Updated: Nov 20, 2020
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, and what was your role?
NSMS was part of my life twice - I studied with Carole Reifsteck and took repertoire classes with Frances in the 1970's. I was in high school at the time. My lessons were on Thursdays, and every other week, my mom would get me dinner to eat in between my private lesson and my class with Frances.
After completing my Masters Degree at UNC Chapel Hill, I wasn't sure what I would do next. One of the professors there suggested I reconnect with Frances to see if she might consider me for a job. I took his advice and met with Frances, who advised me to complete a Professional Certificate in Piano Pedagogy. I spent 1986-1987 doing just that. That year, Elvina Pearce called Frances to say that there was a position open in the Chicago area. I ended up interviewing for both that and a sudden opening at the Northwestern Preparatory Dept. I have spent the past 32 years in Chicago.
What are you doing now?
I teach Keyboard Skills at the Bienen School of Music, Northwestern University, and private and group piano at the Northwestern Music Academy. During the summers, I teach at Interlochen Arts Camp. In addition to music, I give river boat architecture tours for the Chicago Architecture Center, and am also an avid photographer. I often combine these interests into interdisciplinary presentations and presented "The Score Speaks: Teaching Interpretation to Growing Musicians" at the last NCKP.
What is your favorite memory from your time at NSMS?
This is hard to say, because there are many. But I think it has to do with the house! That house was the backdrop for so much - the music, the learning, the relationships. As a certificate student, I spent many hours in the kitchen chatting with fellow students, Frances, Louise, Sam. It lent a very down-to-earth environment to the big and important things we were doing. I also loved watching France work with Josephine Lai, the student who was featured with Frances on the cover Keyboard Companion in the 1980s. As a piano student, I also remember a fellow high school student performing Emerson Lake and Palmer in the living room. I don't know why that stands out to me, but again - the living room. So far from institutional, and a great place to make music.
How has NSMS impacted your teaching and your life?
The principles I learned at NSMS laid the solid foundation of everything I do in teaching. Before attending NSMS for my Certificate, I had no idea how to organize my teaching. What I learned from Frances, Louise and Sam added such clarity and changed my trajectory drastically. I am forever grateful for both my high school and Certificate education there.
What will you be playing for the recital?
Clair de Lune from Suite Bergamasque by Claude Debussy. I chose this piece in part as a reminder of my studies as a high school student at the New School, and my repertoire classes with Frances.
Check out this slideshow of Susan's photos!
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.