EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE:
All our experiences in college showed us that teaching piano is what we were born to do, and we’re overjoyed to have a career that we love so much! Here is a little history of our education and experiences that led us to this conclusion…..
We began taking piano lessons at the age of 8, going on to study with Katsuko Ochiai of Juniata College through our middle school and high school years. We also took flute and guitar lessons in high school, and played piccolo as well as tenor and baritone saxophones in the marching band and concert band. We’ve always loved singing, and were active in the show choir and concert choir in our junior and senior high school years.
At Penn State University, we began as Music Education majors with double emphasis in piano and voice. While we switched our main focus to piano after the first year, we continued studying voice for 4 years. We stayed with the Music Ed program for those years, fulfilling the requirements for band, choir and general music teaching up to the point of Student Teaching. We were delighted that part of the requirements included learning 2 instruments from each family in the orchestra, for half a semester each. This gave us a very brief but interesting look at what it was like to play a broad range of musical instruments at a very elementary level. Our training included giving a few General Music lessons in elementary and middle schools in the State College area.
Throughout our years at Penn State, we sang in the Concert Choir and Chamber Singers. We were also members of the Early Music Ensemble, in which we played Renaissance music on soprano, alto and tenor recorders, and occasionally the Krumhorn. We learned Harpsichord with June Miller, which was excellent fun and allowed us to experience a very different keyboard repertoire and technique. In addition to learning solo harpsichord repertoire, we enjoyed many opportunities to accompany other instrumental students who wanted to perform renaissance or early baroque music at their recitals or juries.
All these teaching and performing experiences were very valuable to us, and they also helped us realize what we loved the most: playing and teaching piano. So after 4 years of Music Ed, we decided to switch to a BA in Music with emphasis in piano pedagogy. At the same time, we decided to take on a second major in German Literature, as we had already been studying the German language for 4 years just for our own enjoyment. We studied in Kiel, Germany for a semester as part of that degree. For two semesters we studied piano pedagogy with Timothy Shafer; in these classes we learned teaching techniques for beginner- through advanced-level piano students, and also learned about many different method series of books for students.
Throughout our years at Penn State, we had the great privilege of studying Piano with Maryléne Dosse – a world-class pianist and an amazing, inspirational teacher. Performing a piano duet recital together was one of the highlights of our college years! It was a very fun and challenging experience. Piano duet repertoire is seldom played in concert, so it was a perfect opportunity for us to make beautiful music together while also allowing the audience to experience pieces that aren’t often heard. We graduated in 1998, earning Bachelor of Arts degrees in Music, with emphasis in Piano Pedagogy, as well as Bachelor of Arts degrees in German Literature.
We started teaching in 1997, and have taught students from age 4 to adults of any age, beginner through advanced levels. We continue to enrich our education through membership in NPTN (Nittany Piano Teachers Network), a group dedicated to the professional development of piano teachers in central Pennsylvania. We are also members of MTNA (Music Teachers National Association), PMTA (Pennsylvania Music Teachers Association) and CPMTA (Central PA Music Teachers Association). We attend piano-teacher conferences and workshops whenever possible, in order to keep learning new teaching techniques, and to share ideas with, and learn from, our fellow piano teachers.
As identical twins, we have always shared the same interests and hobbies. We love spending our time off with our family, friends, and pets! We enjoy reading books; some of our favorite authors and poets are: Stephen King, Jane Austen, J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Ogden Nash, Robert Frost, and Shel Silverstein. We also love photography, painting/drawing, sewing cross-stitch projects, hiking, and watching movies/tv shows. We especially love Mystery and Horror films – psychological horror, not gory ones – as well as Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, super-hero movies – especially Avengers movies, and anything by Monty Python, Mel Brooks, Alfred Hitchcock, Mystery Science Theater, and movie adaptations of our favorite books. Some of our favorite tv shows and series are Sherlock, Seinfeld, Downton Abbey, Foyle’s War (British detective series), Sleepy Hollow, X-Files, all Star Trek series, Community, and The Crazy Ones.
But above all, we knew we wanted to be musicians from an early age! Music was always magical to us; some of our earliest memories are of music that was playing in our house, and how that music made us feel. We love music spanning all the way from Gregorian Chant to modern rock/alternative bands. Some of our favorites from the rock/alternative category include: Yes, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Jethro Tull, Kansas, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Eric Clapton, Aerosmith, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, Cake, 10cc, ELO, Alan Parsons Project, the Doors, the Moody Blues, Queen, Procol Harum, Santana, Simon and Garfunkel, They Might Be Giants, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Weezer, Weird Al Yankovic, the Who, REM, The Police/Sting, Nirvana, King Crimson, Return to Forever, Chicago, The Band, Traffic, and Rush.
Although we don’t hold them in quite the same musical esteem as the greats listed above, we had lots of fun listening to the popular music of the time in the 1970s and ’80s, including the Bee Gees, KC and the Sunshine Band, Tears for Fears, Information Society, Talking Heads, Duran Duran, B-52s, and Crowded House. There’s something to be said for simple music that just makes you happy! No musical “genius” or deep meanings necessary. And we still love listening to them!
We love Leon Redbone, an amazing and underappreciated musician who specializes in early 20th-century styles like Dixieland/ragtime, folk and jazz. He is an incredibly entertaining performer! We also love the big band jazz/ swing-era music of the mid-1920s through 1940s, with musicians like the Andrews Sisters, Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey and their orchestras. Bluegrass and Dixieland music, Doo-wop, Motown, and early rock are some more styles we enjoy.
Movie soundtracks became a beloved form of music for us in our childhood because of how perfectly they convey emotions. As kids, before we could actually buy soundtracks, we’d record parts of movies on our cassette tape recorder (that’s right, cassette-tapes!!!) just so we could listen to the music when the movie wasn’t on “The Movie Channel.” And now our list of favorite movie soundtracks keeps growing! Some of our favorite soundtrack composers are Thomas Newman (The Shawshank Redemption, the Green Mile and more), W.G “Snuffy” Walden (Stephen King’s The Stand, The Wonder Years series), John Williams (Star Wars, Superman, Close Encounters, Indiana Jones, Schindler’s List and many more), Hans Zimmer (Gladiator, Batman Begins, Dark Knight), James Horner (Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Titanic, Star Trek: the Wrath of Khan, The Search for Spock and more), James Newton Howard (Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water, Devil’s Advocate), Mark Snow (X-Files), Danny Elfman (Sleepy Hollow, Nightmare before Christmas, Spiderman, Hulk), Michael Giacchino (Lost, the new Star Trek movies), Howard Shore (Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit), Clint Eastwood (Flags of our Fathers, Million Dollar Baby), Bernard Hermann (Psycho) and Jerry Goldsmith (Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Mummy) David Arnold (Stargate, Sherlock), Michael Price (Sherlock), and Harry Gregson-Williams (Chronicles of Narnia).
Our favorites to play on piano are from the Romantic and Impressionistic eras: Mendelssohn, Chopin, Liszt, Grieg, Satie and Debussy. We also enjoy playing Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven from the Classical era and Bach, Telemann, Couperin, and Rameau from the Baroque era. Those are especially fun to play on the Harpsichord! We love playing Renaissance and Medieval music on soprano, alto and tenor Recorders.