Since 1985
In the quiet beauty of upstate NY
"intimate. collegial. challenging"

MMMF is devoted to helping musicians move up the ladder of artistic success. Over the years, many participants have been inspired by their retreat experience to improve their positions in orchestra, chamber music and solo playing. Read about Farm Inspired Achievements since 1985.

Although in each retreat the program is custom-tailored to the unique needs of each participant, several of the sessions are focused on special aspects of the music profession or on particular instrument families.

Specialty Retreats
The Performance Power Retreat
The Orchestral Excerpts Retreat
The Virtuoso String Teacher - A String Pedagogy Retreat
The Chamber Music Retreat
The Woodwind Retreat
The Brass Player's Retreat


The Performance Power Retreat

The PERFORMANCE POWER RETREAT is designed for musicians who are yearning to develop their performing personalities, to tackle everything from stress management to charisma. Each Performance Power Retreat culminates in a public performance. There is a pianist available for rehearsals, workshops, and performances; and the workshops are oriented to solving performance problems, such as managing stress before and during the performance, managing practice to perform with conviction and excitement, creating a compelling interpretation, maximizing projection of the interpretation in a hall, rehearsing with a pianist, and commanding the stage. At the end of the 16 day session, each participant gives a public performance at the beautiful stone church in Gilbertsville, NY and receives a videotape of his/her performance to discuss and take home.

"At the Performance Power Retreat I began to truly TRUST that by following the musical line with focused clarity and depth of understanding, I could create a wholly integrated performance, void of my destructive demons."
Anna Kruger, Violist, Lark String Quartet
San Francisco Opera Orchestra

"During the Performance Power Retreat we heard amazing transformations in each others' playing. Burton helped us identify and face sources of performance tension and the culminating performance reflected the triumph of music over our fears."
Reed Smith, Assistant Professor of Violin
Marshall University, WV Virginia

See information on the The Performance Power Retreat Concerts


The Orchestral Excerpts Retreat

In the ORCHESTRAL EXCERPTS RETREAT you learn specific practice techniques to achieve a consistent result on your first try, under pressure. You are sensitized to the tonal and rhythmic style of each excerpt and the tempo variations that are common practice. You are taught what the orchestra committees are listening for in each excerpt and how to realize it. In addition, you participate in mock auditions behind a screen to exercise your capacity to function under pressure. All of your playing in the mock auditions and workshops is videotaped to help you to objectify and control your successes and to analyze and design solutions to your musical and technical weaknesses. You will learn specific strategies to maintain mental and physical poise and to develop technical consistency and courage.

"The Orchestral Excerpts retreat gave me a real sense of empowerment as a musician. I'm leaving here with a great feeling of inspiration and excitement about continuing to work in a more effective and compelling way."
Melissa Burton, Cellist
Jacksonville Symphony

"I was especially surprised and grateful, when upon presenting BK with a very difficult excerpt that he did not know, I heard him practicing it for two hours. The suggestions he gave me in my next lesson were excellent and illuminating."
John Lowry, Associate Concertmaster
Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra

"Here at Magic Mountain, I felt as if I put the world on hold and retreated into an idyllic but intense world of new challenges and new techniques of practicing. I was enlightened by Mr. Kaplan's positive energy, great sense of humor and new perspectives on mastering orchestral excerpts."
Karen DiYanni, Violinist
Philadelphia Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra

"My time at the Farm made the task of audition preparation much more palatable. I was able to make the connection between the excerpts I was preparing and actual musical interpretation which has been a break-through for me."
Stephanie Knutsen, Violist sub
Kennedy Center Opera Orchestra


The Virtuoso String Teacher - A String Pedagogy Retreat

The VIRTUOSO STRING TEACHER is the name of the specialty String Pedagogy Retreat at MMMF. It is held every other summer. The next string pedagogy retreat will take place during the summer of 2017. The primary focus of this retreat is the Intermediate String Player. These days, it is not unusual for a beginning violinist, violist or cellist to acquire a solid foundation to play elementary music compositions. However, these same students do not always evolve into successful advanced players. There are numerous, increasingly subtle thoughts and actions that must be acquired for the intermediate player to become an accomplished advanced player. Identifying, teaching and refining these skills is the focus of The Virtuoso String Teacher.

The String Pedagogy Retreat schedule: The fifteen day session is divided into three sections. During the first 4 days the participant teachers present videos of their own teaching. These are discussed and analyzed. This focus leads to the introduction of new strategies and materials to enable the intermediate player to evolve into an advanced player. On day 5, four student trainees arrive. They are intermediate players who are there as "guinea pigs" to be taught by the teachers in the group. The teaching is all videotaped and reviewed by the group to be validated or improved. After 8 days the student trainees depart and the participant teachers have 3 days to mine what has transpired for more insight and to acquire the know-how for teaching up to 25 seminal intermediate works. For an expanded description of the String Pedagogy Retreat curriculum click here.

Listen to The Participants Speak of their experiences during the string pedagogy retreats.

