Andrius Zlabys is a Grammy-nominated pianist who has appeared alongside the New York Philharmonic, Boston Symphony Orchestra, and the Rotterdam Symphony. He teaches piano at Longy School of Music and is also a composer.
Pianos are very symbolic instruments. You never actually touch the strings themselves—you can only send the hammer on its way. The sound doesn’t come from your physical action, but from the inside. The same goes for the pianist. When your sound comes from inside of you, everything becomes easier.
I studied under many great musicians who passed on generations of knowledge and wisdom. Now I’m compelled to share that with future pianists and contribute the discoveries I’ve made along the way. Some things might have taken me five years to figure out, but now I can give my students a shortcut so they don’t have to spend as much time on it.
There will always be a struggle when you’re learning, and my number one goal is to lessen that struggle for students. I think the most important thing is for students to feel completely comfortable with the instrument so they have as few limitations as possible.
As a composer, I feel I’m able to bring something extra to piano teaching. When I’m in the middle of writing a piece, I tend to notice things in the other music I’m playing that I otherwise wouldn’t. Composing helps you develop a vibrant sound imagination that can lead you forward.
I remember moments in my own education when the way I saw things suddenly completely changed. It wasn’t because I got new information on how to play or practice. Instead, I learned from the glow of the atmosphere, my teachers’ love of music, and their inspiration.
Longy has a beautiful environment and nurturing community, and the Catalyst curriculum is very interesting and has been successful. There’s also a beautiful camaraderie between students and faculty, and we have great instruments and facilities for the students to use. Even during the pandemic, the school helped students get keyboards for distance learning, and I was very impressed by the school’s support. The school has such a beautiful vision, and I’m very grateful to be part of it.