If you are considering the career choice of collaborative piano, there is nothing better than asking actual students about their experiences. The students below have volunteered to describe their backgrounds and experience at Peabody; whether they chose accompanying as their major or just took lessons and classes. When indicated, they have agreed to respond to emails from prospective applicants, and to be frank in their answers to questions.

Mary Trotter

I cannot adequately express Eileen’s effect on my personal growth as a musician. She transformed my technique, my sound, and the way I think about the most basic elements of music. It was obvious from my first lesson that her one goal was to make me the best musician possible, and she would stop at nothing to achieve that goal. She refused to quit until every note had singing tone, until every phrase breathed, until every chord was voiced perfectly.  I am eternally grateful that she held her standards high and refused to accept less than the best from her students. We knew her door was always open to us, and she made herself available whenever we needed extra help. I had more than a few multiple-lesson weeks, and I knew that if I was ever struggling with a piece or had to prepare something last-minute, she would make time for me.
There is no greater a gift a teacher can give to her student than to equip them with the tools needed to survive outside of her classroom. And Eileen did just that for me. The skills she cultivated in me continue to inspire confidence in me as I approach my work as a coach-accompanist and a teacher of accompanying.

Jannie Lo Burdeti

Jannie Lo BurdetiI realize more and more every day that the lessons and classes with Prof. Cornett at Peabody are some of the most valuable I have ever taken in my life. Learning how to truly play collaboratively with other singers will undoubtedly be a part of any pianist’s career and I am certainly forever grateful that I began taken her classes. Even though I was focusing on solo performance, I currently use the skills I learned from her on a daily basis, as a collaborative pianist, a coach, choir director, and in my own piano teaching and solo performance. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at [email protected]. (www.jannieburdeti.com)

Celeste Johnson

Celeste Johnson

My time at Peabody in the Vocal Accompanying graduate program was transformational to my growth as a coach and accompanist. Ms. Cornett’s teaching in both private lessons and classes was both practical and inspiring; I use what she taught me daily in roles that include staff coach/accompanist at Gonzaga and Whitworth universities and pianist with Opera Coeur d’Alene. I am so grateful for the solid foundation of training I received under Ms. Cornett’s direction that has allowed me to continue to build and develop my collaborative skills. Feel free to contact me with questions! [email protected]

Jill Lawson

Jill LawsonHi,

My name is Jill Lawson and I am in charge of the repertory class for singers at Castelo Branco University in Portugal.

I was a piano performance major who took Ms. Cornett’s graduate classes in Accompanying and Coaching Skills. She helped me discover the joy of imitating an orchestra on the piano, finding the right colors for the different instruments, doubling octaves to get a bigger sound, helping the singer, giving him or her a nice warm base…Thanks to her I discovered more and more the opera repertoire, and now that is what I listen most of the time!

I’ve worked with many singers since then, in Belgium and in Portugal. I’ve coached great operas (Tosca, La Traviata, I Pagliacci,…)

Ms. Cornett always encouraged me to pursue a career as vocal coach and I thank her for that. Working with (good) singers has actually helped me in my solo playing, searching for that legato, cantabile and timbre that a good voice can achieve…

Ms. Cornett…All the best to you and your great work!

Hugs and kisses—Jill

Jerome Tan

I first met and began to study under Eileen Cornett during my undergraduate studies at Peabody, and I cannot imagine where I would be in my career without that experience. Eileen is everything I hoped for in a teacher, she is a mentor, an excellent musician and when she believes in you, she stops at nothing to help you out which sometimes includes a good “talking to.” A few sentences cannot possibly describe the many skills that I have learned from her. However, what she taught me continues to form me and my career to this day. A few such examples would be, the importance of understanding the text, orchestral playing (one of the most treasured skills I have learned from her). I graduated from Peabody in 2003 and have since made my debut in New York under the Marilyn Horne Foundation which was the prize for winning a competition at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara. Since my debut I have had many recitals broadcast on radio stations across the country, performed at Carnegie Hall and am looking forward to traveling to France this summer with Marilyn Horne, serving as her pianist for master classes and recitals.  All these accomplishments would not have been possible without the support and inspiration of Eileen Cornett. Anyone given the honor of studying under Eileen Cornett should consider it a privilege, I certainly have. [email protected]

