The Music Studio In the News!

April 20, 2010
Adapting to the times
  by Rafael Pimentel Abington Journal Correspondent

Piano instructor Cathy Shefski lectured at the New England Conservatory in April on the topic of teaching piano in a digital age. Shefski, who teaches at The Music Studio, 106 Colburn Ave., Clarks Summit, was invited by Bruce Brubaker, chair of the piano department at the Conservatory, to participate in its weekly Friday seminar. The free seminar is open to the public.

Brubaker found Shefski through her Wordpress blog ( After reading her e-book “Go Play!” and discovering that she was an alumna of the Conservatory, he invited her to speak at Friday seminar, according to Shefski.

“The experience was fun and the audience was receptive to what I had to say. Many of them were sheltered and unaware of what I was talking about.”

Shefski talked about the issues she addresses in her e-book, which serves as a guide to struggling instructors in an age dominated by technology and the internet.

“Everything is changing. You could lose students if you can’t keep them interested,” said Shefski.

Despite the potential danger of this new era, Shefski offered ideas to avoid being left behind.

“High school students come into lessons having learned songs from YouTube videos, but they don’t have the desire to follow the steps that come before. However, these kids discover their passion for music this way, and then I gradually introduce theory. The process is reversed.”

Additionally, she said, “Internet search engines have changed how we think, we want the big picture, and we want it now. We want the superficial.”

The technology is not the only change in the musical landscape. According to Shefski, students learn in very different ways and have new appreciation for various types of music.

“Students are becoming more visual learners.”

She added, “With the change, there’s been more of interest in multicultural music- Spanish music, Irish music. Kids seem to like all music equally, some like classical, others like Billy Joel and Elton John, but they appreciate them all.”

The change has inspired Shefski to adapt. She said she has changed from being a strictly classical teacher to incorporating all kinds of music. She also said that she is looking into teaching via Skype, e-mail and YouTube.

The change has not affected Shefski’s number of students. If anything, she said, the digital medium has helped.

“Students are joining now because they learn from YouTube, and then want more training. Kids are coming to me now and asking to be taught instead of the parents asking. I like the change.”

September 22, 2010 Abington Journal
Stabinsky Piano Salon at The Music Studio

Pianist Ron Stabinsky will present a performance and discussion of his improvisational style as part of the 2010 Salon Concert Series at The Music Studio, 106 Colburn Ave., Clarks Summit, Friday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. Pianist, Ron Stabinsky will perform as part of the 2010 Salon Concert Series at The Music Studio, 106 Colburn Ave., Clarks Summit, on Friday, September 24 at 8 p.m.

Stabinsky received his first musical lessons at the age of five from Michael Hoysock, his grandfather. He later studied classical piano with Anne Vanko Liva and Thomas Hrynkiw and currently, with Edna Golandsky and Ilya Itin in New York City.

Since 2002, he has made improvising his own music his primary focus. His mentors in the art of improvisation include Bill Dixon in Vermont and Joel Futterman in Virginia. Beginning in January 2007, Stabinsky has been presenting performances of improvised music at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Wilkes-Barre.

He has performed music in Arizona, New Mexico, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and throughout the Northeast. In Europe, he has played in Germany, Spain, England and Belgium.

This project is supported by a Lackawanna County Arts and Culture grant.

Reservations are recommended. Tickets for the performance are $5 general admission and $2 for students and can by reserved by contacting Catherine Shefski at 570.586.1977 or by e-mailing

May 12, 2010 Abington Journal
Chopin Piano Salon at The Music Studio May 14

Pianist, Catherine Remus Shefski, shown at left, will present a piano recital featuring the works of Frederic Chopin as part of the 2010 Salon Concert Series at The Music Studio, 106 Colburn Avenue, Clarks Summit, Friday evening, May 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Shefski studied piano as a teenager with Anne Vanko Liva in Scranton. She attended Smith College, New England Conservatory and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. A former faculty member of Settlement Music School in Philadelphia, Shefski has also held teaching positions at Wilkes Community Conservatory and Doylestown Community Conservatory. She currently teaches over forty piano students at The Music Studio, in Clarks Summit.

The Salon Concerts are held in the intimate setting of The Music Studio and provide the audience with an up-close and personal evening with the performer. Coffee and dessert will be provided courtesy of Alyssa Termini, a junior at Abington Heights High School and piano student at The Music Studio.

This project is supported by a Lackawanna County Arts and Culture grant, a program of the Lackawanna County Commissioners and the Council on Art, Culture and Education

March 3, 2010 Abington Journal
Jazz Piano Salon at The Music Studio

 Jazz Pianist, David Leonhardt will present an Interactive Jazz Piano Recital as part of the 2010 Salon Concert Series at The Music Studio, 106 Colburn Avenue, Clarks Summit, Friday evening, March 19 at 7:30 p.m.

