Three extraordinary teachers, Claudette Sorel, James Lyke, and Frances Clark, aided in launching Professor Tony Caramia’s 45-plus-year career as a pedagogue, clinician, adjudicator, composer, author, and solo and collaborative performer.
Lessons with Sorel exposed him to her remarkable musical insights, communication skills, and world-class perspective, and in turn, nurtured his own teaching career. Lyke saw raw potential in Caramia as a composer and teacher and helped him shape and define his tenure at the University of Illinois from 1975-1990. In addition, Lyke introduced him to Clark at the first-ever National Conference on Piano Pedagogy in 1979. Caramia strives to honor her devotion and commitment to learning that she so vividly represented.
The invaluable time as composer-in-residence and studio teacher at the New School for Music Study in 1980-1981 allowed Caramia to interact with Clark and Louis Goss on a daily basis, and their meticulous guidance remains a constant source of inspiration to him. As artist-in-residence elsewhere, he adored presenting classes to pre-college students and/or performing in area concerts for the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Foundation (Sedalia, MO, 2002 and 1996), Ann Arbor, MI elementary schools (2002), and Quad Cities Arts Council (Rock Island, IL, 1999).
Throughout his career, Caramia has shared the stage with many classical and jazz musicians alike. Of particular note, he still cherishes the memory of performing with Marian McPartland in front of his peers at the 1984 National Conference on Piano Pedagogy in Chicago. In May 2003, NPR broadcast McPartland’s “Piano Jazz” November 2002 interview with him.
Caramia’s article, “The Imaginative Piano Teacher: Musings on Being More Creative in the Piano Studio,” appeared in the Sept.-Oct. 2018 issue of Piano Magazine, and over decades, he has contributed many other articles exploring aspects of jazz pedagogy to Keyboard Companion and Clavier Magazine.
Caramia has conducted numerous workshops in jazz piano for teachers at MTNA National and several State Conventions, the International Association for Jazz Educators (IAJE) Teacher Training Institutes, the National Piano Teachers Institute, the International Workshops, the European Piano Teachers Association International Conference in London, the Australian Piano Pedagogy Conference in Adelaide, and the Institute of Registered Music Teachers National Conference in New Zealand. He recently performed and lectured at the Dakota Sky International Piano Festival and the Meetings on Piano Pedagogy at the Federal University of Santa Maria, Brazil.
Caramia treasures the relationship he had with publishers The New School for Music Study Press and Belwin Mills Publishing Corp./CPP Belwin, Inc., for whom he composed and/or arranged several solo and duet pieces and collections. A sample of his works with current publishers follows: “Mixed-Up Rag” (Frederick Harris Publications, RCM Celebration Series, Piano Etudes, Level 7, 2015), collections American Treasures (Alfred Music Publishing, Jazz Performer Series, 2011), Sounds of Jazz, Book 1 and 2, and Six Sketches (Alfred), Suite Dreams and Jazz Moods (Hal Leonard Publishing Corporation, Composer Showcase Series), Fascinatin’ Rhythms (Neil A. Kjos Music Co., 1985), Rag Times Four (Kjos, 1983) and Adventures in Jazz Piano, Books 1 and 2 (Bärenreiter, 1983). He has co-authored all editions of Keyboard Musicianship, Books 1 and 2 (Stipes Publishing Co.), from 1979 through 2020.
A strong believer in offering theme recitals, Caramia has presented multi-media tributes to composers George Gershwin, Billy Mayerl, Harold Arlen, Richard Rodgers, Dana Suesse, William Gillock, as well as to the extraordinary pianist, Cy Walter. Other theme recitals include Ballades and Ballads, Happy 100th Birthday to the Maple Leaf Rag, The Art of the Trio, A Program of Preludes, Nimble Feet and Tricky Fingers, A Piano Valentine: Love in All Keys, My “Senior” Recital, Homage to Chopin, A Jazzy Celebration of Spring, Summer Smiles, Sounds of Autumn, A Portrait of Marian McPartland, 1917: Celebrating the 100th Birthdays of Jazz Icons, A European Jazz Travelogue, and his most recent, Celebrating the Music of Women.
Caramia’s special interest in ragtime introduced him to the innovative harmonies of European composers, such as Billy Mayerl, the novelty rags of the 1920s, and the Contemporary Ragtime of American composers such as William Bolcom and Bryan Dykstra, and provided appearances as a featured performer/teacher/clinician at Scott Joplin Ragtime Festivals in Sedalia, MO for over 15 years, as well as other ragtime festivals in Columbia and St. Louis, MO, Lapeer and Frankenmuth, MI, Fresno and Sacramento, CA, Evergreen, CO, Indianapolis, IN, Alexandria Bay, NY, Fergus, ON, and Eau Clair, WI.