Hyejin Kwon

Hyejin KwonI met Mrs. Cornett as a sophomore at Peabody while I was still a piano performance major. It was mandatory for us to take her accompanying class and since I always had a huge interest in accompanying, I was very pleased to see it in the curriculum. For me, the class was not only challenging but also life changing. We met once a week for two semesters, and I just could not get enough of it so I decided to take minor lessons with her for my junior and senior year. I fell in love with every aspect of vocal accompanying and decided to make it as my career, and it has been a great voyage since my first day. Until I studied collaborative piano with Mrs. Cornett, though I always loved making music with others, I never fully understood what it meant to be a collaborative pianist or what it takes to become one. It is not an easy career path, but it surely is a rewarding one.

Now I am currently working on my master’s degree in Accompanying with Mrs. Cornett and attending Peabody as an Opera GA, which has also been a life changing experience! I am grateful for the privilege that I was given. I work daily with wonderful conductors, directors, coaches, not to mention wonderful colleagues, who inspire, teach, guide, and share their love of music with you. I am grateful that I was given the opportunity to study in the collaborative program at Peabody and cannot be any happier with the decision I have made.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at [email protected], and I will be more than happy to answer them!

Christine Pulliam

Christine PulliamStudying vocal accompanying was the best discovery of my musical career. I fell in love with opera, languages and working with wonderful singers at Peabody. Eileen pushed us to highest level and relentlessly advocated for our career development. My playing vastly improved along with my technique, score reading and ensemble skills. I was able to work closely with several renowned voice teachers and learn how operas are produced. I highly recommend vocal accompanying to any pianist who wishes to maintain a performing career as it opens up numerous opportunities.

Christine Pulliam is currently accompanying and teaching at the Kings College in New York City.

Matthew O’Dell

Matthew O'DellWhile at Peabody, I had the great privilege of working with Eileen Cornett in the Accompanying and Coaching Skills class. Although I was at Peabody to study solo piano and earned a master’s degree and graduate performance diploma in that, Eileen’s class gave me some of the most valuable tools that I still use today. I learned diction rules for languages, how to make each composer’s music sound idiomatic, and how to make the piano sound like an orchestra. Learning the difference between playing the piano orchestrally and playing it as a solo pianist was one of the most important lessons I learned. In addition, having the chance to practice coaching in class in front of Eileen was something that I later found out was a very rare and valuable experience. I liked the class so much that I took several semesters of private lessons with Eileen. Our focus on the art song repertoire taught me a lot about other aspects of vocal playing, like the proper balance between the hands and the close connection between language and the pianist’s part.

My work with Eileen prepared me well for my work at Juilliard, where I just earned a DMA in Collaborative Piano Performance. I also use what I learned as a performer, as a vocal coach at the Academie Internationale d’ete de Nice in France, and as a diction teacher at Bard College. I am extremely grateful for all that I learned. I would highly recommend this program to every pianist.

Daniel Thomas Davis

Working with Eileen Cornett was one of the highlights of my time at Peabody — both as a composer and a pianist. Within the first few weeks of Eileen’s accompanying course, I realized that collaborative piano was an ideal complement to composing. I subsequently enrolled in private lessons (collaborative piano) with Eileen and continued to learn a boatload about ensemble playing and coaching in general.

In my last year at Peabody, Eileen served as music director for my chamber opera “If I Were a Voice,” which premiered in April 2004. I can’t overstate just how much I learned from Eileen in that process. Suffice it to say, the opera premiere went off beautifully and smoothly, and I now carry those coaching skills with me in every rehearsal I attend.