David Leonhardt is a highly skilled composer, performer and versatile musician. His twenty-five years of professional experience has included recordings, TV and radio, concerts and festivals, nightclubs and stage shows. He has appeared internationally throughout North and South America, Europe, the Middle and Far East. Recently Leonhardt arranged and recorded “Under a Woodstock Moon” with saxophonist David Newman, appeared with flutist Herbie Mann and bassist Ron Carter on the CD “Celebration.”

The Salon Concerts are held in the intimate setting of The Music Studio and provide the audience with an up-close and personal evening with the performer. For more information visit or

This project is supported by a Lackawanna County Arts and Culture grant, a program of the Lackawanna County Commissioners and the Council on Art, Culture and Education.

Seating is limited and reservations are recommended. Tickets for the performance are $5 general admission and $2 for students and can by purchased by contacting Catherine Shefski at 570.586.1977 or by e-mailing

January 27, 2010
‘Music for Haiti’ concert Jan. 30 in CS
By Don McGlynn

CLARKS SUMMIT - Some of the areas talented musicians will be taking the stage for a cause this Saturday, Jan. 30, when the Music Studio in Clarks Summit hosts “Music for Haiti.”

“It’s to show the community what is really happening in Haiti, and how it connects to us in Clarks Summit,” said “Music for Haiti” coordinator, Corrine Wolff, 17, of Clarks Summit.

Admission to the concert is free, but donations for Compassion Weavers, a Passionist Missionaries group run by Rev. Rick Frechette, will be collected at the door.

The concert is one of several fundraisers for Compassion Weavers that Wolff is currently involved in, along with Clarks Summit residents Margaret, 21 and Chrissy Conaboy, 23.

Most recently, the girls took part in a candlelight vigil at The University of Scranton, held on Monday, Jan. 19, which raised over $3,000. In addition, Chrissy has set up a change drive at Pocono Mountain Charter School where she teaches, and the three have several other events in the works.

Wolff and the Conaboys said that so far fundraising has been going very well, and they’ve noticed that in light of the recent tragedy many people have been very eager to give to a cause that’s been close the girls’ hearts for a long time.

“Our family has been involved with Haiti for over ten years, now. My dad actually worked down there for year. I’ve been back and forth a couple times… and even before the earthquake, it was a country in dire need of help,” said Chrissy.

“Sometimes you have to wonder if the earthquake was a blessing in disguise, because now people realize what Haiti is like,” said Wolff.

“It’s sad but true,” added Margaret.

While they are happy to see the current flood of donations, they are hoping people keep Haiti in their minds long after the news stations and papers have stopped reporting, which is why the girls are still discussing projects they can put together later in the year.

“We want the fundraising to be ongoing. Someone made a comment to me, asking why I wasn’t doing my change drive until June, this is going to be old news by then, and I just kind of said, well that’s why,” said Chrissy.

In addition to fundraising, Wolff and the Conaboys are scheduled to travel to Haiti in July.

The next two events the three have scheduled are “A Night at JJ Bridges for Haiti,” on Sunday, Jan. 31, from 7 to 11 p.m. featuring Tony Vergnetti and the Harrison Wolff Band, and the “Oxfam Hunger Banquet” at the Clarks Summit Fire Hall on Friday, March 19, at 5 p.m.

For information on future events, or on how to volunteer, visit Scranton Aid for Haiti on or email

“Concert for Haiti” will run from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Music Studio, 106 Colburn Ave., Clarks Summit.

January 13
, 2010 Abington Journal, Joe Student, Correspondent
Funding creativity
Abington area events, performers among 16 Lackawanna grant recipients.

SCRANTON - Sixteen Lackawanna County organizations can present diverse programming ranging from Middle Eastern dance to a musical performance about the life of an anthracite coal miner as a result of funds awarded to the groups via 2010 Lackawanna County Arts and Culture Project Grants. The grants, awarded at a ceremony at the Scranton Cultural Center on Monday, Jan. 11, are the community organization-focused part of a $1.2 million taxpayer-funded county program. Other, larger arts and culture organization programming awarded Monday is funded through an additional program stream of the same fund.

“The project grant program allows individual artists to be funded without having to compete with already established programming such as the Northeast Philharmonic or the Everhart Museum, which receive funds through the program stream,” said Maureen McGuigan, Lackawanna County deputy director of arts and culture. The program’s money is collected though a separate arts and culture fee on the county’s property tax forms.

Twenty-three grant projects, a slight drop from the 29 applications, which competed for 2009 grants, applied for the program by the October 2009 due date. Lackawanna County Commissioners Michael J. Washo, Corey D. O’Brien and A. I. Munchak, in cooperation with McGuigan’s office, last week announced the 16 projects that will receive funding. A panel of experts assembled by McGuigan sorted through the applications last fall.

