Faculty Spotlight: Caili O’Doherty

Caili O’Doherty is one of a handful of exciting new teachers joining the Church Street School faculty this fall. In the following interview she discusses her approach to teaching piano, as well as her own musical development and blossoming career as one of New York’s most promising young pianists.

Toby Wine (TW): Talk a little about your philosophy and methods as a teacher.

Caili O’Doherty (CO): My approach comes from first, listening to music. Exposing kids to different types of music, then moving on to singing – being able to sing what they hear and connecting what they sing with what they can play on the piano. I teach music as a language, and kids understand that as a way of learning to improvise, and to improve. I ask them if they speak another language, and many of the kids at Church Street do. I’ll ask them “how do you learn?” and they’ll say “my mom speaks to me in French.” Music is the same; you have to listen to it to be able to play it and you have to practice and listen a lot to get better and to build vocabulary. I think it helps to reduce frustration at not being able to play everything right away, when I can get them to think about it that way. I relate playing the piano to vocal qualities, to speaking and communication, which is its purpose in my opinion.      Read more