May 27, 2024

Rehoboth Piano Teacher to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

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The name, George Litterst, is well known to piano teachers in the U.S. and Canada and even abroad. A perennial presenter at music conferences such as the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy (NCKP), Music Teachers National Association (MTNA), and the College Music Society (CMS), George has established a reputation as a leader in the application of modern technologies to music instruction. His numerous articles on this subject have appeared in American Music Teacher, Keyboard Companion, The Piano Magazine, and Piano Inspires.

Later this month (July), George becomes the recipient of the lifetime achievement award from the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Studies. The award will be presented at the biannual NCKP conference in the Chicago area.

George received his bachelor’s degree in music from Vassar College and his master’s degree in piano performance from the New England Conservatory of Music. From 1980 to 1999, he and his wife, Helen, made their home in Newton Center, Massachusetts where he established a private music studio and served on the faculties of the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, Northeastern University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

George and his wife moved to Rehoboth in September of 1999. George currently teaches both in his Rehoboth studio and online.

For roughly 30 years, George has been involved in music software development. When the pandemic began, private music teachers around the world scrambled to move their teaching online—and George was ready with solutions. He had been lecturing on the subject for the previous 20 years, and his software company—TimeWarp Technologies (timewarptech.com)—had ready-made solutions.

Many teachers adopted a Mac/PC app that he co-developed called Classroom Maestro as a primary tool in their new, online teaching studios. Classroom Maestro enables a teacher to communicate visually, aurally, and conceptually, displaying a dynamic, on-screen musical staff and keyboard. Online teachers use Classroom Maestro to illustrate single notes, intervals, chords, chord progressions, scales, and keyboard hand positions using screen-sharing features in Zoom and similar video-conferencing apps.

During the pandemic and beyond, other teachers with MIDI-equipped digital or acoustic pianos adopted an even more advanced application that George co-developed called Internet MIDI. Internet MIDI enables the teacher and student to connect their MIDI-capable instruments over the Internet. When student or teacher plays on the local keyboard, the same notes are reproduced exactly on the remote instrument as though the player is in two places at once.

Today, George’s in-person and online students enjoy a modern learning experience, reading and interacting with musical scores on an iPad. They start by downloading TimeWarp’s free SuperScore app on the iPad, and then use it to purchase their music. SuperScore features a unique “liquid music display” technology. The student can make the music larger or smaller as desired, and SuperScore responds by “re-engraving” the music on the fly, maintaining publication standards for the music layout.

Music acquired in SuperScore typically contains an embedded MIDI recording and often includes play-along accompaniments. Students can listen to a model performance, adjust the tempo for playback, practice one hand alone while SuperScore plays the other, show or hide duet parts, set up practice loops, enjoy automatic page-turning, and much more.

Although a high-tech digital or acoustic piano is not required for using SuperScore, students who have a MIDI-capable instrument enjoy immersive levels of interactivity. For example, when the student selects Learn Mode, SuperScore will pause on each note until the student plays the note correctly. In Perform Mode, SuperScore will respond to the tempo of the performer and coordinate the tempo of the backing tracks.

George’s modern musical applications have proven to be fun and effective for all of his students, ranging from seven to 80+. Today, in George’s studio, piano lessons are not what they used to be!

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