Mischa Kottler Student Endures on the piano. My father had a sense about me. We grew up in Detroit. I immediately took to the piano and composing. At age 12 I wrote a piano concerto. I had only been playing the piano for 3 months. I also played the complete Beethoven Moonlight Sonata from memory.This was at my first year piano recital. We soon arranged for auditions with the best Detroit instructors. Julius Chajes was the director of music at the Detroit Jewish Community Center. Chajes suggested to go to Mischa Kottler since he was quite busy. Chajes also mentioned Karl Haas. Haas was the creator and host of the nationally syndicated program, Adventures in Good Music. Haas also suggested that I audition for Mischa. Finally, I went to Mischa Kottler. He is a brief description of him in Keyboard Magazine by one of his students student.
Another notable Mischa Kottler student – Greg Philliganes
From work with Stevie Wonder while still in his teens, to tours and recordings with Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, and Toto, Phillinganes’ massive discography reads like a “Who’s Who” of pop music, encompassing four decades.
From Greg Philliganes’ interview in Keyboard Magazine
“Sensing that I needed discipline more than anything else, my Mom managed to hook me up with a wonderful teacher named Mischa Kottler. He was a no-nonsense Russian Jewish guy who could crack a pane of glass with one finger. He was a complete badass, and he cooled my attitude out immediately. I studied with him well into my teens.
What kinds of things were you studying with him?
I was studying technique and classical repertoire. He taught me a certain way of playing that I still use to this day: a sense of evenness where your wrists aren’t loose or moving up and down. It’s a totally linear way of playing, where there’s even movement in both hands so your wrists stay perfectly still. Misha would take two fingers and weigh them down on my wrists to keep them from moving. He instilled a sense of dexterity and definition in my playing. If I’m known for my speed and precision, it’s probably due to Mischa more than anything else.
As a Mischa Kottler student
So, how did Mischa impact my career. I am playing my 8th season at the Gasparilla Inn on the exotic isle of Boca Grande. Management thinks of me as part of their corporation. It’s amazing how well you a liked when you are good for business and morale. Management just reconditioned a vintage 1924 Steinway grand. What a difference it makes! “Beautiful, lovely, most enjoyable” …are a few of the positive adjectives. Very few people walk by the piano without patting me on the back. They invariably say, “Good job.” I play 6 nights weekly. This is through April 16. Earlier I had been playing for some 15 years in the Catskill Mountains of New York. This was at Scott’s Oquaga Lake House. Another demanding job: Seven nights a week! Through the training of Mischa Kottler and the generousity and backing of my father, I’ve been enjoying a remarkable long career. I offer piano lessons in Sarasota. Below is a picture of the Gasparilla Inn.