Reviews

Christian Bonvin describes piano lessons with Madeline Bruser

Christian Bonvin “I discovered really an amazing way to move my hands and my body that was very gratifying physically. From the very first lesson I got back in touch with my body, and feeling my hands, and a certain physical pleasure of playing the piano.”
Christian Bonvin, pianist and teacher
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“Studying with Madeline Bruser has changed my life as a musician. After earning a master’s degree in piano performance from a major conservatory, I struggled for years with debilitating performance anxiety and frustration. Her teaching has enabled me to recapture my earlier love and enthusiasm for music and performing, and to raise the level of my playing to an astonishing degree. She has provided an oasis for my musical struggles.”
Timothy Mueller, pianist, graduate of Eastman School of Music

“The techniques Madeline teaches are magical. I have better tone and a kind of clarity that is beyond anything I’d ever imagined. I didn’t realize that I could still make this kind of transformation and progress.”
Tang-Mei Shieh, pianist, graduate of Manhattan School of Music

“While I originally started studying with Madeline to fix my bad habits and to improve my piano technique, I almost feel like those were fixed incidentally, and that I learned much more important things along the way. Madeline taught me how to really connect with, listen to, and trust myself — both my body and my heart. I regained the confidence I had lost and learned how to create space for myself to grow, not only as a pianist, but also as a person. My playing has improved a lot, and best of all, I enjoy playing now more than ever.”
AMY LAM, PIANIST

“I began piano lessons with Madeline Bruser after a performance-related injury. Almost immediately, my whole physical approach to the piano became lighter and freer, and I could play again without aggravating the injury. Even more importantly, my mental and emotional attitudes have improved – I have been enjoying practicing again.”
CathY CORCORAN, accompanist

“Madeline is a fantastic piano instructor, honing in on sound, technique, posture, mindfulness, finding the correct bench height, and so much more. On top of that, she is also a phenomenal mentor. Overall, Madeline is an extremely genuine person who truly cares about the well-being of all her students. I have been studying with her consistently since May 2015 and have already made a great deal of progress in my playing. Although my first piano teacher noticed that I had problems with my fifth fingers from the very start, I didn’t receive proper advice on how to resolve this issue until I started working with Madeline. So now, twenty years after working with that first teacher, I am finally tweaking my playing and feel that I will eventually reach my full potential if I continue to follow Madeline’s lead. If you have not read her phenomenal book “The Art of Practicing” I highly recommend it. This should be a bible for all musicians (not just pianists)!”
KRISTIN SAMADI, PIANIST

“I have been studying with Madeline for about one year. Before that, I tended to think of playing the piano as something that requires certain muscle strength. Holding that belief prevented me from being musical when performing. Madeline completely changed my understand of piano. She started with teaching me basic movements for arms, wrists and fingers, which I now believe is the most natural way of interacting with the piano. Then she added singing and meditation to the process which helped me hear every note and phrase while I am playing. The ability of noticing the sound created by myself allows further relaxation of the mind and body. Apart from piano techniques, she also taught me how to live a life in this fast-paced world. I feel really lucky that I have such chance to learn from her!”

LIRONG LIU, PIANIST

“About five years ago I returned to the piano after years of neglect. One lucky day I happened upon a copy of “The Art of Practicing” by Madeline Bruser. Learning to practice better was exactly what I needed. Madeline advocates a relaxed technique (and I really needed to learn to relax when playing). After studying with her for almost a year and a half my hands are much more relaxed and I’m playing more musically—she’s helping me reverse 60 years of bad habits. She’s found the secrets and knows how to teach them. Highly recommended.”
William Restemeyer, pianist

“Madeline’s approach to teaching is long overdue in the world of classical music pedagogy. It is enlightening, liberating and fundamentally sound instruction on how to develop the whole artist. Learning and adopting the “Art of Practicing” teachings will transform your music and your whole being, bringing joy and meaning to every moment spent at your instrument, be it in the practice room or on the concert stage.”
TRACY STUCHBERY, pianist, CHORAL CONDUCTOR, AND TEACHER

