Recommendations from students:
"I have taken piano lessons with Heather for about two years and could only wish to have started earlier. She was by far the best teacher I have had, and made me approach classical pieces at a depth that I hadn't ever before reached. Besides the technical aspects of playing that she is very able to teach, the most impressive and lasting impact she made concerned my musical understanding and feeling of the pieces we practiced. She patiently made me stop rushing through the respective pieces (in my case it was Mozart, Chopin and Schubert) and rather take the times to really listen to the single tones or phrases and imagine beforehand how it should sound like. This was the most important lesson I learnt in my musical education and I'm very thankful for this."
"I took private piano lessons with Heather for over three years, and what else can I say but "Thank you!". Thank you for three years of the most inspirational and creative piano lessons I have ever had. She always encouraged me to adopt new perspectives on a piece, technique and method. There were never any dull moments or old school practices. She was always able to guide my body, mind and soul deep into the essence of every piece. It has been a true gift and honor to be able to study with her."
"I worked with Heather following an injury in 2012-13. We identified elements of my technique that were contributing to the injury, and painstakingly worked through them, finding alternatives, gathering insights, and broadening the repertoire of movements I could draw on. She often claimed to be allergic to narrowly didactic methods of piano-playing or schemes for recovering from injury, instead embracing the complexity and individuality of each person’s relationship to the instrument. I have, through our work together, not only recovered from my injury, but been exposed to a wider range of options and ideas for engaging with the instrument and with the repertoire. I’ve found this to be enormously helpful, as a musician with injuries, but furthermore as a musician with an interest in becoming the best musician I possibly can."
"In 2015 I took piano lessons with Heather in Berlin. The city offers a wide variety of musical education at all levels taught by highly qualified musicians. However, the choice of an adequate piano teacher is not easy, because of a common lack of didactic skills. Heather was a happy exception to this. My main concern has always been acquiring an adequate technique, understanding that it should not be a mere mechanism nor an end in itself, but rather the necessary means for making music and, therefore, it should be indispensable for musical quality. From the very beginning Heather worked with me on different ways of interpreting a score without ignoring that musical quality, with infinite patience and attentive understanding of my difficulties. With her I learned that all musical interpretation requires risk-taking, that music is a language of gestures and piano technique implies always a gestural training; she also showed me how to translate sounds into images and vice versa, creating a more vivid and imaginative relationship to the musical material. If I had to summarize my impressions studying piano with Heather, I would say that she is a professional with unusual creativity and enormous interpretative skills, with an excellent musical education and a broad musical repertoire (with her I played pieces from different historical periods: Bach, Schumann, Schoenberg or Adorno). I can only be grateful that she has been able to bring me closer to what Adorno called "the happiness of knowledge"."
"After years of uninspiring piano lessons and somewhat helpless self-instruction I met Heather 2010 in Berlin. I took her classes until she left Berlin in 2015. Heather showed me what is still possible at my age and with all my bad habits. She helped me to overcome many difficulties and obstacles. Heather devotes not only much attention to all kinds of technical problems she pays also much heed to your musical expression. With her lessons I experienced the first time what efficient practicing means. Heather is not only extremely patient but also always very nice and friendly. She is a deeply committed artist but you feel at any moment that she also really likes to teach. She is always open to your proposals about what to play next and she has an encompassing knowledge concerning the demands of different styles and épochs of classical music. With her I reached what I never thought to be possible before: to climb the first steps to the Parnassus of French impressionist music (Debussy, Ravel) with ease and joy. I really envy all those who have now the chance to enjoy her teaching."
Alexander S., Berlin, Germany
Recommendations from teachers:
"Heather is a gifted, sensitive,and enormously hard-working musician who has a very deep love of music and profound drive towards developing her talent. She plays with spirit, intelligence, and heart… Outstanding in my memory is the performance she gave of Ives’ “Hawthorne” which nearly leaped off the stage with its energy, contrasts, and hallucinatory vision... I recently invited Heather to join me on the faculty of the Summer Institute of Contemporary Performance Practice at New England Conservatory. I was very impressed to witness her growth as an educator and mentor for young musicians. She offered an inspiring presence and example at the festival."
"As a musician she is highly cultivated, interesting herself far beyond piano playing and the piano literature. Her intellectual curiosity also goes far beyond music. She is well read, extremely intelligent, articulate. She is an admirable pianist. her technique is brilliant and completely reliable, and she uses it as a means to a musical ends: the thorough understanding of the music and utmost sensitivity to the music are always first priority for her."
"I recommend Heather O’Donnell very highly as a pianist, as a chamber musician, and as a teacher. She is an extremely personable, lively and intelligent person. She is a well-trained musician who is enthusiastic, intelligent and inquisitive. She is ever eager to learn.She has a very good understanding of music and plays with intelligence and sensitivity."