My Teachers

This NY Times article about music teachers living on in their students has me reminiscing about my own music teachers, Olga Zlobinsky and Joe Maneri.

Mrs. Zlobinsky is a brilliant educator from Leningrad Conservatory who taught me how to solve musical problems in a myriad of different ways. She instilled in me a love of practicing because her lessons were so dynamic. She especially taught me how to play with thoughtful and precise expression. Because English was not her first language, her technical explanations were miniature works of poetry spoken in a Russian melody. (“Andrea, you play like take dust from the keys with feather! Please make like this!”) Often she would reenact her own technique, playing against the palm of my hand. This kinesthetic interaction was precious to my understanding.

My dear piano teacher taught me how to approach musical growth from a variety of perspectives. In this sense most of all, she is the musical grandmother to all my students.

Joe Maneri, my composition teacher, was legendary, a masterful teacher and an amazing character. His compositions and improvisations were visionary. Our lessons were literally magnifying: each note, rhythm, color deserved minute reflection. Joe divided the octave into 72 pitches, bringing my ear into depths completely radical and refreshingly new to my western ears. I learned how to listen meditatively.

Joe is my students’ grandpa, and a direct musical descendant of Arnold Schoenberg. (I am proud that Schoenberg’s spirit has been passed down to me!) Joe taught me that every intention, every action in life matters and should be presented with love. Words cannot express my gratitude to him for teaching me this ongoing lesson.

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