"Dr. Birman played an integral part throughout my childhood years; I began taking lessons with her in 2003, as a third grader, until my graduation from high school in 2012. From barely knowing how to sightread, I learned from Dr. Birman how to break down any piece, and divine the theory and technique behind it. For Dr. Birman, teaching piano is not only teaching the technique alone; no piece is complete without understanding the poetry behind the piece." Dr. Birman’s focus on lyrical expression and emotion taught me how to perform, to bring out passion, fury, delicateness, and joy in all the pieces. Each student’s repertoire is specifically catered for them; Dr. Birman seeks to understand all of her students as people, and from their temperament, she selects just the right piece for them, though she is always open to suggestions from her students.
Dr. Birman demands much from her students in the practice room, the lesson, and onstage. She expects that they all practice their technique and hone their understanding of the expression behind the music. She demands a lot from her students because she cares about their development as musicians and as people. Dr. Birman has been the first to console me after a miserable stage failure and the first to congratulate me on a spectacular performance. She emphasizes bonding between her students as well; she introduced me and my cousin Caroline to the art of four-hand piano, in which two pianists work in concert to make fun music together, sometimes on one piano, and sometimes of two pianos. Dr. Birman coached Caroline and me to multiple radio performances on WFMT, playing the two pianos in Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals, and the Capriccio d'après Le Bal Masqué by Francis Poulenc.
I cannot imagine how radically different my life would have been without Dr. Birman. She improved my understanding of music and people in amazing ways, and these nine years that I have been her student have steered me towards a lifelong appreciation and devotion to beautiful music."