Robert Dvorkin

November 2017 Newsletter

In this issue:

– Upcoming concerts
– Golandsky Institute Teacher Training Workshop in NYC
– Masterclass on the Taubman Approach at Ottawa Steinway Gallery

Dear Students, Parents, and Special Guests,

I hope this finds you all well! Here’s an Autumn haiku by the Zen poet Basho (1644–94) to kick things off:

First white snow of fall
just enough to bend
the leaves
Of faded daffodils

I love haiku because of their ability to evoke thoughts, feelings, and emotions, with just a few words. Classic haiku follow very strict forms, which one would think might limit their ability to touch us, but in the hands of a master such as Basho, just the opposite is true. They’re like tiny miracles.

Music has the ability to touch us in similar, deeply personal ways. How we react to specific musical gestures, harmonies, combinations of sounds, etc., is why we listen to music – we relate to it in some way that resonates with us, sometimes intellectually, sometimes emotionally, and at other times in ways which simply defy description. I could try to describe how the Schubert lied “Gute Nacht” makes me feel, and I might be able to communicate something of the heartbreak, but ultimately words will fail me, because they simply don’t exist in my inner world. And that’s more than appropriate, because it’s part of what makes music so mysterious and magical.

If any of you have known me for more than five minutes, you know that my favorite composer is Claude Debussy (1862–1918), and it’s because more than any other composer he touches that inner world. Debussy himself said it best: “Music is intended to express the inexpressible”. Next year is the centenary of Debussy’s death, and to pay homage to this great composer, I am playing much of his piano music in several recitals in Canada and the United States. Some dates have yet to be determined, but the first recital will on be on March 17, 2018, at a performance space in New York City called Spectrum. I’m excited to be the headliner for an entire week of Debussy’s music to be performed there. Toward the end of the year I will be playing in Ottawa and Halifax. Other cities will include Edmonton, Vancouver, Kitchener, Boulder CO, Portland OR, Wilmington DE, and Middlebury VT. Stay tuned for more information as dates become available.

Last week I attended the Golandsky Institute’s Teacher Training workshop given at Yamaha Studios in New York City. The Institute, of which I’m a member, gives several workshops throughout the year in New York, Berkeley CA, Portland OR, and Montreal, in addition to the Summer Symposium in Princeton NJ. The teacher training workshops focus on the pedagogy of the Taubman Approach: how best to teach the concepts to one’s students. This fall’s topics included — I hope you’re sitting down — the C major scale, and chord playing. Riveting stuff! for me at any rate. I honestly love this kind of note-to-note detail, because I understand that a sound, reliable, healthy technique is built brick by brick, with all the elements in place, taught in a logical, progressive manner. My teacher, John Bloomfield, gave the lecture on the C major scale. I took the opportunity to have a two-hour lesson with John the following day. Sometimes my students are surprised to hear that I still take lessons from John as often as possible. Dorothy Taubman was once asked by an interviewer, “What makes you a good teacher?” to which she famously replied, “I never stopped being a student”. Words to live by.

Lastly, on Saturday, November 18 at 630pm, I will be giving a free masterclass based on the Taubman Approach at the Steinway Piano Gallery, 1481 Innes Road in Ottawa. I will give a brief talk on the Approach, then listen to and coach pianists on things they can do immediately to help create a tension-free experience at the keyboard. It should be a fun and interesting evening, and I hope you can join us! You can register for the event here.

Enjoy the brisk fall weather!

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Taubman Approach Lecture-Demonstration

I will be giving a Lecture-Demonstration on The Taubman Approach on Friday, 12 May 2017, from 9:30 – 11:30am. The lecture will go into detail about many of the components that go into the Approach and how they work together. Training and retraining will be discussed. Participants are encouraged to come with examples of passages from the repertoire that they may be struggling with.

Details can be seen on the Steinway Gallery Ottawa’s website here. Hope you can make it!

2017 Montreal Workshop of the Golandsky Institute

Yesterday, 18 February 2017, was the annual Montreal Workshop of the Golandsky Institute. The workshop was led by Mariko Sato, Mary Moran, and Audrey Marshall. It was a great day, full of great insights and good reminders. Always a worthwhile venture! I was so happy that three of my students decided to come.

Mary Moran works with a student.


Fall 2016

I’m very excited to announce two big events happening this Fall.

First, I have been invited by the Ottawa Steinway Gallery to give a Masterclass using the Taubman Approach on Sunday, November 20, at 2:30PM. The Ottawa Steinway Gallery is located at 1481A Innes Road in Ottawa. If you have never experienced the Taubman Approach, this is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about how it can help you achieve a tension-free experience at the keyboard.

If you would like to sign up as either a performer or attend as an auditor, please see their Events Page.

Secondly, my good friend and wonderful pianist Dina Namer and I will be giving a two-piano concert (the second piano is being very kindly donated by the Ottawa Steinway Gallery) to be given at Temple Israel, 1301 Prince of Wales Drive in Ottawa, on Sunday, December 4 2016. The program will include works by Debussy, Mozart, Brahms, and Milhaud. Hope to see you there!

Summer 2016

This summer promises to be very exciting in terms of learning, performing and teaching.

I’m very excited to announce that I have been accepted to the Professional Training Program at The Golandsky Institute. The Golandsky Institute is the preeminent organization involved in the promotion of the Taubman Approach, and has on its faculty the world’s most renowned Taubman teachers and performers. Each year the Golandsky Institute offers a week long Symposium, held at Princeton University. I’ll be attending the Symposium this summer and for many summers to come!

Later this summer I will also be attending the master classes given by Menahem Pressler at the Adamant School of Music in Adamant, Vermont. Maestro Pressler has had a long and storied career as one of the world’s leading pianists and teachers. For 50 years he was the pianist of the Beaux Arts Trio, and since its dissolution has continued to play collaboratively with many difference artists, in addition to giving solo recitals and playing concertos. He has taught at Indiana University, my alma mater, since 1955, and continues to give master classes all over the world. It will be a great honour to be able to play for him at Adamant this summer.