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Adult Student Q and A

Bernadette Pawlik

Adult students at MIC are among the most interesting and creative people in Chicago. As such, MIC will do an occassional Q and A with some of these students. Our first is Bernadette Pawlik. Bernadette is a piano student of Mio Nakamura at the Gratz Campus.


MIC:What is your day job?

BP: I am a founding partner of Pawlik Dorman, an executive search firm based in Chicago.


MIC: Are you from Chicago? If not, what brought you here?

BP:  I'm originally from Gary, Indiana.  When I finished graduate school, my primary criterion for a city to build my career was one that had a great symphony orchestra.  I was lucky that Chicago was so close to my hometown!


MIC: What was your first encounter with the piano?

BP: Liberace and Victor Borge!  There were few opportunities to hear music in Gary other than the church choir and popular radio.  However, I remember watching performances by Liberace and Victor Borge on TV with my parents.  What made the deepest impression was what a great time each performer was having---Liberace in his sequined suit with his hands flying across the keys, Victor Borge who connected with the audience through the humor and the music. That made a deep impression upon me...that being at the piano was the most fun in the world.  I begged my parents for a piano, and they agreed that if I earned straight A's for a year I could have a piano and lessons.


MIC: Who is your favorite pianist and/or recording and why?


BP: Alfred Brendel.  I've been a subscriber to the Piano Series at Symphony Center for two decades and have seen and heard some of the world's finest pianists.  None of them gave me the same feeling of experiencing the composer's intention in composition as Alfred Brendel.  Not only is he an incredible musician, he is a remarkable man.


MIC: What is your favorite piano piece, and why?


BP: While I feel I should say Beethoven Les Adieux or an equally serious piece, but in all honesty, it is Mozart's variations on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star!  I think this was a piece Mozart had great fun composing and playing.


MIC: Besides classical, what kind of music do you listen to?


BP: I listen to everything:  rock, rap, folk, country, jazz.  A great country and western song can move me as much as a Chopin Nocturne.  A rap song can be as much about freedom as any folk protest song.  I think either I'm not very sophisticated, or I'm eclectic!


MIC: What makes you take piano lessons as an adult?


BP: As I began high school and working towards getting into college, piano fell by the wayside.  Then after completing my education, I was focused on career and family.  When our son was about 12, I realized that he had fewer years ahead of him at home than behind him and I wanted to nurture an interest over his remaining time at home that I could explore in depth when he left for college...so I wouldn't be hanging on the bumper of his car when he drove off for his freshman year!  I always loved music, I had some prior background, and piano seemed natural.  I was so lucky to find MIC, and most especially, my wonderful piano teacher, Mio.


MIC: What is your favorite pizza topping?

BP:  I'm a strictly cheese on sauce on crust pizzarian.  I may have eclectic musical tastes, but in my pizza preferences I'm a strict classicist.