Heather ODonnell

Heather ODonnell
Rochester, NY
Instrumental Music
German, English
Adult Day Care, After School Program, Assisted Living, College/University, Arts/Cultural Organizations, Community Center, Correctional Facilities, Hospital, Independent Living, K-12 Schools, Library, Nursing Home, Rehabilitation Center, Senior Center

Heather O’Donnell has taught piano for over 20 years, mostly through a private studio. Teaching is an essential and integral part of her identity as a musician. She was also a faculty member at the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice at New England Conservatory, an artist-in-residence at the New Music Indaba Festival in Rhodes University in South Africa and the Ostrava Days Festival in the Czech Republic, and has given master classes, workshops, and coachings at Manhattan School of Music, the Conservatoire Libanais National Supérieur in Beirut, Cornell University, Columbia University, and Mannes College of Music.

 In addition to teaching piano, she works rehabilitatively with injured pianists, particularly those whose injury originates from neuromusculoskeletal dysfunction or disease. In the past years, she has expanded her teaching work, assisted by a degree in psychology, to working with elderly students and students with cognitive or physical disabilities, at the piano and through programs that involve music reception and creation. These programs strive to assist students with memory enhancement or retrieval, positive affect, fine-motor coordination,  and developing a sense of community.

Heather O'Donnell lives in Rochester, New York with her husband, composer Oliver Schneller, and daughter.

Oliver Sacks said that music "can provide access, even when no medication can, to movement, to speech, to life...music is not a luxury, but a necessity". This statement sums up most effectively why I work through music with older adults. Music can unleash memories that have faded or are at risk of slipping away, it can help people recover from aphasia following a stroke, it can keep one cognitively and physically, not to mention emotionally, fit. Music groups for the elderly provide companionship, and an opportunity for social connection. Witnessing the effects of communal music-making is one of the great joys of my teaching career.