Today we introduce a new series to the Pepper blog, Key People — interviews with some of the most inspiring composers, educators and pianists in today’s keyboard community. Last week, my colleague, Crystal Desch, and I had the honor of interviewing Randall Faber by phone. Randall and his wife, Nancy, are well known as authors of the bestselling Piano Adventures® teaching method and many other publications for the piano. Here is the first of two parts of that interview. Check back next week for Part 2.
Your piano method, Piano Adventures®, and all your supplementary piano books seem as popular as ever with piano teachers and their students. What is it that continues to resonate with piano teachers and their students?
I think for students and teachers both is the fact that the pieces and the sounds resonate with the students. In other words, it’s a very student-oriented curriculum. It’s not that we glorify the tastes of the students and not lead them to more expressive and subtle interpretations, but we recognize it’s the student’s interest that engages them. We’ve worked hard to have sounds that appeal to the students and motivate them to enjoy the lessons. And then along with that, what I think is so important is to have expressive artistry at the piano even from the early lessons. So we worked hard to create a sequence involving artistry, a sequence of technique gestures, and pianistic sounds — pianistic repertoire that provides a pathway to artistic playing.
We know you are busy as a pianist, lecturer, composer, publisher and director of the Faber Piano Institute. Do you still have time to teach students?
I do have a small handful of students. But we also have exceptionally good faculty at the Institute, so I have people who can fill in for me when I’m on tour.
Is there a certain age or level of student you take at this point? Do you just teach advanced students?
I still teach all ages and I’m really committed to that. I want to see a spectrum of ages to keep monitoring what is individual about these different ages and how our materials are working for each. A varied spectrum of students keeps me more alert and able to do my job effectively.
We remember when you announced the grand opening of the Faber Piano Institute a few years ago. What is special about your Institute?
It’s a research base, really. We feel fortunate in that it’s a beautiful building. It’s a library building which we renovated for musical purposes. So the facilities are very, very comfortable. But fundamentally we’ve got children of all ages studying and playing and we can try out new methodologies with them. So it keeps us current and gives us a bigger pilot test base right in our hands. The other thing about the Institute is that it is a base for training international trainers. We’ve had numerous select teachers from overseas come study at the Institute. That has given us a base for Piano Adventures® certification programs going on in Asia.
You do so much. How do you get the energy? Are you super organized?
No, I think I could be more organized. Nancy and I both seem to have good energy and it seems to sustain. I think that’s good fortune. I wake up every morning very happy, very enthused, and very grateful I can do what I do. And really when I’m on stage speaking with teachers, the feedback I get back is just so rewarding. To be able to make a difference gives me all the energy to keep going.
What do you find most fulfilling about your work in the piano world?
I think it’s probably the leverage in that each teacher makes such a difference to so many students. So if I can have some impact on each teacher, whether it be through the writing of the materials of Piano Adventures®, or with lectures and performances, then there is a lever on that activity because I know it is amplified in that it can reach the lives of the students. That’s what’s most fulfilling for me.
For specially priced publications by Randall and Nancy Faber, exclusively from J.W. Pepper, click here!
For all books and collections by the Fabers, click here.
For all sheets by the Fabers, click here.
Check back next week for Part 2 of this interview when Randall tells us of several new Faber Piano Adventures publications on the horizon.