"I aim to teach the student, not just the subject, tailoring my approach to each individual personality."
Judith Olson began learning piano as a required instrument during her first semester of college at age 17. "I had no choice. I was majoring in violin and biology and was required to take secondary piano." Two years later, in her second year of college at the University of Redlands in California, Judith auditioned and was accepted to The Juilliard School on both violin and piano.
"I aim to teach the student, not just the subject, tailoring my approach to each individual personality," says Judith of her teaching style. She emphasizes reading skills so that "my students will continue to play throughout their lives. I also want my students to be exposed to a huge range of styles of classical music and I insist that they all perform." Judith's studio includes children as young as four. With younger students Judith utilizes "pre-reading" exercises and games before the staff is introduced. "I generally write my own materials for the beginning stages." She is also open to teaching adults and often uses the same methods as with her younger student. "I find that many adult students enjoy feeling like a kid again."
Judith emphasizes performance with her students and often organizes concerts in which her students are featured not only as soloists but also in ensembles. In the past Judith has commissioned works for her students and also supports students who want to compose themselves by programming their works in recitals. She also encourages her students to participate in the Bloomingdale Performance and Concerto Competitions.
As a performer, Judith is both a solo and collaborative musician, and has toured throughout North, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Korea. "The solo literature is endlessly fascinating. There is always more to explore. Because of my early years as a violinist, I have a special affinity for working with them. I also enjoy working with living composers on their pieces."
One of Judith's most memorable experiences at Bloomingdale was the concert she organized as part of the school's Children's Concert Series in 2003, "Music for Small Hands." All of her students at the time participated in the event which featured the music of the Armenian-American composer Dianne Rahbee. Judith also recalls a concert in 1997, "Music for Multiple Bad Pianos" in which she performed the Bach Triple Concerto with faculty members Marc Peloquin, and Sarina Ohno. The purpose of the concert was to raise money to replace a number of upright pianos at the school "I have never heard such sounds as came out of those three instruments. It must have proved the point though, since the money was raised to buy the new pianos."
Judith also continues to pursue a long-time interest in ballet. In her ballet classes she is constantly reminded of "what it feels like to be a student." She also enjoys playing with her three cats and collecting non-commercial jazz tapes of artists such as Bill Evans and Do
Chinese piano music from the earliest published works of the 1930s to today, and by Western admirers of the East.