New Faculty Hire Q&A: Margarita Denenburg, Associate Professor of Practice, Piano Pedagogy

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Tell us about the classes you’ll be teaching this year.

Margarita Denenburg Associate Professor of Practice, Piano Pedagogy

Margarita Denenburg
Associate Professor of Practice, Piano Pedagogy

In fall 2020 I will be teaching graduate and undergraduate piano pedagogy courses, as well as a class piano course. I also am looking forward to working with six teaching assistants on class piano, the Piano Project and teaching the non-major piano programs.

What attracted you to Butler School of Music and The University of Texas at Austin?

Butler School of Music is well known for their artistic musical excellence. It is also known for the development and advancement of the music education and piano pedagogy fields. These are both my great interests. Working with exceptional colleagues and students, collaborating on the advancement of pedagogy and music education are some of the reasons why BSOM is so appealing to me.

Your creative work focuses on Piano Pedagogy. Can you tell us more about how your professional pathway led to this focus?

I have been curious about “learning” since a very young age. My mother, Alla Denenburg, who is also a pianist, specializes in teaching young children, providing them with a solid healthy foundation and musicianship. As far as I can remember, I was always sitting in my mother’s lessons observing, fascinated by how little children transformed into musicians. I started teaching for my mother at 14 years old and loved every second of it. 

All of my degrees are in Piano Performance; however, I do not see the division between the two fields (performance and education). One desperately “needs” the other to excel. I believe that especially at a young age, little beginners need a highly educated, knowledgeable teacher who can successfully open the magical music world to them. 

When I started teaching at Heidelberg University, working with many different incoming pianists, I observed that every freshman student needed help with tension, discomfort and at times pain, deriving from their playing. That was a result of a weak musical background and foundation that they received in their youth. After a few years, I realized that I would like to help promote healthy foundation and musical development from the very beginning stages of learning, and to help reduce hand injuries later on. Contributing and developing the field of piano pedagogy continues to be my deepest passion in life. 

Additionally, at Heidelberg, I dedicated a big portion of my time teaching class piano courses. That also played a big role in my interest in the piano pedagogy world.

The idea of impacting older students and providing them with, hopefully, a lifelong passion interests me very much.  My main goal in these classes became to foster a kind, loving relationship with the piano—not a fearful one. Thinking practically and analyzing what my students’ needs are play an important role in the way I teach class piano courses today. 

What’s something that students and colleagues should know about you?

I love what I do. I love music and everything that comes with it: listening, practicing, playing, teaching, reading, exploring, attending concerts, etc. I am easy to work with and like working together. I strive to do my absolute best and try to instill it in my students and my own children. 

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not teaching/researching/working?

We have two beautiful daughters, ages 6 and 2. Spending time with them and seeing the world through their eyes has been an incredible experience. My recent hobby (six years now) became exploration of early childhood education and bilingual learning. My oldest child is fluent in both English and Russian, and the younger one is trying to catch up. Fascinating to see the development and ability of young brains. Amazing.

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