People Behind The Arts

August 14, 2017

Maestro Please!

John Crawley, Asheville School’s Music Director.

John Crawley grew up in Asheville. He started taking piano lessons when he was five years old. Crawley’s fascination with music began when he was about three.“When my aunt, who was my mom’s sister, would visit, I would just stare. She was a talented musician. I would stare at her play piano and when she would leave I would go over and try to do it,” Crawley says.

John Crawley took music lessons all through high school. He competed and won every competition senior year. He knew music was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.

Crawley didn’t do drama in high school because they lost the drama teacher, and the department wasn’t really developed. “I didn’t have your normal high school experience. I would go home and practice four hours a day. I didn’t hang out with my friends. It wasn’t that I wasn’t popular, I had a lot of friends, it’s just that that was one world and then I went home and was focused on doing what I really loved,” Crawley says.

He remained focused on music all through high school. “There’s a saying that if you could think of anything else you could do and be happy, don’t go into music. And that’s all I ever wanted to do,” Crawley says.

Crawley always loved musicals. His first experience with them was in high school when he accompanied a traveling group from Yale. He went on to be an accompanist in musicals during college. The summer he graduated from undergraduate school he went to Oklahoma and did Summer Stock Theater.

“That was probably the most fun I’ve ever had,” Crawley says.

After that, he came back to Asheville and went to graduate school.

“But what I really wanted to do was move to New York and do musicals for the rest of my life,” Crawley says. John Crawley majored in music in college, and was the accompanist in a singing group. They went on a six- week tour all over Europe.

Crawley is not just a teacher, but he a performer too. For years, he never thought he would be a piano teacher. “Teaching is a different skill- set than performing. Some great performers can be terrible teachers. It’s a serious thing to try to impart knowledge to somebody.” Crawley tries to remember what some of his great teachers in his high school taught to him and tries to bring it into his own teaching.

“I have a certain philosophy that I want to give you guys the best possible experience doing music and musicals, so that’s something hopefully you all will return to some point in your lives. In college or beyond,” Crawley says.

From Pointe Shoes to Asheville Blues

An Interview with Kathy Leiner

Kathy Leiner grew up in Newark, Delaware. Her career at Asheville School began with 20 girls learning dance in the hallways of Mitchell because there was no formal space for dancers to meet. She became interested in dance at around two or three years old. Leiner started with ballet when she was nine, but mostly focused on gymnastics. She focused on athletics through high school, and took dance after school because there was not a program there. Leiner became more serious when she was 16.

“I really liked the athletic part of it, but also the connection to the music and the creative side of it. Something clicked when I started dancing,” Being an athlete, Leiner enjoyed the physical challenges dancing brought. “It’s so romantic, and then you get all the blisters and broken feet,” Leiner says.

Leiner started with ballet, but modern dance is one of her favorites. Shortly after college, Leiner suffered a foot injury, which prevented her from dancing on pointe any more.

What made Leiner want to teach dance was the teachers she liked and didn’t like.“I had some teachers who would only give negative feedback, which was hard. I had some teachers who were encouraging. I was interested in looking into how we can approach dance in a different way,” Leiner says. Leiner traveled with a dance company to Cuba, and taught in schools.

“I liked getting to work where people are really excited about dance and creating themselves, rather than me telling them what to do and seeing them get outside their bodies,”

Watching people learn and create dance is what motivates Leiner. Teaching made her more interested in the creative aspect of it rather than the training side.

Pastels and Paintbrushes

An Interview with Casey Arbor

Casey Arbor grew up in Winston- Salem, North Carolina  and went to boarding school in Conneticut. It started with her grandmother, who she would see every weekend.

“I used to have ‘grammy camp’ with my grandmother. We would go to the house or beach and we would make dollhouses. We were always creating something. In high school I learned that it could be more sophisticated”

Arbor took all the art classes her school had to offer. She spent most of her time in the art studio, and really enjoyed oil painting. Arbor’s high school teacher gave her the inspiration to teach, and was really important to Arbor. When she knew she wanted to teach, she knew she wanted to teach high school students.

“You’re at such a special age where the world is getting way bigger yet way smaller. Your starting to form your own opinions. All the stuff that you read or you’ve been told, now your skeptical,” Arbor says. Arbor kept a journal through high school, and believes everyone needs to find something to hold onto.

“Just to be there for people in high school and to help them understand that there are escapes. Art’s not all about escape, but it is about communicating,” Arbor says. When arbor was a teenager, art helped make life less difficult. She has never forgotten.

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