In September 2007, Caramia performed a concert at SUNY Fredonia’s Rosch Recital Hall on and for the new “Sorel” Steinway in honor of his former teacher. He delighted in bringing his piano concerts to small Midwestern communities through Allied Concert Services tours. The following are additional highlights among his countless performances: the Rochester International Jazz Festival, numerous National Conferences on Keyboard Pedagogy concerts, and the 50th and 60th Anniversaries of the New School for Music Study in Princeton, NJ.
The Claudette Sorel Piano Competition, Rochester Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition, Young Texas Artists Music Competition, Crescendo Music Awards, and the American Pianists Assoc. National Jazz Competition are among the events for which Caramia has adjudicated.
Recordings consist of Hot Ivories, Nimble-Fingered Gentleman, Zebra Stripes, Brass Knuckles, Upstate Standards with trombonist Mark Kellogg, and Tribute.
Awards include the National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy Lifetime Achievement Award (2021), Frances Clark Center Inaugural Outstanding Service Recognition Award (2019), SUNY Fredonia Outstanding Achievement Award (2010), and the University of Illinois Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (1988 and 1984).
Caramia continues his devotion to teaching at the Eastman School of Music (1990-present), where he directs the Piano Pedagogy Studies, coordinates the Class Piano Program, and teaches applied piano and beginning jazz piano. At Eastman, he loves working with teaching assistance from around the globe and championing his students (Mr. C. and His All-Stars!) in studio concerts, also with themes: Fringe Fingers, Celebrating Women in Music, 2 Pianos—140 Fingers, and A Child is Born.
Selected articles regarding women in music and the composers heard on recent concerts.
- Women composers: genius is gender blind – and so should we be
- By the Numbers: Female Composers
- Women of Note: Celebrating 300 years of music by women
- “Never Call Us Lady Composers”: Gendered Receptions in the New York Composers’ Forum, 1935-1940
- Lili and Nadia Boulanger: The Sisters of the Prix de Rome
- Revisiting the Pioneer Composer: Florence Price
- The inspirational life of Florence Price–why it’s one of the most important stories in music
- Pauline Alpert: Sibley Special Collections
- Germain Tailleferre: Interlude Composer of the Month, April 2017
- Madeleine Dring–Wikipedia
- Cheryl Frances-Hoad: https://www.cherylfranceshoad.co.uk
- My Heart: The Story of Lil Hardin Armstrong
- The Mystery of Irene Higginbotham
- Laura Dubin: https://www.lauradubin.com/
- Yvonne Rogers: https://www.esm.rochester.edu/jazz/piano/
Works / Publications
- Keyboard Musicianship, Book 2 (co-author), 2020
- Keyboard Musicianship, Book 1 (co-author), 2019
Frederick Harris Music Co., Limited
- Mixed-Up Rag (Celebrations Series, Level 7 Piano Etudes), 2015
- Rockin’ Hard (in Signature Solos, Book 5), 2015
- Shoo-fly Shuffle (Alfred Music Publishing)2012
- American Treasures, Jazz Performers Series
- Six Sketches,1985
- Sounds of Jazz (2 Vol.) 1983
- Folksongs Revisited (arr.) 1983
Hal Leonard Piano Student Library, Composer Showcase, Level 5
- Suite Dreams (2009)
- Jazz Moods
Hal Leonard Piano Student Library, Showcase Solos, Level 4
- Boppin Along
- Carefree Song
- Dreaming Song
- Swaying Song
Hal Leonard Piano Student Library, Piano Solos, Book 4
- Porch Swing
Hal Leonard Piano Student Library, Piano Solos, Book 5
Kjos Music Pub., San Diego, CA. 1986
- Fascinatin’ Rhythms
Kjos Music Pub., San Diego, CA
- Rag Times Four 1983
Barenreiter Verlag, Kassel, Germany
- Adventures in Jazz Piano (2 Vol.)
Practical Piano Pedagogy:
PED261/461 (Fall): Beginning/Elementary Level student
- The Intermediate Level student
- The Adult Beginner/Class Piano
- Jazz Piano Basics
Friday, December 6, 2019
Eastman School of Music lobby: Holiday Sing
Performance with Anthony Dean Griffey
Recorded May 9th, 2018 as part of the Live from Hochstein/WXXI-FM series:
Engagements / Professional Activities
Saturday, November 21 8:00 Eastern Time
In celebration of 60 years of excellence in piano teaching and learning at New School of Music Study, a special recital, featuring performances by NSMS alumni faculty. https://www.nsmspiano.org/news/categories/alumni-faculty-recital
Friday, June 26, 2:00 EST
Piano Camp for Piano Teachers Virtual Conference
The Heart and Art of Interpretation: Jazzy Students
Monday, February 24
Penfield Symphony Orchestra, David Harman, conductor
Penfield High School Auditorium
Dana Suesse: Concerto in D for Jazz Combo and Orchestra (with Kyle Vock, bass, and Kristen Shiner McGuire, drums)