In this luminous book, Tricia Tunstall explores the enduring fascination of the piano lesson. Even as everything else about the world of music changes, the piano lesson retains its appeal. Drawing on her own lifelong experience as a student and teacher, Tunstall writes about the mysteries and delights of piano teaching and learning. What is it that happens in a piano lesson to make it such a durable ritual? In a world where music is heard more often on the telephone and in the elevator than in the concert hall, why does the piano lesson still have meaning in the lives of children? What does it matter whether one more child learns to play Bach's Minuet in G?
Note by Note is in part a memoir in which Tunstall recalls her own childhood piano teachers and their influence. As she observes, the piano lesson is unlike the experience of being coached on an athletic team or taught in a classroom, in that it is a one-on-one, personal communication. Physically proximate, mutually concentrating on the transfer of a skill that is often arduous, complicated and frustrating, teacher and student occasionally experience breakthroughs-moments of joy when the student has learned something, mastered a musical passage or expressed a feeling through music. The relationship is not only one-way: teaching the piano is a lifelong endeavor of particular intensity and power.
Anyone who has ever studied the piano-or wanted to-will cherish this gem of a book.
Tricia Tunstall is a writer, teacher, and musician. She has maintained a private piano studio for over fifteen years in Maplewood, New Jersey, where she teaches approximately 35 students per week. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Music History at Drew University. She has previously taught music in community college and in public schools. She earned a B.A. in philosophy at Yale University and pursued graduate studies at Manhattan School of Music and at Columbia University, where she earned her master’s degree in musicology. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Music Education at Boston University.
As a writer, she has published numerous short stories in journals such as the Kenyon Review and the Antioch Review, as well as a wide variety of freelance articles in The New York Times, New Jersey Monthly, Mothers Today, and Fortune Small Business, among others. She lives in Maplewood, New Jersey.
"An elegant, unforgettable homage to the piano lesson and the often mysterious relationship of teacher and student." -- Booklist (starred review)
"This surprisingly moving meditation on learning comes from a veteran piano teacher, who explains the process in such stylish prose that even musically inept readers will be charmed.... A stirring account of teaching's rewards." -- Jonathan Durbin, People
"A joy to read.... This too short memoir offers a rare glimpse into a fascinating world.... A gem that deserves a wide audience." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)