Shortly after returning home, Cynthia Baehr-Williams wrote: "The Pedagogy Workshop was amazing. I have taught 5 lessons since leaving 2 days ago and can't get over how many new ideas flooded out of my consciousness. There were so many new insights shared in those 2 weeks that seem to have crystalized in an organized and cohesive way in my mind. I am so inspired. Thank you Burton! It was a truly great experience – Teaching will never be the same."
Cynthia Baehr-Williams, Concertmaster Opera San Jose and SJ Chanber Orchestra + private teacher

"It's been an exhausting and stimulating 2 weeks. I feel like I'm going home with giant suitcases full of information and inspiration for me, both as a teacher and as a player! I loved the camaraderie of my colleagues and the enthusiasm of our young student participants. Thanks, BK, you've done it again! I feel like a child with a newly sharpened set of crayolas and pencils...Can't wait to see what I create."
Noralee Walker, Violist
Winchester Community Music School, MA

"Learning about note groupings and the flow of music through the tension of anticipation and suspense frees me to dance in my spirit with the music as I play the violin. Working with the students on site and learning along with other teachers from all around the country has given me the vision and skills necessary to help my students accelerate to the advanced level."
Lisa Nielsen, Violinist
Omaha Conservatory of Music


The String Pedagogy Retreat in the words of the Student Trainees:

"I came to MMMF not really knowing what was going to happen. I was even a little skeptical. I have improved my musicianship and musical expression more in this one week than I have in a month. Not only am I proud of my accomplishments, but I am much more confident in my ability to continue achieving goals and improving daily. I can't wait for a chance to return!"
Emily Smith, High School Junior, Minnesota

"In both recitals and auditions, I've always gotten extremely nervous playing in front of people. Having lessons on a daily basis in a workshop setting forced me out of my comfort zone, and as the week progressed I found it easier to play in front of all the participating teachers."
Eva Heinen, High School Junior, Minnesota

"It felt great to have so many different inputs all trying to help."
Isaac Blaine-Singer, High School Freshmen, Minnesota


The Chamber Music Retreat

Special Chamber Music Retreats can be arranged for one or two groups at a time. These intensive sessions include unique exercises for improving skills of communication and negotiation during rehearsals and a method of interpreting a score. Only already-formed groups are eligible to apply. Groups can come for extended weekends [Friday thru Monday] or a week at a time. The groups usually receive four hours of coaching each day and they have 6 hours each day available to rehearse.

As a result of their Farm experience, the Lark Quartet won First Prize in the Naumburg Chamber Music Competition


Members of the Lark Quartet with Burton Kaplan

Middle top: Eva Gruesser, Violin I
Left to right: Astrid Schween, Cello; Robin Mayforth, Violin II, Burton Kaplan, Anna Krueger, Viola

"Burton's extraordinary dedication and insight inspired us to discover new dimensions of quartet dynamics. He has a true understanding of the complexity of string quartet playing."
The Lark String Quartet, First Prize,
Naumburg Chamber Music Competition


The Woodwind Retreat

The Woodwind Retreats are offered every other year. The first woodwind retreat in June 2015 was an eight-day session. It featured woodwind specialist, Keith Underwood in collaboration with practice guru, Burton Kaplan. In 2017 it will be a 10 day session. This will enable each participant to have individual lessons as well as workshops with both teachers. Here are what the participants had to say about their experiences:

"The Woodwind Practice Retreat experience gave me an enthusiasm in and joy for practicing and performing that I had been missing. Burton addressed issues of musicality which are close to absent in woodwind pedagogy while Keith addressed the issues of air and woodwind technique which I, as a clarinetist found incredibly valuable. I also had a blast [and learned a lot] by getting to know the very diverse and talented participants. I definitely plan to come back."
Claire Troje, Undergraduate Clarinetist, McGill University


"Burton has amazing insight into groupings and phrasings that help ease breathing issues while creating musical intent that entices and excites the listener. I've gained so much from working with both Burton and Keith. They both think in similar ways while explaining the concepts slightly differently. This leads to further and more thorough understanding. It has been an absolutely amazing experience."
Mary Young, Flutist, Graduate Performance Major, The Hartt School

"Burton Kaplan's techniques are amazing and are relevant to all musicians, regardless of instrument or level of expertise. Each musician was treated with respect. The setting is just beautiful. The instruction masterful. An MMMF Practice retreat is an unforgettable experience."
Susan Antonetti, Flute faculty, University of Arkansas, Little Rock


"During this practice retreat I was able to overcome one of my biggest enemies in the practice room: myself. I used to believe everything had to be perfect and I had to learn everything as quickly as possible. Through this retreat, I've developed the techniques and skills to focus my practice and make it effective. I also have realized the importance of musicality and developed my own voice as an artist to compel and move an audience. For anyone that's looking to move themselves to the next level as a musician, I would recommend attending this retreat."
Ashley Miley, Oboe Performance & Music Education Major, The Ohio State University


The Brass Players Retreat

The Brass Player's Retreat features Manny Laureano Principal Trumpet of the Minnesota Orchestra paired with practice guru Burton Kaplan. The 2016 retreat, from June 19 - 26 is an eight-day session. Each participant will have two private lessons with Manny and one with Burton. Manny will conduct four of the twelve workshops and Burton will lead eight. If you read what the participants in the first Woodwind Retreat had to say, you will get a sense of what you will be able to achieve as a participant in the Special Brass Player's Retreat with this unique faculty collaboration.

Brass player participants at the practice marathon retreats with mixed instruments have said:

"My experience at MMMF proved to be beyond my expectations. My playing has absolutely soared since having been there. You helped my sound, my musicality, how to listen and what to listen for, how to see the meaning of phrases and how to practice efficiently without wasting my 'chops.'"
Owen Miyoshi, Second Trumpet, Monterey Symphony, CA

"I came to MMMF to increase my rate of success. In this healthy, nurturing environment, Burton has shown me not only that success is possible, but that the process of getting there is satisfying and exciting. He has helped me to realize that the trumpet doesn't have to be such a physically daunting and restricting instrument. By focusing on his practice techniques, I have been able to take the pain out of practice, physically and emotionally."
Rebecca Steinberg, Trumpet, NYC Freelancer



Quotes are not associated with individuals depicted unless specified.