Dorothy Munger : pianist and pedagogue

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Sorley, Rebecca McKinney
Koriath, Kirby Lawrence, 1941-
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Thesis (D.A.)
School of Music
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Since 1939, Dorothy Munger's career has encompassed many roles-piano teacher, accompanist, soloist and ensemble performer. Munger's early piano training included study with Karin Dayas, Rosina and Josef Lhevinne, and Guy Maier. Munger's professional performing career has included work with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, solo concerto performances with orchestras around the Midwest, and accompanying for members of the Metropolitan Opera in solo recitals. Honors bestowed upon Dorothy Munger include an endowed chair with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, being named a Steinway Artist, and having a performance hall named for her at Meridian Music Company in Indianapolis.Munger has served on the faculties of Jordan College of Fine Arts (now part of Butler University) and Indiana Central College (currently University of Indianapolis). Her teaching career became internationally recognized when she spoke at two European Piano Teachers Association annual conventions. At these events Munger gave workshops discussing her technique of playing with relaxed wrists and forearms.Munger students learn to keep their wrists relaxed by using motions which relate to the rhythm of the music. These motions allow the fingers to work without interference from tension in the shoulders, forearms, or wrists. Forte passages are performed by using the weight of the body to its full capacity without "pushing" the keys. The use of the diminished seventh chord helps teach the student how to create a full chordal tone while strengthening every finger. Diminished seventh exercises include chord jumps, inversions, and arpeggiated patterns. Using wrist motions during scale practice keeps the passage steady along with keeping the arm relaxed.Munger students have excelled as performers and teachers using these relaxed wrist and arm techniques. Many pianists have come to Munger with physical problems due to tensions while practicing and performing. Dorothy Munger works with all students individually to teach them the basics for performing to their capacity without injury. This information may provide a resource for others studying the methods of successful teachers.