Fred Barton

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Practice, practice, practice – and have Sylvia Furash as your piano teacher.
Sylvia Furash taught me piano, theory, musicianship, discipline, professional decorum, and a concept of art from when I first started at age 6.  It was simply a blinding stroke of luck that my mother found Sylvia, and that Sylvia accepted me as a student at that young age.  It didn’t just change my life.  It made my life.
Mrs. Furash gives conservatory-quality training at all levels, at all times, and regardless of all the sudden shifts and dramas of a young life.  And her empathetic worldview was my rock and a beacon through all the formative years, both in music and in life.  She is a musician’s best friend – and a friend’s best friend.
While I was an exceptional student from the beginning, I was still a kid, and she guided my entire musical education with the former in mind but with a complete understanding of the needs of the latter.  She imbued me with a piano technique that has taken me from the elementary school musical play to the stage of Carnegie Hall, and the technique is as eminently suitable for one as the other.
But her training consists of much more than the essential building blocks of piano technique; by training me in musical analysis, and human understanding of the men (and women) who speak to us through their musical compositions of the past and present, she opened a hundred doors and windows into the concepts, potential meanings, and uses of art in a contemporary life – priceless advantages to take with me on my unexpected journey into the exciting (and occasionally treacherous) world of professional music.  And these are advantages that are increasingly hard to find.
Today, after a full career on Broadway, television music, and concert halls, I arrange and orchestrate large pieces for major symphony orchestras around the United States and Canada, and almost every weekend, some major symphony is playing something that came from my mind and pen.  I work everything out both in my head and at the piano.  But every day, without fail, before I begin to work, I play through some piano music, to make sure I’m “connected” with all the musical concepts and awareness which I got from my earliest days with Mrs. Furash.  While it’s a worn cliché to say, “She made me what I am,” in this instance I can safely say, without the slightest hesitation or hyperbole:  Mrs. Furash and her empathetic, disciplined training in music and life made me what I am.
For that I am extremely grateful, and it was a great thrill to know that Mrs. Furash was in the audience at Carnegie Hall when I made my debut.
Fred Barton