Beverly K. Lapp
associate professor of music, 1995-present
By Rachel Lapp
At the age of 10, two years after her first piano lesson, Beverly
Lapps parents took a service assignment in Kingston, Jamaica,
and searched for a teacher to continue her lessons. The instructor
they found was terrifying and energizing.
She was nearly blind, and did a lot of teaching by listening,
but sometimes would use a magnifying glass to see my fingers. I
was scared before every lesson, but I came out elated, Lapp
said. She pushed me beyond where I could perform, but the
laid back culture in Jamaica allowed me the time to practice enough
to meet those high expectations.
When Lapp now sits next to a pupil at the piano, she is listening
carefully, too, but not just to the music.
The whole lesson shouldnt be characterized by me telling
them things launching into my own ideas and suggestions.
The more you teach, the more you have to say, but it is important
to draw out the students ideas and ask a fair amount of questions,
said Lapp. Ive learned to use a high degree of affirmation
with critique; everyone has their own unique traits, and we are
always learning how we can be better teachers by responding to different
At Christopher Dock High School and Goshen College, Lapp engaged
in a variety of musical activity, from private piano study to choral
singing and accompanying. During her senior year at GC, music professors
Marvin Blickenstaff and Doyle Preheim encouraged her to go on to
Westminster Choir College in New Jersey. She pursued a masters
degree in piano performance and pedagogy. She taught pre-college
students while studying with Frances Clark, known as the mother
of modern piano teaching.
Frances Clark believed in being well trained in really
knowing the music that you were to teach so that you could be most
effective in making it accessible to the students, said Lapp.
She is commonly quoted as saying, Teaching is not telling.
Teaching piano is so hands-on that it is often what you do with
the student, rather that what you say to them, that really matters.
She was the best teacher Ive ever seen.
After Westminster, Lapp taught at Chicagos William Rainey
Harper Colleges Music Academy for children. Then, when one
of Lapps GC pedagogy teachers, Kathryn Sherer, retired, Lapp
returned to Goshen. She instructs college students in how to teach
piano and directs the music departments piano preparatory
The variety of students, from elementary school through college,
brings a great deal of variety into my teaching day, Lapp
With college students, Lapp stresses the importance of productive
practice time; some students crave it in the midst of busy schedules.
My hope is that my students learn in three main ways: first
is musical and technical skills, specific to the piano; the second
is bigger truths about music in general, with piano as the vehicle;
and third is bigger truths about life, said Lapp. And
if they organize their time in the practice room, that discipline
can spill over into other areas.
Students also appreciate one-on-one time with an instructor to develop
themselves more fully as musicians.
If a student will play at church, I want to hear it. They
need to prepare carefully for that; if it is an offering to God,
it should be as thoughtfully prepared as for a classical concert,
she said. In church music for piano we often have a text we
can connect to and find meaning in, whereas in classical piano literature
we will focus a great deal on different colors and textures found
in the sound. We dont have text in art music for the piano,
but with careful interpretation we can write our own meaning to
come to a fuller understanding of the music and of ourselves.