Daniel Mori, Irina Morozova, Journal of a Piano Teacher from New York to California, piano blog, piano blogging, piano teacher, The Special Music School of Kaufman Center

Manhattan’s Special Music School/Kaufman Center has a wealth of gifted students and teachers

The Special Music School-Kaufman Center

The original vision of Vladimir Feltsman, the Special Music School, with its serious commitment to musical development, is a K-8 public school with a private endowment. Located in the hub of Lincoln Center on W. 67th, its easy access to the great concert halls of the world, and the Juilliard School make it a draw for students in all five boroughs. For 15 openings, there may be 500 applications.

front desk The Special Music School

More About the School

“Special Music School, P. S. 859, is the first and only public elementary school in the United States that combines a full academic program with performance-oriented music training within the regular school day starting in Kindergarten. The music program includes private instrumental lessons and classes in music theory, history and chorus. The academic program emphasizes an integrated learning approach that develops problem-solving skills through hands-on cooperative learning experiences. The dedicated staff and faculty are committed to helping each child realize his/her full potential musically, academically, and socially.

“The Special Music School is a public/private partnership between the New York City Department of Education and Kaufman Music Center. As a public school, Special Music School is tuition-free. The Department of Education, through tax levy funds, provides the academic program and materials, while Kaufman Music Center, through its annual fund-raising efforts, provides each student with a full, merit-based music scholarship. The School is located in Kaufman Music Center’s facility at 129 West 67th Street, west of Broadway.”

In 2013, a “new” high school was added in a separate building in the Martin Luther King Educational Complex a few blocks from Kaufman. “… Dedicated to providing talented young musicians the opportunity to pursue serious, pre-professional along with a rigorous curriculum,” this secondary educational tier promotes “the development of the student as a musician for the 21st century.”

Performanc Class The Special Music School

I was fortunate to observe three piano students in the elementary grades taught by Irina Morozova, a towering pianist and teacher in the great Russian tradition.

The first of her brood, Daniel Mori, began his lessons in Kindergarten and has musically flourished under his able teacher’s wings into sixth grade. With awards and competition-related honors amassing, the youngster approaches the piano as a singing instrument with an embedded technical fluency grown assiduously by Maestra Morozova.

In these recorded lessons-in-progress, Daniel works on the Clementi Sonata in F# minor, Op. 25, No. 5, and Liszt’s Leggierezza.

The Special Music School Website:


Links to blogs about Daniel and his progress:


During the interview below, Irina Morozova discussed her approach to teaching Daniel from the very beginning of his studies. (included is a 2012 sample of her student’s artistry)


Irina Morozova BIO:

Piano; B.M. with Honors, Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music; M.M., Manhattan School of Music; piano studies with Vladimir Shakin, Galina Orlovskaya, Arkady Aronov; performances include Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, New American Chamber orchestra; participated in Film America’s “Music in the 20th Century” series; awards include Frinna Awerbuch, San Antonio International Piano Competitions; teaches, performs at International Keyboard Institute and Festival in NY; faculty, Mannes College of Music, Manhattan school of Music, Special Music School.

“Irina Morozova made her New York debut with a solo recital at Carnegie Hall in 1996 after winning Artists International Auditions. Critics raved, “Morozova possesses an astonishing beauty of sound and power of ideas…she is the sort of pianist who can turn a simple phrase into magic….”

“Born to a musical family, Irina Morozova began her musical studies at the Leningrad Special Music School for Gifted Children and graduated with honors from the Rimsky-Korsakov College of Music where her major teacher was Galina Orlovskaya. Studying with Vladimir Shakin at the Saint-Petersburg Conservatory, she performed in the concert halls of Saint-Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, and many other cities in the former Soviet Union. She also toured former East Germany and appeared with the Berlin Radio Symphony in the famed Schauspielhaus.

(A list of performance credits is too long to tabulate, though they encompass a variety of international venues.)

“Ms. Morozova received her Master of Music degree from the Manhattan School of Music where she studied with Dr. Arkady Aronov. Since 1997 she has been on the faculties of Mannes College of Music and the Special Music School at Kaufman Center.”

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