Frances Larimer ’52, ’54 MMus, Bienen School of Music alumna and professor emerita, who established the school’s graduate programs in piano performance and pedagogy, died October 21 in Evanston. She was 92 years old.
Larimer was born on May 13, 1929, in Tavares, Florida. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees in piano performance from Northwestern. She then taught part-time at the School of Music except for one year as a visiting professor at Louisiana State University. In 1967 she was promoted to a full-time assistant professor at Northwestern and in 1973 was named associate professor of piano and director of piano pedagogy.
At Northwestern, Larimer developed the master's program in piano performance and pedagogy in 1972 and the doctoral program in 1977, serving as director of these programs for more than two decades. She also initiated the master's program in music education and piano pedagogy. Larimer received research grants to develop instructional techniques in piano pedagogy and college-level group piano. She reorganized the preparatory department, expanding its offerings to include preschool classes, adult piano classes, and classes for non-majors. She was also instrumental in acquiring the school's first piano laboratory in 1970 and keeping it up to date. She retired in 1998.
Larimer served a four-year term as national group piano chair for the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) and wrote numerous articles for music periodicals and professional journals. She was coauthor of The Piano Pedagogy Major in the College Curriculum (National Conference on Piano Pedagogy, 1984 and 1986). From 1993 to 2004, she organized annual summer piano institutes for American students and teachers in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 1994 she was named a member of the St. Petersburg International Center of Russian Musical Culture and the organization's U.S. representative. She was also guest professor for three summers at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem.
In 2006 she was named a Foundation Fellow by MTNA for distinguished service to the music teaching profession. The National Conference on Keyboard Pedagogy presented her with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011 “for substantial and enduring contributions to the field of piano pedagogy.” In 2018 Larimer received the Teacher of the Year award from the Illinois State Music Teachers Association. She also received the MTNA Teacher of the Year award in 2019.