Teaching Methods and Philosophy

To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.” – Ludwig van Beethoven.

I employ a structured approach incorporating several established piano methods into a well-rounded, fun and disciplined system with heavy focus on sight-reading and theory, as well as improvisation, technique, transposition, and ear training. Scales and chords are taught by rote.

I assign A Dozen a Day to the youngest students and Hanon Junoir to students 7 and older for technique work. Technical exercises are the musician’s way of warming up and should be completed before each practice session. We will do a few minutes of them at the beginning of each lesson. For those familiar with Hanon’s long history and perhaps it’s tendency to be overused, I want to make clear that though I am a believer in the power of Hanon, I by no means endorse warming up with the whole book in all 12 keys. Warm ups should comprise a small and reasonable percentage of practice time, not take up 2 hours!

For lesson work and theory study I use Alfred’s Premier Piano Series for 1st and 2nd year students, switching to Faber and Faber’s Piano Adventures in 3rd year.  I supplement with songs and pieces coming from a multitude of resources.

Solo pieces can come from any number of sources and I do encourage students to find pieces on their own to bring into lessons: Orchestral reductions/transcriptions, easier arrangements of difficult works, show tunes, movie themes, jazz arrangements, blues and *some* pop music.

More advanced students will be expected to work on serious piano repertoire: Chopin, Rachmaninoff, Bach, Beethoven, et al.

Transfer students are a case-by-case scenario. I most often find that the transfer students who come my way have been playing using a finger number method. This can create some friction in the beginning and the longer the student has been studying using such lackluster methods, the longer it takes to correct their bad habits. It’s unfortunate that so many teachers rely on finger numbers to get a child to play as the child has now reached a level where it would humiliate them to backtrack to beginner pieces. I very carefully assign at-level pieces, and do intensive sight-reading at each lesson. It takes time and patience but bad habits can be corrected!  

Professional Track
For students with more ambitious goals, such as studying piano at college and excelling at competitions, I can help you learn to budget your time so that fitting in several hours of practice a day, and making the absolute most of that time, isn’t so overwhelming.  If there are programs for which you wish to audition I will coach you in mental preparation, teach whatever music is required for acceptance, etc.