We had the good fortune of connecting with Gjergji Gaqi and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Gjergji, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
Something that has become increasingly clear to me is that your professional skills – how well you do what you do – are only one of the many factors that determine a successful career. Working in the world of music specifically, there is always more to learn, and always improvements you can make, so there can be a temptation to use up almost all of your waking hours in the pursuit of the betterment of your professional skills (e.g. playing piano better). While it is necessary to seek excellence in one’s craft, an important lesson my career has taught me is to be very judicious and balanced with the use of my time, so as to leave enough of it to the building and maintaining of relationships, both personal and professional. On the personal relationships side, a healthier and more fulfilled human is often one that develops a more positive predisposition towards any given task and therefore a higher efficiency in completing it. On the professional relationships side the benefits are even more obvious, as a wider network leads to a wider array of professional opportunities, and greater goals can be achieved by finding ways to collaborate with our peers.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
A career path in the music business is rarely a straightforward one; it is often one with multitudes of challenges, but also many rewards. I am most excited about the many varied and wonderful collaborations that have sprung forth through my musical career. First and foremost, I would mention that with my brother Piro Gaqi, with whom I co-founded the Settenote Online Piano International Competition, as well as the Gaqi Piano Duo, through which we have held many performances in North America and Europe. Musical collaborations on stage are a truly special form of communication, and the most effective ones often coincide with strong bonds and partnerships offstage as well, so to say that it has been a joy to perform together with my brother some of the music we both greatly enjoy is probably an understatement. As a teacher, one of the great rewards of the job is seeing my students grow, both musically and as individuals, while sharing that experience with my colleagues, many of whom I am proud to call friends, both at Tyler Junior College (where I currently teach) and throughout the world.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The Tyler Museum of Art has exciting exhibitions (especially by Texan artists) throughout the year, and it is a stone’s throw away from the Roger Palmer Performing Arts Center, where you can catch performances of student groups, but also Tyler Junior College faculty and featured guest artists (including a yearly jazz festival and an Arts Month full of events in the spring). Tyler is also known as the “Rose Capital of the World”, and it houses a large and attractive rose garden, as well as a variety of parks for outdoor enthusiasts (Rose Rudman Trail is a great spot for a walk or quick jog). A great spot to visit and relax with friends is Villa Montez, which is a restaurant serving excellent Latin-American cuisine, housed in a lovely villa on top a short hill, with a great outdoor patio and refreshing cocktails. I might also recommend one of the breweries in town (probably starting with True Vine) and one of the wineries a short drive away.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I consider myself very fortunate in having always received great support throughout my career, and perhaps too many shoutouts may be required to do justice to all, but I would say a lot of the credit for my success goes to my family, my professors and mentors throughout my education, and my wide network of friends and colleagues, present and past.

Website: www.settenote.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/gaqipianoduo

Youtube: www.youtube.com/gaqipianoduo

Image Credits
Alyssa F. Duke Photography

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