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Bringing "biological, expressively directed micro-timing to piano technique


Philip Cohen, Canadian pianist and piano pedagogue, is Artistic Director of Concordia University's Leonardo Research Project. Professor Cohen has had a distinguished career as teacher, coach, performance analyst and consultant to performing artists throughout North America and Europe. He has also served as consultant to various professional and academic programmes including the reorganization of the Conservatoire system in France, the Crossroads School for the Gifted (Los Angeles) and the University of California's projected music programme in Florence, Italy.


Phil Cohen, Alan Fraser and Robyn Belkin - Photo by Daniela Muhling


Professor Cohen has regularly conducted seminars, workshops, master classes and consultations in the United States (New York, Chicago and Los Angeles) and, on occasion in Europe (Paris, Grenoble, Florence, Warsaw). His students include many well known concert and recording artists, grant recipients and prizewinners in national and international competitions. He is also consulted by performers handicapped by injury, neuro-muscular and perceptual disabilities, anxiety and related performance "blocks". Professor Cohen's research into creative variability in highly accomplished performers aims at bringing a unified perspective to the aesthetic, cognitive, biological and cultural foundations of performance musicianship and its cultivation.


Born in Montreal in the late 1920's, Cohen comes from a family of musicians. His grandfather was a violinist and his father directed (from the drum kit front and center) one of Montreal's most prominent big bands. He studied piano under Yvonne Hubert, a favorite student of the great French pianist and pedagogue Alfred Cortot. Yvonne Hubert later produced many of Canada's luminary pianists such as Andre Laplante, Ronald Turini, Janina Fialkowska, Marc Andre Hamelin, Marc Durand and Louis Lortie. Cohen eventually became Yvonne Hubert's assistant. He taught piano at McGill University for several years before moving to Concordia University in 1970 where he was director of the music department from 1975-77. In 1978 he established the Graduate Diploma in Advanced Music Performance Studies (which Alan Fraser completed in 1984). This was the precursor to the Leonardo Project, which Cohen created to study the psychology of high-level performance not only at the piano but in the wider fields of music, theatre and dance. The Leonardo Project was featured in several television documentaries notably on Discovery Channel.


Cohen's contribution to piano pedagogy is unique. Delving into the psycho-physical processes involved when the biological, expressive gestures inherent in musical compositions are manifest in actual performance he has developed a teaching style that is transformative on many levels. He continues to work with both pianists and other students in Montreal.

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