Favorite Icon, Full size
Interview with Pam Asberry, April 2024
Interview with Pam Asberry, image 1
Pam Asberry and I have been in touch for a lot of years - long before she started composing her own music. We were both piano teachers who were passionate about the solo piano music that was emerging in the latter part of the 20th century (that sounds so long ago!), and our paths crossed from time to time - mostly online and via email. We got to know each other much better once Pam discovered her own passion for composing and recording, and we finally met and roomed together at the 2018 Whisperings Solo Piano Radio weekend near Seattle, WA. And what a weekend that was!

Pam released her first album, Seashells in My Pocket, in 2017. She is releasing her tenth album and its companion songbook, 24 Impromptus, on May 3, 2024. I have reviewed both and also proof-read the sheet music, so it's been a lot of fun to work together again! We did our first interview in October 2019 and there is more information in that interview about Pam's background. Enjoy catching up with Pam and getting to know her a little better!

KP: Hey Pam! How are things in Georgia today?

PA: Hey, Kathy! It's sunny and 77 degrees outside. It's a beautiful day to be alive!

KP: It's raining here!

Your new album and its companion songbook will release on May 3rd. It's your tenth album since your 2017 debut - not too shabby for someone who didn't think she had it in her to compose! Tell us about 24 Impromptus.

Interview with Pam Asberry, image 4
Songbook review Click on album covers to go to Kathy's reviews.

PA: That's right; I've learned never to say never! 24 Impromptus began as a challenge to myself to create a set of pieces in all the major and minor keys of the chromatic scale. Each evokes a unique feeling or emotion that can be summed up in a one-word affirmation, which I attached as subtitles to the traditional classical titles, to make them more relatable to listeners.

KP: How did you choose the "affirmations" that go with each piece?

PA: As the music came to life, the words just came to me. Some of the titles were a bit surprising - like No. 2 in A Minor, "Brave" - how can the emotion of bravery be captured in a minor key? Well, when pushing through adversity, we don't always feel very brave; we're terrified on the inside, but we keep going anyway! And then the piece ends on the major subdominant, representing triumph over adversity!

KP: What are your favorites of the 24 pieces?

PA: That's a tough one; you might as well ask me to name my favorite child! Particularly fun to play, though, are No. 3 in G Mjnor, "Bliss," No. 10 in C-sharp Minor, "Mercy," No. 12 in G-sharp Minor, "Reflect," and No. 18 in F Minor, "Solace."

KP: I really like all of those, too! Are you teaching the sheet music to some of your piano students?

PA: Not yet - I got the books back from the printer just yesterday! - but I definitely will!

KP: Will you be performing in more concerts again to help promote the album?

PA: I don't have anything booked until December, and that will be a holiday concert (with friends Cathy Oakes, Gina Leneé, and Lisa Swerdlow) but I would LOVE to play some concerts between now and then!

KP: Your ten albums really cover a lot of musical territory - a couple of Christmas albums, hymn arrangements, dealing with the Covid pandemic, traveling, lullabies. Do you pretty much work on one album at a time or just compose pieces until themes start to emerge and then put them into groups for potential albums?

PA: Every album starts out with a specific concept, but I am usually working on more than one project at a time. For example, to prepare for my recording session last August, I was simultaneously working on the impromptus, a new collection of hymn arrangements, and a set of pieces inspired by art and artists. Working on multiple projects stimulates both my creativity and my productivity. Rather than feeling frustrated and "stuck" if one idea isn't working, I simply shift gears and focus on something else, trusting that the original problem will work itself out subconsciously - and it always does!
KP: I know you usually record two or three albums at a time. Do you have a couple more waiting in the wings?

PA: I do! 
Interview with Pam Asberry, image 11
Pam with her toy piano!
Interview with Pam Asberry, image 8
Pam with her full-sized piano!

KP: Do you plan to release another album or two this year?