Since leaving Peabody, my primary work has been as a composer, but my collaborative piano playing continues to serve me well. Over the past few years, I’ve had the privilege to perform with some wonderful singers and new-music-ensembles, and have played on several recordings of new music. Working with Eileen gave me the tools to work in these contexts and I continue to be immensely grateful for that opportunity.

Daniel Thomas Davis has enjoyed performances and commissions from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, Lontano at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, members of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, the Latvia International Festival, BBC Singers, Boston’s Back Bay Chorale, the Wigmore Hall, and eighth blackbird. Most recently, Daniel completed a cello concerto for Lynn Harrell, which was subsequently recorded for an upcoming release. Recipient of multiple awards from BMI and ASCAP, Daniel has held fellowships from the British Government (Marshall Fellow), Bogliasco Foundation, and Yaddo Colony. He is currently visiting faculty at the California College of the Arts.

William Waldrop

William WaldropMy name is William Waldrop, and I am currently the Music Director/Conductor for the National Tour of The Phantom of the Opera.

At Peabody, I was able to explore many interests in music, but it was Eileen Cornett who helped shape my path as I pursued my Master of Music in Vocal Performance. Always a pianist, I wanted to continue my keyboard training at Peabody while still pursuing the voice degree. I took private accompanying lessons from Eileen, and the many practical, technical, and artistic skills I gleaned from her are immeasurable. I improved my technique at the piano by coaching opera and vocal repertoire with her. This not only enabled me to become a better pianist and accompanist, but also improved my approach to singing and preparing repertoire myself.

I also had the pleasure of performing in several productions for which she served as principal coach or music director. This experience was from an entirely different perspective, as I was a singer in these situations. From learning how to properly prepare a role in Italian (Gianni Schicchi), to using my legitimate vocal technique to sing musical theatre in a healthy and successful manner (Nothing but George), to understanding and navigating the challenges of performing contemporary opera (If I Were A Voice), I was able to learn many things about performance practice from a singer’s perspective (but also from a pianist’s perspective, as I was always able to observe her at the piano). Her exquisite attention to detail, innate musicality, and passion for each and every project she coached and/or conducted me in truly made my experience at Peabody one which was stellar.

Finally, her experience in both opera and musical theatre helped me to make important connections as I began to explore my career path. I realized at the end of my degree that my greatest passion was to be a music director, conductor and pianist for the musical theatre, and I have been working in that field very successfully since leaving Peabody. Because of Eileen Cornett I left Peabody armed with a better technique at the piano, an arsenal of tools to help me to be a good vocal coach, and a greater sense of musicality when working within musical ensembles.

Eileen Cornett is a true artist, and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to study with her while at Peabody.

Aleksandra Sasha Koslov

Aleksandra Sasha KoslovBaltimore, 2003: I came to Peabody as a teenager with dreams limited to solo piano recitals and concerto performances with orchestra on the world’s most prestigious stages. I came prepared to live in the practice room, making my metronome my best friend, and with the chutzpah to skip academic classes if it meant another finessed phrase or passage perfected. Fortunately for my musical development, Peabody had other plans – to get the degree, I needed to go through required courses that kept packing my brain with information I feared would replace the intertwining voices of recently-learned fugues. Of course, with time came intellectual and musical maturity which allowed me to appreciate how important and helpful all of those years of requirements had been.

