About Erica Booker
Erica Booker – Pianist, Educator, Suzuki Piano Teacher and Teacher Trainer and Advocate for Alternatively Sized Piano Keyboards
DSCM, LMusA, AMusA, Dip Spec Mus Ed, FCSME, Dip Suzuki Teaching, Suzuki Teacher Trainer & Suzuki ECE Educator, Founding Member of Pianists for Alternatively Sized Keyboards (PASK)
Erica Booker loves to play and teach the piano, and has a large number of students ranging from preschoolers to Tertiary students and Suzuki Piano Teachers. Although she has many advanced students, Erica also pioneered Suzuki Early Childhood Education Music Classes (for children aged 0-3 years). She is active in the NSW STEAA (Suzuki Talent Education Association Australia) as a Teacher Trainer and Lecturer, and is formerly Piano Convenor and a member of STEAA NSW Council.
Early Years – Life As A Young Pianist In Rural Australia
Erica Booker’s life has always involved music. Born in Grenfell NSW to musical parents, Erica could sing before she could speak, and at an early age imitated her mother on the piano. Living in many country towns, her formal music education was spasmodic and there were times in remote areas without a teacher. Living away from home to do her final two years of school, she had to practise in a church hall without lights (to save power!) – the pieces were practised first, and then the scales in the dark! Fortunately, this earned Erica a full scholarship to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
Training and Qualifications
From the age of 17, Erica studied in Sydney with two of Australia’s leading piano teachers, first with Igor Hmelnitsky and then with Alexander Sverjensky. Her performing career included solo concertos, solo and ensemble recitals, and solo and ensemble broadcasts for both ABC and 2MBSFM radio.
Erica expanded her understanding of early music through post-graduate studies in harpsichord with Nancy Salas, and was a harpsichordist in the Salas Consort which gave Australian premieres of Bach’s Concerti for three and four harpsichords.
Erica trained at the NSW Conservatorium of Music and Sydney Teachers’ College as a High School Music Specialist. In addition, she gained the DSCM in Teaching and Performing (Honours), winning the Shadforth Hooper Prize for the most outstanding performer of the year. She also gained her LMusA in Piano and AMusA in Piano and Singing.
Early Music Teaching
After completing her training, Erica continued her musical journey by teaching Piano at the Conservatorium of Music and Class Music in High Schools. In 1981, Erica took up a position at Ravenswood School for Girls in Gordon, and continued teaching there until 1996. Here she taught Class Music and Piano, accompanied extensively, was Chapel organist, and was Director of the Senior and Staff Choirs.
In 1992 she toured New Zealand as accompanist for the Ravenswood Vocal Ensemble, the greatest thrill of which was playing the magnificent organs of Dunedin and Christchurch Cathedrals. Erica resigned from school teaching in 1996 and has since then maintained a very busy private piano studio in Lindfield, Australia.
Discovering Suzuki Music
In 1978 Erica’s life was changed by meeting a Canadian Suzuki piano teacher and later by hearing Dr Suzuki himself and an amazing group of young Australian Suzuki violinists at their Sydney Town Hall concert. Having taught mostly “senior” students until that time, she was awakened to the wonderful capabilities of young children and eagerly began her study of Dr Suzuki’s philosophy.
Since then, as a Suzuki Piano Teacher and Teacher Trainer, Erica has lectured and taught at Suzuki Conferences and Workshops throughout Australia, New Zealand and UK, and has attended conferences in Dublin, Salt Lake City, Matsumoto, Turin, Boston and Cambridge. Erica’s greatest joy has been to share the gift of music and Dr Suzuki’s philosophy with countless children and their families.
Piano For Small Hands
As a concert pianist with small hands, Erica knows full well the challenges of the size of the modern piano keyboard.
Since 2005, she has sought information about availability of smaller sized keyboards in pianos. She first approached Ara Vartoukian, owner and piano technician at Theme and Variations, Willoughby in 2006. Her quest led her around the world, and between 2008 and 2013, Erica discovered a number of pianos with alternatively sized keyboards.
Her home studio now houses a unique collection of 4 pianos, each with different piano keyboard sizes. With these pianos, Erica has had the opportunity to collaborate in conducting research into the benefits of the small piano keyboard sizes, and it also allows pianists to try the various piano keyboard sizes side by side for themselves. Her research has shown that pianists can adapt quickly to the small pianos with relative ease, and the smaller keyboard sizes greatly reduce the stress and tension on a pianists hands, therefore lowering the risk of injury.
Erica is an advocate for alternatively sized piano keyboards, and her studio gives other pianists the unique opportunity of experiencing the benefits of small pianos keyboards for themselves!