Sandra Lau Martins
Sandra Lau Martins has performed internationally both as soloist and collaborative pianist. She has appeared as guest artist with ensembles such as the National Repertory Orchestra in Keystone, Colorado, the New York Philharmonic Ensembles at Merkin Hall, the International Chamber Ensemble in Rome, Italy, and the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra.
Other performances include the Gina Bachauer Piano Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah; ORF Radiokulturhaus in Vienna; Esterhazy Palace in Leobersdorf, Austria; Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Germany; Kumho Art Hall in Seoul; the Academic Community Hall in Hong Kong; Abraham Goodman House in New York; Beverly Hills Library Sunday Concert Series; O’Neill Hall of Music at the University of Notre Dame; Museo de Bellas Artes in Mexico City; Teatro Sala Higinio Ruvalcaba in Gudalajara, Mexico; the Budapest Museum in Hungary; Palais de l’Athenee in Geneva, Switzerland; Musée International de la Croix-Rouge Geneva, Switzerland; the Conservatoire Américain at Fontainebleau, France; and the Biblioteca Pública da Horta, Portugal.
At the Henryk Szeryng International Violin Competition in Toluca, Mexico, she was the official pianist in 1992 and 2000. She has worked with Kathleen Battle, Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, Liang Ning, Dawn Upshaw, and Willard White, and as keyboardist at the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Esa Pekka-Salonen, Peter Sellars, and John Williams.
As an educator, Sandra has taught piano and chamber music at the University of Toronto and the Royal Conservatory of Music. At Stanford she taught various levels of undergraduate music theory and developed original classes for the Continuing Studies Program; at the University of Michigan she coached vocal students as well as taught keyboard harmony. She has been a master class teacher at the University of Notre Dame and has kept a private teaching studio since 1993. She has been invited to adjudicate such events as the the Royal Conservatory of Music’s Tom Thomson Competition in Toronto, Royal Conservatory of Music examinations, National Guild Auditions, MMTA Student Achievement Testing, Los Angeles Chinese Music Teachers’ Association Piano Competition, and the Canadian JUNO Awards.
Sandra began her piano studies in Hong Kong at the age of two where she soon performed on the Hong Kong educational television station ETV. She holds diplomas from the Juilliard School and Stanford University where upon graduation she was awarded the university's Humanities and Sciences Undergraduate Prize in Music Performance and the Robert M. Golden Medal for Excellence in Humanities and the Creative Arts. After a season of chamber music at the Conservatoire Américain at Fontainebleau (now the Fontainebleau Schools of Music and Fine Arts) she spent a year in Paris studying counterpoint and keyboard harmony with Isabelle Duha. Sandra enjoys reading literature in original languages and began reviewing for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing in 2008. Since moving here in 2009 she has been delighted to be living in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Doctor of Musical Arts, Stanford University, 1994
performance practice in piano
Master of Music, the Juilliard School, 1989
Bachelor of Arts, Stanford University, 1987
Conservatoire Edgar Varèse, Gennevilliers, France, 1992 – 1993
supplemental studies in keyboard harmony
Conservatoire Niedermeyer, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, 1992 – 1993
supplemental studies in counterpoint
Recipient of the AAAPTG Foundation Teaching Grant, 2021, 2020
Private Piano Studio, 1993 – present
Keyboard harmony, University of Michigan, 2010 – 2012
Vocal coaching, University of Michigan, 2009 – 2011
Piano, Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto, 2004 – 2009
Chamber Music, University of Toronto, 2003 – 2007
Piano, University of Toronto, 2003 – 2007
Music Made in America, course in American music,
Stanford University Continuing Studies Program, 2002
Tracked parallel moments between landmark moments in European music history and similar events in America from pre-colonial times to 1900. Discussed impact made here by immigrant musicians from Europe, highlighted major works by composers such as Ives, Copland, Barber, and lesser-known composers from before 1900. Compiled reader for class use, directed listening portions of class with recordings as well as demonstrations at the piano.
The Birth of Harmony, 1600 – 1750, course in Baroque music,
Stanford University Continuing Studies Program, 2000, 2001
Explored characteristics of Baroque music through a study by geographical region. Considered institutions and circumstances that led to varieties of the Baroque, followed development of predominant forms and styles of the times. Tracked the beginnings of opera, symphony, sonata and concerto, as well as acceptance of the violin family as viable instruments. Familiarized students with concepts and terminology that are particular to the period through listening and demonstration, including in-class performances with members of Opera San Jose. Reading was assigned from various texts.
Approaching Music, course in general music history,
Stanford University Continuing Studies Program, 1999
Introduction to five historical periods in music history: Middle Ages and Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary. Class meetings divided into two sections where Part 1 covered historical context and prominent musical forms of the historical period under discussion, Part 2 focused on listening and commentary on actual music using terminology introduced. Works covered in class primarily selected from the repertoire of the San Francisco Opera and San Francisco Symphony that season. Compiled reader for use as text.
Introduction to Music, Stanford University, 1999 – 2002
First Year Music Theory, Stanford University, 1991
Teaching Assistant, Second Year Music Theory, Stanford University, 1989
Assistant Choral Director, Palo Alto High School, Palo Alto, California,
1993 – 1995
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Sandra worked wonderfully well with my son. She designed lessons to accommodate both skills and interests. She was especially thoughtful in navigating through his increasing demands in competitive sports (hockey, soccer) and the increasing workload as he advanced in high school.
