Approach to teaching

My goal is to produce pianists with strong technique, excellent sight-reading skills, a thorough understanding of the theory behind the music and the ability to play music of all centuries in the correct style.

My teaching is based on the conviction that any person who loves music and works diligently over time can attain a level of skill and understanding that will result in a rich, lifelong engagement with music.

Every student is expected to cover a variety of material each year. Though I tailor the curriculum to the student, every curriculum contains technique, sight-reading, theory, and repertoire from 4-5 centuries.

Building Piano Technique

JesseMusicians work out just like athletes.  They do exercises and routines like dancers.  We call this part of our study technique; and we do a lot of it, including Piano Olympics.  There is a myth that practicing technique is simply mindless repetition.  Actually, it requires just as much imagination and alertness as practicing repertoire; and when that attention is given, it is just as enjoyable.

A person who sight-reads well learns new repertoire quicker and easier. Poor readers are at risk of quitting piano later in life; so every Breth student must become a good reader. Adult returnees to piano often need a refresher course in sight-reading.

Students borrow sight-reading books from our studio library or use recommended on-line apps. All students are required to sight-read a minimum of 5 minutes every day. They are graded on sight-reading at lessons.

The hidden jewel of her teaching is her overwhelming obsession with sight-reading. Even studio members who are now working outside of music can come back to the piano to read whatever scores they want, armed with advanced skills to help them quickly learn and perform brand new pieces. 

Performance & Competitions

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Music is communication, so my students perform. They play for each other in group classes where they gain poise and confidence in a safe, supportive environment. They play in studio recitals and in community events.

Some students enjoy competitions: some students don’t. I support both options. Those who do compete have excelled in local, national and international piano competitions including Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), International Institute for Young Musicians, National Symphony Orchestra Young Soloists.

Several of my students have performed with the National Symphony Orchestra. Three duet teams have won the National Senior Duet Competition of MTNA. Two chamber groups and a soloist appeared on NPR’s From the Top. Over the years many attended prestigious summer piano institutes and chamber music camps such as Aspen Music Festival, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Indiana University Piano AcademyInterlochen, International Institute for Young Musicians, Perlman Summer Music School, Point Counter Point, and the Tanglewood Institute.

In 2015, as a part of his prize for winning the Eastman International Piano Competition, a student of mine made his New York City debut. In April, 2017, composer Alexander Peskanov invited another student to premier his concerto, Azeri Rhapsody: Mugamin Weill Recital Hall of Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Piano Ensemble & Chamber Music

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I take every opportunity to give my students experience in piano ensemble and chamber music. Three teams from my studio have gone on to win the MTNA Senior Piano Duet competition and compete in the Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition. Three chamber groups and a soloist from my studio have appeared on National Public Radio’s “From the Top”. In summers I teach and perform at the Kinhaven Adult Piano Workshop in Vermont, which focuses on music for piano four hands. I have made my own contribution to the duet and chamber music literature, such as four-hand adaptations of works by Bartok and Piazzolla, and arrangements for early level chamber groups.

College & Careers

Graduates of the studio have continued their studies at leading music schools such as Indiana UniversityJuilliard, California Institute of the Arts, Cleveland Institute of Music, New England Conservatory, and the Eastman School of Music. They hold posts from tenured university professor to opera conductor to free-lance professional musician. Most Breth students, however, go on to other careers, as architects, lawyers, doctors, computer scientists or fashion designers whose lives are enriched by music.

Piano for Adults and Professionals

vermont1Adult members of the studio are serious music lovers who desire to improve their skills and enter into a community of like-minded individuals. Most belong to piano performance groups within and without the Breth studio and many also enjoy playing in recitals, festivals, and the four-hands workshop at Kinhaven (Vermont), where I teach every June. Though adult students have more freedom in designing a curriculum than do pre-college students, we still work on technique and related skills along with repertoire. There are ample opportunities to collaborate and perform for those who wish to do so.

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