Date of Award

Fall 2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA)

Department

School of Music

Advisor(s)

Eric Ruple

Abstract

Since 1956, Sophia Rosoff has dedicated herself to performing and teaching principles developed by piano pedagogue Abby Whiteside. Whiteside became internationally known between 1930 and 1956 for her pioneering work in the study of the use of the body in producing beautiful sound and freedom of technique. Her research was considered revolutionary and instrumental in raising physical awareness in pianists. Committed to ongoing research, Rosoff continues to teach in her apartment in the Upper East Side of New York City. The purpose of this document is to present Rosoff’s musical background, research, teaching philosophy, and the strategies she has developed for teaching Abby Whiteside’s pedagogical concepts to pianists of all ages and technical abilities. To understand the significance of Rosoff’s work, an understanding of Whiteside’s teaching principles must be surveyed. A chapter devoted to Whiteside, her musical background and training, and an overview of the process she used to develop her principles is presented first. Rosoff encourages students to use many practice strategies that she has developed. Each one uses a vocabulary unique to her teaching, and is presented at the beginning of each section. The most comprehensive of these is the use of outline-based learning. Rosoff teaches pianists to learn repertoire from the broadest structure of the piece possible. This involves learning the piece using a series of outlines. Instead of attempting to play all the notes present in a phrase, the pianist is encouraged to play skeletal outlines, beginning with only first beats. Notes are systematically included in subsequent outlines. Because different textures of music require different approaches to outlining, several examples are included that cover a broad spectrum of compositions and textures. The first outlines might include only the first beat of each measure. Rosoff believes that outlines are essential to finding the basic emotional rhythm which is discussed in depth in Whiteside’s book, The Indispensables of Piano Playing. Whiteside documents her study of the different art disciplines. This document extends that study by including statements made by well-respected artists, poets, directors, and athletes. An avid reader, Rosoff often refers to a wide range of quotes that offer the pianist an in-depth look at the importance an emotional rhythm is to a large cross-section of physical and artistic activities.

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Music Commons

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