Thank you for stopping by this page! Feel free to contact me with any questions you may have. The below videos are of myself performing with composer and pianist Russell Ronnebaum.
Danny Elfman Suite, arr. by Russell Ronnebaum
Performed by Russell Ronnebaum and Meily Mendez
"Serpent's Kiss" from Garden of Eden Suite by William Bolcom
Performed by Russell Ronnebaum and Meily Mendez
I have many years of performing and teaching experience, internationally, all the time receiving joy from doing something that inspires creativity and passion, for both student and teacher. Whether child or adult, beginner or advanced, each of my students receives my undivided attention and commitment to excellence.
My style is dynamic, energetic, caring and enthusiastic.
My goals are to show my students how to make practicing easy, how to experience joy through music, and, ultimately, how to communicate artistically through the piano.
My primary goal is to help my students to become superlatively competent and confident pianists and musicians, and to inspire them to be successful artists and great human beings.
All levels! All ages starting from 3 years old.
Live Online Lessons Available!
Artist, pianist and educator Maria Helena Ferraz, D.M.A., enjoys a career encompassing a broad spectrum of piano solo, chamber music and solo with orchestra performances. She has performed in Brazil, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Colombia and the USA. A versatile pianist with a continuing commitment to new music, Dr. Ferraz has performed various premières, internationally. For her Doctoral Qualifying Recital, she performed the World Première of "Fantasia Ecológica" by Almeida Prado, one of the most prominent Brazilian contemporary composers. "Fantasia Ecológica" was dedicated to Maria Helena Ferraz, after the success of her première of Almeida Prado's piano Concerto "Fribourgeois" with the Fribourg Orchestra, in Switzerland. She has had other compositions dedicated to her by various prominent composers including Almeida Prado (Brazil), Ernst Mahle (Brazil), and Christopher Voisé (Poland).
Dr. Ferraz's appearances as a soloist with orchestras include the Orchestre Jeunes de Fribourg, in Switzerland, the São Paulo State Symphony, one of the major Orchestras in Brazil, the Hartt Symphony Orchestra in the USA, and the EAFIT Symphony Orchestra in Colombia, among others. Her performances with the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra were broadcast live by the Rádio Cultura São Paulo. Maria-Helena Ferraz has collaborated with the finest conductors such as Théophanis Kapsopoulos (Switzerland), Arthur Winograd (USA, former Hartford Symphony Artistic Director and cellist founder of the Juilliard String Quartet), Cecilia Espinosa (Colombia), Diogo Pacheco and Ernst Mahle (Brazil), among others.
Chamber music has formed an important part of Dr. Ferraz’s career. She has collaborated with numerous international finest instrumentalists including Elisa Fukuda, Luis Carlos Justi, Martin Tuksa, Washington Barella, Paulo Rogério Arantes (Brazil), Nicholas Zumbro, Bridget de Moura Castro, Gretchen Miller, Michael Grossman, Zoran Stilin, Vivian Podgainy (USA), and Jarmila Janecek (Switzerland).
Maria Helena Ferraz has live recordings with Rádio Cultura in São Paulo and Globo TV in Rio. EAFIT from Colombia has released "La Nueva Música Sinfónica Colombiana," a CD of new symphonic music by 20th and 21st Centuries Colombian composers, including the piano concerto by Luis Antonio Escobar, with Maria-Helena Ferraz as piano soloist. The CD has been distributed throughout universities and libraries worldwide.
She has appeared at many International Festivals as a teacher, chamber musician, accompanist, and director assistant including the International Music Festivals of Itú, Brazil, working with world renowned maestro Eleazar de Carvalho; and the III Festival Internacional de Música en Girona, Spain, where she has taught piano studio and piano master classes as an assistant of Luiz de Moura Castro.
Maria-Helena Ferraz has given master classes in Piano Performance and workshops in Piano Pedagogy at universities and arts institutions in South America, the United States and Europe, including the very prestigious Hindemith Foundation in Switzerland. She was a faculty member of the Music School of Piracicaba, Brazil, for seven years, the University of Hartford-Hartt School, USA, for ten years, and a teacher assistant to the Piano Department of the University of Arizona, School of Music, for five years, and she is a faculty member at the Arizona Music Academy, presently. Several of her students have been prize winners in Regional and State Piano Competitions in USA and in Brazil.
Her teaching experience includes also private piano courses at all levels, music theory, solfeggio, harmony, analysis, and performance piano classes from kindergarten through Bachelor’s and Master’s degree levels, piano pedagogy classes applied for college senior performance students, pre-school through college music appreciation courses, and chamber music courses.
Maria-Helena Ferraz has also served numerous times as an adjudicator in National Competitions in Brazil and State and Regional Competitions in the USA.
She has received numerous prizes in national competitions, including first prizes in National Competitions in Brazil and at the Paranov Competition at the University of Hartford in the USA, among others. She is the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships including CAPES - Brazilian Federal Government Scholarship, the State of São Paulo Government Scholarship, the International Course of Music Interpretation Scholarship in Spain, the Courses of High Pianistic Interpretation Scholarships in Italy and in the USA, and numerous talent awards and grants as an "Advisory Board Scholar" of the University of Arizona College of Fine Arts Dean’s Fund for Excellence.
