On Thursday, November 22, 2018, my brilliant, wonderful piano/music teacher Sophia Rosoff passed away at her home. She was 96.
It is difficult to describe how much Sophia impacted my life. Sophia brought me back to the piano and I am literally a born again pianist because of her.
I met Sophia in August 2011. After having a baby I suffered from tendonitis, carpel tunnel and radial tunnel in both arms, wrists and thumbs. I was a mess. Even though I had not played the piano seriously in almost 15 years, the thought of not having the ability or the choice to play the piano was devastating to me. I decided while receiving occupational therapy that I would relearn how to play the instrument and that I should do it with Sophia Rosoff.
On our first meeting I felt nervous and insecure. Sophia asked me to balance an egg on the carpet. To our mutual surprise, I did this in a matter of seconds. She then asked me to balance the egg upside down. I did that just as quick. She then asked me to balance an egg on wood, glass, and china, which was most challenging. After that Sophia said that I was ready to play something for her. When I went to the piano, I felt calm, focused and unafraid to play. Sophia was sweet and kind but honest with a quiet intensity that made you feel determined to work. Everything felt brand new with her. I felt like I was experiencing the piano for the very first time. I was really hearing and feeling the music. I felt connected in a way that I never had before. Most of my piano experience was filled with anxiety, frustration and misery. Practicing the piano was agony. I never realized that practicing could be joyful, filled with love and rewarding (what irony!) I was falling in love with the piano all over again.
Sophia always believed. She believed in me and that made me believe in myself. I specifically remember after a lesson Sophia said, “You can do anything you want in music. You have that ability. Whatever path you choose to do, you have it in you.” I was overwhelmed by her statement but deeply grateful. It made me start to believe more in myself and what I was capable of.
One of the truly special gifts Sophia gave me was her bi-monthly piano classes. This class was held at Klavierhaus on 58th St. every other Thursday evening. Here is where I would heard some of the most incredible music by wonderful pianists, sometimes singers, violinists, violists, saxophonists, guitarist etc. This class was special. Never had I been with a group of musicians who were so supportive, loving with no ego or competition in the air. It was all about the music. Sophia was always about the music. I believe it was the way Sophia taught her students and the way she made everyone feel special that made this class so unique.
I am not a writer, I am not eloquent. That’s ok. I just wanted to let the world know that I have been changed by Sophia Rosoff. That there are people in this world that have that capacity.
Thank you Sophia for bringing me back to the piano, back to music. Thank you for believing in me and giving me the love and support to be more courageous and true to myself. I am sad you are not with me on this earth but I am so happy that you are at peace. I miss you but you will always be with me.
So poignant Yoonie. ❤️