Barbara Lister-Sink

Barbara Lister-Sink
is an internationally acclaimed performer and a global leader in injury-preventive keyboard technique. A graduate of Smith College and recipient of the Soloist Diploma and coveted Prix d'Excellence from Utrecht Conservatory, her teachers include Edith Lateiner-Grosz, John Duke, Margaret Mueller, Clemens Sandresky, and Guido Agosti.

She is currently Artist-in-Residence and Professor of Piano at Salem College, Winston-Salem, NC. Her critically acclaimed video/DVD Freeing the Caged Bird – Developing Well-Coordinated, Injury-Preventive Piano Technique , is considered a classic work internationally in the field of piano technique and won the 2002 MTNA-Frances Clark Keyboard Pedagogy National Award. Vladimir Ashkenazy praised it as “A monumental work!"


Formerly keyboardist for the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra of Amsterdam, Lister-Sink has taught at the Amsterdam Muziek Lyceum, Duke University, the Brevard Music Center and was on the Artist Faculty of the Eastman School of Music from 1979 to 1986. She has performed as soloist throughout Europe and North America and has collaborated with some of the world's most distinguished musicians, including Arnold Steinhardt, Doriot Anthony Dwyer and Jan DeGaetani. Lister-Sink has performed with the Harvard Chamber Players and at the New Hampshire, Skaneateles, Brevard and Chautauqua summer music festivals. Her numerous performances of contemporary music include collaboration with composers Gyorgy Ligeti, Leon Kirchner, Joseph Schwantner, Frank Martin, Samuel Adler, Vincent Persichetti, and Witold Lutoslawski,


As a world leader in teaching injury-preventive technique, Lister-Sink has given numerous presentations for national and international music organizations, including the Music Teachers National Association, National Keyboard Pedagogy Conference, World Piano Pedagogy Conference, the Canadian Professional Piano Teachers Association, the International Klavar Foundation, and the European Piano Teachers Association, London, England Chapter. She has appeared frequently as state MTNA convention artist, and in 1992 was a presenter and performer for the First World Congress of Arts and Medicine in New York City. Lister-Sink's articles, interviews and reviews have appeared in Piano & Keyboard, Clavier, American Music Teacher , and Keyboard Companion, as well as in the Southern Medical Journal and Current Research in Arts Medicine . She was cited in the 2000 Centennial Edition of Piano & Keyboard as one of the pedagogical leaders of the 20th century.


Lister-Sink created and now directs the Professional Certificate Program in Injury-Preventive Keyboard Technique at Salem College. In an academically rigorous, scientifically informed, and artistically inspired 7-course curriculum, the Program covers all aspects of understanding, acquiring and teaching injury-preventive technique, including an in-depth study of keyboardists' injuries, causes and cures. Students include teachers, injured performers, organists, and serious undergraduate and graduate piano and organ majors. The Program is the first and only one of its kind in the United States.


Through her DVD, intensive training workshops, the Professional Certificate Program, as well as hundreds of workshops at universities, conservatories, summer institutes, AGO chapters and professional organizations, Lister-Sink has helped thousands of keyboardists from around the world remove technical obstacles to their musical development. Her performances are eloquent demonstrations of the marriage of technical freedom and musical artistry.





“I am sure that Freeing the Caged Bird will be of immense help to pianists—will make their lives easier and their piano playing more satisfying. A monumental work!”

Vladimir Ashkenazy


“First, within the field of the body mechanics, she operates at the genius level, both as a thinker and as a teacher. I have known only a handful of others in my own professional world who could be thus described. She has a deep understanding of the physical elements of playing the piano and how to release musical expression, but what makes her unique is that she knows how to transmit that understanding to others…. Barbara has organized a large amount of information (anatomy, neuro-muscular phenomena, the learning process for complex physical skills generally, observations by and about great pianists and piano teachers) into an innovative and very effective teaching system

Second…, Barbara's teaching on artistic matters is as impressive as it is on technical matters. She has the experience and skills of a top level performer and a deep knowledge of music. …I believe that is another reason why professionals and very advanced students want to study with her.

The combination of these two extraordinary talents in a single person is a rare and special event.”

Enoch Gordis, MD

Rockville, MD


“I have seen countless numbers of students of Professor Lister-Sink develop technical foundations that allow them to play with the most well-coordinated, efficient, effortless, and tension-free techniques that one could imagine.And let me assure you that it is not all about technique! The technical ease makes way for profound music-making.

