Martha Masters first achieved international recognition in 2000 when she won first prize in the Guitar Foundation of America International Concert Artist Competition. Now a Clinical Assistant Professor in CFA’s Department of Music, and Artist-in-Residence, she keeps busy teaching music and pursuing a prolific solo career, in addition to organizing LMU’s 13th Annual Guitar Festival, which is being held March 24-26.
For Masters, being a teacher always felt like a natural extension of being a musician. “It begins when you’re a kid, and someone playing next to you asks you for advice on how to do something better,” she said. “And as you get a bit more experience, it becomes a very rewarding means of self-reflection, and a method of sharing the enjoyment of what I love with others.”
What makes Masters so talented as an educator is her steadfast belief that to succeed, her students must embrace their own unique voice completely, and she works to tease this out of each student. Along with a commitment to hard work and a well-rounded imagination, she believes any student can conquer most challenges. “I’ve had students who continue on after their degree to do advanced degrees in music performance, some in music therapy,” she said. “Others have become public school teachers, lawyers, or worked in the world of business. What ties them together is that through their time here, they learned to listen to music in a different way, and learned a kind of discipline that they could not comprehend before they arrived.”
This is the first year that Masters has been at the helm of the Annual Guitar Festival, and she’s energized by the challenge. The Guitar Series began in 2000, and includes a variety of concerts and masterclasses throughout the year. The March festival is a weekend aimed at opening the ears of young people, and pre-college guitar ensembles are invited to join for the weekend, integrating with LMU students and other college students from the area, working in technique workshops, coaching, and having collaborative free time together. Attendees also get to witness truly amazing performances by world-famous musicians during the course of the weekend. Masters finds that the total experience often changes and refines the students’ perspectives on music.
As an active as a solo recitalist, chamber musician and concerto soloist around the world, Masters made appearances at festivals and on concert series through the United States, Germany, Poland, Russia, and China for her 2015/2016 season. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s of Music degrees from the Peabody Conservatory, and completed the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Southern California. In her free time, she stays busy keeping up with her three young children as a soccer mom extraordinaire.