Community School Spotlight: Sam Glicklich

Sam Glicklich, 17, has been taking classes at Colburn since 2003. He currently studies piano with Rina Dokshitsky, and will continue his studies with Fabio Bidini in the Conservatory in the fall. Sam is from Los Angeles.

This interview has been lightly edited for style, content, and clarity.

How did you start playing music?
My mom is a piano teacher here and she introduced me to the piano at a very young age. I remember imitating her practice in the corner and she was like, oh here you go, you should start playing, so I did.

Was it helpful that your mom is a pianist?
Oh yeah, I think so. I’m very lucky to have grown up in a family of musicians. My dad’s also a flutist. I think if my mom were not a pianist, I definitely would not have started that early. It was expected for me to play an instrument. She taught me for the first six months, when I was about four. And then I had lessons here.

What has it been like being here for so long and seeing it change throughout the years?
I don’t remember a lot when I was younger, just coming here for lessons like tap. I actually took guitar here when I was young, and theory. I don’t know, what have I seen change? The new conservatory was just a parking lot. The Broad wasn’t there. New pianos, Thayer Hall wasn’t there, the café wasn’t there. Really just an expansion of the entire campus.

What is one memory you’ll remember from your time at Colburn?
That’s really tough. I think the first one was an honors recital in the Community School. The first one I made was when I had just decided I wanted to become a pianist. It was a really big stepping stone for me at the time, just with the preparation. My family was so excited and I just remember walking on stage and enjoying performing. And I think that’s when I realized I loved performing, because I was comfortable on stage; I was breathing normally and just sharing what I had practiced. I’ll never forget that. And the reception afterwards was nice too.

Why did you decide to stay here for your Bachelor of Music?
I didn’t think I’d get in here, but I wanted to try because it’s local. Then I had a lesson with Fabio and I was just blown away with what he could do—not only his playing, but what he could teach and how much he knows. And his students are all very talented. I knew it was the right fit for me too, because I grew up here; I know everything. That’s good and bad, but I really liked Fabio and I really like the supportive atmosphere here.

Before this year, I said, I have to leave. As I was deciding where I wanted to go, the fog cleared in a way and I realized this is the best spot for me now.

What are your goals for the next four years?
I have many, but I definitely want to become a better musician. I want to be more comfortable preparing for performances. I really want to push myself to learn as much repertoire as I can, because I’ve only been serious about piano for two and half, three years and I feel like I’m so behind, repertoire-wise. I want to absorb all the knowledge I can here. I want to perform as much as I can and definitely learn as much as I can from Fabio, chamber, and just everything. I’m excited for that.

What were you doing before you became serious about piano, and how did you decide to make the switch?
I wanted to be a professional golfer. My family calls it the epiphany in my life. My mom actually co-directs the piano camp here, and I was a counselor there for the first year. That really changed my whole perspective on music and how important it is. Even though I was around young musicians, I was still around music almost 24/7 and I realized that that’s what I want to do. It just clicked, like a light switch.

How do you engage with the Los Angeles community?
When I was in 6th grade, I realized that it would be a really good idea to play music at a soup kitchen, to make it more of a pleasant dining experience and to make it a little more humanizing. Unfortunately, I can’t do it enough, but I’ve been doing that every first Friday of every month since I was 12. It’s a really rewarding experience. I’ve talked to diners who they tell me they’re homeless, but they love music. I’ve discussed old recordings with them, like from the 30s. It’s amazing what they know. And there are even some musicians there who are homeless, and they play and they’re phenomenal. A trombonist actually plays with us every Friday.

About the first or second time I played at the soup kitchen, one diner came up to me and my dad who was also playing, and he said, I came here to feed my body and you fed my soul. It showed how powerful music can be to all of humanity. It’s really hard to explain.

Do you plan to keep doing this kind of work in the future?
Part of the reason why I decided to become a musician was also to share music with a lot of people who aren’t exposed to it. I’m so passionate about sharing music with people who can’t readily or regularly listen to it or go to concerts. I also do Musical Encounter here, and I love it a lot. I love working with kids so I try to do it as often as I can. I’ll definitely keep doing it forever.

What’s your ultimate goal as a musician?
Obviously, concert pianist. But I think if I could really make a difference in people’s lives with music—it doesn’t have to be as a concert pianist, it could be teaching, it could be doing outreach programs—I think I’d be really happy with my life.

What are your hobbies outside music?
I love to garden. I used to like to bake but I just don’t have enough time for that. And like I said, I used to want to be a golfer, but I haven’t golfed recently. But definitely gardening, that’s what I do almost every day. I’m growing potatoes now, and I help my grandma a lot with her garden, just organizing or weeding. I just love it.

The weekly Saturday Spotlight series highlights our outstanding faculty and staff from across the school. Read other spotlight interviews.