As an award-winning teacher, I specialize in outreach. I have presented hundreds of school programs, lecture-recitals, and masterclasses in every region of the country, for nearly every kind of audience. High-quality teaching is of the utmost importance to me. The litmus test of an undergraduate school like Bucknell is whether the program can produce students that can succeed in the national competition for the few spots available at the top conservatories and schools for graduate work—because those schools provide the only realistic chance at a career.

 

School Programs

“The students were remarkably attentive and peppered him with questions…..the masterclass on Saturday morning was a great success, giving our student players a unique opportunity to learn from a master.”
Bedford Gazette

All programs are interactive—students move or conduct, tap or clap, depending on the age group and music involved.

You Gotta Have Rhythm!

This workshopwas originally designed for grade school, but it can be adapted to any age group. Students clap and learn very basic conducting patterns for music from many different eras, from Bach to Radiohead. Selections can be arranged to fit the time available for a class, but the following are possible: Baroque, Classical, Romantic, 20th-century, ragtime, jazz, rock, and different forms of dance music.

For high school music students, this class can be very sophisticated, with use of polyrhythms (3-against-2 and 4-against 3, for example) and unusual meter distributions from pieces such as Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

Requirements: a piano, or an 88-key electronic piano, and a microphone.

Rachmaninoff to Ragtime

An exploration of musical style: discussion of the characteristics that create musical style. Students learn about meter and rubato, and clap/snap or tap (depending on their age). They conduct melodies and rhythms that are characteristic of musical styles from the Romantic era to the flashy “novelty piano” pieces at the end of the ragtime era.

For high school students, this includes discussion of melodic style and texture, along with an exploration of chords and chord progressions.

Requirements: a piano, or an 88-key electronic piano, and a microphone.

 

Masterclasses

My masterclasses are a specialized form of teaching. They include aspects of performance, lecture, demonstration, and pedagogy. They are an ideal way to reach members of a community that are likely supporters of arts events, but who may not have already attended.

The format of a masterclass is that students—usually six to twelve in number—give a performance of a work in front of a master teacher, the student’s own teacher, and the public. The master teacher then works with each of the students, making comments about such things as style, technique, and musicality. The student tries to incorporate these comments into his or her playing on the spot, often demonstrating improvement that is perceptible to everyone in the audience. The master teacher makes sure through demonstration—and lecture, if necessary—that all of the audience members understand what the issues are in the music and what is being asked of the performer.

What makes this format so powerful is that the teacher of the student who is performing has already worked with the student on the piece. When a master teacher can show a different or better way to approach something, the skills of both the student and the teacher are permanently improved. In addition, other teachers in the audience will have approached the same problems in their studios; they learn from the demonstration and discussion as well. When properly approached by the master teacher, the comments can affect every teacher and every student in an entire community! In addition, since the performers are usually selected by competition, the winners benefit by receiving public recognition of their achievement.

The audience for a masterclass is teachers, students, relatives and friends of the performers, and interested members of the public. Two hours is an ideal length, with time reserved for questions and discussion afterwards. Many classes have interesting follow-up questions from teachers who have attended.

A public performance by the students at the end of a sequence of masterclasses is an ideal culmination.

I have given many dozens of these classes for all ages, from beginners who have barely learned to play with both hands to professional pianists and the faculty of universities.

I feel that it is crucial for all participants, students and teachers, to know that I believe only in positive teaching. My goal is to never make a negative remark to a student under any circumstances, but to identify and encourage the things a student is doing well, and then ask the student to match that effort with places that are not as successful. I have made a specialty of finding ways to change problems through this method of positive reinforcement because it is much more effective than approaching problems in a negative manner. Over the years, I have had many teachers and students remark that the lessons learned in the classes have stayed with them and provided a permanent improvement in their playing and teaching.

 

Lecture-recitals

A lecture-recital is a public performance of a musical work or works, with discussion included either before or after the performance.

The goal of a lecture-recital is to provide information that transforms the way an audience perceives a work of music. The lecturer can focus on many different parameters, such as melody, harmony, rhythm, or the development of motives. This often takes the form of a “stop-action” playing through the piece, with comments made to draw attention to these musical effects, with a full and uninterrupted performance of the work to follow. When appropriate, other background material will accompany the comments. In addition, examples may be drawn from other works to place the subject work in historical context.

Properly done, a lecture-recital makes a work of art more meaningful and enjoyable to an audience, and provides techniques or ways of listening that will inform the audience’s approach to similar works.

“One of the most engrossing and enjoyable performances of the musical season.”

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Bethlehem, PA