Dr. Afrim Shabani, a pianist, composer, and educator, holds a Doctorate of Education from Bradley University, a Master's degree in Music from Illinois State University, and a Bachelor's degree in Music from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. His doctoral thesis at Bradley University was titled “An Integrated Approach to Musicianship and Music Theory in the Piano Studio.” He is certified as an Advanced Specialist in Piano, Theory, and History by the Royal Conservatory of Music (RCM). Since 2016, the Music Teachers National Association (MTNA) has certified Dr. Shabani as a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music, with specializations in piano, group piano, and recreational piano.
In 2023, Dr. Shabani was honored with the Teacher of Distinction Award by the prestigious Royal Conservatory of Music, highlighting his dedication to music education. In 2004, he was honored with the Mark Gerdelman Music Composition Award presented by the Music Department of Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.
Furthermore, Dr. Shabani serves the RCM in a significant capacity: he is the center representative director for the Central Illinois Exams Center. Before this role, he was the center representative director for the RCM's Chicago Symphony Orchestra exams center.
His leadership extends beyond his educational institution as he served as Vice President for BNMTA-MTNA from 2021 to 2023. Additionally, Dr. Shabani has served as a piano judge/adjudicator for piano events such as the IFMC Festivals, BNMTA’s Piano Spring Festival, Marguerite Nenne, and Golden Lyre scholarship competitions.
In 2016, he founded the Shabani School of Music. Importantly, in 2023, during RCM America's inaugural year of accrediting institutions and educators in the United States, the school received accreditation for the 'Smart Start program: Music and Neuroscience'.
Concurrently, Dr. Shabani is a piano faculty member at both Heartland Community College and the Pro-Sound Center. At Heartland Community College, Dr. Shabani teaches courses like piano, Music Appreciation, the history of Jazz, Blues and Rock ‘n’ Roll, and World Music. Additionally, since 2022, he has been an active member of Heartland Community College’s shared governance, contributing to the Committee for Academic Standards (CAS). Previously, he held a position as an Instructional Assistant Professor of Music at Illinois State University.
Over the years, Dr. Shabani’s students have participated in many prestigious piano summer camps with demanding audition criteria, including at the renowned Berklee College of Music, University of Florida, Tallahassee, University of Illinois, Urbana, University of Montana, Missoula, University of Missouri, St. Louis, Bradley University, Peoria, Webster University, St. Louis, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, and The University of Mississippi, Oxford.
His students regularly enroll in the RCM certificate program and partake in the annual IFMC-NFMC Festival. Notably, in 2017, one of his protégés won 1st Place in the MTNA Illinois Composition Elementary Division. His students have also received accolades including:
- The Royal Conservatory of Music Regional Gold Medal Award (2021)
- BNMTA Sonata Festival 1st Place in the Advanced Division (2022 and 2023)
- Mozart with a View Piano Competition "Promising Young Pianist Award" and "David Yonan Performance Award (2022)
- Golden Lyre Scholarship Award 1st Place (2022)
- BNMTA Inaugural Piano Spring Festival, 1st Place (2022)
- Illinois Symphony Guild, Scholarship 1st Place (2022)
- Illinois Music Association 60th Anniversary Piano Competition 1st Place (2022)
- Invitation to play the Memorial Health Holiday Fest at the Illinois Governor's Mansion (2022)
- 10th Annual University of Illinois Springfield Music Solo Competition 1st Place in Junior Division (2023)
- Marguerite Nenne Music Camp Scholarship Award 1st Place, 2023
Many of his students also actively perform in high school jazz ensembles as pianists, take on roles as choir piano accompanists, and have collaboration performances at the Illinois Chamber Music Festival. They hold piano positions in the Illinois Youth Symphony Orchestra and various other orchestras. Notably, some of Dr. Shabani’s students have often been selected to participate in piano masterclasses with respected piano artists and performers. One student, in particular, had the honor of participating in a masterclass conversation with Maestro Leonard Slatkin, a six-time Grammy award winner in the realm of orchestral conducting.
On the academic front, Dr. Shabani has presented two Lightning Talks at the Royal Conservatory’s premier Professional Development event for music teachers. He has also received invitations to present at two local chapters of the MTNA.
In his pursuit to promote culture and music, Dr. Shabani and his wife, Emine, are co-founders of Recital ‘AMA’, a not-for-profit musical event dedicated to celebrating Albanian music and composers.
Instrument / Discipline
- Piano Pedagogy
- Youth (7-17)
- Adults (18+)
- Young Children (under 7)
- At a school
- At own studio
- History - Advanced
- Piano - Advanced
- Piano - Elementary
- Piano - Intermediate
- Theory - Elementary
- Theory - Intermediate
- 2022 - Doctor of Education - Bradley University
- 2006 - Master of Music - Illinois State Univeristy
- 2004 - Bachelor of Music - Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
- MTNA - National Conference - 2023
- Illinois Music Teachers Association - Provincial / State
- Music Teachers National Association - National