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60th Anniversary Alumni Faculty Recital: Phyllis Lehrer

In celebration of 60 years of excellence in piano teaching and learning at NSMS, we invite you to attend a very special recital, featuring performances by NSMS alumni faculty. Join us on Saturday, November 21st at 8:00PM ET. As we countdown to the recital, we will profile each performer.

When were you at NSMS?

When I first moved to New Jersey in 1970, I had learned about the New School for Music Study and met briefly with Frances and Louise.

In 1980, while I was on sabbatical in London, England, I wrote to Frances and Louise about the possibility of our sharing in the creation of a graduate program in pedagogy and performance at Westminster Choir College and NSMS. I was Chairman of the Piano Department at Westminster, and had become increasingly aware of the number of graduating students who became piano teachers often having had no pedagogical background in piano or at most, only one undergraduate class.

We corresponded a lot and met as soon as I returned in 1981. The program began that fall, and continued for 18 years, although both Frances and Louise retired from active involvement after 13 years .We offered all of the pedagogy courses at the New School and all of the applied piano and additional graduate requirements at Westminster.

What was your role at NSMS?

In addition to being the liaison between the two schools, I taught the core pedagogy course, Pre-College Literature, for the pedagogy students, modeled and taught weekly Thursday night group classes for intermediate students, had meetings with NSMS staff, and attended weekly faculty meetings. I helped establish the PEPS program and served as its director for several years. Many of the graduate students studied piano with me at Westminster.

In addition, I shared a NSMS student with Frances, sat in on Frances’ extraordinary course on philosophers, and met frequently with both Frances and Louise to discuss teaching, planning repertoire, recitals, and contributed practice suggestions to the four published volumes of Piano Etudes for the Development of Musical Fingers.

What are you doing now? 

I retired after 47 years as Professor of Piano at Westminster Choir College. I now continue to teach privately at the Westminster Conservatory, where I have been a member of the piano faculty since the early 1970’s, and I also serve on the chamber music faculty for its Honors Music Program. I continue to give solo recitals, duo concerts with Ena Bronstein Barton, and chamber concerts with Conservatory colleagues and others. Several lecture presentations have been scheduled at international and national conferences this year, but are now to be virtual (ISME and MTNA). Ingrid Clarfield and I have just completed our fifth Study Guide to accompany the most advanced level of our books, Classics for the Developing Pianist, published by Alfred.

What is your favorite memory from your time at NSMS?

My favorite memories from my time at NSMS are attending Frances Clark’s class, the Teaching/Learning Process, my long, inspiring, and informative talks with Frances, sharing my passion for teaching with her, Louise, and the graduate teaching interns, as well as teaching the evening classes of teenagers. I also had the pleasure of meeting and working with Elvina Truman Pearce, Samuel Holland, Richard Chronister, and Robert Duke during summer workshops and at NCKP.

How has NSMS impacted your teaching and your life?

The clarity and organization of the learning process, with special emphasis on combining interval and landmark reading, and a multitude of ideas and attitudes (more than can be mentioned here) continue to guide my teaching of new students and groups of students of all ages and stages. I am grateful for the 18 years that I was directly connected with NSMS, and I am pleased to remain in contact with many of the present faculty. I am in touch with many of the pedagogy students who were enrolled in the Westminster/New School for Music Study Master’s program and who now teach in studios and schools around the world (Hong Kong, Tokyo, Australia, Canada, New Hampshire, Vermont, Ohio, Minnesota, New Jersey.)

What will you be playing for the recital?

La Leggierezza from Three Concert Etudes by Franz Liszt.


Join us in celebrating the legacy of NSMS in words and music! Sign up, and you'll receive links for the recital broadcast and Zoom reception. $10 minimum donation per family.


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