88 Keys Across North Carolina - 88 Keys was a collaboration between Greg and the non-profit organization "Piano Connections". To help celebrate the 300th anniversary of the invention of the piano and raise awareness of how the piano has been instrumental in bringing communities together, Greg was hoping to perform residencies in each of North Carolina's 100 counties over a four year period from 2000-04. You can read about the residency below. The first residency, which took place in October 2001 in Greg's home county (Robeson), was a huge success. It received enthusiastic reviews, which got the attention of the Associated Press, and articles about 88 Keys appeared in newspapers all over the United States. Sadly, though, the first performance was on September 9, 2001, and two days later America suffered the worst terrorist attacks in history. The economic decline that followed the 9/11 attacks caused many arts councils to cancel the project in their counties. After appearing in only six counties the first year, the project was terminated because of the lack of funding.
Educational Programs - Greg was dedicated to educating young children about the wonders of classical music. He created many arts-in-education programs (see descriptions below) and performed them for thousands of school children across the Southeastern United States and in the Caribbean. Unfortunately the lack of support for classical music in recent years in the U.S. public school system put Greg's work in jeopardy. Greg had to stop offering these programs professionally, since it was causing his career financial hardship.
North Carolina Piano-To-Go: 88 Keys Across 100 Counties was a project of Piano Connections, featuring pianist Greg McCallum. The beginning of the new millennium coincides with the 300th anniversary of the invention of the piano. Since its conception 300 years ago by Bartolomeo Cristofori in Florence, Italy, the piano has played its way into the hearts and homes of music lovers around the world. It has inspired composers, inventors and performers. It has made a place for itself in palaces and concert halls, in parlors and honky-tonks, in churches and jazz clubs. The piano has revolutionized the way people play and experience music.
For North Carolina Piano-To-Go, North Carolina native pianist Greg McCallum planned to take his Yamaha C7 grand piano to every county in the state over a four-year period beginning September 2001. Events are being planned that will bring North Carolina communities together around the piano to celebrate the role this instrument has played in our society over the years. This community residency included the following activities.
Reviews of NC Piano-To-Go
Mayme Tubbs, Chair - Music Committee of the Robeson County Public Library:
The local arranger of the residency of Piano Connections in Robeson County has been overwhelmed with the positive response of individuals to the experience. There has been praise for both the artist and the concept of such a residency. The residency, including the Piano Jam, brought together both musicians and music lovers who were appreciative of Greg and each other. Greg McCallum is a pianist of great talent. His performances display both technical proficiency and emotional connection to the music. He entertains with his music and educates with his commentary. The Piano Jam was well attended and allowed the community to discover talent that many people did not know existed in the immediate area. The audience was enthralled.
Greg inspired several young people to become piano students.
Patsy Conoley, Counselor - Flora Macdonald Academy, Red Springs, NC:
Last week, I had the privilege of listening to Greg McCallum present concerts here at Flora Macdonald Academy. I was overwhelmed with his musical ability and with his skills in working with students. Your program is a wonderful opportunity for North Carolina's students to hear good music, as many do not have that opportunity at home. Thank you for giving our students and me an enjoyable experience.
Danielle, Grade 2 – Flora Macdonald Academy:
Dear Mr. McCallum,
Thank you for coming to the school and playing the piano for us. We liked it very much. We hope you come back to see us. You were great! We miss you very much. We love you plus you were the best.
Alex, Grade 3 – Flora Macdonald Academy:
Dear Mr. McCallum,
I really liked it. Some people said I was falling in love with the piano. I loved the facts you told us. I hope you come again next year. Thank you very much.
Ethan, Grade 2 – Flora Macdonald Academy:
Dear Mr. McCallum,
I liked your music. Some day I want to learn to play the piano too. Thank you!
When Music Tells a Story (Grades K – 5)
This interactive program looked at how music can tell a story, without words. It was suited for younger children and challenged their imaginations to listen for drama and action in music. The first half focused on classical masterworks that follow a specific story or program (known as "program music" in the professional music world). McCallum first told the stories and gave specific musical examples for the children to listen for in performances of selected Sports et Divertissements by Erik Satie and Ondine by Maurice Ravel. He then performed several of Edvard Grieg's Lyric Pieces and asked what action and drama the children heard in the music.
In the second part of this program, McCallum improvised music to accompany stories that the students had written. In the assembly, students read their stories while McCallum improvised music to accompany the drama.
Study guides were available that integrate core curriculum subjects with "When Music Tells a Story" (literature/composition, music, art, science, PE/movement).
Mr. McCallum also shared stories about the composers' lives and the world they lived in and how this is expressed through the music. For older students (Grades 3-5), Mr. McCallum also spoke about the main periods of music history (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Impressionist and Contemporary) and unique musical aspects of each style. The performance concluded with everyone singing "Happy Birthday" to the piano and a musical guessing game in which Mr. McCallum played variations on "Happy Birthday" in the style of the great composers and the students tested what they had learned and tried to guess which composer might have written each variation.
In addition, Mr. McCallum shared stories about the composers' lives and the world they lived in and how this is expressed through the music. Mr. McCallum also talked about the main periods of music history (Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Impressionist and Contemporary) and unique musical aspects of each style. The performance concluded with everyone singing "Happy Birthday" to the piano and a musical guessing game in which Mr. McCallum played variations of "Happy Birthday" in the style of the great composers and the students tested what they had learned and tried to guess which composer might have written each variation.