Spring Grad represents the State of Kennesaw at the International Academy of Music – Kennesaw State University | Start Classified

KENNESAW, Georgia (July 8, 2022) — A natural on stage at the piano, Sammy Mishkin flies through George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” in an empty concert hall, serene as his fingers fly over the keys.

Mishkin finds refuge in music, which has been his passion for more than half his life and will now become his career.

“Music has always been there for me,” he says. “Music just gives me a sense of comfort and allows me to be who I am, live in my own skin and have confidence in my abilities.”

Sammy Mishkin

Mishkin, who graduated magna cum laude from the College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Music in Performance in May, wants to be a professional pianist and is taking his first steps this summer. He auditioned successfully for the Collaborative Piano Program at the American Institute for Musical Studies (AIMS) in Graz, Austria, where singers and pianists learn techniques to launch a career in Europe’s highly competitive music industry.

“I’ve heard a lot about this program and my colleagues, professors and family have been urging me to take advantage of these opportunities. So I decided now was the right time for me to finally make my dreams come true,” said Mishkin, who grew up in Cumming, Georgia. “It’s really an honor to have earned a spot.”

Mishkin was one of the few students to snag a spot from hundreds of applicants. He said that the vast majority of singers and pianists at AIMS have or are actively pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree and are looking for professional enrichment.

Mishkin, who is also a graduate of KSU Journey Honors College, credits music as a calming outlet for his active mind. His specialty of collaborative piano—playing the piano to work with a singer or instrumentalist—allows Mishkin to work on multiple tasks at once.photo

“Collaborative piano requires a player to jump from one idea to the next and be mentally in constant motion,” Mishkin said. “Some people just have a knack for being able to fixate on 20 different things at once, and that’s one of the biggest assets I have.”

Music Instructor Judith Cole has worked extensively with Mishkin and says he is the first Kennesaw State Pianist major to make it into AIMS. KSU singers have earned spots there, and university music professors have taught there, but Mishkin’s successful audition is a big moment for the piano program, she said.

“He’s so smart, so dedicated, and so willing to work hard to get where he wants to be,” she said. “His making it into AIMS is just a huge step towards giving our program greater recognition.”

Mishkin’s association with Kennesaw State dates back more than 10 years when he began taking piano lessons from Robert Henry, an associate professor of piano, and gave recitals at the Dr. Giving to Bobbie Bailey & Family Performance Center. When it came time to choose college, he made an easy decision and continued studying with Henry and Cole. He was a percussionist while in high school, while also taking singing and conducting classes at KSU, but retained his piano major.

“Ever since I came on campus, I knew I wanted to be in music for a living, and initially my professors told me to slow down a little,” he said. “But they realized I knew what I wanted to do and ultimately they helped me get there. I am excited about the unique educational experiences and opportunities I have received at Kennesaw State.”

The experience at AIMS is focused on improving overall piano skills, but specifically accompaniment by individual singers and instrumentalists – “Coaching the Art Song,” according to the AIMS website. Mishkin will take part in master sessions with singers and vocal coaches that will make him a more versatile and complete musician.

After his return from Austria, Mishkin will accompany instrumentalists, singers and choirs in Metro Atlanta for a year. He currently offers piano and voice lessons and coaching, and he said he will continue to do so. He plans to pursue a master’s degree from the 2023/24 school year, preferably at one of the conservatories in Europe, and continue to play the piano for a living as he has planned for so long.

“It has always been a long-term career goal of mine to perform internationally as a pianist, and that’s the first step,” he said. “My experience at Kennesaw State helped me start this journey.”

— By Dave Shelles
Photo by David Caselli


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Kennesaw State University is a leader in innovative teaching and learning, offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two campuses in the Atlanta metropolitan area, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global connections, and entrepreneurial spirit attract students from across the country and around the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated graduate (R2) research institution, placing it in an elite group of just 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with R1 or R2 status. Visit kennesaw.edu for more information.

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