Among those requirements was a course called Vocal Accompaniment, taught by Eileen Cornett. Fast forward several years, and travel overseas. Modena, Italy 2008: I began my studies at the Centro Universale del Bel Canto – bi-monthly courses taught by the legendary soprano Mirella Freni and her pianist Paola Molinari. Having 2 degrees in solo piano performance did little besides make it easy for me to learn and play this new world of vocal repertoire. What helped me the most was Ms. Cornett’s voice, still in my head: “Make an MTV music video of what’s going on here!!…. You have to breathe with her, otherwise she’ll choke! – and many other less entertaining but very crucial techniques that helped me get through the first very nerve-wrecking weeks playing for Signora Freni. All of the repertoire and Ms. Cornett’s comments are to this day strong in my mind, hands and ears, and I know for a fact that I would never have been able to achieve the success in the field of vocal arts as quickly as I did without the solid foundation and inspiration that Ms. Cornett instilled in every one of her students. I can only imagine how much more I would have learned, had I chosen to pursue my Masters at Peabody in Vocal Accompaniment instead of Piano Performance, as I had. I would wholeheartedly recommend this program to pianists with a strong love for opera and art song, for drama, for literature, for languages and the way they relate to music – for pianists who happen to be personable and great communicators (not only through their fingers, but also verbally) – for pianists with great ears and open minds, who feel that they can inspire. There’s so much music to make!

Hailed as”a pianist of irreproachable virtuosity, deep artistic maturity, and powerful presence,”

ALEKSANDRA SASHA KOZLOV has pursued a double-life in music. As a soloist, she has performed at venues including Weill Recital Hall in New York, Salle Cortot in Paris and Sava Center in Belgrade. After gaining crucial experience playing for the studio of legendary soprano Mirella Freni, who has since become Ms. Kozlov’s mentor, she has embarked on a blooming career as a collaborative pianist and vocal coach.

In 2009, Ms. Freni recommended Ms. Kozlov begin a professional duo with Polina Pasztircsàk, a favorite student of hers at the Centro Universale del Bel Canto. Since then, Ms. Kozlov has coached and collaborated with Ms. Pasztircsàk in recitals throughout Europe, as well as her unanimous victory at the Geneva International Music Competition (Voice ’09). Recent engagements included performances at Victoria Hall in Geneva and the Geneva International Music Festival, among others. They will also release a CD ‘Coup de Coeur Breguet’ featuring repertoire by Shostakovich and Bartok under the NASCOR, label of Ysaÿe Records in Fall 2010.

Over the years, Ms. Kozlov has performed with Grammy-nominees including Philippe Quint. As a soloist she has performed with the Sebastian Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Daniel S. Lee, and on live television, including ABC-TV Philadelphia and National Serbian Television. Ms. Kozlov was also a faculty member of the Interharmony Music Festivals in Germany from 2007 to 2009, and was the subject Le Petit Mozart, a French documentary which aired several times on various national channels in France. In addition to Ms. Freni, her mentors include Paola Molinari, Carrie-Ann Matheson, Roger Vignoles, Robert Van Sice, Leon Fleisher, Marc Durand, Vladimir Viardo, and her mother, pianist Elena Leonova.

A native New Yorker, Ms. Kozlov grew up speaking Russian, Polish and English. After receiving her Masters degree in Solo Piano Performance at the age of 21 from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University under the tutelage of Marian Hahn, Ms. Kozlov continued her professional studies in Europe, made possible by the Nicolai Ghiaurov Foundation, and the Zaleski Foundation. During her time there she traveled regularly for various musical engagements, and became fluent in French and Italian.

Sidney Yin

Eileen Cornett’s knowledge and skill as a coach, pianist, and teacher have been a wonderful addition to my classical training as a pianist. While I was pursuing education at Peabody Institute, I have had the opportunity to learn from Eileen as a collaborative pianist. While working with vocalists was a new experience to me, she taught me many tools that enhance myself not only as a musician, but also fine-tune my listening skills as a pianist. She offered many skills that I still now use today as a pianist and teacher as I continue to work with many students and vocalists.

Today, many pianists enter college or graduate school with a strong focus on a solo career and do not realize the importance of maintaining and developing a wide range of repertoire and skill as a musician. Eileen is able to provide the finest training in skills any pianist would need in a rapidly changing world of classical music today.

