Like many other pianists, I began taking piano lessons at the age of five. Today, in addition to being a committed pianist, I am also very passionate about teaching the piano to others. I’ve found that teaching requires more than just the ability to play well; it requires the ability to hear the potential in each individual student and then to use my skill and instinct to help them bring out the best in themselves. I have devoted many years to this effort, and I have developed an original piano method called “Fundamental Keys”. I find genuine enjoyment in teaching the valuable concepts that I have learned and also in finding new ways to communicate them.
I’m fortunate to have been taught by some great artists. Stephen Drury of the New England Conservatory is one person who shaped my playing immensely. He helped me to polish my technique a great deal, build up my repertoire immensely, and I credit my interest in new music entirely to his influence. After graduating from NEC with two piano performance degrees, both with distinction, I went on to get a master’s degree in piano performance at Yale University School of Music. Boris Berman was my principle instructor there, and it was while in his studio that I studied some pieces that I had wanted to play for many years. The music of Prokofiev is a particular specialty of Prof. Berman’s, and studying the 6th sonata with him was a marvelous opportunity. I am a better pianist today because of the time I spent at Yale. Berman’s proficiency at teaching helped me to focus and capitalize on my distinctive strengths.
I had some great teachers before I went off to college too, though. I must mention Bernice Silk, my teacher from ages 10 to 17. She was a remarkable musician who nurtured my deep love for music during a very formative period. I looked up to her so much during my teens, and we remained great friends until her passing in January 2011. I played for her and consulted with her to benefit from her wonderful musical insight until just a couple of months before she passed away in 2011, and I miss her terribly. My very first significant piano teacher was my own mother. She played very well and very often when I was little and taught me from ages six to eight. I am sure that it was her influence that first sparked my interest in and love for the piano. My parents’ support and pride in my efforts have been very valuable to me throughout my life. Between studying with my mom and Bernice Silk, I studied with Charlotte Smurthwaite. She was also a great influence on me as well as a fantastic voice teacher, and I really thank her for getting me into good enough shape to be able to move on to study with Bernice.
My background may not be unlike most pianists’, but I do feel that I distinguish myself in how I interpret the music set before me. While I have developed a pretty solid technique, my strength is not in my competitive ability, but rather in my musicality. To sit at a piano and know you are capable, technically, of playing a great piece of music is an awesome feeling. Knowing that in the act of interpreting you are communing with great composers, allowing their music to make a mark on your own life, and, hopefully on the listener’s as well is even better. Interpreting and communicating a composer’s intention while contributing something of one’s self is more of a challenge than learning notes, and I revel in that challenge. I am indebted to and inspired by pianists who make playing seem like the most natural activity in the world. Some of the more profound moments of my education were in master-classes with the distinguished Claude Frank. His ability to communicate through the piano is beyond words and indeed makes you realize that interpretation is an art that transcends language. There are those, like Claude Frank and my favorite concert artist, Krystian Zimerman, who exude a kind of divine presence at the piano, and it is through observing and listening to them that I may have gained the most — not because I attempt to mimic them at the piano, but because their individuality and overall presence inspire me to cultivate my own talent. It is my sincere hope to be able to similarly inspire students and listeners as I progress as a teacher and performer.
I grow in my career every day. Teaching and practicing are daily activities for me, but they never become routine. I am passionate about the piano, music-making, and sharing my abilities and knowledge with my students and listeners. Please continue to explore the other pages here. I have shared some of my playing, and I hope you’ll enjoy it.
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