PA: I plan to release the new hymn collection in the fall. But I have decided that the other album, the one inspired by art and artists, isn't quite finished, so that will be my next task to complete!

KP: Are you still teaching full-time in addition to composing?

PA: I currently have 25 students on my roster - so not quite full-time, but all I can manage right now on top of everything else.

KP: And you are working at a piano store, too?

PA: Yes, I am working about 30 hours/week at PianoWorks in Duluth, Georgia. I am a long-time customer - I bought my Kawai KG-2D there back in 2013 - so when my position became available, it seemed like I might be a good fit for the job, and that has turned out to be the case. I am managing the print music department - we have a large inventory of teaching methods, supplementary materials, and classical music - and I'm also involved in sales - pianos, benches, and accessories. I have learned a ton and am very grateful to be there. In addition, I am the staff pianist at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. So I actually have FOUR jobs, counting the composing and performing! 

KP: I don't suppose you have time to ever get bored!

Did you teach lessons during the pandemic? I only had a few students when it started and since none of them wanted to do lessons online, I decided it was a good time to retire from teaching. I think you've been teaching even longer than my forty years!

PA: I am fortunate that I was able to move my studio online during the worst of the pandemic, but everyone is back to in-person lessons by now. I started teaching in 1979; I'll let your readers do the math! 

KP: Yep - just a couple of years before I started.

I keep thinking about the Whisperings Solo Piano Radio weekend near Seattle in 2018 when we were roomies for a few days. People kept commenting that when they walked down the hotel hallway they could hear us laughing well into the night! I hope we have the opportunity to do that again sometime! 

PA: Oh, yes, me too! That weekend was delightful in every way!

KP: I really miss those Whisperings weekends and awards concerts. I met so many wonderful artists and had a chance to get to know them better. Same thing with the house concerts here, but I'm not sure I'll be able to do those again. Time will tell, but what great memories!

PA: Absolutely! Concert opportunities are definitely fewer and farther between than they were before the pandemic, but things seem to pick up a little bit every year. It is a bucket list goal of mine to perform my music in every state; I have a long way to go, but I don't give up easily!
KP: That's obvious!

What's up next for you (besides the new album and songbook!)?

PA: I'm collaborating with a local author to write a piece to coincide with a future book release of hers (and that piece may turn into an album); I'm also finishing a multi-movement suite for toy piano, dabbling in orchestration, and learning to play the hammered dulcimer. And I will return to Piano Haven Studio in Sedona in September to record whatever is ready by then.

Interview with Pam Asberry, image 3
Songbook review
Click on album covers to go to Kathy's reviews.

KP: Wow! What has been your most exciting musical moment so far?

PA: There have been so many wonderful highs that it's hard to say which was the most exciting! Most recently, I had the privilege of performing my own arrangement of "Georgia On My Mind" at the opening ceremony of the Music Teachers National Association national conference held in Atlanta, Georgia this past month - probably the biggest (and toughest!) crowd I have every played for! But truly the BEST thing that has come out of this new life of mine is all the wonderful friendships with fellow artists and supporters, like YOU!

KP: Likewise!!! What do you like to do in your free time?

PA: HA - WHAT free time? But somehow I manage to keep up with my little vegetable and herb garden and do some cooking and baking. I also enjoy reading, knitting, jewelry making, and relaxing with Bingo, my 20-pound rescue terrier. 
KP: If you could have any three wishes, what would they be?

PA: Typically, I don't make wishes; I make plans, and then I get to work! 

KP: That's a lot more practical! Is there anything else you'd like to "talk" about?

PA: Thank you for this opportunity to share the 24 Impromptus! I sincerely hope that this music will find its audience and that fellow pianists will derive great joy from playing the pieces!

KP: You're very welcome, Pam, and I think this album and songbook are going to get a lot of very positive attention!

Many thanks to Pam Asberry for doing this interview! For more information about Pam and her music, be sure to visit her website and her Artist Page here on MainlyPiano.com.
Kathy Parsons
April 2024