Rasa Vitkauskaite’s Inspired Touch Develops Well-Rounded Musicians

December 15, 2020 | Music Faculty

by Holly Lobowitz Rossi

Benjamin Hitzrot has been taking piano lessons at CCM for half of his young life. When he was a 14-year-old applying to private high schools, he faced an essay question about an influential person who had shaped his life.

The choice was obvious—he wrote about Rasa Vitkauskaite, his beloved piano teacher.

Benjamin is not alone in his close relationship with Vitkauskaite, who was born in Lithuania and has taught at CCM since 2010. “Rasa is special,” said Kate Yoder, CCM’s founder and executive director. “She exemplifies the superb private instruction all our teachers provide—but she also stands out for the deep connections she is able to cultivate with her students.”

“As a parent, I can say it’s just been a terrific match,” said Karen Ford, Benjamin’s mother. She knew the relationship would be successful early on, when her son took out some frustration on his sheet music.

“I thought, ‘he’s not going to go back to this,’” said Ford, “but Rasa just sat with him, started again, and got through that initial difficulty.” “She has the right distance with him, she knows exactly the right place to be. When you find an adult who does that with your kid, it’s really special to watch,” she added.

Vitkauskaite’s credentials are top-notch. A graduate of the United World College of the Adriatic and the Boston Conservatory, she has performed in more than two dozen countries, has recorded four commercially available CDs, and has collaborated with artists including the Metropolitan Opera, GRAMMY nominees, the Berlin Philharmonic, and the Cleveland Orchestra.

Her kind, inspiring manner translates to her organizational prowess, which helps her students feel supported and on a steady path.

 “One of the most important aspects of a successful musical education is being consistent,” said Vitkauskaite.

Consistency is a top value, even when she travels to perform abroad. She works creatively with her students to stay connected, inviting them to send her recordings of their assignments online, and following up promptly with feedback and suggestions. “I am fortunate to work at CCM, which allows me flexibility,” she says. Providing structure in those moments enables her students to stay on track: “Students make the most progress when they know that they won’t go too long without supervision.”

Vitkauskaite’s creative spirit also inspires her to organize offsite performances for her students; they have performed at senior living facilities, libraries, and competitions hosted by the Massachusetts Music Teachers Association. Rasa and Ben

Ford, who also takes private lessons with Vitkauskaite, appreciates her clear—and high—expectations for students of any age; she communicates regularly with parents regarding repertoire choices, goals, and expectations. Ford notes that Vitkauskaite “has gotten the best” out of her son.

Benjamin’s admissions essay touched on this very point, her ability to have high expectations while remaining caring and responsive. He wrote, “Rasa is one of the kindest adults I have met throughout my life, if not the most inspiring.”