition, I designed it to parallel major piano methods. Certain concepts come up at appropriate times, ready to be expressed in original compositions. I’m also thrilled that the first book is free of traditional notation.
You have a bunch of fabulous Halloween titles. Is Halloween your favorite holiday?
You found a soft spot. I love crazy costumes, I love saying “boo” and I love candy. Yes, it just may win as my favorite holiday!
As a composer, do you have a “muse?”
I have lots of muses. Dark chocolate, petting my cat, modern art, funny jokes, coffee with a friend … small breaks from life allow flashes of inspiration to leap in. It’s everywhere.
Who have your greatest musical influences been?
The reason I’m a composer today is because of my mom. When I was very young, we would create animal stories and conversations at the piano. The piano wasn’t just about music. It was about imagination. I have admired so many composers along the way, but my mom influenced my approach to sound.
If it’s not confidential, will you share any new publications on the horizon?
Three more books are coming soon in the Creative Composition Toolbox series. In addition, I’m working on three Latin music books. They will be very accessible and fun to teach.
Do you have a favorite non-classical artist? Does this person influence your compositions?
I am constantly exploring new artists, wondering what’s new. Hiromi certainly has my attention right now. I think every artist I admire has a certain amount of influence on me. Listening refreshes my perception of what can be done with harmonies and rhythms.
We know at one time you were composer-in-residence with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Do you still create in that capacity? If not, what are you up to outside of teaching piano/composition and composing for Alfred Music Publishing?
This fall, one of my student-inspired band pieces will be choreographed and premiered at a national dance conference. In the coming months, I will have two student composition residencies, one with a string orchestra and another with a 120-piece high school band. Both include commissions. Plus, I’ve started weekly composer workshops at a local arts center. I like keeping busy with a variety of projects!
What was one of the most unusual projects you did this year?
I was a surprise guest at a summer piano camp and taught young students to compose “alien space music.” Before we composed, we put on aluminum foil caps with antennae for galactic inspiration! That was a day to remember …
What is one thing folks might not know about you?
My family life! I’m married to a gregarious guy named Greg, and we have an adventurous son, Nick. Nick was in Africa for three years in the Peace Corps, and now he is going to China.
What is one of your favorite things to do?
I like to dance. Right now, I’m exploring Latin dancing, but I also make up silly dances when nobody is looking.
What makes you happiest?
Surprises. I love surprise moments, surprise activities that I’ve never done before, surprise comments that make me laugh.
For more about Wynn-Anne Rossi, “Like” Wynn-Anne Rossi Music on Facebook and check the interesting discussion board.
For books and collections by Wynn-Anne Rossi, click here.
For solo sheets by Wynn-Anne Rossi, click here.
Click here for spooky (and fun!) Halloween pieces by Wynn-Anne Rossi. Have them right now with e-Print!