An article featuring Edina piano teacher, Patricia Langer, appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune August 20, 2014
by Anna Pratt, photos by Monica Herndon

Following are excerpts taken from the article.


The sound of piano music fillsPatricia Langer, Edina piano teacher Patricia Langer's home at all hours of the day. It has for years, because Langer, 72, has been teaching piano since 1969.

Shakopee piano teacher Kathleen Philipp said Langer "sets high standards and expects that [her students] are going to achieve them." Thus she attracts no-nonsense players who "know what they're doing" and excel in competitions, Philipp said.

Langer credits her upbringing for that focus on excellence and for her fierce work ethic. Music has been a part of her life since day one, and it has intertwined with life lessons that she's sought to pass on to her students.

Her mother and father, a singer and a guitarist, respectively, sacrificed financially to give their four children piano lessons. She proved to be a talent early on, playing the organ in church as a fourth-grader. Before long she was performing at weddings, funerals, evening devotions and daily mass.

Langer especially likes to channel the old masters. In the morning, she's drawn to Mozart and Beethoven, who she describes as "the intellectuals". By afternoon, "I go for passions, "which she finds in Chopin and Debussy.

"No matter how accomplished you are, you'll never exhaust the library. Like a voracious reader, you'll never read it all," she said.

The home Langer and her husband, Henry, share was designed several decades ago with her busy studio in mind. Students come in through the lower level.

A note inside Pat Langer's grand piano reads, To Pat, with love, John H. Steinway.Langer doesn't advertise her studio. Rather, people find out about it through word of mouth, and she has a waiting list. Her 38 students are all ages, and they come from all over the metro area. Lessons run from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., depending on the day.

Twice a year, she has concerts in her home, wherein the living room and the foyer become the auditorium. Students play on the upstairs piano, a Steinway Grand, the Louis XIV model, which she calls her "first baby".

During those practice concerts, she teaches her students to announce their piece, adjust their bench, prepare to play, and bow afterward. It sets them apart when they perform publicly, she said. "People say, 'You can tell a Langer studio student by the way they approach the bench,'" she said.

She tries to teach students to pursue their goals the best they can and to be responsible. Sometimes they stumble, but no matter how someone performs, the love between us never stops," she said.

To help the players relate to the audience on an emotional level, "I tell them that they're telling a story with their fingers."

That's the "magic of music. For a moment in time, they can leave the cares of the world," Langer said.

Student Samantha Martin, who is going into eighth grade, was composing music even before she could talk. She said Langer has told her that "you can have all the potential and talent in the world, but hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard," she said.

In March, Martin won the Minnesota Music Teachers Association's junior young artist award. She played for a crowd of several thousand at a related honors concert in June. "It sounds cheesy, but I feel like I'm living my dream," Martin said.

Langer has "really invested in all of her students," Martin said. "We all know we matter to her. She's a big part of my life."

Patricia Langer playing piano in her Edina home.

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