Nina Dinan

Nina Dinan, class of 2022, has studied piano with Nic Gerpe since 2019. She began attending UCLA in the fall and plans to continue playing piano while focusing on academics. Over the summer we caught up with Nina, who shared the impact of studying piano and why she loves playing music.

Young woman playing piano

PCM: What have you been up to at PCM?
ND: Since my senior recital in May, I’ve spent most of my time preparing for college (I’m entering UCLA this fall) and continuing my piano studies. I’m trying to make the most of my last lessons, and I’ve been exploring some delightful repertoire this summer. I’m currently studying a Scarlatti sonata and a Granados tango.

PCM: What is your favorite memory at PCM?
ND: Every memory I have of PCM is wonderful. That said, my most profound conservatory experience was my senior recital. It was one of the happiest nights of my life. I loved inviting my family and friends to Barrett Hall and offering them a program I had spent a year preparing. I got to perform a diverse set of pieces ranging from a Haydn concerto to a movement from Crumb’s Makrokosmos. Dr. Gerpe taught me to appreciate all eras of piano music, from Baroque to contemporary, and my program reflected this.

Another favorite memory is being introduced to opera through my PCM lessons. A few months into my piano studies, Dr. Gerpe had me research bel canto opera to improve my understanding of the voicing in Chopin’s nocturnes. I quickly fell in love with bel canto and am still discovering the wonders of Donizetti and Rossini.

A third favorite memory is playing a Stravinsky piece for four hands at PCM’s Ojai Music Festival concert in August 2021. This event introduced me to several inspiring artists whose music and advice I will always remember.

PCM: What do you think is the most valuable thing you learned from studying music?
ND: The best lesson I’ve learned from studying piano is to appreciate every happy moment in my life. I’ve been blessed with almost three years of piano lessons; every day, I get to spend hours interpreting beautiful music. In the future, I may never get to study music as often or as seriously as I do now, and I’ve learned to savor every practice session as an opportunity that won’t come twice.

Another valuable experience I’ve taken from studying music is the sense of progress that comes from practicing. I feel myself improving with each exercise and repetition, and I find this therapeutic and encouraging. At the piano, I never feel like there’s anything I can’t do. I always know that if I practice enough (and in the right ways), I can play anything I need to.

PCM: What are your goals for the future?
ND: Naturally, my goal for the near future is to succeed in college. I hope to find a career involving writing, data analysis, and/or foreign languages. I want to stay connected to music and continue studying piano, but my artistic future is uncertain right now.

PCM: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
ND: I thank PCM and Dr. Gerpe for everything they have given me. I cannot recommend PCM highly enough. For three years, it has been my greatest source of joy. When I walked into my first piano lesson, I felt nervous and out of my depth, having too much reverence for classical music to think I could interpret it myself. PCM’s welcoming spirit showed me that music is open to everyone who loves it, and Dr. Gerpe’s patience, precision, and vast musical knowledge brought me further into the world of the piano than I ever dreamed of going. I wish this conservatory every success, and I will always cherish it as a refuge of beautiful things.