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Get to Know EVENT 2024 Co-Honoree & CSSMA Faculty Member Johanna Kopp!

Updated: Apr 2

 CSSMA INSPIRATIONS vol. 201


The final Inspirational Message of Women’s History Month is all about longtime Church Street School faculty member and EVENT 2024 honoree Johanna Kopp! Keep reading to learn more about this inspiring woman, musician, and educator.  

 

There is still time to purchase your EVENT tickets if you have not done so already! But not much. Click here to learn more and show your support for Church Street School’s most important fundraiser of the year. 

 

Enjoy!


 

Johanna was born and raised in Zürich, Switzerland. A lover of music and performance from early on in life, her first musical instrument was the recorder, which she still loves to play and teach to this day! Johanna began playing the piano at age 12 and participated in theater productions until age 16, “I loved to perform, and often had vocal solos” said Johanna of her early musical experiences.    

 

Meet Johanna, One of our EVENT 2024 Co-Honorees!

While she was always passionate about the arts, they were not Johanna’s only childhood interests. “During High School, I was equally interested in Natural Sciences, Visual Arts, Dance, hiking, and studying different languages” said the longtime teaching artist “I spent all of my summer vacations with family on a farm in Geneva, enjoying speaking French”. To this day Johanna’s interests remain varied and include politics, ecology, composition, African dance and drumming, and botanical illustration! One of her illustrations will be up for auction at THE EVENT, so be on the lookout for your chance to win this beautiful piece.    

 

Johanna went on to study Musicology and French Literature at the University of Zürich followed by a stint at the Musik Konservatorium Zürich where she studied Piano and Music Theory with Hans Andreae. Johanna then moved to Münster, Germany to learn Piano from Gregor Weichert. A few of her other educational highlights include learning Acting, Cabaret, Experimental Voice at Intermedia Studio in Basel, exploring African Dance and Drumming with Nana N’Ketia, Adama Drame, and Rolf Exler in Basel. After moving to NYC, she also studied Piano Improvisation and composition with Kirk Nurock and Piano Improvisation with Anne Farber, Marta Sanchez and many other Dalcroze Eurhythmics teachers here in the United States.  


When asked what her favorite instruments are, Johanna could not pick just one and listed the piano, marimba, recorder, and guitar. She cited her passion for a wide range of musical genres as a key reason for her varied instrumental preferences. “I have always loved many different styles of music; at age 7 or 8, I fell in love with the sound of the classical orchestra and especially enjoyed the tuning and practicing of the orchestra members before the concert” discussed Johanna when speaking about her love of music. She was also quick to bemoan that musicians no longer tune their instruments in front of the audience (during) before performances!  “I have always loved to accompany singers, especially classical songs from the romantic or early 20th century.” 


Johanna Instructing One of her Young Private Piano Students at CSSMA!

In her time as a musician and performer, one performance clearly stuck out in Johanna’s head as a highlight. “I played my own composition as an encore in a shared faculty concert at Brooklyn College Prep. Before that, I had arranged and performed a Bartok Microcosmos Piece for a vocal group in Basel but had never dared to play one of my own compositions. That’s what my move to NYC made possible - that and so many other creative outbursts.” 


Johanna became an instructor at CSSMA nearly 20 years ago after meeting one of our Co-Founders Dr. Lisa Ecklund-Flores at a talk Lisa was giving at the then newly formed Dalcroze Chapter in NYC. As a teaching artist, Johanna consistently strives to find ways of engaging and challenging her students. “I have always been an enthusiastic teacher, searching carefully for pieces that students could/ should study, preparing the fingerings, the dynamics, and foreseeing difficulties that might occur [...] I think it is our (teachers’) duty to maintain students’ motivation, help them with overcoming frustration and becoming independent, and encouraging them in exploring new pieces without fear. Applying movement and Dalcroze principles to teaching piano is often helpful in these endeavors.” 


In Johanna’s opinion, the arts are important because they open all of us up to the wonders around us. “To see and enjoy beauty is important. When we surround ourselves with beauty, we see how much of it there is.” She also stated her belief in the importance of allowing all people to create in an inclusive environment free from judgment “let people draw, paint, play music how they want: comment carefully, lovingly, with understanding… and when we can’t, say nothing”. 

Johanna at Home with Her Personal Piano!

 

When discussing what she loves most about teaching at Church Street School, Johanna mentioned the wide range of opportunities for people of all ages. “Church Street School is not only a good place for creative children, but also for creative teachers. The diversity of its programs is wonderful and corresponds with my ideals of an educational place. [...] I also love the relaxed atmosphere in recitals. Maintaining this atmosphere and, at the same time not accepting less quality in playing, guarantees joy and builds confidence.” She also noted that she loves how happy the children who come to CSSMA are: “there is a lot of joy in the entry hall”. 



 

We are incredibly fortunate to have worked side by side with Johanna for all of these years. Her passion for working with students of all ages and abilities, and joy for the arts is apparent in the lifelong love her students have not only for her but also for music. It is our immense pleasure to honor her this year at THE EVENT and recognize her years of service to the Church Street School community.




We urge you to purchase your tickets and sponsorships for this year’s gala.

There are only two weeks until THE EVENT and we are counting on you, our community, to make this year’s fundraiser our biggest and most successful fundraiser yet! Will you join us at the New-York Historical Society on April 9th?

 

Click the button above to learn more and secure your spot today! 

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