“Studying with Madeline has totally changed my experience with the piano. I actually enjoy practicing and practice more efficiently. My posture and technique have improved, but mostly, I just feel so much more connected to the music. I am trying to focus on actually listening to what I play, and this helps me to play much more beautifully. I always come out of my lesson exhilarated and eager to apply whatever I have learned. I know that studying with Madeline will take me to the level that is the best for me, and that is very rewarding for me. I also respect her so much in so many ways that I feel like my life has improved as well since she has come into my life.”
JILL CARR, PIANIST AND TEACHER

“I had been teaching piano for 40 years, and was a successful pianist, but I felt uncomfortable performing in public, and felt I could be more than I was. I met Madeline at her summer workshop in 2013. I had been drawn to her because of my interest in meditation and how it intersected with playing music. That workshop experience was so powerful that I signed up for lessons over Skype, since I don’t live near NYC. During the last two years, my technique and expressivity have been transformed. Madeline immediately helped me improve my posture, and helped me to listen in a way that helped me fall in love with the sound of the piano again. Her kindness and passion for music and her compassion for me as a musician helped me transform my technique so that I now play with greater ease and understanding.

The tension in my back is gone. She has helped me to learn music “at the molecular level”, so that I can perform with confidence. I now sit tall, trust myself, and share my heart moment by moment in a spontaneous way. I share what I have learned from Madeline with my own students. I now enjoy teaching so much more, and my students play with more ease and depth of expression. Madeline treats each student as a worthy individual, and knows how to bring out the best in each of us.

I highly recommend Madeline as a teacher and coach, and am grateful for what she continues to teach me.”
MARY DUNCAN, pianist and teacher

“Studying with Madeline has been a remarkable process of restoring wholeness to my musicianship, technically and humanly. Her approach, while deeply rooted in generosity and an open heart, is informed by her uncompromising research into the physical demands placed on musicians in general and pianists in particular. She presents specific solutions to problems of technique, yet never loses sight of the precious goal of connecting to the truth of music. I have finally learned how to practice, how to relax, how to listen. I believe that what Madeline has to offer is crucial for our time.”
Susan Buffington, pianist and teacher

“I went to Madeline after spending many years being unhappy with my playing. I hit a wall hearing the same critiques over and over again: “you’re not connected to the piano, play closer to the keys, play deeper into the keybed, curve your fingers more, etc. Lessons with Madeline has been a transformative process. I’ve gained an awareness of technique, practice, performance, listening, and mindfulness which has transformed not only my playing for the better, but my life. Because of these lessons, I trust in my music making again and I trust in my heart.”
JAD BERNARDO, pianist AND COACH

“Madeline’s knowledge, wisdom and insight as a teacher go far beyond the notes and piano instruction. She awakens the absolute joy of not only playing, but also hearing the beauty and miracle of music. She inspires trust and confidence in the ability to let your heart sing that goes far beyond playing an instrument. She is an inspiration to live life as art.”
TERESA BLOUNT, pianist

“Madeline is an incredible piano teacher. Her approach to teaching piano technique is superb. For those who seek beginning lessons, Madeline ensures that a strong technical foundation is laid. Advanced students benefit from her technical expertise by way of her unique ability to identify subtle technical issues and provide solutions for addressing them. Beyond her knowledge and skill regarding piano technique, she teaches in a student-centered way, ensuring that students connect deeply with the piano as an instrument and the music they play. I highly recommend Madeline to anyone seeking piano lessons. You will not be disappointed.
WM. TODD ANDERSON, PIANO AND DALCROZE TEACHER

