Arts and Entertainment
February 1, 2021
Often, we speak of “vision” and “passion” when referring to one who has exceptional talent in an endeavor, be it a musical talent or a vocation. Those who truly stand out are those who live their dream every day and are committed to it; the very special people realize that their gifts and talents are to be shared and passed on to others.
And so, it is with Felicia Feng Zhang, an extraordinarily accomplished pianist and music teacher living in Greenwich Ct who is changing the lives of students and families with her exemplary work on the piano. Felica Feng’s methods are not only helping students learn to enjoy playing the piano, but are molding student’s values to help them excel in academics, sports, and later in life.
Felicia Feng, a national certified music teacher from the National Music Teacher Association since 2006, recently is a recipient of the prestigious 2020 Teacher Distinction Award from The Royal Conservatory of Music. Ms. Zhang is aware of the common approach to teaching, like working on a musical piece one by one. But that won’t necessarily lead the student to acquire a new skill, like time management, or confidence building. Her teaching discovery involves music learning of sequences and patterns; the student needs to build a connection with music language, playing the piano, and the inner self. Felicia also knows that the student’s interest, enjoyment and motivation is based on the proficiency level of sight-reading skills. These are essential inspiration factors for each student to feel comfortable and confident during their learning journey.
Felicia Feng created her unique “5 Cores Theory” with “3EFM approach” methods to train and develop the whole person during the student’s learning journey and growth. These are: Eyes-Ears-Mind-Fingers-Feelings. And the 3EFM method’s 9 principles: 3E: Efficiency, Effectiveness, Enthusiasm, 3F: Focus, Follow, Flow and 3 M: Mindset, Manners, Motivation. These principles help students build learning habits through various levels and degrees of ability.
Most importantly, Ms. Zhang, with 32 years of first-hand teaching experience, discovered that one must be centered, true to oneself, confident in life, not afraid to try new things. While learning how to play the piano or any instrument is a valuable talent to have, the more significant lessons in life are to develop good habits: attention to detail, creativity, time-management, learning how to listen and problem solving, persistence, the ability to focus and even good manners- yes, good manners.
She believes that the piano is the perfect medium- an education and “life lesson tool”- to help students discover the beauty of music and at the same time help them discover their talents along the way. “Education is not just for learning, knowledge, but for learning, thinking. Coming to learn piano is not just to know the notes and rhythms, but to develop good habits of thinking and behavior through music notation, and to further feel the beauty of music and its effect on the beauty and power of our lives,” says Ms. Zhang.
Ms. Zhang’s piano journey began with her professional musical family, as she was taught by her mom, Prof. Wenju Sui, a renowned music professor, influenced by her brother distinguished Prof. Jin Zhang, Beijing Central Conservatory of Music, her family has taught several World Gold Medalists of the prestigious international piano competitions. Felicia Feng chose piano as her life’s mission and received her first master’s degree in music education, specializing in piano pedagogy from Beijing Normal University, where she won outstanding achievement and became a full- time faculty member of Beijing Normal University. Her two children, Clara 17, who has played at Carnegie Hall at the age of 6, and featured on The Today Show, and NBA half time at Madison Square Garden among other venues. And Alexander, age 15, who also has played at the Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center.
She founded All Talent Academy and Piano Village Foundation in Greenwich Ct a few years ago. Many of her students, ranging in age from 3 up to adults, have won over 500 prizes during her 32 years of teaching in international piano competitions, exams, and festivals and have performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, London Royal Albert Hall, and other venues.
Ms. Zhang is very involved in community activities. During the Covid-19 pandemic time, she helped organize the 5th Stamford Music in the Park concert for local residents this past year. She donated masks and clinical necessities during the rise of Covid-19. She leads youth leaders and advanced students offer free online music training to the community during the pandemic time include online senior and adult classes through her nonprofit organization Piano Village Foundation. She believes that music can be meditation and therapy which is so very helpful to everyone now, especially during this difficult time. Along all the dedication to the community works, she is currently serving as the President of Connecticut State Music Teacher Association.
Ms. Zhang is living her dream, fulfilling her passion in helping students discover the beauty of music and the wonders of the piano. She is setting the stage either for future prodigies or just musicians that simply enjoy playing the piano for fun. And all of Felicia Feng’s students know to mind their manners, have good habits and learn how to succeed in life.
And now with the presence of COVID-19, she created and designed online teaching method books called CLEF series to bring effective virtual teaching. Several after school programs have reached out to her to offer the online piano learning program, and now students worldwide can experience the online platform and Felicia Feng’s unique teaching methods. – by James Alfieri