Lois Ann DiDomenico first began teaching at Settlement while she was completing her master’s degree at Temple University. That was over 50 years ago and apart from taking some time away for the birth of her three sons - all of whom would later study at Settlement - she has been here ever since.
A fixture of the piano faculty, DiDomenico has become a specialist in teaching piano using the Suzuki method – the repetition-based form of pedagogy originally developed in Japan for violinists, and a popular method of violin study at Settlement as well – but she has other helpful additions for aiding in students’ development.
One notable trick: having a student sing through the melody they’re having trouble with.
“I’m a big advocate for using the voice, especially for younger children. They’re not worried about how they sound, and they don’t ask ‘do I have a good voice?’” she says. “Usually, if they can sing it properly, they’ll play it properly.”
As part of Suzuki instruction, parents are present during lessons and provide reinforcement of teaching at home, but over the years, she’s seen more and more parents take an interest in sitting on lessons. “There’s a large number of parents who are great helpers of their kids as students,” she says.
Another thing that’s notably changed over the years? “My youngest students keep getting younger.” Where students started with her at 5, sometimes later, she now teaches children as young as 3.
With so many students starting out a young age, DiDomenico has a long track record of students staying with her for at least five years – and in many cases, longer. That distinction carries with it a great deal of personal investment, as well as pride. “It’s fascinating to see them develop when you see them once a week for all those years,” she says.
One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is parents asking her whether their child has talent. Her answer, though, has stayed the same: “Everyone has a talent, and we’re always working on developing it.”