James Litzelman enjoys a successful career as a pianist, teacher and lecturer, having performed and lectured in the United States, Mexico, Europe, China and Russia. In demand for master classes, adjudicating and workshops, he presents lectures nationally and internationally to various music organizations and has judged competitions throughout the eastern and southern United States.
Dr. Litzelman’s path in the musical world has not been a traditional one. He grew up on a farm in southern Illinois and didn’t begin to study piano until the age of 16. Near the end of his doctoral studies at Catholic University he was diagnosed with focal dystonia, a neuromuscular disorder that afflicts classical pianists and guitarists in a disproportionate number. He began to research the causes of this condition, and through retraining and physical therapy with a gifted Rolfer, Dr. Litzelman has regained his capability at the instrument.
As a result of his dystonia diagnosis Dr. Litzelman has become a passionate advocate for pianistic health, regularly lecturing on healthful piano technique at music conferences and symposiums. He has spent the last 20 years seriously investigating piano technique and how one may play the piano in the most physiologically correct way. This work has been of enormous benefit to his students, with many pianists seeking his insight because of their own or their students' problems.
Dr. Litzelman has presented collaborative concerts and master classes in Shenyang, China, and has performed solo and collaborative recitals at the Rachmaninoff Hall of the Moscow Conservatory and Sviatoslav Richter Museum in Moscow, Russia. In March 2012 he was a judge for the national finals of the MTNA piano competitions in New York City. He served on the faculty of the George Washington University Piano Academy in July 2012 for its summer program. He is heavily involved with regional music organizations and served as president of the Northern Virginia Music Teachers Association from 2009-2011. Dr. Litzelman is a published writer with articles in musical journals such as Keyboard Companion and the American Music Teacher. Dr. Litzelman currently serves as chairman of the editorial committee of the American Music Teacher magazine, the official journal of the Music Teachers National Association, is a reviewer of new books and music for that periodical, and is a nationally certified music teacher.
Since 1993, Dr. Litzelman has been a member of the piano faculty at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He teaches applied piano and courses in piano pedagogy and musicians’ wellness, and was the director of the graduate piano pedagogy program at CUA from 2000-2010. Most recently, Litzelman was invited to teach a course in piano pedagogy at the University of Maryland, College Park, in the fall of 2016. Litzelman is particularly interested in teaching young people and he maintains an active independent studio at his home in Arlington, Virginia, where his students have been prize winners in many local and national competitions.