Tara Cooke-Ventresca began improvising at the piano before beginning formal studies. In addition to music, she also followed her interests to study science and philosophy which she saw had relevant connections to music. Her studies earned her a Bachelor of Arts in Music with a concentration in Piano Performance at The Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.
Ms. Cooke-Ventresca continued with graduate musical training for three years at the Kodály Pedagogical Institute of Music in Kecskemet, Hungary, earning an Advanced Diploma in Music. She concentrated her studies in piano performance with Orsolya Szabo, in addition to studying chamber music, choral conducting, solfége and theory. In her independent pedagogy training, she observed the music education for children in Hungarian schools, as well as the great work of music therapist, Clara Kokas, and her work with blind children.
Tara further specialized in piano studies at Westminster Choir College of Rider University, where she earned a Master of Music degree in Piano Performance and Pedagogy, studying with Phyllis Leher. Tara also began teaching piano and learning the work of Frances Clark and Louise Goss at the New School of Music in Kingston, New Jersey, where she learned the value of imparting effective piano skills to students of all ages. Her experience also includes teaching at the American University, Washington D.C, and New Jersey public schools.
In her work, Tara perceives music to be influential and meaningful throughout the entire development of the individual. This led her to seek further specialization outside of the academic climate, in a therapeutic context. She earned a Master of Arts in Music Therapy from New York University, where she had the opportunity to work with the acclaimed Clive Robbins at the Nordoff Robbins Center of NYU. There she worked with varying client populations with special needs, utilizing clinical improvisation and composition in music therapy.
Inspired by her love of music and piano performance, Tara continues to teach piano to both children and adults. She maintains a private studio and has been with the Westminster Conservatory of Music piano faculty since 1996, and currently coordinates the Music Therapy program. She has held membership with the New Jersey Piano Teacher’s Forum, the American Music Therapy Association and is Board Certified in Music Therapy.