“My experience with Madeline has been more than just piano lessons. Madeline’s approach to music, and the piano has brought me to a deeper level and connection than I could have ever imagined before. Before meeting Madeline, music to me was mostly just attempting to play notes on a page accurately, and not placing much attention to the deeper connection to the music that exists. When starting a lesson with Madeline, you begin to re-learn how to approach your instrument, how to ground yourself, how to connect with your heart and your feelings; tuning yourself to the instrument and the piece of music before you just dive right in. Studying with Madeline has been a journey for me, along with many others, and for all different kinds of musicians and singers at all different levels. It’s been amazing; through her, and the Art of Practicing, you have the opportunity too see and experience other world class Artists and Musicians, and you really feel apart of something bigger than yourself. With an open mind, and willingness to learn, this journey has been life changing, and has given me new purpose. It is with great pleasure too, that I have been accepted to the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, and I can tell you that it’s directly because of Madeline’s lessons that I felt well prepared and the judges were very pleased to hear that I was a student of hers. Since the beginning, Madeline has nurtured and encouraged me to continue my studies in music, and to follow a path to becoming a teacher, and I am so proud and honored to be one of her students, and will continue to study with her for as long as I can. Her lessons are of gem like quality, and if you have the opportunity to study with her, please don’t miss out on it, take a chance! You just might fall in love with music all over again!”
JONATHAN RYFIAK, pianist

“Madeline teaching has been teaching my 7-year old daughter Eliya for two years now; Eliya began playing at age 4.

Although, I think Eliya should be the one writing this review – especially because I don’t stay with her during the lesson- I still feel compelled to write about Madeline’s teaching. I’ve seen so much progress in Eliya’s work. Madeline doesn’t only teach how to play the piano. Her approach is wholesome: She teaches the sense of music, a posture – how to properly hold your hands and body without strain- a mind attitude too.

With Madeline, Eliya accessed real music and real piano playing. She plays Bach, Schubert and Beethoven and she learns how to play each piece until it’s perfect. It means the goal is not how many pieces she will learn in a year but how to fully understand and play the pieces. There is no competition, no rush, no stress.

Madeline’s teaching is mostly based on working from a piece of music. She doesn’t work with a textbook. She doesn’t give piano exercises and gives very few scales to practice. Still, Eliya is learning more and more complex pieces.

Madeline’s approach is very gentle. She has developed a sense of confidence and awareness in Eliya. When she practices at home, Eliya is deeply concentrated, relaxed and into the music. Even when she struggles with some part of the piece, she always feels confident and keeps working on it.

Eliya feels so comfortable with music and the instrument that she started to play and write her own music. She also oversees her 5-year old brother’s practice. Madeline has non only kept Eliya’s love of music alive but she has developped and strengthened it in many ways.

Something that I feel would benefit a young pianist like Eliya : A recital or concert once or twice a year that would celebrate the student’s achievements. It would certainly give her work a chance to be more public and less intimate.

“Eliya, do you want to say something?”
“Oh yes, I love the way Madeline’s cat listens to the music when we’re playing piano!”
LAURENT PARIENTE, PARENT

“Madeline is a kind-hearted, warm and caring person. In addition to helping me eliminate the chronic pain in my shoulder, she has taught me how to play with ease and comfort. The sound I produce at the piano is more beautiful and clear, and I enjoy practicing much more than I have in a long time.”
LOUIS YUNGLING, PIANO TEACHER

“Madeline is exceptional because she understands both playing and teaching on a profound level. And her warm and generous nature allows for an atmosphere in which my creativity and understanding have flourished.”
JAMES TOLLEY, STUDENT

“For me, Madeline’s approach of playing simple pieces, very slowly, with very clearly defined gestures has given me a structure within which I can feel not only profoundly connected to the music but also develop more ease and confidence about my body in relation to the instrument. Previous teachers have encouraged me to incorporate different parts of similar techniques, but I was never able to use their guidance to my advantage in quite the same way as I have with Madeline’s. Her familiarity with meditation and body awareness practice informs her teaching in a rich way as well, which is also an integral part of our study together. Finally, her attention to detail, and immediate, supportive critique of any variation on my part, has helped me focus on the importance of both precision and relaxation. I enjoy practicing and playing more than ever before. I work with Madeline in person and via Facetime, both are valuable.”
JENNIE BERKSON, STUDENT