Tag Archives: Basis Scottsdale

Russian pianist plays Scottsdale

Story and photos by Daniel Friedman

Sixth grade students in Nancy Carvone’s music history/piano class at BASIS Scottsdale were treated to a private concert by Russian-born pianist Katya Grineva, who is in town for a concert at the MIM on Saturday at 7pm.

Grineva played Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Chopin and De Falla on a brand new upright Steinway that still had the tags on it. The students listened intently as Grineva played, then asked how long she practiced. Grineva said she practiced eight hours a day when she was a teenager, but now “just” three to five hours each day, depending on how much she was traveling.

Katya Grineva signs autographs at the end of class.

They wanted to know how she played so fast. The answer was the same as the classic “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?” where New York-based Grineva has played many times: practice.

Grineva told students how she started playing piano when she was 5 and decided when she was 13 to make it her life. Her family didn’t have much money but when they managed to get a piano her mother said if Katya didn’t practice she would gladly sell it.

Grineva and new fans.

On the way out of class, students asked Grineva to autograph their sheet music, and only as the students were waiting to be dismissed did they ask to have their picture taken with her.

Some students asked their friends to take their picture with Grineva.


Academic challenges yield cerebral growth and fun

Think of academic competitions as similar to the Roman gladiators, without the threat of physical harm, and with the possibility of better SAT scores.

Competitive academics might not be in the Olympics (yet) but there are plenty of opportunities to go head to head, or brain to brain, with other students. Even if students don’t expect to win, the materials used for getting ready are worthwhile and probably more fun than more worksheets in class.

We’ve received several press releases from Basis Schools in Scottsdale and Chandler listing triumphs in the following competitive academic arenas.

The Arizona EGUMPP Grammar Bowl starts with an online grammar module to qualify students for the regional competition. The Regionals and semifinals are timed, written tests and the final competition is a live event at Grand Canyon University on April 14. And no, I didn’t misspell EGUMPP, it stands for Electronic Grammar Usage Mechanics Proficiency Program.

MATHCOUNTS is an enrichment activity and club program with competitive mathematics opportunities for sixth through eighth grade students. It features creative problem solving with written and oral rounds, and team and individual components. The problems require critical thinking as well as mathematical creativity. MATHCOUNTS provides the materials for students and teachers.

Here’s an example of a MATHCOUNTS problem: Malika ran 3 miles. She ran the first mile in 6 minutes, 45 seconds. Her time to complete each mile was 1/9 longer than her time to complete the previous mile. In seconds, how long did it take Malika to run all 3 miles?

Not a simplistic or boring problem.

Next there is WordMasters Challenge, a vocabulary competition based on completing analogies, which means students must understand the subtle meanings and nuances of the language. It’s for grades 3-8.

Here are a few sample analogies from the WordMasters website:

1. WOODS is to ACORN as ORCHARD is to ________
2. RURAL is to SOIL as URBAN is to __________
3. SHEEP is to FORAGE as OUTLAWS is to ________

Answers are at the bottom of this post.

For high school kids, WordMasters becomes WordWright Challenge.  It’s a national reading competition that requires analytical reading of different kinds of prose and poetry. Rather than just vocabulary, the WordWright Challenge demands students interpret literature and understand different styles and purposes of writing.

As with any competitive program, the preparation for the actual contest is as valuable as the match. Literature from authors as diverse as John Updike, Eudora Welty, Shakespeare and Margaret Atwood exposes students to a wide range of literary styles.

Answers to the WordMasters Challenge analogies:
1. peach
2. pavement
3. plunder