I was impressed with her ability to hone in on his strengths and areas to improve.
Of course, if you ever have the opportunity to watch Sandra perform -- take it! That experience is an inspiration in and of itself.
She is a true talent and we are fortunate to have been able to work with her!
---- Christine Stead, President, Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education
When looking for a piano teacher for my daughter, I came across Sandra's website after a google search for "piano teachers near me." I do not readily believe in divine intervention, but in this case the force was with me.
I was in search of a teacher who would revive my daughter's love for playing piano. She unfortunately had a negative experience with a recital performance that caused her to not want to play. Sandra has brought that love back by being a compassionate teacher who learns who her student is.
I know this love has returned as evidenced by my daughter spontaneously telling me about her lesson, going to the piano to play for sheer enjoyment, and a smile after each lesson.
During the pandemic, Sandra made what looked like a seamless transition to virtual lessons. Since now I can overhear some of
the lessons, I know why my daughter smiles. She inspires my daughter and thoughtfully teaches her through both
challenging and fun pieces. My daughter comments how both her technical skills and musicality and theory have
Without reservation I would recommend Sandra as a teacher.
--- Michelle Williamson
Isabel has been working with Sandra for several years now. Shortly after she began, we noticed an excitement for piano lessons and exceptional growth as a pianist. We attribute this to Sandra's vibrant teaching. In fact, Sandra's passion for music and expertise shine through in the enthusiasm she brings to her teaching environment. Seeing Isabel's confidence and interest grow has been phenomenal.
Sandra encourages students in informal and formal recitals and student performances that enrich their confidence executing pieces in front of audiences. Pieces are chosen with care and purpose to enrich with historical significance and Isabel has been challenged to do her own research occasionally which she enjoys.
The relationship that Sandra nurtures is lovely and sensitive to Isabel's needs while encouraging her to reach
high -- striving for excellence while embracing the fun, unique, and beautiful aspects of music.
Sandra is truly an exceptional musician, a gifted instructor, as well as a kind and considerate person.
---- Caroline Sutton
We are fortunate to have Sandra Lau Martins in Ann Arbor. Her musical pedigree, teaching accomplishments, and performances are all impressive. But I am most thankful for Sandra's ability to take me where I am, and help me to improve at the piano. I am an adult who first began piano lessons in middle age. Sandra has a keen aptness to listen to my playing at the start of a lesson and to build from where I am at that moment. By listening carefully to what I am doing, Sandra is able to break down the rough spots into discrete parts, often in the most ingenious ways, so that I can make it through the gnarly patches and make some music.
Sandra is also great about modeling how to practice during the lesson, so that when I am at home, I am channeling the lesson. I always leave Sandra's lessons feeling energized and excited to continue the piano. Despite the vast gulf in abilities that separates us, Sandra joins me at my level in interpreting and enjoying the pieces I am studying. I am honored to be learning from this extraordinary musician.
---- Michael Carlin, attorney at law
I have been studying with Sandra for seven years, and am grateful for her infinite patience, talent, and wisdom that has led
me to where I am today. Before I started my lessons with Sandra, my piano technique was lacking and my pieces, regardless if it was Beethoven, Mozart, or Chopin, all sounded very similar. Sandra had the patience to work out each misinterpretation that I
made by performing the correct way herself, explaining the theory, and also coming up with different analogies to make
the right style easier to remember. Her method of teaching is very thoughtful and since then, my piano skills have improved tremendously.
Not only is Sandra an amazing teacher, she is also very talented, both technically and musically in her piano performance. Whether I was in a private class in piano camps or performed in masterclasses, other piano faculty and professionals always complimented my technique and style by pointing out that I had a very experienced and knowledgeable teacher.
Furthermore, Sandra has inspired me to love piano and music. I used to set up and track my practice time so I could show my teachers that I practiced a certain amount of hours in a week. Ever since I studied with Sandra, there has been no need for any more hour tracking logs. After every lesson, I feel motivated to practice -- to test out what I have learned and improve my skills. Sandra has influenced me to want to continue my music studies through college and into the distant future.
---- Augie, Greenhills School
She was always very respectful of my busy schedule and we worked together to work around it. Every lesson was pretty casual but we got the job done. Every piece I was assigned had a specific skill I had to work on. We would always go through different pieces before I decided which one I liked the most, that's something I really loved about the lessons. Throughout the lesson, we studied different eras of history through the music we were playing. Overall I enjoyed how organized the class was while still having room for some of my decisions.
---- Conleth, Skyline High School
Sandra is an accomplished concert pianist and an exceptional teacher. My daughter has been studying with her since June 2011. She not only teaches her excellent technique, but also inspires her to love music.
Sandra cares about her students. She is sensitive to my daughter's interests and sets up lesson plans accordingly. As a rising high school senior, my daughter is busy with academics and many other extracurricular activities that demand her time and energy, but she has never stopped playing piano and is always looking forward to the lesson time with Sandra. Regardless of how challenging a piece may be, Sandra has always been able to demonstrate and provide a correct interpretation of the piece -- reflecting the stye of the composer and the history of the music genre.
I feel very fortunate that my daughter has been studying with such a talented and inspirational piano teacher who has been nurturing her passion for music and guiding her through the maze of the music world.
---- Christina Guo