One chilly day in 8th grade,  I walked into my piano teacher's house and she asked me if I had ever thought about teaching piano.  My plan was to become a band director but quickly discovered that I enjoyed teaching piano and by 9th grade, had 10 private students.  My goal to become a instrumental music instructor took me to the University of Nebraska where I realized I liked the trumpet but loved the piano and it was going to be my musical focus.   Shortly after moving to Minneapolis in 1979,  the Yamaha Music School hired me as an instructor.  The training I received before entering their classroom was one of the most amazing educational experiences of my life.  A whole new world of piano pedagogy opened up to me.  I wanted to know how students learn; what motivates them to learn;  what gets in the way of learning and how I might help  them understand and move beyond their roadblocks. 

For more than 30 years, I've been exploring these same questions.  Hopefully, I know more than I did when I started, but still feel there is a lot to learn.  So often, my students end up teaching me something at the lesson. 

My musical interests have taken me in many different directions.  Although I am classically trained, I enjoy playing good old fashion rock and roll; jazz, and all sorts of fusion.  The performances  that have meant the most to me were while I was living in Vienna.  I played a concert of half jazz and the other half original compositions. Franz Josef Haydn had played in that same room. The other one was for an embassy event at the Palais Kinsky where Beethoven had performed.  I did feel like I was on sacred ground and prayed that I was not a complete fraud.  After returning home from my 2 year stint in Vienna,  I began my piano studies with Alexander Braginsky at the University of Minnesota and finished my studies in humanities and music with a piano performance emphasis. 

My Teaching Philosophy

Above all else, I want to help my students become well-rounded, creative, and courageous musicians who can think for themselves.  Of course I hope they fall in love with the piano and work towards becoming very good pianists but not everyone has to end up as a pianist.  Many of my students have gone on to discover their passion with another instrument and I am thrilled for them.  For many reasons,  studying piano gives all students a very solid music foundation.  

The skills learned can translate not only to other instruments but to many areas of life.  When one of my students says that something is hard I ask them how many times they tried to play the passage.  Usually it is a few times. I tell them they can say it's hard after they've tried it fifty timesBut at the same time, we also try to figure out what's making it hard.  Learning to identify and break down a problem is a critical skill needed to be a good musician.  Students are often told to practice more but they are not told how to practice smarter and more efficiently.

It is challenging in this sports and home-work crazed environment to actually find  not only the time,  but the emotional and cognitive "space" for effective practice.  Difficult but not impossible.  I have many wonderful students who are also mean  hockey players, soccer players, football, basketball, and volleyball players, and competitive golfers and swimmers.  We find a way. 

I've had the opportunity to teach music in many wonderful 
settings.  In the end, what I love most is helping my piano students become the best musicians they can be and getting 4 year olds excited about Stravinsky and Mahler. 

When I'm not teaching...

When I'm not teaching, I enjoy gardening, cooking, and designing jewelry for Bella Nika.  I love to travel and hope to someday make it to an elephant camp in northern Thailand. I enjoy visiting my friends in Vienna and elsewhere in the world, and soaking up the sun whether I'm walking around Lake Harriet or sitting in the Luxembourg Gardens watching the kids play with their little boats in the fountain.  My students will tell you I'm a film nut and often give them "movie homework".  My favorite activity on Friday night is to go hear our world class orchestra and Osmo bring down the house, which they usually do.  To be so lucky! I feel so fortunate that my passion, my pastime, and my job are one in the same.