My Studio and Teaching Methodology
Teaching from my studio allows me to use it as my classroom and maintain a "boutique" teaching studio. I own guitars, keyboards, percussion, woodwinds, CD's, computer and professional recording and DJ equipment. I pull from a collection of books I have used over decades of playing and teaching. Every student learns not only the piano or guitar, but all aspects of music from appreciation and creative expression to understanding how music is produced in today's entertainment and commercial industry. I find that this creates a wonderful, exciting, personalized experience, which allows me to accommodate each student's particular learning style and interests.
My lesson content is roughly structured as follows:
- Ages 6-11: I employ a structured lesson involving piano and/or guitar books. Fingering, sight reading, chord progression taught as age appropriate. Drums and other instruments are implemented for melodic/ rhythmic comprehension and exploration. The lesson is usually broken into three mini lessons always involving playing piano and/or guitar, performing another activity related to the particular lesson, and using a music education program on the computer or exploring a piece of equipment in my studio.
- Ages 12-18: I use a semi-structured lesson using method books when applicable. Fingering, sight reading, chord progression and theory are taught. It is a more context dependent learning approach using student centered music. Drums and other instruments are implemented for melodic/ rhythmic comprehension and exploration. This age group presents the opportunity for an hour lesson. Music and playing are explored more intensely. In addition to learning on their instrument, lessons will include projects, such as composing and recording music. I encourage students towards ear training, transcribing, music appreciation, and exploring music history pertaining to the pieces they are studying. I also teach the technology of today's music and how it is made by actually using the technology I have in my studio.
- Ages 18 and up: Context/ holistic approach catering to the student's individual goals and needs. I offer as many hourly and weekly options as possible.
- Advanced/professional: Chord theory, voicings, improvisation, inner voice movement, polyrhythms, reharmonization, phrasing, historical approaches to solo and group playing situations, exploration of color and texture in improvisational arranging. Again, I will work with your schedule in your lesson times. It can be more or less depending on what you need. If you need to cram before a gig and I can help, great. I've done it many times myself.
- Singers: Comping, arrangement, turnarounds, chord substitutions. I will also help you rehearse, arrange and transpose tunes you are working on.
Taking lessons can be a place to pick up where you left off as a child, or to replace the feeling of "I should have continued or taken piano/guitar lessons." It can offer a new experience, creating a place to relax and gain a sense of accomplishment. Although you might not think so, playing and improvising music is easy! As with any art, there are many levels of difficulty. You choose how far and how challenging you would like it to be. I teach piano in a way that just "makes sense." All of my adult students are improvising and playing music after their first lesson. You don't have to know how to read music either. Just knowing how to play a couple of chords, what to do with them and how music basically works, is all you need to start enjoying making music.
My curriculum is whatever you want to learn. My years of experience allow me to teach using many different approaches so that you accomplish what you want to learn in an uncomplicated, straightforward way.
Studying music offers an amazing opportunity to affect how our children feel about learning. It should be a positive, rewarding, realistic experience of learning which extends beyond piano or guitar study.
As a former public school teacher, I know the pressures that our children are under. Memorizing and testing well has become a large priority, while often, developing a love of the learning process is secondary. My goal is to create a lifelong love of learning and have music be a pleasurable, yet challenging, place to go.
Many of us took piano lessons or some form of music lessons at some time in our lives. Most stories I hear are of bearable experiences at best. I've had my share of not so good teachers, but I've had some excellent ones as well. Those teachers are ones you never forget.
My goal as an educator is:
- To facilitate and guide my students to gain knowledge of their own learning process which is lifelong, complex and multifaceted.
- To bring about an awareness of the learning process that is satisfying and real.
- To create a fun, safe and enjoyable, yet challenging, learning environment.
- To enhance eye hand coordination and body awareness.
- To teach them how to play, listen, create and enjoy the many aspects of music.
- To create a place that the student looks forward to going to.
It really does make perfect. With younger children, I encourage practicing every day. Even for a couple of minutes or so. Sometimes it doesn't get done. Some children don't know how to practice or have difficulty focusing. Then lessons will be guided practice sessions, teaching them how to pace their concentration and learn how to dissipate frustration. Ultimately, parents' involvement in their child's education is the best way to encourage good work habits. With older students, the desire to be able to perform a piece provides its own impetus for practice. If a student is not practicing and/or the mastering of the lesson is slow going, I will use this opportunity to reassess the student's focus, interest, skills, and difficulty of the lesson, and readjust as needed. There are many opportunities for learning at whatever pace.
The actual performing of music itself is very rewarding. One cannot describe the feeling of playing a Beethoven or Chopin piece or improvising and creating emotion, color and movement on the spot, or composing a piece of music and watching it go from a small idea to a fully recorded song on a CD.
Learning and playing music is a lifelong process. It occurs in small surges over many years. Knowledge is gained by sometimes forgetting what you've learned and re-discovering it at a later point. For some, it can be a wonderful place to go in the often frenzied pace of life. For young people, it can be an integral part of their life, helping to shape their self-esteem and overall development as a person.
I continue to be a student of music, sharing with my students the delight of discovery and accomplishment, as well as the frustration of learning this craft and art. It is my pleasure and honor to be able to share with other people the love of something that I hold very high in my life and close to my heart.
Click here to email me with any questions or to schedule a personal music lesson.