“Each year we reach out to people who have extensive experience in music, visual arts, arts administration, arts and culture programming and non-profit experience to sit on the panel and thoroughly evaluate each application,” said McGuigan. “The majority of the judges live in (Lackawanna) county.” Projects were judged on quality of art, uniqueness, each project’s benefit to the community, the amount of access the public would have to the project and its ability to sustain itself as a program, among other criteria, she said.

Organizations receiving grants for the first time are fully funded by the program. Second-time recipients must provide 25 percent of their project’s funding with the rest coming from the county fund. Applicants who have a third, or subsequent, project grant approved receive matching funds from the program. The project grant program’s maximum award is $3,000.

The First Presbyterian Church in Clarks Summit has received grants for several years, said church member John Weiss, who serves as the chair of their concert series. The organization will use its $2,343 project grant to hold an art show during the Clarks Summit Festival of Ice on Feb. 13, and two public concerts, one with several Lackawanna County church hand bell choirs on March 13 and another featuring accomplished jazz act Bill Mays and the Inventions Trio. Neither concert will have an admission charge, but the church will accept a free will offering to defer the cost of the performances, Weiss said.

“Our pastor, Bill Carter, is a jazz pianist himself, so he was able to help arrange Bill Mays’ performance,” said Weiss. “He is a well-known national act that we would not have been able to get without the pastor’s knowledge and the grant money to help with costs.” Weiss added the church uses the events for community outreach.

“There is a lot of interest in music and the arts in the church. We use that interest to present these shows. Hopefully they bring the community in to discover us and it allows us to enjoy our interests together.”

Weiss also serves as president of the board of the Robert Dale Chorale group, which has received funds dedicated to the larger, program stream.

“All of these programs support one another and try to attend each other’s events,” said Weiss. “These grants make it possible for us all to exist. It’s a good percentage of our budget.”

The Jewish Discovery Center of Clarks Summit is a first-time grant recipient in 2010. Rabbi Benny Rapoport of the center said without the $3,000 project grant from the Lackawanna County program and state funds the center received from the Pennsylvania Partners in the Arts, the public concert it will present this spring would not be possible. The center will welcome Broadway singer and actor Dudu Fisher at the Mellow Theater in Scranton.

“We were lucky to have him perform three years ago. Only because of the grants are we able to bring him back,” Rapoport said, adding that a date for the performance has not been scheduled, but the show should be slated between “the end of May to mid-June.” He said admission prices for the show would be set at a “minimal amount.”

“(Fisher) has played Jean Valjean in ‘Les Miserables’ from London to Israel to New York,” said Rapoport. “He is a high-level talent. Last time we had him here, we titled it ‘From Tel Aviv to Times Square.’ This year we are calling it an ‘Encore With Dudu Fisher.’ ...It’s a night of celebration, which will allow us to promote our own work and the awareness of our educational offerings, but it will also serve as a way to bring everyone together as we are all a community of God’s children. It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate life, arts and the community. It makes people want to come to Lackawanna County.”

Catherine Remus Shefski, owner of The Music Studio in Clarks Summit, received a grant to conduct four salon-style musical performances at her studio.

“Salons were popular in Paris in the 1800s,” said Remus Shefski. “Artists and musicians would perform in people’s homes. This is before they had auditoriums and performance spaces to use. Our studio only has room for about 25 people, so it will replicate that level of closeness.”

Jazz pianist Dave Leonhardt will play the first salon on March 19. Remus Shefski will sit at the piano for a recital honoring the 200th birthday of Chopin for the second salon and improv pianist Ron Stabinsky will perform at the third. Chamber music will be performed at the fourth salon, Remus Shefski said. A minimal admission fee will be charged at each salon.

“(The salons are) something I have always wanted to do but I never knew how I would do it,” Remus Shefski said. “(The grant) was the only way I can manage it.”

Remus Shefski noted that the fee she will charge for admission was her way of addressing the sustainability question posed on the grant application. Program director McGuigan, who is already preparing the marketing efforts for the 2011 grant applications, added that in addition to the sustainability of a given project, the county requires a final report on project grants which tracks community attendance, interaction and benefits.

A former grant recipient herself prior to taking on the administration of the program, McGuigan believes the grants work for the both artists, the organizations, and the citizens to improve the quality of life in Lackawanna County and beyond.

“It does make the region a better place to live.”

