Toni

I am a junior majoring in Neuroscience (minoring in Mathematics) at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. I'm planning on applying to medical school this summer. Despite all of the pre-med classes and activities I'm involved in, I still love to play the piano. Since freshman year I've been the piano accompanist for our Broadway musical troupe on campus, and I also had the chance to conduct the orchestra for our spring show. It is because of the unforgettable mentorship I received from Mrs. Birman that I learned to love piano so much.

 

I've been the 2006 Merit School of Music Junior Concerto Competition winner, won 1st place in the 2006 Music Festival in Honor of Confucius and 3rd place in the 2008 MFHC, gold medals in the 2007 and 2008 NSMTA Piano Competitions and a silver medal in the 2009 NSMTA Piano Competition.

 

I feel blessed to have had such a dedicated teacher who pressed the importance of not only technique, but also musical artistry and expression. I learned to play beyond the correct notes and rhythms on the page--I was taught to play the actual emotions of the music and embody the spirit of the song. Watching Mrs. Birman play so effortlessly on the piano inspired me to become a musician who could, one day, interpret and convey the essence of the piece as elegantly as she could. The variety of technically and musically stimulating pieces she picked challenged me to pay attention to fine details, to understand the themes, to play with confidence and character. To this day, many of my favorite classical pieces are the ones that Mrs. Birman originally introduced to me at my lessons.

 

Her warmth, patience, and dedication to her students made me enjoy going to lessons every week. She challenged and pushed me with new styles and techniques, which only made me want to work harder. Her teaching style was extremely engaging and exciting; I still remember her always explaining the music with vivid visual imagery. I viewed Mrs. Birman as not only my brilliant and inspiring piano teacher, but also as my second mother who lovingly nurtured my musical development from the start. Her passion for music is infectious, and her encouragement inspires you to practice more, to play more, to listen more, to love the music more. Simply put, she shaped my life during the decade when she taught me to love music, and I could not be more grateful for her wonderful teaching and guidance.

 

Toni

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