Jessica Johnson serves on the piano faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as Professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy and Director of Graduate Studies. In 2006, she was the recipient of UW-Madison’s prestigious Emil Steiger Distinguished Teaching Award for excellence in teaching. Johnson has formerly been on the faculties of Augustana College (Illinois), Sterling College, and the Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts.
In addition to her love for the standard keyboard repertoire, Johnson frequently commissions and programs contemporary solo and chamber works. She regularly performs with Sole Nero, a piano and percussion duo with Anthony Di Sanza, percussion. In an effort to contribute to the repertoire of this diverse medium, the duo has engaged in an extensive commissioning project resulting in many new works by composers such as Laura Schwendinger, Les Thimmig, Evan Hause, Dave Hollinden, Joel Naumann, Joseph Koykkar, Serra Hwang and Michael Kallstrom. In 2004, the duo released its first compact disc recording on the Equilibrium label titled Music per Due. Recent performance venues include the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, the Society of Composers National Conference, the MTNA National Conference and multiple performances in the U.S. and China.
An active clinician, she has given workshops and presentations at the European Piano Teachers Association International Conference, World Piano Pedagogy Conference, ISME International Conference, MTNA National Conferences, Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA), National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (NCKP), Portland International Piano Festival, as well as held residencies at major universities and colleges throughout North America, Europe and China. Johnson has articles published in American Music Teacher, Piano Journal of the European Piano Teachers Association, Clavier Companion, Piano Pedagogy Forum and Piano Adventures Teacher Newsletter. She is a two-time winner of American Music Teacher’s Article of the Year Award for “Feeling the Sound: Reflections on Claiming One’s Own Musical Voice (2014) and “The Art of Listening with Depth, Understanding, Flow and Imagery” (2007 – in collaboration with Midori Koga, University of Toronto).
A devoted teacher, Johnson’s students have secured teaching positions in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. Passionate about community engagement and arts outreach, she serves as Director of Piano Pioneers, a program that brings high quality piano instruction to low-income community members and high-risk youth in Wisconsin. Piano Pioneers has received generous support from the Evjue Foundation, the Morgridge Institute, the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment, and the Billings Piano Gallery.
Johnson received the MM in Piano Performance and DMA in Piano Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Michigan. She holds the BM in Piano Performance, magna cum laude, from East Carolina University. Her principal teachers include Arthur Greene, Charles Fisher and Donna Coleman, and piano pedagogy studies with Joanne Smith and Kerry Carlin. She lives in Madison with her husband, Anthony Di Sanza (UW-Madison Professor of Percussion), and her daughter, Maggie.