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The Spring grad represents Kennesaw State at the international music academy

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KENNESAW, Ga. (July 8, 2022) A natural on stage at the piano, Sammy Mishkin flies through George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue in an empty concert hall, relaxed as his fingers fly over the keys.

Mishkin finds sanctuary in music, which has been his passion for more than half his life and will now become his career.

Music has always been there for me, he said. Music just gives me a sense of comfort and allows me to be who I am, live in my own skin and be confident in my abilities.

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Sammy Mishkin

Mishkin, who graduated with honors in May from College of Arts with his Bachelor of Music in performance, wants to be a professional pianist and is taking the first steps toward that goal this summer. He successfully auditioned for the Cooperative Piano Program at the American Institute for Music Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria, where singers and pianists learn techniques to begin a career in the highly competitive European music industry.

I have heard a lot about this program and my colleagues, professors and family have encouraged me to pursue these opportunities. So, I decided that now was the right time to finally act on my most desired ambitions. said Mishkin, who grew up in Cumming, Ga. It is truly an honor to have won a place.

Mishkin was one of very few students to win a place out of hundreds of applicants. He said the vast majority of vocalists and pianists at AIMS have or are actively pursuing a master’s degree or doctorate and are seeking career enrichment.

Mishkin, who is also a graduate of KSU Journey Honors College, credits music as a calming tool for his active mind. His specialty in collaborative piano playing to work with vocalists or instrumentalists allows Mishkin to juggle several tasks at once.picture

Collaborative piano requires a player to jump from one idea to another and to be constantly on the move mentally, Mishkin said. Some people just have a knack for being able to juggle 20 different things at once, and that’s one of the biggest advantages I have.

Senior music lecturer Judith Cole has worked extensively with Mishkin and said he is the first piano major at Kennesaw State to make it to AIMS. KSU vocalists have won places there and university music professors have taught there, but Mishkins’ successful audition is a big moment for the piano program, she said.

He is so smart, so dedicated and so willing to work hard to get where he wants to go, she said. To have him enter AIMS is just one big step towards putting our program at a higher level of recognition.

Mishkins’ connection to Kennesaw State dates back more than 10 years, when he began taking piano lessons from Associate Professor of Piano Robert Henry and performing recitals at Dr. Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center. He made an easy choice when it came time to choose a college and continued to study with Henry and Cole. A percussionist during his school years growing up, he also took voice and conducting lessons while at KSU, but continued his piano major.

I knew I wanted to play music for a living from the time I came to campus, and at first the professors told me to slow down, he said. But they understood that I knew what I wanted to do, and in the end, they helped me get there. I am pleased with the unique experiences and educational opportunities I received at Kennesaw State.

The experience at AIMS focuses on improving general piano skills, but especially on accompanying vocalists and individual instrumentalists who train in art singing, according to the AIMS website. Mishkin will participate in master sessions with vocalists and vocal coaches, which he said will make him a more well-rounded and well-rounded musician.

After returning from Austria, Mishkin will spend a year during which he will continue to accompany instrumentalists, singers and choirs in metro Atlanta. He currently offers piano and voice lessons and coaching and said he will continue to do so. He plans to continue his master’s studies starting in the 2023-24 school year, preferably at one of Europe’s conservatories, and continue playing piano for a living, as he has wanted to do for so long.

It has always been a long-term goal of my career to go international as a pianist, and this is the first step, he said. My experience at Kennesaw State helped set me on that path.

By Dave Shelles
Photo by David Caselli


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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global connections and entrepreneurial spirit attract students from across the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it in an elite group of only 6 percent of US colleges and universities with R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

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