I have been teaching since 2000, when I was a still a student at The Juilliard School. I get tremendous satisfaction from watching my students grow and overcome challenges. Irrespective of whether I am teaching a professional musician, a college student, or a young child, my goal is to help make piano playing physically coordinated and musically gratifying.
Reading between the lines
As a classically trained musician, I teach my students to observe the written notes and indications in the music and to attune their inner ears to the music behind those notes. As interpreters our job is like “reading between the lines” of a book. The ability to attune oneself this way comes from cultivating a precise and imaginative ear, understanding the historical context and compositional techniques behind each piece, and learning to balance individual expression with a deep respect for composers' intentions.
In the end, however, playing an instrument is a physical endeavor. All the best musical intentions amount to little without the right motions to express them. In my experience, many pianists lack a sophisticated understanding of how to approach the instrument physically, which results in poor rhythm and sound, physical discomfort, and mental weariness.
While still in my teens, I experienced pain in my arms from playing difficult repertoire with an underdeveloped technique. It was necessary to retrain my playing completely. I was fortunate enough to find teachers of the Taubman Approach who helped me to understand the connections between physical coordination and beautiful playing. As a result of having made and overcome many physical mistakes myself, I have developed the ability to see what is holding students back and to help them find better ways of approaching the piano. As a teacher, I consider it my responsibility to not only suggest a way of interpreting music but also to give the technical tools to execute that interpretation with ease.
I also consider a significant part of my teaching to be advising a student how to practice. Given that I usually only see students once a week, the quality and quantity of their practice during the rest of the week is critical to their success. At each point in the process of learning a piece, a student’s attention should be focused on different aspects of playing the piece. I try to guide my students’ practice time based on where they are in the learning process, so that their time spent at home is optimized.
Like any meaningful pursuit, learning to master the piano requires time, patience, and work to be fulfilling. By helping students attune to the beauty of the music and understand its inner workings, by developing their physical awareness, and by focusing their practice, I aim to inspire students and bring their goals within reach.