By Gabrielle Waid
Westminster Piano Professor and head of the piano division Ingrid Clarfield was recently inducted into the first Steinway and Sons Teacher Hall of Fame for her many years of teaching.
Clarfield is an accomplished pianist, performer, clinician, author and educator. She has taught master classes in over 150 cities in 40 states, written 22 books [published by Alfred Publishing Co.] and was even the subject of her own documentary, “Take a Bow: The Ingrid Clarfield Story.”
This is the first year this honor was awarded. There were 43 recipients across the United States and Canada, according to a Rider University press release.
“I have been fortunate to receive many honors and awards in my over 50 years of teaching,” Clarfield said. “But there is something special about this one, being inducted into Steinway’s first Teacher’s Hall of Fame.”
Clarfield was nominated by Senior Vice President of Operations for Jacob’s Music Robert Rinaldi.
“I nominated [Clarfield] because of the overwhelming impact that she has made in our community. Not only do we all benefit from her own contributions to piano instruction, but also by the many students of [Clarfield’s] who are now some of the area’s top and most respected piano instructors,” Rinaldi said.
Clarfield has been a professor at Westminster Choir College since 1982, and she has been teaching piano since she was in high school.
One of the most important lessons Clarfield wished to convey to her students was to have a passion for music.
“I hope they all learn the joy of making music and sharing their talent with others and the commitment and discipline it takes to achieve excellence,” Clarfield said.
Many of Clarfield’s students have moved on from their time at Westminster to become piano teachers themselves, which was one of the aspects that made her an appropriate candidate for this award.
Clarfield took pride in knowing she inspired so many future educators.
“I am thrilled that my teaching has impacted so many of my students’ lives so they too become outstanding music educators,” she said.
Daniel Hine ‘01 is a past student of Clarfield’s who studied with her for three years. He was inspired by Clarfield to become a church musician and achieve choral accomplishments.
“Her teaching philosophy matched mine in many ways, so it was priceless to see how I intended to teach before me,” Hine said. “She always had multiple methods of solving problems that would arise so that whatever kind of learner you were, she could help you learn efficiently.”
Clarfield showed her students that it was important to balance a professional and personal life to live a well-rounded one, Hine said.
“She was very good at balancing her life,” Hine said. “A good reminder to us that while music is our love and passion, we need to be well-rounded people too.”
Clarfield touched the lives of many students in her years of teaching at Westminster Choir College. Several alumni came forward to show their support for Professor Clarfield and share their stories and congratulations.
“I hope it conveys the excellence of our piano program at WCC [Westminster Choir College],” she said. Clarfield emphasized how this honor reflected the Rider community.