Juilliard’s voice chief spills some secrets

Juilliard’s voice chief spills some secrets


norman lebrecht

September 29, 2018

Brian Zeger, director of the vocal arts program at the Juilliard School, doubles up as a busy collaborative pianist.

In the first of a new series of Living the Classical Life, Brian talks to Zsolt Bognar about struggles with confidence and making a career.

Watch here.

Short clip here:

“You have to have inner confidence, and a team that is listening to you with compassion, insight, and imagination.” In our newest release this week, Brian Zeger, one of the leading collaborative pianists in the musical world and director of the vocal arts program at the Juilliard School, shares his insights into how a young artist finds a unique artistic vision and growth musically and humanly. In his dynamic style, Brian highlights the struggles he overcame in his twenties, through self-awareness and realization of his strengths, that led to authentic confidence. (Episode 59) Teaser clip for new release this week #livingtheclassicallife #brianzeger #juilliard #piano #pianist #opera #singer #vocalcoach #collaborativepiano #filming #interview #steinway #inspiration #healing #lifequotes

A post shared by Zsolt Bognár (@living.the.classical.life) on


  • Alexander Platt says:

    Brian Zeger — great teacher, great artist.

  • RW2013 says:

    Who ever thought up that dreadful term “collaborative pianist”?

    • Helene Kamioner says:

      the collaborative pianists

    • Caravaggio says:

      Not to worry. Soon we’ll have collaborative singers (if not already). The perfect term for what passes for singers in this deconstructivist, postmodern, experimental workshop scene.

    • Ainslie says:

      Don’t know who invented the term, but it’s very useful. At the top echelon of ability, there are pianists who are primarily interested in solo careers, and pianists who are particularly good at working with singers, or in chamber music. “Collaborative pianist” doesn’t equate with “accompanist”, which is more mundane and doesn’t demand the same artistry.

      • buxtehude says:

        I think that “collaborative pianist” is an ugly and awkward euphemism for “not a soloist.” Musically it means a good listener, or someone with a degree in good-listening, isn’t that so? (Ja ja I know, this could entail learning partners’ parts and so on, that’s what a good listener does when such things are possible.)

        How about “chamber pianist,” which covers the same ground & more, without sounding so artificial and calling attention to itself? “Collaborative piano” could still be used in curricula descriptions, where it sounds more impressive in an aca kind of way.

        • Dan Redding says:

          Agree. Chamber pianist much nicer.

          • Ainslie says:

            Except that I can’t help but play word association, and immediately “chamber pot” comes to mind.

          • buxtehude says:

            @Ainslie: Well you are choosy. You know there are sound associations with Pianist that are worse than Pot. Especially at this moment in history, as in: it’s safer not to have one.

            Then there’s Collaborationist; oi.

            Maybe you could invent a term, preferably some non-word…

  • Mike Schachter says:

    In Hungarian all performers in any form of classical music are usually described “with the collaboration of” or something very similar. I suppose it implies equal importance so perhaps positive?

  • Luigi Nonono says:

    I heard what would probably be called a collaborative pianist, and his ego was all over the stage, he played too loudly, too soloistically, and he overwhelmed the singer. When the accompanist becomes a celebrity in his own mind, as a few have, he becomes a rotten accompanist. But what instrumentalist can really understand singing?