Jonathan Moyer

Soon after I entered the Peabody Institute in 1998 to pursue a master’s degree in piano, I started working as a graduate assistant in accompanying for the Peabody opera department. I soon developed an enormous respect for the inspiring coaches and conductors who would guide me over the next five years. As I look back over my Peabody experience, working for the opera department was one of the formative moments in my musical career. I learned skills that one would rarely learn in any other context: score reading, sight-reading, coaching, language skills, vocal pedagogy, conducting, following a conductor, and playing in an orchestra. I owe much to the extraordinary teaching skills of Eileen Cornett and Joann Kulesza. If you are considering a career in conducting, coaching, or accompanying, the Peabody collaborative piano program has so much to offer you. Even though my career turned down a different path in organ and church music, the skills that I learned at Peabody have made me a stronger and more versatile musician.

Jonathan W. Moyer, D.M.A., M.A., B.M.
Organist and director of music, Church of the Covenant, Cleveland, Ohio
Lecturer in organ and harpsichord, Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music, Berea, Ohio

Ming-Ching Wu

Ming-Ching WuMy name is Ming-Ching Wu. I am from Taiwan. I came to Peabody in 2006 as a double-major student in Vocal Accompanying and Piano Solo.

I have always enjoyed the collaborative art because of the intimate interaction and inspiring communication between musicians. During my two years with Prof. Cornett, I felt very encouraged and supported. The designed courses have proven to be very helpful for my career. I began learning French, German, and Italian diction in the Coaching Skills class which enabled me to acquire the essential skills of a vocal coach. I played one of my recitals as a joint recital with a wonderful soprano, Beth Stewart, who is now the director of Chesapeake Concert Opera. I played other recitals with several talented singers: Leah Serr from Knoxville Opera, Caitlin Vincent from OperaPulse, Amber Schwarzrock, and Paul Brown. The preparation of the recitals was intense and Prof. Cornett set very high standards! We were also required to take Opera Theatre classes which gave us a great opportunity to work as an opera coach. One of the operas I learned at that time was Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia. Parts of the cast and myself were later invited by The Châteauville Foundation of Lorin Maazel for his production on same opera. Thinking back from now, I am really grateful to choose to go to this program and appreciate everything I learned from Prof. Cornett.

After taking one-year Graduate Diploma courses in Collaborative Piano with Margo Garrett and Jonathan Feldman at Juilliard, I am currently a second-year DMA in Piano Accompanying and Chamber Music at Eastman School of Music with Jean Barr.

Jennifer Jackson

Jennifer JacksonWhen I first auditioned for the position of an assistantship as opera accompanist at Peabody, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I hadn’t had much experience with opera or opera singers and both of those things scared me. But Eileen Cornett and the collaborative department at Peabody changed all that. After some work in diction and vocal accompanying, I went from being someone who never listened to arias to someone who cried at them. And the proof has been in the pudding: since graduating Peabody in 2004, I have had the privilege of working as the coach/rehearsal accompanist for the MasterWorks Festival, coaching Don Giovanniand La Clemenza di Tito and working as an opera coach for scenes at the Crescendo Festival in Sarospatak, Hungary. Eileen’s class on vocal accompanying gave me a realization that a collaborative pianist’s job can be fulfilling and intrinsic to the meaning of the performance as a whole. Thank you for expanding not only my horizons, but also my marketability as a performing artist.

A freelance classical pianist in the Washington D.C. area, Jennifer Jackson has performed at the Kennedy Center, the National Gallery of Art, and the Harman Center for the Arts. She received a Bachelors degree in piano performance from California State University, Fresno, and a Masters of Music and Graduate Performance Diploma from The Peabody Conservatory, where she was a recipient of the Austin Conradi and Pauline Favin Memorial Awards. Following graduation, Ms. Jackson served as the Bible Study Coordinator for the Christian Performing Artists’ Fellowship and the piano department chair for Grace College School of Music. She is a member of the Great Noise Ensemble, a modern music ensemble in residence at the Catholic University of America, and is currently on faculty at Georgetown University and Patrick Henry College.