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“The Joy of Downsizing” with Jessica Johnson, Piano – Free

February 20, 2016

“The Joy of Downsizing”: The Benefits of Performing and Teaching on a 7/8-Size Piano Keyboard
with Jessica Johnson, piano
Workshop 2:30 PM

Master class 4:15 PM

7/8 piano tryouts –  5:45 PM
Concert: 8 PM with Jessica Johnson, pianist

Featuring “Drei Klavierstücke,” D. 946 (Franz Schubert); Ballad, Op. 6, (Amy Beach); Concert Sans Orchestre, Op. 14, (Robert Schumann), all on a 7/8 size piano.
All events in Morphy Hall, and are free and open to the public.

Read a story about this event in the Wisconsin State Journal (2.14.16).

Download full program here. (300 KB)


To be held in collaboration with MAPTA (Madison Area Piano Teachers Association) and the UW-Madison MTNA Student Chapter.

Sponsored by Steinway & Sons Piano Gallery of Madison

“As a small-handed pianist, I have spent my entire professional career seeking creative strategies to adapt to playing standard-size keyboards. I have become a guru of innovative fingerings and have learned how to employ ergonomic movements and compensatory gestures in order to perform technically challenging repertoire on the conventional piano. Since the life-changing moment I started practicing on a reduced-size keyboard, I have experienced a whole new level of artistic and technical freedom. Research related to the use of reduced-size keyboards suggests similar benefits for small-handed pianists, including less pain and injury, greater technical facility and accuracy, and ease of learning.
“Using a 7/8-size keyboard insert manufactured by Steinbuhler & Company that was custom made for a Steinway B piano, these events will investigate the correlation between performing on a 7/8-size keyboard and optimization of artistic potential.”  – Jessica Johnson

Read a news story about Prof. Johnson’s former graduate student, Yeaji Kim, who is a pioneer in the area of helping visually-impaired pianists to read music.  Download PDF here.

Calendar of Events

2:30-3:45 Workshop

“All Hands on Keys”: Strategies For Teaching Students With Different Hand Sizes

The hands of great pianists come in all shapes and sizes. Spending literally thousands of hours at the piano, we develop time-tested, proven strategies for learning repertoire in a way that suits our unique physiology. We know best that which we have experienced within our own bodies. How does this impact our ability to work with students with different hand sizes than our own?

Through a comparative analysis of video/audio recorded excerpts performed on a 7/8-size keyboard (manufactured by Steinbuhler & Company) and a standard-size keyboard, this session will demonstrate effective strategies for teaching students of varying hand sizes and ways to exploit musical and technical choices that maximize artistry and biomechanical ease.

3:45-4:15 coffee break

4:15-5:45 Master class featuring MAPTA students

5:45-6:45 Opportunity for Students and Teachers to try the 7/8- size piano

8:00 Johnson Faculty Concert performed on 7/8-Size Piano
featuring Schubert’s Drei Klavierstücke, D. 946 and George Tsontakis’ Ghost Variations (1991).



February 20, 2016
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Morphy Recital Hall
455 N. Park St.
Madison, WI 53706 United States
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