Doris Koppelman Memorial Scholarship

Doris Koppelman

The Doris Koppelman Memorial Scholarship is awarded annually to a piano player for Suzuki teacher training.

Donate Now


Doris Koppelman was born Doris Dichter in New York, NY. She was a descendant of Russian immigrants who came to the US from Odessa (now Ukraine). After beginning piano studies at an early age, she attended the prestigious Bronx High School of Music and Art, and received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Hunter College.

In 1947 she married Walter Koppelman. The couple moved to San Diego in 1965, where her husband predeceased her in 1981.

Koppelman had been a pianist and piano teacher before moving to San Diego, but shortly after her relocation she learned of the teaching method of violinist Shinichi Suzuki, which applies the basic principles of language acquisition to the learning of music.

She became a pioneer in the application of the Suzuki Method to the piano, producing numerous award-wining students in her private studio and influencing a generation of teachers internationally.

Koppelman authored the book Introducing Suzuki Piano and wrote numerous articles for the American Suzuki Journal, of which she was piano editor.

Doris Koppelman

She was particularly interested in developing young teachers and was a registered teacher trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas, which honored her with the Distinguished Service Award in 1994 and Outstanding Teacher Award in 1998.

In a career spanning more than 30 years, she served on the faculty of workshops and institutes throughout the world, including virtually all of the US and western Europe, as well as Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Chile, and yearly visits to Peru.

She gave Suzuki demonstrations for the Music Teachers Association of California, the National Council on Piano Pedagogy, the Music Educators national Conference, and many other organizations, while remaining active in the musical community of San Diego throughout her life.

On Teaching

Doris Koppelman with piano student

Doris Koppelman with piano student

Image by Elizabeth Singleton

I am a Suzuki teacher.
I love what I do.
Music lets us express beauty
In a sometimes difficult world.
Available to everyone,
Part of our human essence.
Learning is a tremendous joy.
I am helping people learn to make music.
A totally positive process.
Snowmass is
An exhilarating explosion
Of the beauty
This joy
This love.
Doris Koppelman, 1996

Quotes about Doris

“Doris had such a gentle way of instilling confidence and the pursuit of excellence in young people. Everyone felt worthwhile, no matter where they were on their musical journey. Doris had two distinct and successful lives: first as wife and mother, second as a true pioneer in world wide Suzuki circles . We’ve all benefitted positively through the life of this dear woman.”
Connie Almond, San Diego, CA, steadfast friend, colleague, driver, companion

Doris Koppelman and Caroline Fraser in 2011

Doris Koppelman and Caroline Fraser in 2011

“Doris constantly encouraged me to be more than I ever imagined I could be. Doris lived the Suzuki philosophy: she firmly believed in all children, had a profound respect for everyone, maintained a positive outlook, and was a student herself right up to the end of her life. In an interview for the Peruvian Suzuki Journal, Doris desribes her hope and vision for the future: ‘My hope is to see it be made available in every country, for all children who would like to study, thereby giving the children of the world many things in common and therefore leading to a peaceful world.’”
Caroline Fraser, Lima, Peru

“With the passing of Doris Koppelman, we have lost a strong pioneer of Suzuki piano as well as a very special lady. Doris was a true friend whose warmth , graciousness and support were always there for me. She was a shining star with her great passion for Suzuuki piano. An outstanding teacher, Doris was an inspiration to teachers and students worldwide.”
Mary Craig Powell, Columbus, Ohio

“Doris and I enjoyed playing two-piano repertoire at the Colorado Institute. One year we discovered a third Doris (Preucil). The next year we were billed as “The Three Doris’” and played the Mozart Concerto for Three Pianos with orchestra. Since we were often ‘roomies,’ I knew Doris as the proud Mother of three fine sons. She was constantly in close contact with her family, no matter where she was teaching.”
Doris Harrel, San Marcos, Texas

Doris Koppelman and piano teachers

Doris Koppelman and piano teachers

Image by Arthur Montzka