Doris Koppelman

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Doris Koppelman, Piano Teacher and Trainer from San Diego.

Doris was beloved by thousands of students, parents and teachers. A leader in the SAA, Doris was known for her wisdom, dedication and graciousness. She understood the heart of the Suzuki method and knew how to apply that knowledge in ways that have made a difference in so many lives. Doris was very special. We mourn her loss.

From Doris’ family:

Doris Koppelman of San Diego, California has died from complications of cancer. She was 85 and maintained an active personal and professional life until her final two months.

Born Doris Dichter in New York, NY, Koppelman was a descendent 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 Shin’ichi 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-winning students in her private studio and influencing a generation of teachers internationally.

Doris Koppelman with piano student

Doris Koppelman with piano student

Image by Elizabeth Singleton

Koppelman authored the book Introducing Suzuki Piano and wrote numerous articles for the American Suzuki Journal, of which she was piano editor. She was particularly interested in developing young teachers and was a registered teacher trainer for the Suzuki Association of the Americas (SAA), which honored her with a Distinguished Service Award in 1994.

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.

Koppelman is survived by sons David of Los Angeles, CA; Daniel of Greenville, SC; and Robert of Hollywood, FL; and daughter-in-law Ruth Neville of Greenville, SC. She was predeceased by her sister Evelyn. A private memorial service will be held.

For memorial contributions, the family has designated the Suzuki Association of the Americas’ Doris Koppelman Scholarship Fund for the training of teachers in the Suzuki method. Please make checks out to “Suzuki Association of the Americas”, and put “Doris Koppelman Scholarship Fund” on the memo line.

Doris Koppelman Scholarship Fund
℅ Suzuki Association of the Americas
P.O. Box 17310
Boulder, CO 80308

The SAA is truly very honored to establish the Doris Koppelman Scholarship Fund at the request of Doris and her family. Your gifts to the fund will help carry Doris’ legacy into the future.

You are invited to post your thoughts and memories below.

Doris Koppelman and piano teachers

Doris Koppelman and piano teachers

Image by Arthur Montzka