Clavier Companion - May/June 2017 - 14
An interview with Elvina Pearce
In your own teaching of elementary
and intermediate students, have you
been able to adapt some of the same
Vengerova practice strategies which you,
yourself, use when working on advanced
Yes, but of course with some modifications
(and without stamping, screaming, or
I know you are still performing, as I heard
your lecture-recital featuring music
of Schumann at the 2015 conference
of the NCKP. When did you make your
debut as a performer, and what are some
highlights of your performance career?
My "debut" occurred at age twelve when,
as a student of Helen Ringo, I presented Elvina Pearce and Beth Hillenbrand, with students Nicholas, James,
my first solo recital. It was great fun, and Matthew Chen. Nicholas and Matthew study with Elvina, and
and I have loved performing ever since. James studies with Beth, one of Elvina's former students.
Looking back at my early performance
both. As a participant, I thoroughly enjoyed the
experiences, there are two that have special
experience and was glad I entered. And that was
significance for me, and both involve entering
that! Well, at least I thought so until some time
national competitions, one in Chicago and the
later, I was contacted by one of the contest judges
other in Washington.
inviting me to present a solo recital at the National
Although I wasn't a first-place winner in either
Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. And a bit later
competition, happily, I was selected as a finalist in
on, I received similar invitations from two other
competition judges-one inviting me to perform the
Liszt E-flat Concerto with the Chicago Symphony in
Orchestra Hall, and the other to perform the Liszt
with the Chicago Philharmonic in a coast-to-coast
radio broadcast over The Chicago Theater of the Air.
From these two competition events, I learned
much about what's involved in preparing for a major
performance. I also learned that not winning a contest
isn't necessarily a final outcome-that sometimes
participants can "win" equally gratifying rewards
even if not selected as a competition winner.
Let's talk now about teaching. When and why did
you decide to start teaching?
Elvina Pearce at the age of 16, in a solo recital at The
University of Tulsa.
I began teaching when I was in the fifth grade, and
my first student was my best friend, Diane. One day
she confessed that although she practiced a lot, she
had problems with her pieces and she asked me to
help her. I agreed, and when I observed both her
playing and practice, I concluded that her problems
were mostly the result of how she practiced. So I
gave her a few tips to try for a week or two, and then
suggested that we meet again to evaluate the results.
This we did, and Diane was so pleased with her
progress that she asked me to continue coaching her.
These ongoing "lessons" were not only fun, but also