Joann DiGiulio requested piano lessons at the age of six, after listening to her older sister play. And so began a journey infused with musical fascination. Knowing early on that music would direct her future, Joann auditioned and was accepted into a special program for the musically gifted and the Manhattan School of Music while she was still in high school. There, Joann remained for college where she was privileged to broaden her skills and musical knowledge in study with Konrad Wolfe, Peter Vinograde, Alan Gampel, Paul Sheftel, and jazz pianist Garry Dial.
Of all her musical adventures, perhaps the most thrilling was touring Europe as a keyboard player in an 80's style bad. The only girl in an all-guy crew, Joann decked herself out in punk-meets-Judy-Jetson style to join the musical enclave in rocking the halls of Norway and the UK in live venues onstage and on Radio One. This was the very same station that launched the Beatles' career and hosted the likes of Jimi Hendrix, U-2, and other cultural icons.
But, it wasn't simply a love of music that motivated Joann.
Long fascinated with precisely how music is learned and taught, Joann particularly enjoyed studying piano pedagogy in a class she took under Paul Sheftel. Sheftel is known for his creativity in teaching children to play piano, and he has developed a number of musical pieces for children just learning to play. Sheftel sparked Joann's own ideas, one of which she developed into a game that teaches preschoolers as wells older children how to read music. She even holds a patent for it!
This makes Joann a well-rounded musician with an understanding of music theory that goes well beyond the basics. With a keen sense for the best practices and creative methods in developing her students, Joann passes on just that background knowledge that will ensure her students really ‘get it.’ And this, of course, fosters motivated learning and a love of playing the piano. Something her students truly appreciate.
And, now we’ve arrived at Joann’s greatest inspiration.
Speak with Joann about her students—from the formally ambitioned to the pleasure-driven pursuers—and you’ll hear her truly come alive. “We get to the recital, and I just can’t believe what my students can do. Just to hear them... it’s amazing.” (A blush hangs behind her words.) What’s more amazing are the heights Joann inspires—without even trying.
Not everyone is born or even wants to be a concert pianist, and this fact underlies Joann’s whole approach to teaching piano. With the aim of meeting her students’ goals one student at a time, Joann teaches her students to play the music that delights them personally, and she has a wide-ranging repertoire to accommodate a full range of styles and interests. Joann believes that learning to play the piano should be fun and never cumbersome, and her students bear the results of her creative, focused tutelage.
In fact, greatness is something Joann rouses naturally. Many of her students have chosen, of their own accord, to participate in the New York School of Music Association’s annual festival of musical achievement. A remarkable number have received top honors for “outstanding” performances. One of her students, Zach—who has broad musical interests and a particular penchant for progressive rock—was invited to attend Paul Green’s School of Rock, a well noted music school in Philadelphia, where he has played with many notable musicians, including John Anderson of Yes. All proud moments for Joann.
But, Joann is equally proud of her students whether their greatness is heard in a concert hall or the halls of home. The process of instilling musical skill and confidence in playing the piano is Joann’s truest inspiration and the accomplishments of her students—testaments to the personal greatness she inspires.
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