I enjoy a versatile career as a solo and collaborative pianist, and dedicated teacher in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. I enjoy giving pedagogy workshops, masterclasses and adjudicating festivals and competitions both locally and across southern Ontario. I am a member of the Royal Conservatory College of Examiners and I examine regularly throughout Canada. I am a frequent faculty member at the SOSI Institute where I teach in the Young Artist Program each summer. I was thrilled to perform Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals with the SOSI faculty orchestra in Theatre Auditorium here at Wilfrid Laurier this past season. I am thankful to be part of the wonderful musical community in the K-W area, and enjoy performing in noon hour concert series and various other events.
I received my ARCT diploma in piano performance from the Royal Conservatory while in high school. I began teaching piano at the age of 14, and always knew that the art of teaching is my calling. I attended Western University for my undergraduate degree and then completed both my Masters and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in piano performance and pedagogy on full scholarship at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. It was a privilege to learn from both Louis Nagel and then from my mentor, Logan Skelton, during my years in Michigan.
During my studies I had the opportunity to perform in the Prague International Masterclass Series in the Czech Republic, and also participate in a course incorporating The Alexander Technique and piano performance with Nelly Ben-Or, professor at the Guildhall School of Music in London, England. I love to continue learning and refining my skills and so I have frequently attended summer programs at Adamant Music School in Vermont, US. During these programs and professional development opportunities I have performed in various recitals as a solo and duo pianist, masterclasses, and have had several lessons with artist teachers such as the renowned Menahem Pressler.
I have been teaching piano at Laurier since 2007. I also enjoy co-teaching the piano pedagogy course with Prof. Kroetch. Prior to my appointment at Wilfrid Laurier, I was an Adjunct Lecturer in the Piano Pedagogy Laboratory Program at the University of Michigan for two years.
My doctoral research focused on the Alexander Technique and how it can help to develop an integrative approach to technical choreography and injury prevention. I am both fascinated and overwhelmed with the amount of literature dedicated to the development of piano technique. There are numerous contradictions in the various methods and theories on how to play the piano. I am passionate about tackling these issues head-on to help students develop some concrete principles on which they can build their technical foundation which take into consideration how the body and mind work together in the complex art of playing the piano. I am in demand as a workshop clinician and guest speaker for various ORMTA teacher groups and other universities. My workshop, entitled Music in Motion, helps to equip pianists with a fresh approach to the instrument involving dynamic choreography and increased body awareness.
Piano students at Laurier have many opportunities to perform. Studio classes meet regularly to give students experience performing for one another and to offer and receive constructive feedback. We also host guest masterclasses, keyboard workshops, and students can sign up to perform in student noon hour concerts in the recital hall.
I have had the privilege to work with many outstanding students and I am proud of all their accomplishments. Some of my students have moved on to Masters programs or are becoming the pianists, educators, music therapists, and composers of the future in their communities. My current and former private students have received scholarships at various festivals and won top prizes at competitions including the OMFA Provincial Concerto Competition, OMFA Instrumental Competition, University of Waterloo Concerto competition and the Crescendo International Youth Competition. They have also performed in ORMTA and OMFA Provincial Finals, and CMC National Finals.
I strive to equip my students to perform and interpret music with confidence and ease, unhindered by excessive muscular tension and pain. I believe that through increased whole body awareness, critical listening, and experimentation, that their own unique creative voice is free to emerge! I encourage them to explore many styles of repertoire; each piece is an opportunity for self-discovery and growth as a musician.
“Something unique that Marnie brings to the table is not only her practical experience with a wide variety of views on piano technique, but especially her in-depth knowledge of the Alexander Technique....... I am very glad of Marnie’s corrections and guidance in technique – she helped me through my first bout of pain from muscle misuse in first year, and I have not had any significant tension problems since.”
BMus '17 Graduate, Composition/Improvisation
“Marnie’s approach to technique is the most sophisticated and beneficial method I have ever encountered in all my years of studying piano..... Marnie’s masterclasses are very unique and informative. She provides an inviting space where her students can feel comfortable performing and sharing their ideas for improvement with one another. Marnie is very engaging, and makes sure to involve the entire class in every aspect of her masterclass, even when you are not the student performing..... She is creative, inspirational, compassionate, and has the ability to adapt her teaching methods to suit the needs and the learning ability of each one of her students.”
BMus ‘17 Graduate, Education
“Marnie’s piano pedagogy course drastically changed my perspective on playing the piano. Many aspects of proper piano technique I had trouble grasping or that I wasn’t even aware of are now at least within my mental conception, even if it will take some time to implement them in practice. In short, I now feel grounded and sure of myself at the keyboard.”
BMus ‘17 Graduate, Performance