About: Francis Novak
Instrument you teach: Orchestra; Music Theory; Clarinet
Do you play any other instrument in your spare time? Flute and Saxophone.
Education: University of Michigan, B.M. in Clarinet Performance with Honors and B.A. in Psychology with Distinction; New York University, M.S.W.
Where are you from? I grew up in Pittsburgh.
Favorite age group to teach: Love teaching all age groups for totally different reasons.
Favorite style of music to teach: Classical romantic style music.
Favorite song: Hard one..so many! Whitney Houston, I Wanna Dance With Somebody.
Favorite piece of music: Beethoven Symphony No. 9; Wagner Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde.
Favorite food: All food Italian.
Favorite color: Topaz.
Do you have any pets? No pets at the moment, sadly, but love and have had both cats and dogs.
What’s your favorite musical memory? The first time I played a solo in my first youth orchestra, performing Copland’s full Rodeo, in the 2nd movement Corral Nocturne where the clarinet solo continues the lyrical phrase started by the flute in the middle of the movement. Heard my sound bounce back from the back of the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh during this first concert. Will never forget it and have been addicted to achieving this since!
What do you like best about teaching music? Seeing the expression on a child’s face when they make a breakthrough and expand past their expectations of what they thought they were capable of.
Who is your favorite composer or musician? Another very hard one…Soprano Jessye Norman and Conductor/Composer Leonard Bernstein are at the top of the list.
What was the first piece of music you ever learned? Really learned and studied – C. Rose etude no. 1 from the book of 32 etudes in my first year of private clarinet lessons in 8th grade. This etude changed everything for me.
How many hours a day do you practice? Like most music students, I used to study rigorously, 4 plus hours at day. These days as a professional musician, most of my playing is in regular ensemble rehearsals throughout the week and then several hours of individual practice a week depending on the pieces I am working on and preparing for performance.
When did you start teaching at TBMS? I started teaching in the Fall of 2016.
Feel free to list any competitions, musical accomplishments, roles, performances of note, etc.: Some favorite musical memories and accomplishments include touring China twice with the Manhattan Symphonie (2014; 2016) as principal clarinet and being broadcast live to millions of people on Chinese National TV (equivalent to their PBS). No pressure!
Any fun facts about yourself that you would like to share? In addition to an active career as a professional musician, I am also a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in Manhattan and am a trained and certified psychoanalyst! I have some training in Freudian technique, but mostly contemporary interpersonal and relational psychoanalytic approach. I love how both professions really compliment and enrich each other, and both have everything to do with emotional expression and being as alive and human as possible.