I marvel at the ability she has to help her students play with real passion and fire. For many years, I have observed Barbara Lister-Sink's own thrilling and superb playing, her outstanding teaching in workshops or master classes for my organ students and for her own piano students, and I have had some opportunities to work with her privately as well. She is one the world's great pedagogues and she has something extremely unique to offer, something that no one else anywhere is teaching. After many years of refinement, she has codified everything one needs for a solid technical and musical foundation into the Lister-Sink Method.”

John Mitchener, D.M.A.

Kenan Professor of Organ

North Carolina School of the Arts


“ I have yet to meet a musician who is as dynamic, knowledgeable, progressive, and eager to learn and understand the area of injury-preventive piano technique as Barbara Lister-Sink. I have no doubt in my mind that she will be historically noted as one of the most important matchmakers for the important and necessary marriage between the medical/scientific and the musical/artistic worlds. Her musical talent is fabulous, her musical experience is vast, her teaching is dynamic and logical, and her understanding of related medicine and science is already profound and increasing daily through a self-propelled learning process. Barbara Lister-Sink has this unbeatable combination of talents, knowledge and experience to finally build a bridge between the worlds of music and science.”
Jaiyoung Ryu, M.D.

Professor and Chief, Section of Hand Surgery

Department of Orthopaedics,West Virginia University


“The hallmarks of superb teaching—mastery of the material and creativity in conveying it—are embodied in her approach and grounded in her own inspiring playing at the instrument.

“I believe that the legacy Barbara Lister-Sink is building …is one that will significantly impact the future direction of piano playing globally, making an inestimable contribution towards insuring that a centuries-old tradition of the highest level of playing is carried on.”

Virginia M. Houser, D.M.A.

Associate Professor of Piano and Pedagogy

Kansas State University


“…I could not possibly have anticipated how profoundly impressed I would be by this excellent and comprehensive method the influence and relevance of which extends far beyond its obvious application to piano study…Ms. Lister-Sink has provided her students with a program that not only instructs in the understanding and development of a healthy and efficient technique but also promotes informed choices that lead to a healthier lifestyle which in turn supports playing musically and physically well throughout one's lifetime.”.

Beverly Henkel

Independent Piano Teacher, Lynchburg, VA

Recipient, MTNA Teachers Enrichment Grant 2006, 2007





“Lister-Sink is a superb pianist (one who practices what she preaches) and a ‘real' teacher, one absorbed, dedicated, totally committed to her craft, an evangelist for physical freedom in piano-playing.”


“Through her superb musical insights, understanding of the functioning of the human body, and ability to communicate, she is able to inspire her students to achieve a level of pianism and musicianship which is quite remarkable.”


“...altogether I feel immensely satisfied. I know that I have grasped something inextricably essential to all pianists.”


“This was a revelation to me in so many, many ways... frankly beyond anything I could have presupposed or expected. I appreciate the direct application of concepts physically--NO ABSTRACTIONS!”


“For me everything this week has been helpful in expanding my awareness of my body and technique at the piano...Everything was taught so clearly and with such enthusiasm.”


“Her enthusiasm and love of teaching are not limited to a certain caliber of student. She has always, and continues to work with students on all levels, from the beginner to the world-class artist. I cannot imagine any student of Barbara's not being transformed in some major way as a result of her teaching...In terms of effective teaching, I would rate Barbara among the most dynamic, influential and caring teachers of any subject, on any level.”


“One of Ms. Lister-Sink's remarkable talents is her ability to work with and inspire the young beginning pianist as well as the most advanced students and artist. I have found her clear analysis of each student's musical and technical problems to be stunningly focused, kindly, and always presented in an inspiring manner.”


“[Her] constant adherence to basic principles has given me more courage to do the same. The workshop...continues to work on me--forming, shaping, pushing me into newer ways of working and playing.”


“Her strongest suits as an instructor are her unique talents for clear communication and for caring for the total well-being of her students.”


“Barbara Lister-Sink is a true teacher. Her life is a lesson, not only to those who are formally her pupils, but to all who will learn--a lesson in honesty with herself and others, in pride and integrity, in the struggles and challenges of the artist of integrity.”


“Lister-Sink is a superb pianist (one who practices what she preaches) and a ‘real' teacher, one absorbed, dedicated, totally committed to her craft, an evangelist for physical freedom in piano-playing.”


“...Phenomenal abilities to spot problems and communicate concepts helped all participants to enter new realms of freedom in playing the piano.”