A Piano Teacher Reclaims the Piano

After a long hiatus from the piano, teacher Catherine Shefski resolved to find her way back by recording classical piano music, one piece a week for a year.

January is the month of resolutions, and in January of 2012, Catherine Shefski resolved to reclaim the piano by recording classical piano music, one piece each week for a year. She christened her effort the Go Play Project and decided to upload her recordings to SoundCloud each week. She was determined to crack through a hard malaise in which, like many piano teachers, she barely played the piano at all.

Back in the 1980s, as a graduate of the New England Conservatory, Catherine regularly learned new music and performed often. She formed a four-hands piano duo with Claire Belkovsky, and the two had engagements throughout the East Coast. She likes to joke about her big, ’80s styled hairdo on her promotional flyers.

As the years unspooled, she taught piano lessons in her home, then opened The Music Studio in Pennsylvania, a space for her teaching and community performances, all the while scrambling to find time for her own practice. She published a short ebook called Go Play!, which counsels other piano teachers on how to motivate students to practice, although her own practice time had dwindled to nothing at all.

On the eve of 2012, her lack of practice became intolerable. Week by week, she made good on her intention to learn and record a new piece. By the time 2012 drew to a close, she had recorded 49 works, missing only three weeks.

To scroll through the Go Play Project’s page on SoundCloud is to witness a year in the life of Catherine’s sheer dedication to recording classical piano music. Here are some beloved standards of adult piano students: Schumann’s tender Traumerei, Chopin’s desolate Prelude in E Minor, and Erik Satie’s consoling Gymnopédie.

Catherine Shefski’s recording of Gymnopédie No. 1 by Satie for the Go Play Project:

[haiku url=”https://grandpianopassion.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/1Satie_Gymnopedie_1.mp3″]

Rummaging through the recordings also uncovers 20th-century composers such as Philip Glass and the Argentinean, Alberto Ginastera:

Catherine Shefski’s recording of Milonga by Ginastera for the Go Play Project:

[haiku url=”https://grandpianopassion.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/2Ginastera_-Milonga.mp3″]

Finally, the show-pieces—Beethoven’s entire “Moonlight Sonata” with its devilish third movement, the whole set of Schumann’s Papillons, and the technically tricky, scampering Moszkowski Etude in F Major—sit modestly among the rest. Yet their titles seem to gleam:

Catherine Shefski’s recording of the Etude Opus 72 No. 6 by Moszkowski for the Go Play Project:

[haiku url=”https://grandpianopassion.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/3Moszkowski-Etude_Op72_No-6.mp3″]

Now that her year of recording classical piano has come to a close, the Go Play Project has spawned changes in Catherine’s life that she had not anticipated. Recently, she and Claire Belkovsky, her former duo partner, agreed to revive several works that they performed years ago, such as the Mozart Sonata in D Major for two pianos. Now Catherine, a piano teacher and concert organizer, has also become the part of herself she longed for all along, a pianist.

Catherine Shefski lives in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where she teaches piano to all ages and also hosts concerts. She is the author of Go Play!, an ebook designed for piano teachers on how to motivate the current generation of children to practice. Her Go Play Project recordings may be found on SoundCloud.
3 Gymnopedies
look inside
3 Gymnopedies
(Piano Solo). By Erik Satie (1866-1925). For Piano. Piano Large Works. Impressionistic and 20th Century. SMP Level 8 (Early Advanced). Collection. Fingerings (does not include words to the songs). 11 pages. G. Schirmer #LB1869. Published by G. Schirmer (HL.50262410)Smp_stars50
…more info
4 Tangos fur Klaviertrio - Band I
look inside
4 Tangos fur Klaviertrio – Band I
Arranged by Werner Thomas-Mifune. Piano Trios. For piano trio (violin, cello, piano). Classical and Latin. Difficulty: medium-difficult. Set of performance parts. Standard notation and piano accompaniment. 21 pages. Published by Edition Kunzelmann (PE.GM0615A)Smp_stars40
…more info
Moszkowski -- 15 Etudes, Op. 72
look inside
Moszkowski — 15 Etudes, Op. 72
By Moritz Moszkowski (1854-1925). Edited by Maurice Hinson. For Piano. Masterworks; Piano Collection. Alfred Masterwork Edition. Form: Etude. 20th Century; Masterwork; Romantic. Advanced. Book. 72 pages. Published by Alfred Music Publishing (AP.4859)…more info


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Grand Piano Passion™

Thank you – you have successfully subscribed!