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Jennifer Elowsky-Fox has just completed her third recording featuring the compelling music of Czech composer Leoš Janáček. Her first record, entitled Pictures and Images, included the haunting “In the Mists.” Her second featured the powerful and eclectic Sonata for Violin and Piano, with Heidi Braun-Hill. The third, recorded at the Berklee recording studios, is Janáček’s largest piano work, entitled “On an Overgrown Path.” This autobiographical work reminisces on the joys and extreme sorrows of the composer’s life.
"Trying to find a way to figure out this incredibly gnarly instrument called the piano involves sorcery to some degree. So many things with piano playing are an illusion; you can play both your hands at the exact same level and it can sound like one hand is too loud. Very often, a problem can be resolved just by tweaking the balance. Telling someone to 'just play your left hand a little softer' can transform something that sounds clumsy into something that sounds exquisite. The sorcery is really trying to identify what the problem is, which is so hard. Part of my work as a teacher is to try to find creative ways to reach the bottom of things with students."
"I feel like I can relate to my students' frustration because I've been there. Over the years I have spent lots of time trying different techniques and philosophies, and have analyzed them to death. Beyond certain techniques that most people agree on, the secret to me really lies in the music—being tuned into how it sounds—and your comfort. It's almost like plugging music into your body in a way that feels so comfortable and so real that your body remembers, and it becomes part of your subconscious."
"I've been doing yoga for about ten years, and my yoga informs my piano playing in terms of feeling balanced. When you're trying a yoga pose that's too difficult, you have to back up until you find a version of that pose that you can do well. The same is true with piano playing; if you're trying something that is just too difficult, you can pound away all day long and it's not going to work. You have to back up a little bit, find a version that is comfortable, master that, and then take it to the next level. You want to sound good right now, even if it's just one measure, one note; go from there, and build on that."
"I tell my students to practice as if there was a master in the room; perfect practice makes perfect performance. I think musical mastery is rooted in a strong, logical procedure that intensifies listening. Balance, rhythm, and listening—those are my three main themes."
"But the number one thing I want students to take away with them is that people are more important even than the music. I see how supportive my students are of one another, even in the face of mistakes, and that inspires me almost more than if they play well. If teachers are cruel, students can become demoralized and shut down. I believe if students feel respected and validated, they will be more open-minded to new ideas."