Dr. Ferraz’s major studies began at the Faculdade Mozarteum and Faculdade Paulista, Brazil, where she studied with Beatriz Balzi and Gilberto Tinetti, and graduated with B.M. degrees in Piano Performance and Musical Education. At the University of Hartford, Hartt School, she graduated with a M.M. as a scholarship student of Luiz de Moura Castro. At the University of Arizona, she graduated with D.M.A. in piano performance as a scholarship student of Nicholas Zumbro and Tannis Gibson.
She has participated regularly in master classes in Brazil, Spain, Italy and the USA with such noted artists as Lili Kraus, Moura Castro, Helena de Sá Costa, Violeta de Gainza, Thomas Mastroianni, Fernando Laires, Nelita True, Ann Schein, and Margarita Viedorova.
She has presented her Doctoral Lecture Recital with great success at the 5th Annual International Conference on Arts & Humanities in Hawaii.
Maria Helena Ferraz’s doctoral dissertation has been published by Pro Quest. It is available for purchase from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.
Maria Helena was awarded various times by the Mayor’s Office of the city of Piracicaba, through the office of Cultural Affairs, in recognition for her participation and contribution in the development of Cultural Affairs’ activities and performances in Piracicaba, Brazil.
"The piano part catches one's attention for its virtuosism which the soloist Maria Helena Ferraz interpreted with total abandonment and expertise."
"A vigorous interpretation from the Orchestra and a magnificent interpretation by the soloist Maria Helena Ferraz contributed for the great success."
Rafael Vega Bustamante El Colombiano Newspaper COLOMBIA
"The Concerto Fribourgeois was played to perfection and with mastery by Maria Helena Ferraz."
Bernard Sansonnens La Liberté Newspaper SWITZERLAND
"Maria-Helena's interpretation was superb, resolute, consistent…with high technical level perfectly balanced with a matured sensibility of the great interpreters."
Paulo Justi Piracicaba Newspaper BRAZIL
"Maria-Helena Ferraz is placed as one of the most profound and brilliant interpreters… She possesses the most prominent qualities that a great artist needs…"
Composer (cited in the New Grove
Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed., Vol. 20, 84)
"…Maria-Helena Ferraz is a complete musician. She lets the music flow in a completely organic way, presenting a clear and precise speech. She moves from piano solo to piano accompaniment without ever loosing quality: simple and moving…"
TD La Liberté Newspaper SWITZERLAND
"…elegance and fluency of her [Maria Helena Ferraz’s] touch…It had beauty, poetry, charm in the expressiveness that overflows the texture of the superb masterpiece…"
José da Veiga Newspaper Diário Popular São Paulo BRAZIL
"…it was an outstanding achievement not only because of the high quality of the playing, but because of her [Maria Helena Ferraz’s] knowledge of the score made it possible for her to work so smoothly and so well with the Orchestra. "
Maestro Arthur Winograd
The Hartford Symphony Orchestra Former Music Director and Conductor USA
Background and Experience:
Mission Statement: My objective is to develop the student to his/her full potential, and provide a general background that will in turn prepare that student for any genre of music he/she may choose during their lifetime.
Teaching Philosophy: Many students and parents come to the table with good intentions; yet often the end results are disappointing. Examples of such might be tepid week-to-week progress, not following through on participation in an event, or prematurely discontinuing lessons. These are usually due to lack of awareness of one or more ingredients vital to studying a musical instrument. For example, they might not realize they have less time than required to devote to practice each day. People often underestimate the prerequisites music lessons carry. Rarely, however, are these disappointments due to lack of talent. A student need not be exceptionally "talented" to excel in their study of a musical instrument. I look for effort, not talent. Without effort, no amount of talent will matter. If a student has talent, it will blossom only with at least a moderate amount of effort. What the public regards as "talent" is really a lot of hard work and perseverance. Ask any gifted prodigy, and they will likely tell you this. However, if you don't have that special gift, as the vast majority of us don't, you nevertheless, will be surprised at what you can learn with a modest but consistent daily effort.
Teaching Approach: My approach to piano teaching is based on many different methods and philosophies, but is not rooted in any one specific method. Above all, it is based on logic and common sense. Essentially it is a step-by-step process: you are not ready for Step B until you have mastered Step A. This comes from the Suzuki approach, to which, earlier in my teaching career I had some hands-on exposure at the encouragement of some colleagues. However, my inability to accept certain elements of the Suzuki philosophy led me to officially abandon the approach, but not without carrying over certain teaching elements of the approach to my own. In particular the concentration and focus on a single detail at a time, which is the heart of my teaching approach, comes from Suzuki, but can be easily adapted to complement any "traditional" teaching approach. In turn, we break the material down into manageable learning steps, starting with one pattern/phrase at a time, treating each as a building block to be eventually assembled to form the complete composition.
Prerequisites for Study With This Teacher: As I mentioned above, the study of a musical instrument carries several requirements which, with even one missing, the lessons will likely not be able to continue. Prospective students and parents should consider the following requirements before inquiring to a teacher: