Clavier Companion - May/June 2017 - 21
(the husband of my teacher, Helen), he was a sophomore
working on a piano performance degree. Even though I
was still in high school, Mr. Ringo graciously allowed me to
participate in his college studio classes, and this is where
I met Dick (which we all called him in those days). We
became good friends, and over a period of several years,
we would often have a bite to eat or take in a concert or
a movie. I especially remember our get-togethers in Mrs.
Ringo's studio for play-throughs of ensemble literature.
I also remember the time we decided to do some
experimenting with yoga. Somehow, LIFE Magazine got
wind of it and came to the University to photograph us.
They took pictures all right, but thank heavens, these
never appeared in the magazine! I think LIFE must have
decided that we were just kooks who should forget yoga
and stick with piano playing!
Elvina Pearce coaching a trio performance with the "Three
Music-teers," Derek Sisbarro, and Matthew and Nicholas Chen.
I know that at some point Richard became interested
in Frances Clark's philosophy of piano teaching and
ultimately resigned his faculty position at TU and moved
to Princeton to study piano pedagogy with her. How did
that come about?
Even after I moved to NYC and later on to Princeton
to teach on Frances' staff at Westminster, Dick and I
still remained close friends and would see each other
whenever I visited my folks in Tulsa. He would always quiz
me at great lengths about Frances-precisely what was
I learning from her about teaching? Apparently I must
have done a good selling job because one day out of
the blue, he said, "I've decided to resign from my faculty
position at TU and move to Princeton-I've got to learn
more about this!" That he did, and the rest is history.
In 1961, Dick became Educational Director at Frances'
New School. He subsequently co-authored the National
Keyboard Arts materials with David Kraehenbuehl,
and co-founded the National Conference on Keyboard
Pedagogy with James Lyke. He created Keyboard
Companion magazine (now Clavier Companion), and he
was the founder of the Frances Clark Center.
In the nineties, hardly a week passed when Dick and
I didn't communicate either via email or phone, and I
treasure my close involvement with him in so many of
his professional endeavors-especially with the creation
of Keyboard Companion and the Frances Clark Center. In
his last email to me, he said, "We've got to talk..." I lost
a dear friend when he passed in 1999, and we all lost a
giant. What a legacy he left behind!
And Ed, speaking of legacies, kudos to you for creating
and editing A Piano Teacher's Legacy, a wonderful book
which contains selected writings by Richard (published
in 2005 by the Frances Clark Center). In my opinion, this
book is a MUST READ for every piano teacher!
And speaking of books, yours, The Success Factor in
Piano Teaching: Making Practice Perfect, has become a
great success. What prompted you to write it and how
long did it take?
Shortly after the book was published, someone asked
me that question and I said, "Eighty-three years!" And this
is true because it has indeed taken a lifetime to experience,
evaluate, and then summarize what I have learned from
the events and persons who taught me whatever I know
about music, piano playing, and teaching.
What prompted me to write it? Well, over the years,
attending piano workshops has always provided valuable
teaching tips, many of which I thought might someday
be useful inclusions in a book. At such workshops I also
found that most of the attendees worked primarily with
pre-college "average" students as I did, and this prompted
me to want to write a book which focused mainly on
the needs of such students. Also, Q and A discussions
at workshops confirmed that we all are dealing with
pretty much the same issues in our teaching-our goals,
challenges, problems and their solutions-what works?
what doesn't?, and these would surely provide a good
basis for a future book.
Also, whenever I presented a workshop, I was often
encouraged by attendees to put some of my ideas
together in a book, and my college pedagogy students at
Northwestern also expressed a similar desire. So in 2009,
I finally decided to bite the bullet and begin the book
project in earnest. Six years later, with the indispensable
assistance of Craig Sale, the book's editor, the Success
Factor finally appeared in print in January of 2015.
My hope is that the Success Factor will provide useful
ideas not only for those who teach piano, but also for
those who enjoy playing, practicing, and performing at
the piano. If so, then the long journey of creating this
book has been well worth the effort.
A postscript from EP: As a final note, I would like to thank
you, Ed, for the interest and time you have invested in
this project. It has been great fun to reminisce, and in
the words of Carol Burnett, "I'm so glad we had this time