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Kathleen Riley, Ph.D. Bio
Kathleen Riley, PhD, Yamaha Artist in Education and Music Performance Specialist, is recognized nationally as a researcher, lecturer, teacher and innovator on musicians’ technique and injury prevention. Following three degrees in piano performance, Kathleen then went on to post-doctoral studies in neurophysiology and psychology at NYU.
This led her down a path in 2001 that changed the trajectory of her career. She brought in her new found knowledge through neurophysiology, psychology, and biofeedback into her “toolbox” and created classes, workshops, and biofeedback coaching sessions for students and professionals to optimize their performances. In 2004 she began working with biofeedback to monitor muscle activity and became certified in sEMG biofeedback. She began to integrate video feedback along with muscle, and the software ProformaVision was created by PBI MyoVision, inspired by her research and work. Kathleen has taught workshops and masterclasses for every instrument.
While living in Cleveland, Ohio, Kathleen served on faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Music where she designed courses and ran a biofeedback lab where her students could monitor themselves, seeing as well as experiencing the shifts that were occurring in both mind and body. Kathleen was also on staff at the Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine.
Most recently she has been visiting San Francisco presenting Optimal Performance workshops and giving individual Biofeedback coaching sessions for musicians at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the San Francisco Symphony. Kathleen is being appointed a Visiting Research Scholar at San Francisco State University in the Institute for Holistic Health Studies.
Liang Wang, Principal Oboist, NY Philharmonic: “For musicians, working with Dr. Riley’s biofeedback provides a powerful way to analyse our posture and body alignment, optimize performance and, most importantly, produce a better sound on the instrument. I experienced this for myself in one session with her. The benefits from this are life-long.”
Ethan Bensdorf, Trumpet, NY Philharmonic: “Working with Dr. Kathleen Riley and ProformaVision really helped me be aware of the tension in my body while playing. On stage I am now aware of my posture, straightening my head/neck and relaxing my shoulders and forearms.”
Sharon Robinson, Cellist, Faculty at Cleveland Institute of Music: “Working with students to better communicate the composer’s intentions has always been a central thrust of my teaching. So many times, a musician’s body is tied in knots in unseen ways, and Kathleen Riley’s Biofeedback Lab & muscle/video monitoring allows us to “see” the tension on the screen. Her expertise as a musician, performing artist biofeedback specialist, and teacher provides invaluable information resulting to a magnitude of benefits, including the freedom to play without pain.”
Daniel Shapiro, Piano Faculty at Cleveland Institute of Music: “Kathleen Riley came to the Cleveland Institute of Music to work with students and faculty who were dealing with physical issues. I was one of them, having had some shoulder problems. Her work with me was patient, diligent, professional–and extremely helpful. She was able to combine her expertise with the relevant technologies with her knowledge of anatomy in a highly effective way. In particular, we used biofeedback to determine when I was overly or unnecessarily engaging or tensing the shoulder muscles. I was thus able to redirect the energy to the fingers and arms. She was of great value to me, and to many students with whom she worked.
Steve Warner, Violinist, Retired member of The Cleveland Orchestra: “Several years ago, I had received a diagnosis of Benign Essential Tremor from the Neurology Department at The Cleveland Clinic. I went through typical drug protocols, most of which had unpleasant side effects including drowsiness, sleepiness, difficulty concentrating, confusion. As much as the violin and music mean to me, I could not continue to live like this. I worked with Dr. Kathleen Riley, who understood so well what it takes physically, mentally, and emotionally to perform optimally as a musician. I spent at least 6 intensive months working with her for retraining my arm and hand movements. I find myself today still using the effective protocols she gave me to manage my condition and remain at the level necessary to perform as a member of The Cleveland Orchestra.”
Gary Ingle, Executive Director & CEO, Music Teachers National Association: Kathleen Riley’s pioneering work is some of the most important I have come across in my career. The positive impact she is making on artists and teachers with related problems will be immeasurable.
Ted Coons, Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience at New York University: As an NYU psychologist / neuroscientist / musician, I collaborated with Kathleen Riley on biofeedback research re detecting and correcting music performance problems and attest to her superb scientific expertise and devotion in originating and developing uniquely effective technologies and treatments for musicians suffering with performance execution problems.
Frederic Chiu, Concert Pianist: Through Kathleen Riley’s work with biofeedback, musicians have a way to self-observe, to know more about how this very complicated process of music performance actually works. It is an incredible tool and hopefully will become part of the day-to-day methods that musicians use to improve their playing and their practicing.
Ronald R. Shinn, Professor at Samford University: Kathleen is on the cutting edge of helping musicians avoid performance injuries, working to re-train potentially damaging technical habits through the latest in bio-feedback systems. Our profession very much needs such a perspective and related techniques; we appreciate her work tremendously.
Paul Loesel, Pianist: As a professional theatre musician with dystonia, I am forever grateful for ProformaVision™ and retraining with Kathleen Riley. The combined modalities of Biofeedback, Video Feedback, and hand/finger exercises have helped me regain technical control and keep the dystonia at a manageable distance.
Alan Fraser, Author, The Craft of Piano Playing: In the jungle of various piano pedagogy approaches I have come across, Kathleen Riley is a bright light of clarity. Her work using biofeedback has refined and extended my own work to a new level of exactitude and empowerment. Working with ProformaVision has allowed me to do what I do not just better but MUCH better.