The recipients, project descriptions and grant amounts are as follows:

Beledi Dance Theater, Inc.: Performances of traditional Middle Eastern dance at local libraries ($1,000)

Camp Create: An arts camp for special needs children at the Waverly Community Center ($3,000)

Carbondale Historical Society: Welsh music concert by the Ystradgynlais Male Choir from Wales at the First Presbyterian Church, Carbondale ($3,000)

Jewish Discovery Center, Clarks Summit: Public concert by professional singer and actor Dudu Fisher at the Mellow Theater ($3,000)

Covenant Public Concerts, Scranton: Three public concerts at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Scranton ($2,000)

First Presbyterian Church, Clarks Summit: Art show and two public concerts at First Presbyterian Church in Clarks Summit ($2,343)

K.K. Gordon: Theater production at the Olde Brick Theatre in Scranton of original plays based on local people receiving hospice care ($1,567)

Kenneth Marquis: Art exhibit of recycled hubcaps and creation of an educator guide to accompany traveling exhibit ($3,000)

Lexington Entertainment: Series of five concerts of Schoolhouse Rock and Dixieland All Stars at various schools, libraries and parks ($3,000)

Sally Weiner Grotta: Series of lectures about “Pennsylvania Hands,” an exhibit featuring portraits of regional artisans ($2,000)

The Century Club of Scranton: Children’s Theater productions of “Grease” ($3,000)

The Red Shoes Dance Company: Traditional Eastern European dance performance at the Electric Theater Company ($3,000)

Scranton Civic Ballet: Production of spring ballet featuring live music, featuring the Cornfield Dance Company of New York City ($3,000)

Catherine Remus Shefski: Four salon-style musical performances at The Music Studio in Clarks Summit ($3,000)

Terra Steele: A four-month open studio project to create a series of works based on the landscape of Lackawanna County ($3,000)

Patrick J. Marcinko and Upper Valley Winds: Original musical creation and performance depicting the life of an anthracite coal miner. ($3,000)

November 18, 2009 Abington Journal

Evening of free improvisation at The Music Studio

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, The Music Studio hosted a performance of spontaneous musical works for piano, saxophone and bass. Local pianist, Ron Stabinsky, performed a solo free improvisation using prepared piano.

For the second half of the program, pianist Eve Risser, from Paris, and double bassist Joel Grip, originally from Stockholm and currently living in Paris, joined saxophonist Jack Wright, from Easton, for a collaborative free-improvisation.

The Music Studio offers piano lessons to students of all ages and is located on Colburn Avenue in Clarks Summit.

For details, visit Shown above is Joel Grip.

October 28
, 2009 Abington Journal
Coffeehouse at The Music Studio

Local piano students entertained friends and family at an informal Coffeehouse held at The Music Studio on Colburn Avenue, Clarks Summit, Friday evening. The performers played and sang popular selections by Billy Joel, Bob Marley, Coldplay, Taylor Swift, and the Beatles as well as classical selections by Eric Satie and Martha Meier. Also on the program was an original composition by pianist Jillian Gratz. Performing were Caitlyn Dittmeier, Madeline Belknap, Gaby Puteri, Mariah Hawley, Jillian Gratz and Alyssa Termini.

May 20, 2009  Abington Journal, Nick DeLorenzo
Sharing the skills of music

CLARKS SUMMIT - Cathy Shefski has been teaching students to play piano for more than 30 years. When asked what gives her the drive and patience to mentor her many students, she offered a small smile and said, “I guess it just comes naturally. It’s a great feeling, to give someone the means to express themselves.”

“The workshops are something unique,” Shefski said. “Most pianists don’t have the opportunity to learn from one another. People who play other instruments, like the violin, are almost always playing in groups. When I was learning, there were always other students around, and you could draw inspiration from their work, or learn from their technique.”

Shefski has now taken this methodology to its next level and is now hosting summer music camps at The Music Studio not only for the piano, but for all instruments. “The music camps allow students to more fully explore theory and techniques, as opposed to what they might gain in an hour of lessons after school,” Shefski said.

The first week of the music camp, running from July 13 to 17, focuses on music theory and history and is for ages 10 and older. The second camp focuses more on technique and takes place from July 20 to July 24, also for ages 10 and older. Both camps run from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and are non-consecutive, so if someone can’t attend the first week, he or she is still welcome at the second.

Also offered are two camps which are devoted exclusively to piano. The Piano Virtuoso Camp is for pianists only and has a strong focus on technique and the more subtle aspects of the instrument, allowing musicians to more fully polish their skills and develop their abilities. The Virtuoso camp is for ages 10 and older and runs from July 27 to July 31 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. The second camp devoted solely to piano is “Introduction to Piano,” and takes place from August 3 to August 6. The class is for students ages 5 to 9 who are just beginning to learn or who have an affinity for the instrument. The student is not required to have a piano. This camp takes place from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Shefski also has a small number of adult students and offers encouragement (as well as lessons) to anyone who would like to learn. “It’s never too late to learn,” she said. “Children are fast learners, of course, but it’s certainly possible to take up an instrument as an adult.”

For details, visit, e-mail or call 586-1977. The Music Studio is located at 106 Colburn Avenue in Clarks Summit.

Read the article in the Abington Journal here. Thank you, Nick!