Shaping the next generation of young pianists
Geena has been shaping the next generation of young pianists through teaching private lessons for over two decades. Geena's teaching philosophy is to help each student develop a personal and positive connection to the piano. She believes that learning piano is not only about playing the correct notes at the indicated tempo. In fact, she discourages her students from practicing mindlessly but instead emphasizes the importance of looking beyond the printed notes. She believes that understanding harmony, structure, historical background, and the musical intent of the composer are just as important as physical training. Communicating musically with the audience and applying imagination within the structure of the piece are skills that allow a good student to achieve excellence.
Her students have won national and international competitions including Carmel Klavier International Piano Competition, Pelican International Music Competition, Sherer International Competition, Fischoff Chamber Music Competition Geoffroy Prize, South Bend Youth Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition, Gene Marcus Piano Competition, Stickley Piano Competition and several others. Her students also frequently place highly in the Achievement in Music (AIM) and Middle School and High School Regional Solo and Ensemble Festival.
Stickley Piano Competition
Winners Recital, IUSB
Creating quality educational opportunities for all ages
Geena is currently on the faculty of Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN where she teaches group piano classes and applied lessons. Geena's collegiate teaching began while she was a doctoral student at the University of Iowa. As a graduate assistant, she taught group piano classes at the University and taught applied lessons at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, IA. Since moving to South Bend in 2011, she has held teaching positions at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University South Bend. She has taught a variety of classes including music appreciation, music theory, aural skills, group piano classes, and applied piano lessons. She also served as the Fischoff Chamber Music Academy Director and her primary responsibilities included recruiting pre-college students in northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan and organizing workshops, masterclasses, and concerts for the Academy.
Geena is passionate about showing young students that learning music is an enjoyable and inspiring process. That is why she is eager to create events for students in which they can perform and learn together in a supportive and friendly atmosphere. Her recent projects have been focused on creating positive and encouraging experiences for young pianists including the Sonata Sonatina Festival, Baroque Festival, and the Chopin Piano Competition.
Group Piano Class
Saint Mary's College
Building community one note at a time
As an outspoken advocate for the arts, Geena is passionate about offering high-quality classical performances that bring the community together. Founded by Geena in 2019, the Roti Roti Art Center Summer Concert Series aims to make connections between the visual and musical arts and to make classical music more accessible to all members of the community. By creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere, these concerts make classical music accessible to everyone, regardless of their background. Performances are presented in a casual setting, allowing interaction between the musicians and the audience. Musicians share the history and stories behind the works presented, and this creates a deeper connection between the audience and music. These concerts are family and kid-friendly, accessible, and free to the public.
Music for Food is a musician-led initiative for local hunger relief founded by Grammy-winning violist Kim Kashkashian in 2009. The concerts raise resources for and awareness of the fight against hunger and empower musicians who wish to use their artistry to further social justice. Now entering its thirteenth season, the concert series has grown to include chapters in over twenty U.S. cities, many collaborative concerts across the nation, and a growing international presence. Geena has been the artistic director of the Michiana Chapter of Music for Food since 2019, bringing together musicians at all levels of experience to support this vital cause. The Michiana Chapter has partnered with the Food Bank of Northern Indiana and Cultivate Food Rescue to raise funds and increase awareness for these organizations. These concerts have raised funds to create more than 4,000 meals for the community.
Music for Food
Michiana Chapter Concert
Fischoff Summer Intensive Director
Geena had a vision to create a summer program that would provide young musicians the chance to explore the world of chamber music through coaching, lessons, workshops, and community outreach. In addition to the opportunity to be creatively immersed in music, she wanted to provide students the chance to experience campus life, participate in recreational activities, and make new friends.
Geena's vision finally came to fruition when The Fischoff National Chamber Music Association, in partnership with Saint Mary’s College and the South Bend Youth Symphony Orchestras, hosted the inaugural Fischoff Chamber Music Summer Intensive from June 12th to 16th, 2023. This transformative week-long event featured Fischoff's quartet-in-residence, Thalea String Quartet, among other local professionals, and was filled with music, camaraderie, and growth, showcasing the talents of young local musicians and fostering deep connections between music aficionados alike.
As the Director of the Fischoff Chamber Music Summer Intensive, Geena oversaw the planning, budgeting, and designing of the program and curriculum. From hiring coaches to recruiting students, Geena played a crucial role in the development, implementation, and execution of the program.