I was a pupil of Jerome Lowenthal, who was a pupil of Alfred Cortot, who was a pupil of Émile Decombes, who was a pupil of Frédéric Chopin. My doctoral dissertation was a study of the preservation of the pedagogical traditions of this lineage. As a teacher, my chief goal is to continue these traditions, stressing to my own students the importance of freedom of style, spontaneity of spirit, and deep, rich cantabile at the piano. The successful development of audiation -- 'hearing' sound before it actually happens -- is the foundation of solid pianistic musicianship. I always ask my students to define their concept of sound before they actually play, usually by way of questions such as: What is the mood of this passage? What is the composer trying to tell us? Being able to connect music's intentions to organic human concepts is the first crucial step in ultimately becoming an effective communicator in performance.
On a bigger level, music is absolutely essential to life and humanity. Music connects people and builds community. Through music, we learn to appreciate the beauty in ourselves and in the world around us.
Not only are we all wired differently, but we are all unique in the variety of life experiences that have helped to shape us. I eschew standardized methods of teaching. Every student has unique weaknesses to address and unique strengths to exploit.
Successfully guiding and preparing the future of performing pianists is my chief goal as an educator. I have never believed that performing can be separated from teaching. Performing and teaching share a beautifully reciprocal relationship: one helps the other, and, in fact, are dependent upon one another. I was fortunate to have my teaching skills recognized as a college undergraduate student when I was invited to teach alongside tenured college professors at the Interlochen Arts Camp All-State program. I was fortunate once again when Jerome Lowenthal appointed me to be his teaching assistant at Juilliard in 2002, which remains one of the richest experiences of my life. No matter where life takes me, I will always be a teacher.
As featured in Hope College's 2010-11 Course Catalog: