Musician plays with tempo in new book

Rambo Sinn reintroduces musical interpretation

On her first play-through as an author, Dr. Deborah Rambo Sinn hit all the right notes.


She just released her first book, “Playing Beyond the Notes: A Pianist’s Guide to Musical Interpretation,” through Oxford University Press a few weeks ago and already is garnering success.


Rambo Sinn said she’s been contacted by professors and teachers adopting it into their curriculums.


This is definitely a success for her, since more than three years ago she felt a strong need to help students with musical interpretation. She felt the topic often was overlooked in classrooms and institutes.

“Which surprised me,” Rambo Sinn said.


She would know.


As a performer, she’s traveled the globe as a pianist and operated two music studios in Hamburg, Germany, played for major musical productions and was invited by the government of mainland China to perform concerts and master classes in four major cities.


“Playing Beyond the Notes” simplifies musical interpretation for the seasoned professional and learned musician.


Rambo Sinn said looking at a score can seem limiting, but with musical interpretation pianists can make pieces  their own, using such tools and ornaments as a note or group of notes that embellish a melody, or rubatos, speeding up then slowing down tempo.


“Pianists play a lot of notes, but this helps show how to make certain ones stand out,” Rambo Sinn said.

Her book touches on this with more than 200 musical examples and illustrations she created along with more than 100 audio recordings available through Oxford’s website


“It’s a thin volume, but jam-packed,” Rambo Sinn said.


The companion site is one of the first for Oxford, she said.


She hopes that a future e-edition will allow tablet-users to read the book and click a musical number to hear the example immediately.

Independently musical

At first, Rambo Sinn intended to go the self-publishing route. But a friend of hers, a former proofreader for a major publisher, read it and told her to query publishers instead.


“He said I changed his perspective on music in those first few chapters,” she said.


So she made a short list of publishers to submit “Playing Beyond the Notes” for publication and heard back from Oxford the day the press received the manuscript. Nearly three months later, she was beginning her first steps to publication.


Through the three-year process, she particularly enjoyed picking out musical pieces for the book and to record for the online companion, which she recorded at home with her piano.  


Rambo Sinn has enjoyed the process so much, she’s considering a second volume of the book for other instruments. She’s also in talks for a different book but wouldn’t reveal details at this time.


As she establishes more connections with the book, she might open up distance learning classes, too.


These would go hand-in-hand with her Olympic Music School, which she founded in 2004, three years after moving to Sequim from Germany. At the school, she teaches piano to students of all ages; the school formerly taught voice, strings and several other types of instruments as well.


Rambo Sinn holds  doctorate and master’s degrees in music from Indiana University and recently gave a presentation at the 2013 Music Teachers National Association’s National Convention.


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